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Noam party chief Maoz: IDF unit promoting women must be closed ‘immediately’

Far-right MK expected to be part of new coalition argues that the military’s gender affairs adviser ‘inserts values that are foreign to the IDF’

MK Avi Maoz seen at the Knesset in Jerusalem on November 22, 2022 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
MK Avi Maoz seen at the Knesset in Jerusalem on November 22, 2022 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Avi Maoz, the head of the far-right homophobic Noam party that is set to join Benjamin Netanyahu’s prospective coalition, said on Saturday evening that he would work to shutter an army unit in charge of promoting equal opportunities for women in the military.

Speaking to Channel 12’s “Meet the Press,” the far-right lawmaker whose party ran as part of the Religious Zionism alliance said the role of gender affairs adviser to the IDF chief of staff must be canceled “immediately.”

Maoz, known for his objection to women serving in the IDF, argued that the unit, currently headed by Brigadier-General Ella Shado-Shechtman, “inserts values that are foreign to the IDF.”

He said he would demand that “the public systems in Israel be run according to government policies and not according to agendas that are foreign to the Jewish state.”

“When we establish the government… we’ll promote the country’s Jewish identity,” he said. “I want to establish an authority that will focus on promoting the Jewish characteristics of the state and block radical progressive groups from entering the military, the Education Ministry and the Israel Police.”

Responding to his remarks, Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party said it would fight such attempts to limit female service.

“We wonder what mothers of serving women or female fighters who voted for Likud are thinking right now… Is this what you wanted? Is this why you voted for Likud? For ignorant politicians telling the military how to treat women? We’re here. We will fight and won’t let this happen,” the party said.

File: Women soldiers in one of the IDF’s field intelligence units, September 21, 2014 (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

Maoz recently said he would seek to roll back a Health Ministry ban on so-called conversion therapy, allowing “psychological consultations for those who don’t want to be gay.”

He reiterated this notion on Saturday, saying he was against conversion therapy but supportive of “psychological therapy for friends of mine who possess upside-down tendencies and want to start a family.”

Gay conversion therapies have been strongly discouraged in the Western world, with major health organizations criticizing what they term pseudo-scientific methods and the treatment of homosexuality as a mental illness.

The Noam party chairman also previously said he would condition his entry into the government on the promotion of a law to prevent the teaching of “gender studies” in elementary schools.

Maoz did not specify what he meant by “gender studies.” There is very little emphasis in the Israeli education system on any form of sex or relationship education, particularly in elementary schools.

Maoz ran on a slate alongside Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionism and Itamar Ben Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit that formally split into three separate factions after the election. Maoz has said he would be conducting his own separate talks with Likud chair and prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu.

Religious Zionism now has seven Knesset seats, Otzma Yehudit six, and Noam has one lawmaker — Maoz.

Netanyahu has until December 11 to form a government, though he can request a 14-day extension if he fails to do so in time.

Judah Ari Gross and Tobias Siegal contributed to this report.

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