Female IDF soldiers move from the front lines to the headlines

Female soldiers in the IDF take a water break during an exercise on Nov 19, 2007. (photo: Israel Defense Forces / Flickr)

Debate over mixed-gender IDF units rages in the Hebrew-language press.

By Adiv Sterman | The Times of Israel | Jan 18, 2018

“It is too bad that too many ultra-religious Zionists — both rabbis and MKs — are stoking the flames, stirring up unnecessary controversy, and provoking hatred.”
— Yossi Yehoshua, writing in Yedioth Ahronoth

The frustration felt by many citizens of the Jewish state over the growing chasm between religious-conservative and secular-liberal values in Israel is reflected in today’s Hebrew-language newspapers, as pundits and analysts pretty much across the board denounce calls for draft evasion issued by prominent right-wing rabbis, including Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, who went as far as saying that the IDF’s chief of staff should be fired for promoting women’s service in combat roles.

“Woman combat soldiers: The secret to the IDF’s success,” writes Israel Hayom’s Maayan Adam, who is an officer in the army reserves herself. “The comments against women’s service no longer manage to anger me; they even lead me to feel pity. It is easy to notice that behind the patriarchal discourse stands a distress call from a handful of scared men,” Adam says, adding that there can be no turning back now that women have been introduced into the army’s various combat units.

“In the end, the IDF is the sum of all its parts, the people of Israel in all their variations, technology and soul, men and women, that is its secret of success.

“That’s where it draws its strength from, and any attempt to remove one of its components will knock down the body in its entirety. . . . Without women, the IDF will lose its power,” Adam concludes.

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