JERUSALEM (JTA) – Two Druze military officers have resigned from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) over the nation-state law.
One of the officers, a captain, resigned Sunday in an open letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted on Facebook.
The second, a deputy commander in a combat unit, took to Facebook on Monday night to say that he would resign.
“I’m a citizen like everyone and gave my all to the state,” Shady Zaidan, 23, wrote in a post on Monday. “And in the end, I wind up a second-class citizen. I’m not prepared to be a part of this. I’m also joining the struggle; I’ve decided to stop serving this country.”
Zaidan also wrote, “Until today I stood in front of the state flag proudly and saluted it. Until today I sang the Hatikvah national anthem because I was certain this was my country and that I’m equal to everyone. But today, today I refused for the first time in my service to salute the flag, I refused for the first time to sing the national anthem.”
“This morning, when I woke up to drive to the [army] base, I asked myself, why? Why do I have to serve the State of Israel, a state that my two brothers, my father and I have served with dedication, a sense of mission and a love of the homeland, and, in the end, what do we get? To be second-class citizens,” Capt. Amir Jmall wrote Sunday in a post on Facebook.
He called Israel a country with a government that “takes but does not give back,” and called for an end to military conscription for members of the Druze community.
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot responded Tuesday in a statement. “As a peoples’ army whose mandate is to protect the security of the people of Israel and winning in war, we are committeed to preserving human dignity, regardless of ethnicity, religion and gender. So it has been and so it shall always be,” he said.
“We have pledged that the joint responsibility and brotherhood of the warriors, with our Druze brothers, Bedouin and the rest of the minorities serving in the IDF, will continue to lead our way.”
The controversial law with quasi-constitutional status enshrines Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. The law identifies Arabic as a language with “special status.”
In the wake of backlash from the Druze community, Netanyahu has met with Druze political, community and religious leaders. Following a meeting Sunday with the heads of Druze municipal councils Netanyahu announced the establishment of a team to submit recommendations “for actions that will strengthen the important ties between us.”
On Saturday night, an Arab-Israeli Knesset member from the Labor Party resigned in protest over the law.