Capt. Amir Jmall, who wrote a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decrying the Nationality Law, was suspended by the IDF for 14 days.
Jmall's commanders told him he was expected as an IDF officer not to post his letter to the prime minister on social media. "There is no room for any kind of political discourse in the IDF," the commanders told the officer, according to an IDF statement.
In his letter, which he deleted from Facebook shortly after posting, the officer wrote: “Mr. Prime Minister, I have sat by myself and
“This morning when I awoke to drive to the base I asked myself why. Why should I serve the State of Israel, the state that I and my two brothers and my father served with devotion, a sense of mission and with love of our homeland when in the end what do we get? To be second class citizens? To continue to serve the country?” he asked.
“I don’t want to continue and I am sure that hundreds more people will stop serving and ask to be discharged from the IDF due to your decision, Netanyahu—yours and your government,” the officer continued.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot urged soldiers and commanders to refrain from dragging the political dispute caused by the Nationality Law into the military.
“As an army with a state whose purpose is to protect the security of the residents of Israel and victory in war, we are committed to safeguarding human dignity, regardless of ethnicity, religion or gender,” Eisenkot said. “That is how it has always been and that is how it will always be.”
The IDF chief met with and the religious leader of Israel’s Druze community Sheikh Mowafak Tarif on Tuesday to discuss the crisis.
After the meeting, Tarif clarified that he “completely agrees with Eisenkot and requests that all controversial political matters, including the Nationality Law, be left out of the confines of the IDF.”
Tarif addressed Druze service members: “Trust us, we have your back. We have no quarrel with the IDF, you are all loyal soldiers and officers and I trust that you will leave yourselves, and the IDF, outside of public controversies.”
The leaders of the campaign against the Nationality Law have also called on “all Druze IDF soldiers to leave controversial political matters outside the confines of the IDF. Service in the IDF is a supreme value, and we will continue to protect the security of the state and its residents."
Some 50 activists protested against the Nationality Law outside the Haifa Municipality Tuesday afternoon, asserting that the language of the law is discriminatory towards minorities.
The Nationality Law has caused controversy since it passed in the Knesset earlier this month, mainly due to an article stating that only Jews have the right of self-determination in the country.
The article has been the subject of fierce criticism and has caused offense among the Druze community, many of whom serve the country loyally in the IDF, dozens of whom have called for the wording to be altered.
The municipality of the Arab town Baqa al-Gharbiyye petitioned the High Court of Justice on Tuesday, demanding to annul the law.
"The law enshrines within it, as a political and social statement, Jewish supremacy at the expense of the Arab population, under the same government, creating a divided society based on racism, segregation and exclusion of some sectors for the benefit of others," said the Mayor Attorney Morsi Abu Mukh.
"Since the founding of the state, we have struggled and fought, using every legal method, to attain equal rights. We have made some—insufficient—progress. Now, along comes the Nationality Law and sets us several decades back.
"The law has shocked Arab society. A fundamental question arises from the law: Is the State of Israel preparing to draft a constitution in this racist separatist manner?” he wondered.
The Meretz Party also petitioned the High Court against the law, arguing that it is illegal and contravenes Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty.
Meretz Chairwoman MK Tamar Zandberg accused the prime minister of “shamelessly deciding to rank Israel’s citizens: Jews as type A, Druze as type B, Arabs and LGBT type C — with racism approved by the Knesset and anchored in the Basic Law.”