Female soldiers have already been harmed by haredi enlistment, Culture and Sport
Minister Limor Livnat warned on Wednesday.
Livnat, chairwoman of the
Ministerial Committee on the Status of Women, took part in a meeting of the
Shaked Committee on haredi enlistment, on how the policy will affect women in
the IDF. The meeting focused on article 26a of the bill, which states that the
IDF must “defend the dignity, integration and status of
“Unfortunately, people seem to have the impression that this is a
battle of Amazonians versus macho men,” Livnat quipped.
recounted that she demanded to be on the ministerial committee that drafted the
legislation on haredi enlistment to make sure it would be sensitive to women in
“My goal is not only to integrate women in the IDF but to
protect their dignity,” Livnat stated. “We already see more than a slight
decline in women’s status in the IDF, even before significant numbers of haredim
Livnat demanded that an article be added to the bill allowing
women to increase their mandatory service time, by request, in order to be able
to fulfill more roles in the military. At the same time, she did not think they
should be required to serve the same amount of time as men, as long as hesder
yeshiva students [who combine yeshiva studies with military service] do not have
to do so.
Committee chairwoman Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) said there is
no doubt that women’s rights are important, but the argument is about whether
they should be part of the haredi enlistment bill.
MK Elazar Stern
(Hatnua), former head of manpower in the IDF, said he thinks that there should
be fewer laws controlling military officers, and suggested that the words
“dignity” and “status” be taken out of the bill.
MK Moshe Gafni (United
Torah Judaism) said that in haredi society, women are respected more than
“We have no problem with the bill having an article requiring that
women’s dignity be protected, as long as haredim’s dignity is preserved as
well,” Gafni said, reasoning that “if such an article is authorized [without
including haredi dignity], it could mean that a woman will go to the High Court
to complain she could not serve at a base with haredim and the court will
require she be allowed on the base because the law says only her dignity is
MK Michal Biran (Labor) took issue with the concept of
women-free military bases.
“I refuse to accept that people will look at
me or at any other person like he or she is a disease,” Biran said. “Just as
women can’t be thrown out of Knesset committee meetings because there are
haredim in the room, women can’t be pushed out of IDF bases.”
government is trying to convince thousands of haredim to enlist, they have to
accept their lifestyle and the fact that many of them don’t want women around,
UTJ MK Meir Porush told the committee.
“If you want to change our
lifestyle, say it outright in the bill,” Porush challenged the MKs.
Omer Bar-Lev (Labor) said that he agrees there should be an article in the bill
protecting women’s rights in the IDF, but suggested that it be based on the idea
of total equality, including in placement and moving up the ranks.
clear that there will be difficulties, but haredi enlistment cannot come at the
expense of female soldiers and officers in the IDF. We cannot compromise on
that,” Bar-Lev said.
“IDF commanders’ good sense needs to try to prevent
a conflict [between haredim and women],” Shaked said.
“When soldiers want
to leave a ceremony because women are singing, a commander should let them do so
At the end of the meeting, Shaked told the MKs they will be
able to vote on one of three versions of the article: The original text, one
without the word “dignity,” and one that also mentions haredi soldiers’ dignity.