Resting Side-by-Side: Change of Policy for Non-Jewish Soldiers Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Israel

Resting Side-by-Side: Change of Policy for Non-Jewish Soldiers

Battle between rabbis, generals and politicans on where to bury non-Jewish soldiers takes a dramatic turn

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by Arthur Schwartzman

Israel self identifies as the Jewish state, and indeed it is one of a kind. Israel’s uniqueness brings with it, however, very unique topics of debate. One such question has to do with burial of non-Jewish IDF soldiers in military cemeteries.

Just recently the Ministry of Defense announced a change of policy: fallen non-Jewish IDF soldiers will be allowed to be buried next to fallen Jewish soldiers. It is a major leap forward since it is a novel permit, and wasn’t previously allowed due to religious concerns.

Occasionally cases will spring up and cause an uproar in Israeli society, bringing awareness to the issue. One such case dates to 2013. At that year’s “Flag for the Fallen” ceremony, during which the Chief of Staff places a flag on the grave of the last IDF casualty buried on Mount Herzl ahead of Memorial Day, then-Chief of Staff Benny Gantz placed the flag on the grave of Lt.-Col. (Res.) Shlomo (Moni) Nitzani, an Israeli hero who had died six months prior. But in reality the last IDF casualty to be...