Livnat: Bring in Hareidi Recruits, But Ensure IDF Women’s Rights

October 2, 2013  

The large-scale draft of young hareidi men the government is planning has numerous ramifications that legislators are only now starting to grapple with. Among those: The fate of women in the IDF.

According to Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat, there is a real danger that the role of women in the IDF will be minimized, as thousands of new recruits who eschew contact with females begin to fill the ranks.

There are tens of thousands of women in the army, fulfilling almost every role men do, from clerical work to intelligence to field duty. Livnat wants to ensure that women who are already serving are able to do so without interference from anyone – new recruits or officers – and that the army continues to allow women to serve in an equal capacity to men.

The proposed law that would authorize the mass draft of young hareidi man specifies that the IDF do whatever it can to accommodate the recruits’ cultural and religious sensibilities. When it comes to issues like Sabbath observance and ensuring the highest level of kashrut in foods, the army will have no problem, said Livnat. But in the event that a hareidi soldier is required to interact with a female of higher rank, or if a woman soldier is in the field and out of necessity working in cooperation with a unit of hareidi soldiers, it was possible that some tensions could develop, said Livnat.

Some advanced planning should prevent those problems, Livnat told members of a governmental committee on ensuring that all Israelis serve in the IDF Wednesday. Livnat recently joined the committee, she said, because “it came to my attention that there was not one female member,” she said. Subsequently MK Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi/Jewish Home) also joined and was named chairperson.

“I believe that ensuring not only that women have a role in the IDF, but that they have an honorable role, is a key mission of this committee,” Livnat said. “Already there has been some tension surrounding this issue, and this is before the large-scale draft of hareidi men.”

The committee has proposed adding to the law on drafting hareidi men a section that would relate to the “honor of women in the IDF.” Commenting on this, hareidi MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) said that “the status of women is very high in hareidi society, and in fact they are given more honor than men are. We have no problem with a law to guarantee the honor of women, but that would necessitate one that ensures the honor of hareidi IDF recruits.”

MK Shaked said that officers and top officials in the army could help resolve these tensions as well.

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