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MKs: Bury Jewish, Non-Jewish Soldiers in the Same Cemetery

MKs Shai and Stern are promoting legislation that would eliminate separate burial areas for Jewish and non-Jewish soldiers
By David Lev
First Publish: 4/14/2013, 6:26 PM

Har Herzl Military Cemetery
Har Herzl Military Cemetery
Israel news photo: Flash 90

MK Nachman Shai, a former IDF Spokesperson, is promoting legislation that would eliminate separate burial areas for IDF soldiers killed in action who are not Jewish. Under Shai's proposal, non-Jewish soldiers would be buried in the same areas of military cemeteries where Jewish soldiers are buried.

Shai's proposal comes in the wake of a mini-scandal last week, in which IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz laid an Israeli flag on the grave of the last Jewish soldier to fall – not the last soldier, who was not Jewish. It is traditional for the Chief of Staff to lay the flag on the grave of the last soldier who died in IDF service in the days before Memorial Day.

“The state of Israel must ensure that there is equality among all soldiers and citizens, without exceptions for religion, race, or gender, exactly as is specified in the Declaration of Independence,” Shai said. “If a soldier is good enough to die for the state, he is good enough to be buried together with is comrades, unless the family requests otherwise. My proposal will require the IDF to bury all soldiers in the same cemetery.”

A similar law has been proposed by MK Elazar Stern, former IDF Education Director. “My law will put an end to the differences that separate us,” Stern said, adding that “it will also end the situation that, to a certain extent, the people who decide where soldiers will be buried in a military cemetery will never be buried there themselves,” because they do not serve in the IDF, said Stern, referring to hareidi rabbinical leaders in the religious establishment.-