The Jerusalem Post reports that an IDF commission has ruled that women should not be prevented from joining any combat units, including combat units such as front-line infantry and commandos. This commission is assisting the IDF with long term planning and has made this recommendation along with suggestions that women’s service in the IDF be extended to match men’s (from two to three years) and that gender should no longer play any role in assigning roles in the military.

Currently, about 1500 women serve in combat roles, which represents a little better than one out of every 50 conscripted women in the IDF. Clearly, some women feel this isn’t enough:

Retired general Yehudit Ben-Natan, who headed the now-defunct Women’s Corps, said she had long championed total integration of women in the military and rejected arguments that women should be kept out of the front line because they might be hurt, taken prisoner or forced to work in uncomfortably confined spaces with men.

“The heart and soul of the IDF is combat and if we are in the army we need to be at its heart,” she told the radio. “Let there be tanks with all-female crews and all-woman missile batteries, because we can do it and we must stop allocating duties by gender.”

Not only career military women agree, the article points out that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of women being permitted to join the Israeli Air Force’s pilot program and that subsequently, one of the combat pilots in the IAF reserves is a mother who gave birth 5 months ago.

The commission which has made the current recommendation does not have the power to implement it, from what I understood from the article, but will have an influence on IDF human resources decisions.

I suspect, by the way, that the committee’s reasoning may not be entirely due to the unspoken implication that women are men’s equals in every way, but also due to declining percentages of conscripts to the IDF as Israel’s Haredi communities grow exponentially. As we well know, these communities have been given a virtually permanent pass, thanks to the Tal law, not to serve in the IDF. If you have a manpower shortfall because of religious reasons, why not tap that pool of secular or non-observant Jewish women as replacements?

Maybe that is a little cynical, but the timing is suspicious considering that the IDF marked a small drop-off in conscription numbers recently while the newspapers have been filled with articles about Israel’s demographic timebomb as non-Zionist Haredi and Arab babies tend to represent about 40% of the babies in the, uh, baby pipeline of a decade hence.

I suspect that many women wish this commission would go away and leave them alone. Two years of service were enough, but now three will be expected. Instead of working a cushy desk job or training some tank grunts, they will now be expected to be the grunts…and on the front lines yet. Most sane people would disagree with the notion that fighting wars is fun or desirable. I’ll bet most Israeli women are rolling their eyes in disgust and wishing the feminist equality train would stop at equality in the government, workplace and marketplace but long before it reaches the military equality station. This is reasonable, since it could easily be argued that some of the sanest people in Israel are the non-IDF-serving ultra-Orthodox who get others to use up years of their lives to fight on their behalf. I wonder if a whole bunch of Israeli women are going to be finding religion soon.

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  • TM wrote: “…also due to declining percentages of conscripts to the IDF as Israel’s Haredi communities grow exponentially. ”

    Please note that about 40% of otherwise eligible non-Haredi men do not serve in the Army either. Don’t blame it all on the Haredim. We all read the casualty reports from the last war – hardly any Tel Avivians. Just suckers like new immigrants and moshavnikim. Israel is suffering from a malaise that has little to do with the Haredim and more to do with a new generation of snot nosed self-entitled narcissists and the shit head parents that raised them. Israel is losing it’s sense of purpose. This is our real challenge.

  • I know what you mean, but I beg to differ on the details.

    The figures are contained in reports issued in July by two Israeli government agencies. One, released by the army’s manpower division, simply states the proportions of conscripts and exemptees. According to the report, just under 24% of all 18-year-olds will be exempted from the draft this coming fall. Of those, 11% — close to half — will be excused because of Torah studies. The rest will be divided roughly evenly among Israelis living abroad, those with criminal records, medical deferments and those found “psychologically unfit” — by health or inclination — for military service.

    Nonreligious exemptions have declined in recent years, but Torah exemptions have soared. The main reason is fertility: The Haredi community averages 7.6 children per woman, roughly triple the rate for the population as a whole, according to the Israel government’s Central Bureau of Statistics.

    The demographic trend is demonstrated plainly in another report, prepared by the statistics bureau for the Ministry of Education. The report shows enrollment figures in Israel’s three separate Jewish school systems, the state-secular, state-religious (Modern Orthodox) and Haredi streams. In the 15 years from 1992 to 2007, the proportion of Jewish children attending state-secular elementary schools dropped to 55% of the total from 67%; in 2012 it is projected to fall to 51%. The percentage attending Haredi schools, meanwhile, went from 12.4% in 1992 to 26.7% in 2007 and a projected 31% in 2012. Modern Orthodox schools (whose graduates do perform military service) remain steady throughout at roughly 18%.

    At some point in the late 2020s, if current trends continue, the percentage of Israeli Jews claiming army exemption due to Torah study will pass the 30% mark and continue climbing.

    These figures don’t include the schools of Israel’s Arab community, which is almost entirely exempt from military service. The Israeli Arab birthrate is climbing, as well, although nowhere near the pace of Haredi increase.

    Factoring in the Arab schools, Israel’s elementary-school population in 2012 will look like this: 41.7% state-secular, 13.5% state-religious, 17.4% Haredi and 27.4% Arab. Unless something changes drastically, Israel’s military draft pool will fall below 50% of draft-age youth by the year 2030 or soon after.

  • Baby-making is a huge drain on social productivity. But why should it be, when babies can be purchased ready made, toilet trained, and reading?

    Fancier folks, who want to say “my son/daughter the doctor” can purchase chlidren at medical graduations, but that is the high end, naturally.

    Some researchers are addressing the problem even more directly. By simply not dying, ever, we can completely dispense with that old fashioned thing our parents used to do, childbirth, midnight feedings, all that stuff.

    Down with death. It’s the modern way.


  • My point is, the seculars should have more children instead of carping that the religious have so many.

    There are financial difficulties but they can be worked on.

    Eating your seed corn is not a great idea.