Sparing soldier over non-kosher sandwich is a slippery slope, says Israeli deputy minister

Israel’s deputy defense minister attacked the Israeli army’s decision to go easy on a soldier caught smuggling a ham sandwich onto base.

“The state of Israel is a Jewish state, whose Jewish identity we strengthen,” announced Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, the deputy minister, on his Twitter account, in response to the army’s decision to cancel the 11-day sentence it had meted out to the soldier for violating its kosher regulations. Ben Dahan, a member of the right-wing Haybayit Hayehudi party, added that “we will continue” to defend the Jewish character of its institutions.

The soldier, who was born in Boston and recently immigrated to Israel to volunteer for the Israel Defense Forces, was taking a course to become a squad commander. The army also decided to eject him from the course.

The soldier lives on a kibbutz with his grandmother, who made him the sandwiches, which he proceeded to offer to his fellow soldiers.

On her Facebook page, the lone soldier’s mother wrote that it is unbelievable “that in Israel in 2015 my boy, who chose to return to Israel to volunteer for combat service, will be sent to military jail because he ate a non-kosher sausage.”

The public outcry caused the army to reduce the sentence to cancelation of leave and eventually to cancel the punishment altogether on Tuesday.

IDF Spokesman Gen. Moti Almoz wrote on his Facebook page that the military erred in the way it dealt with the situation, and noted that while the army would continue maintaining kosher bases, it would stop prying into the ingredients of soldiers’ sandwiches.


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