Skip to comments.Israel’s Female Soldiers: A Difficult Balance of Equality and Military Reality
Posted on 04/21/2017 5:13:32 AM PDT by SJackson
JNS.org Israels female soldiers seem to break barriers on a consistent basis. In January, new figures revealed that the number of women serving in combat roles in the IDFs Home Front Command is up 38 percent this year. And last month, the IDF launched a pilot program in which women will be trained as tank operators for the first time.
Indeed, the Jewish state takes pride in being an oasis for gender equality in a region largely bereft of womens rights; this attitude extends to Israels military. At the same time, for a nation facing ever-present security threats both internally and on its borders, gender equality has its limits.
The mission of the army is to protect and win. We need to understand that the mission of the army is not equal opportunity, Brigadier General (Res.) Gila Klifi-Amir, who has had a 30-year career with the IDF and served as an adviser on womens issues to the militarys chief of staff, said on April 3 in New York City.
Klifi-Amir moderated a discussion with three female Israeli soldiers Sgt. Noam, Staff Sgt. Maya and Staff Sgt. Y whose full names were withheld for security reasons. The panel took place as part of a program hosted by the Young Leadership Division of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, a nonprofit dedicated to aiding the education and well-being of IDF soldiers.
The female soldiers on the panel all told JNS.org that they have never encountered discrimination, and that their male counterparts treat them with respect. Staff Sgt. Y described her interactions with male soldiers as very, very professional, and Staff Sgt. Maya who commands an infirmary at her battalions headquarters explained, We train with the guys, we do everything like them. Inside the unit, everything is the same.
Israel is the worlds only country where military service is obligatory for women. Women must serve two years in the military, with some exceptions, such as if they are pregnant. Today, 95 percent of the IDFs positions are available to women, according to Klifi-Amir.
Yet equal opportunity does not exist in the purest sense, the female soldiers said. Klifi-Amir told the crowd that she does not believe all military positions should be open to women. The physical training required for some military roles may be too grueling for a womans body, and the IDF is responsible for the life of each soldier, she said.
Where its right and it could be helpful, then it should be done. Where its not, then no, Staff Sgt. Y said, regarding equal military roles for men and women.
I need to learn to carry my own equipment, even if its very heavy, and when someone offers to help me, I know to say no, Staff Sgt. Y said. I dont want [male soldiers] to think theres an area where I am different from them.
Gender is not the only issue that these soldiers grapple with.
Sgt. Noam, 19, who was born in Vietnam and adopted as an infant by an IDF soldiers widow, discussed the challenge of training medical personnel in reserve units, and getting the trainees to respect her because of her youth.
Most of the people are 40-years-old or 35, and Im so young, she said. A doctor who has so much experience, how can I tell him what to do? Its challenging. How can I teach him ? Because the medical material [learned] in a civilians life is not the same as in the army. And some operations done in the civilian world are much harder [to perform in the army].
She also said that her Vietnamese background has attracted some unwanted attention from Israelis. Due to Israels relatively low East Asian-born population, she said, people probe her about her family and her physical appearance, and wonder how she can speak Hebrew so well.
My favorite question is, What are you? So sometimes I just answer that Im an alien and that you should take me to your leader, Noam said.
Staff Sgt. Y, 23, is the first female soldier to oversee medical protocol and instruction in the Israeli Navys Flotilla 13 (Shayetet), a special unit comparable to the US Navy SEALs. As a paramedic, she has also treated wounded terrorists.
Inside of me, its not easy at all, she said of that experience. It is very, very hard. But its part of the job.
Klifi-Amir added, If we lose our values, we will become like other armies on the Arab side and [the] Muslim side. We will not be like that.
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With "integration" a fact for nearly 60 years, a third of the force and half the officers female, I'm not sure of the relevance to the US experience. Not to mention the relative "manpower" needs.
Israeli womens combat roles exaggerated, military traditionalists say Besides, while Im an alien and that you should take me to your leader is a great answer, What are you? is a question the would get you in trouble with most employers in the US>
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One thing is certain, those girls aren’t Millenial snowflakes.
Wonderful to see beautiful faces like that that aren’t ruined by a ton of makeup. I have a stunning step daughter (remember Sandra Santiago in Miami Vice?) Who wears too much of the stuff. Don’t understand it.
I’m with you. My older daughter used to do her eye makeup like a streetwalking raccoon.
A home guard can use both the elderly and women in certain roles like it did during WWII. Most of these gals ride buses and act as a security force.
Not sure if these are real IDF gals or not, but if so...they are beautiful.
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