Knesset member Motti Yogev of the right-wing Jewish Home party was accused of making an apparently chauvinistic remark about the relative worth of males and females in the military.
MK Merav Michaeli (Labor) alleged in a tweet that during a Knesset committee meeting about military service Tuesday, Yogev suggested that shortening male soldiers’ mandatory service, currently close to three years in length, and increasing female soldiers’ shorter mandatory stint — some two years in length — would prove detrimental to the army.
“To replace boys with girls is like replacing [NIS] 200 bills with [NIS] 100 bills and expecting to still have the same amount,” Yogev said, according to Michaeli’s tweet.
ח”כ מוטי יוגב בדיון על הארכת שירות נשים בצה”ל: “להחליף בנים בבנות זה כמו להחליף שטרות של 200 בשטרות של 100 ולצפות שישאר אותו סכום”
— Merav Michaeli (@MeravMichaeli) October 29, 2013
Yogev, however, said that his comment had been misinterpreted by Michaeli.
“Either it’s because I’m hoarse or Merav needs a hearing exam,” he told Channel 10.
“What I explained was that increasing the service for women and reducing the service for men is not like replacing NIS 100 bills with NIS 200 bills for the same amount. She though I said ‘like’ when I said ‘not like.’”
Yogev, a former IDF colonel, added that the army needed combat soldiers to protect the state and said that reducing men’s stints would have the opposite effect because it would create a deficit of personnel that couldn’t be filled by increasing the length of service for women.
“Anyone who thinks they can take advantage of the IDF, and thinks the IDF is there to create equality between men and women, damages the overarching purpose of the IDF, which is to protect the people and the state.”
Earlier in the debate Michaeli said that the army was a “school for inequality.”
“When you leave,” she said, “you understand who fulfills an important role and who’s just providing services.”
Although women serve in combat roles in the IDF, including as air force pilots, the overwhelming majority of front-line combat duties are carried out by men.