The IDF has cancelled the punishment for a soldier who brought pork into his base -- and is taking fire from the Deputy Minister of Defense.
The saga began when the IDF backtracked Tuesday on the punishment imposed on a US-born Israeli soldier who violated the Israeli military's kosher rules by eating a pork sandwich while in uniform.
The soldier was initially given an 11-day prison sentence. The punishment was later reduced to being confined to base for the same duration, after relatives spoke to the media and a lawmaker wrote to the defense minister about the case.
In a Facebook post later in the day however, Spokesperson Brigadier-General Moti Almoz withdrew the punishment and acknowledged the army's "mistake" in handling the situation.
"The bottom line is that we made a mistake," wrote Almoz. "The IDF will continue to keep kosher, but won't probe another soldier's sandwich."
MK Rabbi Elie Ben-Dahan (Bayit Yehudi) attacked the forgiving manner with which the army treats kosher regulation violations, and stated that this attitude is leading to a slippery slope that ends in insubordination.
“The issue here is one of identity,” the deputy minister said in reference to the case. “The IDF is Israel’s army, the only Jewish state in the world.” The regulations are clear in that the Jewish people's army eats only kosher food, including secular, religious, traditional, and Haredi soldiers.”
“Breaking regulations, like every other crime, carries a punishment - and the punishment is given according to the discretion of the commander,” Ben-Dahan said. “It is the duty of his superiors to back him up.” He said, “Today there is a disregarding of certain regulations - tomorrow it will be regulations of a different nature. It is unacceptable to agree to the belittling of any regulations.”
According to Ben-Dahan, the IDF’s Kashrut regulations on its bases are meant to strengthen the soldier’s Jewish identity and to protect the nature of its institutions - “and that’s what we will continue to do.”