Gentiles are not equal in rights to Jews in the State of Israel, according to the IDF Military Rabbinate staff. I regret the fact that this halachic ruling was written, approved and distributed by the Military Rabbinate, and even received the blessing of the chief military rabbi.
We, the soldiers of the minorities, Bedouin and Druze who serve loyally; we, who light the fire on Shabbat when it goes out so that the food remains warm for the soldiers; we, who turn on the light for the religious soldier in the shower and in any other place in the base so that our Shabbat observing Jewish brothers don't desecrate Shabbat – is this the thanks we get from our rabbi brothers?
In 1986, I held my wedding ceremony in my backyard in the community of Kaabiya. I invited my friends from the IDF unit I served in, including the division's rabbi. The rabbi was amazed by the fact that I had prepared a special table for him which was strictly kosher according to Jewish tradition. Yes, I wanted everyone to eat and be merry during my wedding, including the rabbi.
Do these things make my rights in the State flawed and unequal to those of my Jewish brothers? We, the State's minorities, believed and still believe that the IDF is the only system in the country which does not reek of racism or discrimination. We, buddies and pals, fight shoulder to shoulder and lay in ambushes together with members of the diverse and wide mosaic of the State's citizens, feeling and believing that everyone is equal.
It's a shame that the term "gentile" has become a bad word in the IDF. We must remember that everyone shares the same status in the army and has the same blood color, and the enemy does not distinguish between a Jewish soldier and a gentile soldier. They are all targeted by the enemy's weapons.
I am certain that the majority of the Israeli public thinks differently, and believes that such an extreme and offensive halachic ruling, which similar to many other halachic rulings which hurt wide publics in this country, belongs in the trash can rather than in IDF bases. The only thing that irritates me is the silence of the prime minister, the defense minister and the chief of staff.
The identity of the ignorant person who signed this alleged "halachic ruling" is unclear. It is simply a racist and narrow-minded libel, which would be considered a bad joke even on Purim. The only "rav" who has a say in the army is a rav-turai (corporal), rav-samal (sergeant-major), rav-seren (major) or rav-aluf (major-general)!
Just a short while after the Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Bedouin and Druze cemeteries, and our eyes have yet to dry from the tears we shed as we remembered our fallen soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the rabbis as well, so that they could study quietly and safely in the yeshivot and write halachic rulings.
Please leave the IDF out of the political debate and out of the wars of rabbis and politicians, of discriminating laws and offensive halachic rulings.
Lieutenant-Colonel (Res.) Hassan Kaabiya, a member of the Bedouin community, is a diplomat in the Israeli Foreign Ministry