Steven Aiello

Eid Al-Fitr Mubarak, from the Chief of Staff

I want to share an open letter from the Chief of Staff of the IDF, Lieutenant General Benjamin Gantz. The letter, and its context, touches upon some of the complexities of the armed conflict that Israel is currently engaged in, as well as the broader regional conflicts that it has faced and remains party to. I will try to touch on some of the complexities in a future post, but for now, here are the holiday greetings. (Translation is my own)

“Blessings of the Chief of Staff on the Occasion of the Holiday “Eid Al-Fitr”

My friends, members of the Muslim, Bedouin and Circassian communities,

The IDF finds itself in a complex military campaign, with the goal to restore quiet and security to the residents and citizens of the state of Israel. Amongst the ranks of the commanders and soldiers of the IDF participating in Operation “Protective Edge” can be found you, our friends, members of the Muslim, Bedouin and Circassian communities. From your great efforts for the success of the mission, whether amongst the combatants or those providing support for combatants, we learn about the friendship and the feeling of responsibility that characterizes your actions.

Your integration in the current campaign is but one example of your many contributions to the task of protecting the State of Israel. From the early years of the state, our brothers, soldiers of the Muslim, Bedouin and Circassian communities, marched shoulder to shoulder with their comrades in arms of other faiths, striving out of endless self-sacrifice, and fought with courageous spirit to guarantee peace for the citizens and residents of Israel. I know that you too, who follow in this path, will continue to perform your reliable work and to serve the IDF out of love of your land and responsible for the safety of its residents. You have once again shown that you are an indispensable part of the Israeli Defense Force.

We will remember and mention our friends, who fell on the battlefield fulfilling their duty to protect this land. We embrace and support the families of fallen soldiers with the continual struggle to bear the pain and loss.
Even in these days of war, it is important for me to send my holiday greetings and best wishes to you and your families, in my name, and in the name of all of the commanders and soldiers of the IDF, Happy Eid Al-Fitr.

Fulfill your duties and return home in peace!”

About the Author
Steven Aiello is the Director of Debate for Peace (, and a board member of the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development NY. He has a BA in Economics, MA in Diplomacy and Conflict Studies, and MA in Islamic Studies. He teaches Model UN for schools throughout Israel. Among his other hats he serves as Regional Coordinator for Creating Friendships for Peace, and Dialogue Officer at Asfar. Steven has also served as Chief of the Middle East Desk Head for Wikistrat, interned for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and the American Islamic Congress. His writing has been published in the NY Daily News, Jerusalem Post, Iran Human Rights Review; Berkley Center at Georgetown;, and the Center for Islamic Pluralism. He can be reached via email at