IDF soldiers (illustrative)
IDF soldiers (illustrative) Israel news photo: Flash 90

A proposed law to reward former IDF soldiers and those who did civilian national service is racist against Israeli Arabs, most of whom do not serve, MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz) accused Sunday.

Gal-On, the head of the Meretz party, rejected a law proposed by MK Yariv Levin (Likud) that suggested new benefits for former soldiers and civilian service volunteers. Among other things, Levin’s law would make it legal to prefer former soldiers and volunteers when hiring, or to pay them a higher salary.

She termed the proposal “racist,” and compared it to “racism” at the Superland theme park, which recently found itself in hot water over a covert policy of accepting visiting Arab schools and Jewish schools on separate days.

Gal-On argued that she favors giving benefits to soldiers – but only if Arab citizens who do not serve in either military or civilian service are not left worse-off in comparison.

Israeli Arabs are not required to enlist in the military, and most choose not to perform voluntary civilian service (Sherut Leumi) either.

MK Levin dismissed Gal-On’s condemnation of his bill. “The goal of the law is to ensure that whoever gives to their country gets the benefits they deserve,” he stated.

For purposes of the law, the category “gave to his or her country” would include former IDF soldiers, former civilian service volunteers, and also the immediate family of fallen soldiers and soldiers who were left disabled by wounds sustained during their IDF service.

“Under the proposed law, giving preference to a person because they gave to the country – including preference when hiring, in salary, in providing services – will not be considered illegal discrimination,” Levin said. The law would give “givers” preferred status if they apply to government jobs, he said.

“Those who gave to the country would be given preference in acceptance to university dormitories, and in allocation of land for residency,” he added.