Bill seeks equal burial for non-Jewish soldiers

By Nathan Jeffay, July 5, 2013
Israeli military cemetry (Photo: Flash 90)

Israeli military cemetry (Photo: Flash 90)

Israel may soon end the practice of excluding non-Jewish soldiers from the main sections of military cemeteries.

When the Iron Curtain fell, large numbers of people from formerly Soviet states qualified for Israeli citizenship even though they were not Jewish according to religious law.

These immigrants and their children serve — and die — in the army. Yet only soldiers who are deemed Jewish by the rabbinate are buried in the main section of military cemeteries .

Now, Elazar Stern, of centrist party Hatnua, has proposed a bill that would legally require non-Jewish soldiers to be buried alongside Jewish soldiers. The bill follows public outrage after Memorial Day in May, when a flag is traditionally placed on the soldier who died most recently. Chief of Staff Benny Gantz ignored the most recent fallen soldier, who was non-Jewish, and honoured the most recent Jewish fallen.

Last updated: 10:45am, July 5 2013