Israeli Druze Commander Quits Army Over Nation-state Law in Open Letter to Netanyahu

In a Facebook post, Capt. Amir Jmall calls on leaders of his community to work toward putting an end to the compulsory conscription of Israeli Druze

Capt. Amir Jmall, a member of Israel's Druze community, posted an open letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his Facebook page Sunday, stating that he will stop serving in the military in protest of the controversial nation-state law.

Subscribe to Haaretz today, save 25% - and stay updated on everything important

A screenshot of Amir Jmall's Facebook post.
Screenshot / Amir Jmall / Facebook

In the letter, Jmall also called on leaders of his community to work toward putting an end to the compulsory conscription of Israel's Druze. The Facebook post has since been removed.

"This morning, when I woke up to drive to the [army] base, I asked myself, why? Why do I have to serve the State of Israel, a state that my two brothers, my father and I have served with dedication, a sense of mission and a love of the homeland, and, in the end, what do we get? To be second-class citizens," Jmall wrote.

>> 'When we’re in uniform they treat us well': Israel's Druze no longer feel like blood brothers

Israel’s controversial nation-state law threatens to tear the IDF apart

"Continue serving the country? I do not want to continue and I am sure that hundreds more people will stop serving and will be discharged from the army following your decision, Netanyahu, that of you and your government,” he continued.

"After many thoughts ran through my head, I decided to let go and to discontinue serving the country, a country that has a government that takes and does not give back.”

In conclusion, Jmall wrote: "I ask everyone who is against the nation-state law to share and share my proposal to community leaders to stop the conscription law for members of the Druze community."

The Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, also known as the nation-state law, approved by the Knesset on July 19, affirmed that only Jews have the right to self-determination in Israel. It also downgraded Arabic to a language with “special status,” among several other controversial measures that affect the Israeli Druze.

The nation-state law is designed to alter the application of the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty in court rulings, and permits judges to give priority to Israel’s Jewish character in their rulings.

Last week, Druze lawmakers were the first to file a High Court of Justice petition against the legislation. A hundred Druze Israel Defense Forces reserve officers added their voices to that effort on Wednesday, prompting Education Minister Naftali Bennett to speak out in support of “our blood brothers” on Twitter.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon echoed similar sentiments on Thursday, telling Israeli Army Radio, "The enactment of the nation-state law was done hastily," and adding: "We were wrong and we need to fix it."

On Saturday, Israeli Arab lawmaker Zouheir Bahloul (Zionist Union) announced his intention to resign from the Knesset in protest of the law. "The law oppresses me and oppresses the population that sent me to the Knesset,'' he said.