A Boston-born Israeli soldier has been spared from punishment for eating a ham sandwich while on base. The soldier, who immigrated to Israel to join the Israeli army, was originally sentenced to 11 days in military jail for the dietary choice while training.
In the days since the unnamed volunteer brought his ham sandwich onto the Israeli base and reportedly offered some to his friends, a public outcry pushed back against army rules. The initial punishment included ejection from the course but was then lessened to revoke his weekend leave. But military leaders backed down Tuesday. “Bottom line -- we made a mistake,” armed forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Moti Almoz wrote on Facebook of the sentence that was incrementally lowered until it was completely eliminated Tuesday.
At the time of purchase, the soldier seemed not to be violating any rules. Once he went back on base, eating the ham sandwich was in breach of the religious dietary rules of the campus. Ham is not a kosher food, and the military has a kosher-only base policy.
At one point, the soldier’s mother weighed in. It’s amazing "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 nonkosher sausage," the soldier’s mother wrote on Facebook.
The army said it will continue to have kosher kitchen guidelines on base. Kosher diets are traditional religious dietary requirements that forbid the consumption of pork, among other things.
Reports indicate the soldier was new enough to the army that he was unaware of the kosher rules on base.
“The [army] continues to keep kosher on the one hand, but will not pry into the sandwiches brought by soldiers on the other hand,” Almoz continued in his post.