Rabbi Aviner: Non-Jews Shouldn’t Serve in IDF


harav-shlomo-aviner_aWhile the country is abuzz with the resignation of Brigadier-General Imad Fares over a traffic accident his wife was involved in while driving his military-issued vehicle, some are questioning the halachic legitimacy of non-Jews serving in the Israel Defense Forces. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, a prominent rabbi in the Religious Zionism movement, ruled that according to halacha, non-Jews – “not just officers, but also soldiers” – have no place serving in the IDF.

He based his religious ruling on a statement made by the Rambam: “A person who is Jewish is connected to the nation. A person who is not Jewish does not have a connection like that of the Jew.”

Rabbi Aviner addressed the issue in a recorded discussion published on the website Maale after visitors to the site brought up the scandal in which Brig.-Gen. Fares is embroiled. The website visitors asked Rabbi Aviner what the halachic viewpoint is on non-Jewish serving in high-ranking positions in the IDF.

“The Rambam says explicitly – only Jews in the IDF,” responded the rabbi. “It is not the proper order that non-Jews serve in the army.”

He explained that though Druze serving in the military are loyal to the State and dedicate their lives to it, “questions of this sort cannot be decided upon in an individual, inductive, or limited manner. The question is all-inclusive: Are there or aren’t there non-Jews in the IDF?”

Rabbi Aviner said that alternative positions should be granted to non-Jews: “National service is most certainly allowed and obligatory.”

The rabbi emphasized that his halachic ruling is not meant “to disrespect the great appreciation or the recognition of the good of all the non-Jewish soldiers who dedicate their lives to the IDF and are even killed (in service).”

He added, “Of course, we won’t come and change the structure of the IDF, but a question was asked in principle. Such is the answer, and the answer is clear.”

{Ynet/Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel}


  1. It is things like this that give ammunition to those who say israel is racist. I understand where the rabbi is coming from, but not sure I agree. If a nonJew was born and lived his/her whole life in Israel… why shouldn’t they be in the IDF?

  2. It’s people like Rabbi Aviner who give Religious Zionism a bad name. He has managed to get the media to appoint him as a spokesperson for all Religious Zionists. Most Religious Zionists do not hold opinions that are so extreme, yet when Rabbi Aviner speaks, the Yiddishe world listens. It’s not fair that all Religious Zionists should be associated with his views.

  3. Hey Rabbi! – Racist much?

    Believe it or not, I have a goyishe dual-American friend. He’s French thanks to his mother and American thanks to his father.

    Anyway, when he was young, he loved to fight and loved all things related to military service. He also happens to have an affinity for Jews. He joined the French Army, served in the IDF (participating in the Lebanon invasion in the early ’80s), the U.S. Army and the U.S. National Guard.

    Why can’t Israel have more guys like that? Not everyone hates Jews. We have been emancipated in Europe since the 1800s and our relationship with goyim is getting better all the time. We should welcome help from all decent people.

  4. It’s not racist, just not clear – the rambam says am yisroel, and rav sadiah gaon says that klal yisroel is a nation by virtue of the torah, not an economy, army, giovernment, language, etc.. – this is a great example of now nationalism interferes with halacha. The rambam is taling about the nation of clal yisroel as the am hatorah and the am hanivchar – klal yisroel have no associates with goyim, so the rambam is not ‘explicitly’ talking about the nation, as in, the state of israel. It’s a nice play on words, but I wonder if R. Aviner would say the same if the zionists named their country the ‘state of judaestan’ r something else – from a religious zionist perspective, it’s a cute drush, but to pasken a halacha like that is just too far.

    I should hope this is a misqoute – I’m not mekabel such things about a rov.