Thursday, February 4, 2010

new Breaking the Silence Testimonial Book

New Breaking the Silence Testimonial Book
Breaking the Silence presents 96 new testimonies by female soldiers about the situation in the occupied territories

"A female soldier who hits is a serious fighter, she has what it takes, she's hardcore"

“Did you kick him?

I kicked him in the balls. I took my foot, with my military boot, and I kicked him in the balls. I don't know if you ever got kicked in the balls but it sure looks painful. He stopped laughing in my face because it hurt. Then we took him to the police station and I said: ‘Uh-Oh, am I in trouble. He can complain about me and I will have a complaint against me at the Police Investigation Unit.’ It was in Modi’in. He didn't say a word. I was afraid and, I said I was afraid about me, not about him. But he didn't say a word. "What can I say, that a girl hit me?” And he could say that but, thank God, three years later, nothing happened to me and nobody knows about it. "

Breaking the Silence just published a book of testimonies by women who served in the occupied territories, from the outbreak of the second intifada until now. The book includes 96 testimonies and contains interviews with dozens of women who served as combatants, medics, scouts, officers, noncommissioned education and social welfare officers and more. These women join hundreds of male combatants who have already testified to the organization. Together they place a mirror before Israeli society.

This collection of testimonies presents for the first time the realities in the territories from the perspective of women who served there. The testimonies demonstrate that the tendency to keep the occupation as far away from home as possible blurs the role of the women who take an active role in it. The voice of the women who serve in the occupied territories is a voice that is not usually heard in Israeli society and their presence on the ground is hidden from the public eye. The reason for their silence stems from the fact that these women are placed in a military environment controlled by men. They have to prove they are worth just as much as the men and that they are "one of the guys." During their service they are afraid to speak, out of fear they will be even more alienated by their units. After they are discharged, many of these women feel that because they did not play a central role in their units, it is not their place to speak out. But mostly, they do not speak because the public does not really want to hear.

Dana Golan, CEO of Breaking the Silence, explains: "Israeli society does not want to think about our girlfriends, daughters and sisters taking an active role in carrying out the ‘occupation,’ just like the male soldiers. We want to believe that the female soldiers stationed in the territories are not as aggressive and that they do not get their hands dirty. But the women's testimonies prove that they are just as corrupted and it cannot be done any differently."

"What is a disruption patrol?

You just go into a village, where you know there are weapons and things like that, and you start doing things that make them wonder what's going on, who is getting arrested, what is happening. You just go into the village and start firing flares and blank bullets and creating an atmosphere of an IDF event to scare them and disrupt their daily routine. That is, so they don't understand what is going on. You go in at 3 AM and start firing flares."

3 AM?

Yes. They don't understand what is going on. Once a week we had to go on a disruption patrol, like it was on the schedule, an obligation to go on one disruption patrol a week. And every time it was at a different time, a different day."

Since the founding of Breaking the Silence in 2004, the organization has collected testimonies from seven hundred male and female soldiers who served in the occupied territories since the outbreak of the second intifada. The testifiers come from different backgrounds, served in different units and jobs and described the reality they experienced on the ground, whose characteristics run like a thread through all of the testimonies. The organization asserts that the violations of human rights in the territories are not the result of the exceptional behavior of a few rotten apples, but derive from the very fact of daily control over a civilian population.

Dana Golan adds: "Israeli society, encouraged by the senior military commanders, prefers to see the picture differently, and continues to claim that these are exceptional incidents, perpetrated by exceptional individuals or units. By doing so it effectively prevents a real civil discussion about the problems that arise from our presence in the occupied territories. We have made it our goal to present the voices of the male and female soldiers as they are. A society that sends its army on missions has to know what is happening on its behalf in its back yard. We hope that Israeli society chooses to listen to its daughters as well as its sons, even though the stories are not easy for the folks at home to hear."

download the book

No comments: