Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger (archives)
Photo: Alex Kolomoisky

Chief rabbi: We must thank Druze for their contribution

In response to Rabbi Shlomo Aviner's comments that non-Jews should not serve in IDF, Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger says, 'We have everlasting alliance with Druze; tangled halachic complexities should not be mixed with security matters'

The affair of Druze Brigadier-General Imad Fares' resignation over a traffic accident caused by his wife as she drove his army-issued vehicle refuses to die down, and has awoken a religious discussion on whether members of the Druze community should be recruited to the IDF.


Israel's Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger told Ynet on Wednesday that the matter of Druze service in the Israel Defense Forces is a "security question" and said that "tangled halachic complexities" should not be involved in the decision.


His comments came after Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, a prominent rabbi in the Religious Zionist movement, ruled that according to the Halacha, non-Jews – "not just officers, but also soldiers" – have no place serving in the IDF – this also in response to Fares' affair.


The Chief Rabbinate, that holds interfaith meetings with Druze leaders on a regular basis, did no appreciate Rabbi Aviner's statements on the case.


In response to Aviner's comments, Metzger said, "The question of the Druze's participation in the Israel Defense Forces – in all ranks and levels and with equal rights and responsibilities – has already been determined by the defense authorities and the military. We must not involve other considerations of tangled halachic complexities in this security matter."


The chief rabbi went on to say, "Since the establishment of the State, an everlasting alliance was made with our brothers of the honorable Druze community – an alliance that has known and passed may tests, with many of the community's sons giving their lives heroically for the land of Israel."


He called for an immediate end to the halachic discussion on the matter, and added, "We must only thank them and honor them for their contribution."


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."


פרסום ראשון: 08.12.09, 18:22
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