Israeli Army Suspends Druze Officer Who Published a Facebook Post Against the Nation-state Law

A Druze Israeli army officer who published a post on Facebook in which he said he decided to end his service in the military in protest over the passage of the nation-state law will be suspended from the Israel Defense Forces. 

The officer’s commanders had a conversation with him in which they clarified that they expected him to refrain from making his opinions known on such matters via social media as part of the military’s policy. 

The officer, 23-year-old Shady Zaidan, has been suspended from duty for two weeks. 

Zaidan was the second such officer to announce his intention to leave the army due to the passage of the controversial legislation.

"I’m a citizen like everyone and gave my all to the state," wrote Shady Zaidan, 23, on Facebook. "And in the end, I wind up a second-class citizen." Zaidan described himself as a deputy company commander in a combat unit, in which he served for the past five years. 

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"I’m not prepared to be a part of this. I’m also joining the struggle, I’ve decided to stop serving this country," said Zaidan’s post.

>> Israel’s Nation-state Law Is Good for the Druze | Opinion ■ ‘When We’re in Uniform They Treat Us Well’: Israel’s Druze No Longer Feel Like Blood Brothers

"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," wrote Zaidan.

"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."

Zaidan’s post follows a similar one Sunday, when a Druze company commander posted an open letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his Facebook page, declaring that he had decided to discontinue his carrer service in the Israeli army and urged Druze leaders to advance toward a cessation of compulsory service for the Druze.

"I’m sure there are hundreds who will quit serving and get discharged from the IDF following your decision, Netanyahu, your decision and that of your government," he wrote. The post was later removed.

Beside the rising tide of protest against the nation-state law, a forum of Druze representatives made up of council heads, elected officials, spiritual leaders and reservist officers, said yesterday that "members of the Druze community serve and will continue to serve in the IDF with respect, devotion and out of a sense of commitment to the homeland. The controversies over the nation-state law must be left up to the accepted forums and outside the army and military service."

 "We must take care to avoid blurring these lines. We shall continue to fight for amending the law to ensure equal rights to all citizens," the joint statement said.

On Monday, members of the Druze community met with representatives from Netanyahu’s office to discuss the law. A statement issued by Druze spiritual leader, Sheikh Muwafaq Tarif, who was at the meeting, said that Druze representatives had asked to amend the nation-state law.

According to Tarif, the representatives "made it unanimously clear that the issue of loyalty to the state is not on the agenda," and that they were imploring their community to continue to adhere to common values and unqualified loyalty to the state of Israel.