From the Palmach in 1948 to Machsom Watch in 2017

Tami Cohen, 87, was a fighter in the Palmach, one of the founders of a kibbutz, and — for the past 15 years — she has been an activist with NIF grantee Machsom Watch, an organiaation which observes the conduct of Israeli soldiers at West Bank checkpoints.

Tami was born in 1930 in Haifa. In the War of Independence she was recruited to the Palmach’s Negev division and she fought in battles in the western Negev against the Egyptian army. After the war, she was one of the founders of Kibbutz Reim and then served as part of an Israeli security delegation to Europe. She has three children, 11 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Tami’s daughter, the film director Yuli Cohen, was injured in an attack by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in London in 1978.

“Once, one of the soldiers at one of the checkpoints told me, ‘If someone from your family had been hurt in a terror attack, you wouldn’t be standing here,’” Cohen says.

“I said to him, ‘My daughter was injured in a terror attack and that’s why I’m standing here, for the sake of Israel’s future.’”

Tami said that she had found that there is great ignorance regarding the West Bank territories and that the occupation has a profound impact on contemporary Israeli society. “Children who are 18 have to stand there and many times they act in an unacceptable way and they bring this violence home,” she says.

“Despite all this, I am proud to be an Israeli,” says Tami, “I love this country and I won’t lose hope.”

Watch this interview of Tami that was prepared by Machsom Watch:

September 2017