TEL AVIV (Jan. 1)
A Druze soldier, Mohammed Zayed Salem, was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for desertion Thursday by a military court which refused to accept reincarnation as an explanation for his eight years’ absence from the Israel Defense Force.
Salem, who lives in Shafr-Am village in Galilee, is a believer in the transmigration of souls, a tenet of the Druze religion. He told the court that he had been a Syrian soldier in a previous incarnation and was crushed by an Israeli tank. In his present existence he has a deadly fear of tanks and skipped from the IDF for that reason.
The Druze are the only minority in Israel allowed to serve in the IDF. They are considered brave fighters, partly because their faith teaches that upon death, the soul takes residence in the body of a new-born infant. Even though death is a family tragedy, it is considered only a way station in a series of existences.