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IDF chief meets rabbis over female service controversy

One religious official who attended says Eisenkot was attentive to their concerns, though significant gaps remain between sides

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, July 13, 2016 (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, July 13, 2016 (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot met Wednesday with a delegation of religious Zionist rabbis to discuss the hot button issue of female integration in the military, a matter that has come under scrutiny over recent controversies.

According to Haaretz, the rabbis detailed their concerns over integrated male-female units while Eisenkot explained to them the rationale — as well as the necessity — for joint service.

Rabbi Yaaqov Medan said the meeting was held in a positive atmosphere. He said no decisions were reached and noted that “there are not-insignificant gaps” between the sides, but added that Eisenkot was attentive and understanding.

“The chief of staff greatly desires to connect us. That we, and not just we but everyone, feel good and an organic part of the IDF,” Medan said.

The debate over gender equality in the IDF was reignited in recent months over the military’s plan to allow women to serve in the Armored Corps for the first time in the nation’s history.

The announcement drew blowback from former high-ranking officers and religious groups.

Yigal Levinstein (YouTube)
Yigal Levinstein (YouTube)

The matter of female integration is problematic for religious soldiers, many of which say close proximity to women contravenes their religious diktats.

Last week Channel 2 news broadcast remarks made by Rabbi Yigal Levinstein, who co-heads a prominent pre-army religious preparatory program, in which he said that Jewish women who enlist in the military “are not Jewish on the way out.” Levinstein also said the military drove them “crazy,” and added that no one would want to marry a female soldier.

The controversial rabbi later apologized for his aggressive tone, but refused to back down from the content. He drew criticism from across the political spectrum, with some exceptions.

 

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