My name is Omer Goldman. I am 19 years old. I am one of the Shministim. I need your help.
I first went to prison on September 23 and served 35 days. I am lucky; after two times in jail, I got a medical discharge, but I'm the only one. By the time you read this, many of my friends will be in prison too: in for three weeks, out for one, and then back in, over and over, until they are 21. The reason? We refuse to do military service for the Israeli army because of the occupation.
I grew up with the army. My father was deputy head of Mossad, and I saw my sister, who is eight years older than me, do her military service. As a young girl, I wanted to be a soldier. The military was such a part of my life that I never even questioned it.
Earlier this year, I went to a peace demonstration in Palestine. I had always been told that the Israeli army was there to defend me, but during that demonstration Israeli soldiers opened fire on me and my friends with rubber bullets and tear-gas grenades. I was shocked and scared. I saw the truth. I saw the reality. I saw for the first time that the most dangerous thing in Palestine is the Israeli soldiers, the very people who are supposed to be on my side.
When I came back to Israel, I knew I had changed. And so, I have joined with a number of other young people who are refusing to serve -- they call us the Shministim. On December 18th, we are holding a Day of Action in Israel, and we are determined to show Israelis and the world that there is wide support for stopping a culture of war. Will you join us? Please, just sign a letter.
Many have asked me about what it was like for me during this time. Of course I got scared while in prison. But also, it's frightening that my country is the way that it is, locking up young people who are against violence and war. And I worry that what I am doing may damage my future. It's hard to go
from being a free girl who can decide things for herself -- what to wear, who to see, what to eat -- and then go back to having every minute of the day timetabled.
Last time I was out of prison, I went to see my dad. We tried not to talk politics. He cares about me as his daughter, that I am suffering, but he doesn't want to hear my views. He never came to visit me in prison. I think it was too hard for him to see me in there. He is an army man.
I suppose, actually, we have similar characters. We both fight for what we believe in.