While the country is abuzz with the resignation
of Brigadier-General Imad Fares over a traffic accident his wife was involved in while driving his military-issued vehicle, some religious circles question of the halachic legitimacy of non-Jews serving in the Israel Defense Forces.
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, a prominent rabbi in the Religious Zionism movement, ruled that according to the Halacha (Jewish Law), non-Jews – "not just officers, but also soldiers" – have no place serving in the IDF.
He based his religious ruling on a statement made by Maimonides: "A person who is Jewish is connected to the nation. A person who is not Jewish does not have a connection like that of the Jew."
Rabbi Aviner addressed the issue in a recorded rabbinical discussion published on the website Maale after visitors to the site brought up the scandal in which Brig.-Gen. Fares is embroiled. The website visitors asked the rabbi what the halachic viewpoint is on non-Jewish serving in high-ranking positions in the IDF.
"The Rambam (Maimonides) says explicitly – only Jews in the IDF," responded the rabbi. "It is not the proper order that non-Jews serve in the army."
He explained that though Druze serving in the military are loyal to the State and dedicate their lives to it, "questions of this sort cannot be decided upon in an individual, inductive, or limited manner. The question is all-inclusive: Are there or aren't there non-Jews in the IDF?"
Rabbi Aviner said that alternative positions should be granted to non-Jews: "National service is most certainly allowed and obligatory."
The rabbi emphasized that his halachic ruling is not meant "to disrespect the great appreciation or the recognition of the good of all the non-Jewish soldiers who dedicate their lives to the IDF and are even killed (in service)."
He added, "Of course, we won't come and change the structure of the IDF, but a question was asked in principle. Such is the answer, and the answer is clear."