Former defense minister Moshe Yaalon.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israeli society and the defense establishment still have a long way to ago in achieving equality for women, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Tuesday in a statement issued to mark International Women’s Day.
Against the backdrop of an ongoing Military Police investigation into allegations of rape against Brig.-Gen. Ofek Buchris – allegations the high-ranking officer has vehemently denied, Ya’alon released a strongly worded statement on his social media account.
“Have the State of Israel and the defense establishment come a long way in the integration of women and improving their standing in society? The answer is ‘Yes.’ Have we done enough? The answer is ‘No,’” he said.
“The promotion of women is a value we as a society need. In the IDF, and in the various defense organizations, in hi-tech, the economy, politics, and industry.
Today, there are still insufficient numbers of women, from all sectors of society, in senior roles in the private and public sectors in Israel. The changes we are experiencing must continue, at a faster pace. The presence of women at top levels should be accepted naturally,” Ya’alon wrote.
The defense minister called for better integration of women, better salaries, and for access to be given to them to closed clubs made up of men, “some of whom are less talented and successful than they are, but who receive preference because they are men.”
Israel must fight, “in every legal and educational way, against violence and sexual harassment that targets women, and the attempt to tar those who lodge complaints,” he said. “None of us really understand what happens in the mind of a woman who experienced violence, harassment, or sexual assault,” he said.
“We have a long way to go.”
On Monday Buchris and his two accusers underwent polygraph tests, the results of which were not publicized. On Wednesday, Buchris is expected to confront his main accuser – who has alleged five separate instances of rape – in a face-to-face meeting set up by the Military Police.
IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan has already suspended Buchris for at least two weeks pending the progress of the investigation.
Following the defense minister’s statement, MK Shelly Yacimovich (Zionist Union) said she salutes Ya’alon for his “sharp display of leadership and values.”
“In his clear remarks about women’s right to their bodies and their dignity and the battle for equality, he is sending an important message to women in general and female IDF soldiers, specifically,” Yacimovich stated. “This is the only appropriate thing to say on this day, when there is a real revolution of women leaving the darkness of shame and standing up to those who harmed them, even when those people are powerful.”Lahav Harkov and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.