When did you get the gun?
By Or Segal, Israel Social TV
Hello to you, little girl with a gun. You, who were dressed in a uniform, who was placed second row on the side, between your fellow pre-schoolers. You who marched to the beat and saluted to the sound of parents clapping in the Independence Day party. You wanted to make the largest Purim food package1 in class, you wrapped all the sweets in colourful paper. One older kid passed between the classroom and asked for an “educational shekel”2. You didn't even know what that was, but you gave three shekels anyway.
On Memorial Day, when you forgot your flower in the classroom, the girls called you a cry baby. Every Tuesday you'd read a book at the library, sitting on the comfy sofa under the pictures of school alumni fallen soldiers.
In the heritage textbook, under the printed question “what did you learn from the soldiers who died in the wars of Israel?” you answered in neat handwriting “I learned what bravery and heroism are”. You felt thankful to the people who sacrificed their life for you and your country. You learned of devotion and sacrifice.
And this time, you participated in the ceremony on Memorial Day, You are a big girl now. You wore a black shirt, and a sticker of a flower, you braided the hair of another girl. This time you stood in the first row. You didn't cry this time. The expression on your face was serious and full of importance, while you danced.
Hello to you, you who passed daily by the poster in the school hall explaining about the first draft. A girl inside a flag, walking along the train tracks in Poland3, you came back home from the Holocaust remembrance trip and told your class how moved you were when you all stood in the forest. You said that history will never repeat itself, and that we have to be strong. That people who didn’t go can't understand.
You got excellent scores on the military exams. You took buses to different military examinations, hoping to be an instructor in the air forces, you know why4.
Hello to you, you who were placed in intelligence. You got a good role. You went to the Induction centre accompanied by your family and friends. You had your photo taken, your father wrote a moving Facebook status about how much you’ve grown, and your sister posted before and after pictures. You took a small backpack, you are not like those crazy girls who bring a suitcase.
When did you get the gun, girl? Today in basic training? Or on that day in kindergarten?
Hello to you, teachers and educators, when did you decide to give her a gun? Was it in school? In kindergarten? Or maybe it had her name on it since that very first ultrasound her mother underwent. When did you, who call yourselves educators, decide to give the girl the ability to kill with a press of a button? When did you decide it's your duty to systematically, throughout her entire life, deprive her of her right to choose?
But you, girl with a gun, are not completely free of responsibility. You are too intelligent. If only you'd look left or right instead of writing neat answers in your notebook.
Hello to you, girl, you who didn't know that you can refuse, and walked smiling into two years of violence, militancy, and human rights violation. Will you see any of these from your office in the base? Will you even be able to ask yourself what you're doing there? You will be the executer of a system of violence, oppression and occupation, when you are guarding, and when you're on kitchen duty. Every moment you're there, no matter what you're doing, you are expressing consent. You are telling your state that it can continue in this way. They will give orders and you will obey.
You, teachers and educators, you are the ones who keep giving guns to little girls, making sure they will carry them every day on their way to school. But you are also the ones who can send the food packages to survivors of domestic violence, to kids with special needs, to low income families, and not to soldiers. You can change the posters on the walls of the schools; you can close the heritage textbooks and organize tours of the occupied territories and not only preparation days for the army.
Dear teachers and educators, thanks to you, it is so important to support conscientious objection, to say it loud and clear. Thanks to you it is important to say again and again “there is another way” so that these other words may get through the walls you are building. So that a girl born with a gun in her hands may know she has the ability and the responsibility to give it back and never ever use it.
Support conscientious objector Tair Kaminer who has been sentenced to 20 days in prison 400 and all other people who work to stop the war machine. Supporting these people is saying to all the children being raised into a system of military and violence that they have the power to refuse.
See a recent protest in support of Tair Kaminer here.
The article was origenally published in Hebrew in Israel Social TV. Or Segal is a recent Israeli consientious objector currently doing her alternative service in Israel social TV.
Translation and footnotes by Taya Govreen-Segal.
1Purim Food Packages are a holiday tradition of exchanging packages of sweets. Many schools have replaced this tradition with sending the packages to soldiers.
2A project that encourages student councils and youth movements collect one Shekel (the Israeli currency, approx. 0.25$) from each kid and donate it to soldiers. Probably based on the holiday tradition of collecting money to donate to the needy.
3Many schools take all 11th graders on holocaust remembrance trips to concentration camps, ghettos and graves in Poland. These trips are often very nationalistic and portray the message that the only way to stop such awful things from happening to the Jewish people is going to the IDF to defend the state of Israel.
4A common Israeli saying is “good boys go to be pilots, good girls go to the pilots”, so going to be an air force instructor would be a good position for filling ones potential of being a “good girl and finding a pilot to date.