The IDF is facing criticism that it removed a video by the Israel Air Force for International Woman’s Day following pressure from religious groups opposed to female combat soldiers.
The IDF’s Spokesperson’s Unit responded that the “The Air Force’s answer to chauvinism” video, which shows female soldiers in a variety of roles in the air force, was removed because it had not been officially approved before it was uploaded.
“The video was prepared by the media staff of the air force magazine and is not an official product of the IDF Spokesman’s Office.
Regardless of its content, we note that it was not approved as required of products published on the IDF’s platforms. As a result of this, procedures on the matter will be defined,” the Spokesperson’s Unit said.
However, the National-Religious affiliated website Srugim took responsibility for the video’s removal, tweeting that it had been taken down after they complained to the IDF that it was “provocative.”
The video has a voiceover by female soldiers repeating frequent claims by rabbis in the religious Zionist movement, such as that women have no physical strength or that they need to look after their children.
“There are those who say women can’t be warriors, that they just aren’t built for it, that they just can’t do it physiologically. It’s 4 p.m. – they should be home with the children. Her poor children, her poor husband,” the voiceover says as female air force soldiers are seen running through an obstacle course or on duty as air traffic controllers or as helicopter mechanics or pilots.
“Women can’t drive, so they can’t fly a plane? So they say...” the voiceover continues just as the video ends with a female pilot getting into the cockpit of a fighter jet.
Several female politicians have criticized the army for the removal of the video, with Knesset Control Committee chairwoman MK Shelly Yacimovich (Zionist Union) calling it “an offensive surrender” by the military.
“This is an offensive surrender of the IDF to ignorant elements in religious Zionism who don’t even represent their own community, and a slap in the face of women soldiers and officers,” she wrote on her Facebook page.
Yacimovich called on the public to distribute the “beautiful and empowering” video “because if the Air Force is afraid of itself, let’s do the work for them.”
MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) also called on the public to share the video, tweeting “What they say to women in combat is what they say to women in politics, and what they say to every successful woman. That’s over! We won’t be silent, we will fight and succeed. A proper army is not a religious army. Share this video forcefully.”
In recent months, several rabbis have criticized women serving in the IDF, including Safed Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, who called for the dismissal of IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, warning that there was a “war brewing” over the issue.
Eisenkot said that the IDF has only one agenda, and that is to be strong and victorious in times of war. As such, he added, the IDF will continue to offer combat positions to women.
Over the past year, several women have been promoted to senior ranks in the Air Force. On International Women’s Day, IDF Air Defense Division Commander Brig.-Gen Zvika Haimovitch announced that the division will have its first female deputy battalion commander.
Maj. Revital (last name withheld for security purposes) is scheduled to assume the new position in the summer, as deputy battalion commander of the David’s Sling missile defense system. She began her service on the Hawk missile batteries and was the first female commander of an Iron Dome battery during Operation Protective Edge. Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.