Jewish Journal


July 11, 2013

Criticizing the Non-Jewish-Soldiers Burial Compromise



The Garden of the Missing in Action in Mount Herzl in
Jerusalem, Photo by Avi Deror

I was listening to a radio show this morning when one of Israel's legendary warriors (and a controversial police officer), Alik Ron, was asked by the anchor, Ilana Dayan, to read something she called a "poem" but which is really a short limerick. Ron does that from time to time – he writes short verses about current affairs. They rarely have much literary value, but they are often aptly blunt in their criticism of Israeli policies. Today's short verse criticized Israel's recent decision to approve a new compromise on the issue of the burial of non-Jewish soldiers. The compromise, reached between Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and legislator and former General Elazar Stern, would eliminate the special plots for non-Jews and instead establish separate rows for non-Jews within the same burial plots. Ron thinks this is shameful. His verse makes it clear by comparing this Israeli custom to the British cemeteries one can visit in Israel – from the British war against the Ottoman Empire – where Stars of David and Crosses, the graves of Christian and Jewish soldiers, are all in the same rows.  

My article for the IHT-NYT the other day was about the same issue, and as you can see – if you want to read it in full, go here – I'm also uncomfortable with the compromise:

When I asked Stern if he was satisfied with this compromise, he said, “for now.” It isn’t ideal, but it reflects “the complicated nature of Israel’s society.” For him, the most important thing was to do away with “plots in which you only hear Russian speakers” and to stop sending some people “to mourn in the non-Jewish area.”

If Stern is only half-happy with this solution, I am even less happy. I think separate rows should exist only for those families that specifically ask for them, and presumably that’s those for which the rabbinate’s rules are all-important. Since I doubt there are many such Israelis — Stern agrees — the solution to the Tuluzko affair isn’t much of a compromise. It’s just more evidence that Israel’s strict Orthodox minority exercises too much sway over the majority, Jewish and not.

Read it here.

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