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Monday, April 01, 2013 

Balance needed for rights of women and Haredis in the army

The Los Angeles Times spoke with Orna Barbivai, the highest ranking female officer in the IDF, and brings up the potential problems the Haredi recruits might cause:
With Israel's defense challenges, Barbivai says the army needs all the soldiers it can get, including women and ultra-Orthodox Jews.

But balancing the needs of women and ultra-Orthodox men, whose religious beliefs demand segregation of the sexes in many circumstances, would present new challenges.

Can the ultra-Orthodox coexist with women in the army?

It requires effort and planning, but it is possible and well worth the investment. The army needs both the ultra-Orthodox and the women. Efforts must be made to provide a balanced, meaningful service for both.

With the understanding that 30% of first-grade pupils in Israel are ultra-Orthodox, the army has to plan ahead and ensure its ability to draft both men and women in a way that will enable the army to carry out its assignments. Combining the ultra-Orthodox draft with meaningful service for women will take careful, wise implementation and require a balance between the draft and universal values of equality. These values go beyond the specific issue of religious men. The task is to create conditions that allow men and women to share any environment effectively, not only a combat environment.
Her observations are in good faith, but I believe it should be made clear that Haredi men who join the army must be respectable of the fairer sex if there's to be cohesion. Come to think of it, we gotta hope the Haredis are also dedicated to Israel's safety when joining too. And that they even take part in special ceremonies honorably.

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