Ruth Hiller is a mother and grandmother, a peace activist and an Israeli Jew. Born in the U.S., she visited Israel as a teenager and ended up staying there, making her home on an Israeli kibbutz.
Hiller’s son was 15 when he told her that he was a pacifist. Her oldest two children, daughters, had already completed their mandatory service in the Israeli military. Hiller was caught off guard by her son’s desire to refuse the draft, since, as she put it, Jewish women are “encouraged to become the ‘national womb’” and to produce children who will defend Israel’s national security. But she also admitted her son’s request surfaced a deep tension she had experienced for some time.
Hiller and her husband committed to “walk the path” with their son. After several years of dealing with lawyers, committees and military tribunals, their son was released from the military as a conscientious objector. Her three other sons have also managed to avoid military service because of Hiller’s advocacy and accompaniment.
The experience of supporting her oldest son led Hiller on a personal journey away from Zionism and toward a critique of Israel’s policies of occupation and militarization. She met with other Israeli Jewish women on a similar journey. They eventually founded an organization called New Profile, which is committed to supporting draft refusers and conscientious objectors and to working for the “de-militarization” of Israeli society.
Often misunderstood by their own people, Hiller and her friends hope their efforts build a just peace for all people — Israelis and Palestinians — who call the land of Palestine and Israel their home.
MCC has gathered stories of Women Peacebuilders as part of our annual Peace Sunday Packet. The complete 2016 Peace Sunday Packet can be viewed here.