It might be one of the more controversial topics in the IDF today, but that did not stop Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz from cracking a joke on Tuesday about the service of its female soldiers.

Gantz and Barak were in the Golan Heights to visit an exercise of the Golani Brigade’s 51st Battalion. At one point during the drill, Barak turned to Gantz and asked: “What are these female soldiers doing here? Where are they from?”

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“They are here to sing. They sing during their break,” Gantz replied with a chuckle.

Golani Brigade commander Col. Ofek Buhris chimed in: “There is no problem that they sing a solo. It is fine.”

Barak: “I have Dana here with me from my media office. She is from a Moshav, she can sing and she is not in uniform.”

Buhris: “As long as she is without a uniform but with clothes it is okay.”

Gantz then noticed that the media was recording the dialogue. He immediately asked reporters who were part of the media pool invited to cover the event to erase the joke from their tape recorders and video cameras and not to pass it on to their news outlets.

“Even if this is the scoop of your life you will not air this. It will remain in your recorder,” Gantz said to the Army Radio reporter who was at the scene.

He then turned to Nir Dvori, Channel 2’s military reporter and said kiddingly: “You too…otherwise this will be your last story. That would be a pity. Don’t let this be your last story.”

The joke came as a debate is raging in the IDF over so-called Shirat Nashim – Hebrew for women singing – and whether religious soldiers can be forced to attend ceremonies which feature female singers.

Earlier this year, four cadets at the Bahd 1 Officer Training School
walked out of a ceremony after a mixed band took to the stage. The four were expelled from the course and two were recently allowed to return to the school.  

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