Army rabbi: IDF is no place for mistreating women

Brig.-Gen. Rafi Peretz vows to keep extremist Jewish behavior out of IDF ranks; PM speaks out against exclusion of women.

IDF female soldier, camoflage_311 (photo credit: Reuters)
IDF female soldier, camoflage_311
(photo credit: Reuters)
The chief IDF rabbi said he would prevent extremist religious behavior from affecting the role of women in the armed forces, Army Radio reported Friday.
"The same oversight that occurred in Beit Shemesh will not occur in the IDF," Brig.-Gen. and IDF rabbi Rafi Peretz wrote to IDF officials, referring to the recent series of extremist religious assaults and verbal attacks against women in the flashpoint town near Jerusalem.
RELATED:MK Hotovely: 'Extremists desecrating the Torah'Netanyahu warns against anti-haredi, settler incitementThe IDF rabbi said he would not tolerate a particular interpretation of Jewish law to impact the social environment of the IDF.
"The spirit of Jewish law does not allow discrimination or violation of women in any circumstance and on any grounds," Peretz wrote. "I cannot stand idly by in the face of such serious affronts."
Peretz's comments echo those of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday, when he reiterated his opposition to discrimination against women.
The prime minister cited five female soldiers who graduating from the Israel Air Force pilot's course as an example of women's equality.
Speaking at the IAF pilot's course graduation ceremony at the Hatzerim Air Force Base in the Negev, Netanyahu said that "in the State of Israel, in which women sit in the cockpit, women can sit in any place."
The prime minister's comments came amid controversy surrounding the exclusion of women in the public sphere in the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community. In the most recent incident, a haredi resident of Jerusalem was indicted for sexual harassment on Thursday after allegedly shouting a sexual slur at a female IDF soldier who refused to heed his request that she move to the back of a bus.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak also addressed the pilot's course graduates, taking pride in the fact that five of the graduates were women.
"You strengthen and empower the whole society, well done," Barak said to the course's female graduates. "Women are part of our society, more than half of it, and all of us, religious and secular alike, must not only treat them with respect, but also must understand that equality is a natural-born right.