The “most moral army in the world” suspended one of its soldiers for daring to speak the truth and voicing his opinion of the highly discriminatory Jewish-state law that was passed last week.
Soon after that, another Israeli Defense Forces soldier expressed his intentions to leave the army for the state relegating him to the status of a “second-class citizen.”
The posts came days after Israel passed a “Jewish state bill,” which for the first time declares Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people.” Almost all Zionist political parties support defining Israel as a democratic Jewish state and lay emphasis on the country’s flag, national anthem and other symbols to emphasize Judaism. The decree has become a “basic” law, which similar to a constitution, is very hard to repeal, unlike regular laws.
The blatantly self-serving law has predictably sparked backlash not just from the international community and Jewish groups abroad but also from Israel’s minorities, including Muslims and the Druze.
While Jews make up about 80 percent of Israel’s 8.8 million population, Muslims, Christians, Druze, along with other religious minorities hold citizenship in the country as well. However, the Druze community, which comprises of less than 150,000 citizens, is the only minority group that has taken upon itself to serve in large numbers along with their Jewish counterparts as part of Israel’s mandatory military draft.
Soon after, Capt. Amir Jamal, a Druze soldier, was suspended for two weeks when he took to Facebook to condemn the new Jewish-state bill and stating he would be quitting the army.
Jamal said he and his two brothers were all veterans of the 2008, 2012 and 2014 Gaza wars and as such, did not deserve this kind of maltreatment.
He directed his comments at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and called upon other Druze soldiers in the army to quit in protest of the basic law.
“Why should I serve the state of Israel, the state that I, my brothers and my father have served out of devotion and love for our homeland... to be [labeled] second class citizens?” he wrote in the post which has since been deleted.
“I'm sure there are hundreds who will quit serving and get discharged from the IDF following your decision, Netanyahu, your decision and that of your government,” he added.
In his footsteps, another Druze officer, 23-year-old Shady Zidan, announced he was leaving the IDF.
“Until today, I stood in front of the national flag with pride and I saluted it. Until today, I sang the Hatikva national anthem because I was sure that this is my country and I am equal to all others,” Zidan wrote. “But today, today I refused for the first time in my service to salute the flag, I refused for the first time to sing the national anthem.”
“I am not a political person…But I am a citizen, like all others, and give my all and more for the country. In the end I am a second-class citizen?” he added. “So thank you, I am not prepared to be part of this and, likewise, I am joining this campaign, and so I have decided to stop serving this country.”
He was also suspended by the Israeli army for two weeks.
Another Druze solider, identified only as “K” told Hadashot news that he and other officers felt the new law is a “slap in the face.”
According to the IDF, Jamal and Zidan were both told by their superiors that politics had no place in the Israeli armed forces.
IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot urged all officers to leave politics “outside the confines of the army…As an inclusive people’s army whose goal is to defend Israeli citizens and win wars, we are committed to safeguarding human dignity, irrespective of race, religion, and gender.”
Eisenkot added “the shared responsibility and the warrior’s camaraderie with our brothers the Druze, Bedouin, and other minorities serving in the IDF, will continue to guide us.”
The chief of staff also met with Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Muafak Tarif in an attempt to discourage protests from the community.
After the meeting, Tarif urged soldiers to “to leave yourselves and the IDF out of the public debate,” and that the other political leaders “will fight for you.”
Other Druze leaders, including three members of the Knesset, also petitioned the High Court of Justice, calling the legislation an “extreme” act that was discriminatory towards minorities.
However, since the legislation is a “basic law,” it doubtful their protests will do any good. It looks like Israel under Netanyahu is showing its true colors, which imply that it doesn’t consider anyone but Jews as worthy of having full rights under its constitution.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters