Two Druze officers leave IDF over Nation-State Law

Former IDF Chiefs of Staff sign petition supporting Druze

July 31, 2018 12:18
3 minute read.
A member of the Druze community holds a Druze flag as he speaks to an Israeli soldier near the borde

A member of the Druze community holds a Druze flag as he speaks to an Israeli soldier near the border fence between Syria and the Golan Heights, near Majdal Shams June 18, 2015. Gathered at a hilltop in the Golan Heights, a group of Druze sheikhs look through binoculars at the Syrian village of Hade. (photo credit: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)

Two Druze officers have resigned from the IDF over the controversial Nation-State Law passed by the Israeli government last week.

“This morning when I woke up to return to my base, I asked myself why? Why do I need to serve the state?” said one officer, Capt. Amir Jamal on Sunday, who also called to end the compulsory draft for the Druze .

“This country that I, along with my two brothers, and my father, served with dedication, purpose and love of our homeland — in the end, what do we get, we are second-class citizens,” he wrote on his Facebook page in an open letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"Continue serving the country? I do not want to continue and I am sure that hundreds more people will stop serving and will be discharged from the army following your decision, Netanyahu, that of you and your government,” he continued.

"After a lot of thought, I decided to leave the army and not continue serving the country, a country that has a government that takes and does not give back,” he concluded in his post that has since been removed from Facebook.

According to a statement released by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit after meeting with his commanders he was suspended from duty for 14 days.

They “explained to him that he was expected to refrain from publishing the post, identifying himself as an officer in the IDF,” read the statement which added that the IDF “had no room for political discourse of any kind.”

On Monday night Shady Zidan, a 23-year-old Druze IDF officer with the rank of deputy commander in a combat battalion, announced that he would be leaving the IDF in a post on Facebook.

“There is no place where I haven’t been. To this day I gave my soul to the State, I risked my life, I did not see home, everything. Until today I stood proudly and saluted the flag. Until today I sang the anthem 'Hatikva' because I was sure that this is my country and I am equal to everyone," Zidan wrote.

"But today, for the first time in my service, I refused to salute the flag, for the first time I refused to sing the national anthem," he wrote.

“I’m not a man of politics and not a person who cares about it, but!! But I am a citizen like everyone else and I give above and beyond to the state, and in the end I'm a second-class citizen? So no thanks. I'm not prepared to be part of this, and so am I joining this struggle and I have decided to stop serving this country. Thank you State of Israel!" Zidan wrote on Facebook.

On Tuesday IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen.Gadi Eisenkot called on soldiers and commanders to refrain from commenting on the controversial political issue.

“As a national army whose mission is to protect the security of the people of Israel and to win wars, we are committed to preserving human dignity, regardless of origin, religion or gender. It always was and always will be. We have undertaken that the joint responsibility with our Druze, Bedouin and other minority members serving in the IDF will continue to lead our way,” Eisenkot said in a statement.

In recent weeks, members of the Druze community — which as a minority group in Israel serves in large numbers in the IDF, including in some of the most elite units — have said that the law breaks the traditional “blood alliance” between Israel and the Druze .

Following the passing of the law, dozens of former top IDF officials from units like Golani and Paratroopers signed a petition expressing support for the Druze community, saying “we stand with our brothers.”

“This land has absorbed the blood of their sons that has spilled, and they have stood with us shoulder to shoulder... Beyond any position or political affiliation, we stand shoulder to shoulder with them,” read the petition signed by former commanders, generals and Chief of Staffs Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon, Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi.

Supporters of the controversial Nation-State Law say that it enshrines Jewish and democratic values, but critics saw that it discriminates against minority communities like the Druze and Israeli Arabs as it downgrades the status of Arabic from that of an official language to merely “special.”

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