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Monday, March 13, 2017 

If they're against homosexuality, why wouldn't they want male soldiers to listen to female singers?

At least two rabbis involved in army staffing or training caused needless controversy recently when they objected to homosexual practice, which in itself, is not a problem, and more annoyingly, when they attacked the idea of women serving in the military. In the case of rabbi Eyal Karim, who's been appointed a chief rabbi for the army, his mistake was how he brought up a bible-related topic, about a tactic used in remote times to rape women who were serving the enemy during wartime. He since apologized for his comments, and did offer clarification, but there's still some stuff that's troubling about what he believes in. For example:
Writing again in Kipa’s Ask the Rabbi column, this time in 2002, Karim said drafting women into the army is only permitted when there is a real threat to the Jewish people, which he said existed in the War of Independence but currently does not.

The rabbi also wrote that female conscription causes problems of “modesty” to women in the army, and that there are “severe ethical consequences” inherent in the IDF due to the insufficient separation of male and female soldiers.

“Since the damage to modesty that is likely to be caused to a girl and to the nation [from female conscription] the great arbiters of Jewish law and the chief rabbinate ruled that the conscription of girls to the IDF is totally forbidden,” Karim wrote 14 years ago.

Following the re-publication of these comments, Karim was summoned by the head of the IDF Manpower Directorate, Maj.-Gen. Hagai Topolanksi, to clarify these positions.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement Tuesday that Karim explained that “It is never permitted in times of war or routinely to sexually harm women.”
While I don't think sexual harm is what he actually meant with the 2002 stuff, I do think his comments about "modesty" were just more of the same idiotic, petty mishmash spouted by a certain segment of rabbis today, who think women are inherently sexual and makes them out to be scapegoats nevertheless. And that's not all:
Attention also has been drawn to rulings made by Karim while serving in the IDF rabbinate regarding women singing in IDF ceremonies.

This issue exploded in 2011 when several incidents occurred in which religious soldiers requested to be exempted from such ceremonies since Jewish law prohibits men from listening to women singing in a live performance.

Karim wrote in a position statement of the IDF rabbinate that it would be more appropriate for male singers and not female singers to perform, and requested that commanders allow religious soldiers not to attend such ceremonies if they so request.

He wrote, however, that a religious soldier does not need to leave such ceremonies if he refrains from looking at a female singer performing at the ceremony.
Say what? Let me get this straight. He complains about homosexuality, and then says that a man shouldn't look at a woman, or shouldn't even listen to a lady singing? Let's say audio makes a good psychological form of treatment, just like visual imagery. Why is he rejecting even that? And according to this news:
On the Kipa website, Karim had also said women should not be conscripted due to concerns over modesty and that under Jewish law female singers should not perform at military events. He also compared homosexuals to sick or disabled people and said they should fight against their homosexuality.
If the above is accurate, then it sums up the contradiction Karim is going by even more starkly. If this is what he thinks, then he's not offering cures for homosexuality at all. Sure, maybe he's advocating "celibacy", but if one needed to make a choice, it's better to opt for heterosexuality and how to ensure a guy can relate properly to a woman than to risk an approach that might influence homosexuality, which Karim supposedly disapproves of.

And now, more recently, another rabbi, Yigal Levenstein, who denounced homosexuality several months ago and struck a nerve amongst leftists, dampened the impact with surprisingly cavalier commentaries about female soldiers:
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Wednesday said he would consider removing a rabbi from his position as head of a pre-army yeshiva, after the cleric was heard telling new army recruits that military service drives female soldiers “crazy” and strips them of their Jewishness.

In footage broadcast by Channel 2 news on Tuesday — a day before International Women’s Day — Rabbi Yigal Levinstein, who runs a pre-army religious academy in the West Bank settlement of Eli, told several hundred graduates of another academy, in the settlement of Bnei Atzmon, that IDF service has “driven our girls crazy.” [...]

In the recording, Levinstein is heard disparaging female soldiers.

“They recruit them to the army, where they enter as Jews, but they’re not Jews by the time they leave,” he said. “Not in the genetic sense, but all of their values and priorities have been upset and we must not allow it.”

What happens if there’s a female company commander? This is a question of madness, it belongs in an insane asylum,” Levinstein said. “This is an Orthodox girl. Put aside those who are secular. They’re making our girls crazy.”
Biblical lady judge Deborah was a commander, and biblical Yael had heroic feats of her own too, yet he disparages the notion a woman would want to prove herself capable of anything positive? On top of that, his comments run the gauntlet of racism, implying that somebody of one race has somehow discarded it simply because of her career choice.
As for female IDF soldiers in camouflage, Levinstein speculated that it was just practice for something far more important.

“Someone told me recently, ‘Don’t worry. They’re just practicing putting on makeup for their wedding day.’ I don’t know who will marry them. She’ll tell the kids battlefield stories at night. That’s what they call the new family, right? Two fathers. It’s a madhouse. Simply a madhouse.”

Levinstein went on to talk about the benefits of marrying young, before categorizing all of the women who serve in Caracal, one of the IDF’s mixed gender infantry battalions, as unattractive.
What has camoflage makeup got to do with any of this? Nobody thinks that's meant to be attractive. Except that, like Karim, he emphasized two sides of the same coin, and if he's suggesting men will turn homosexual because the ladies are wearing camoflage makeup, that's ridiculous. Actually, what irritating about the above comments is that he was being very startlingly cavalier, to say nothing of suggesting he doesn't understand anything about the training programs the army goes by. Yet he runs a yeshiva for pre-military cadets? I don't get it.
Retired Brig. Gen. Rachel Tevah-Wiesel, who advised army brass in issues relating to women, called the comments, “infuriating” and “cowardly” and said rabbis who held views like Levinstein’s were just “scared” because “the train has already left the station” and religious girls are joining the army.

She said that 85% of religious girls in the army told a survey that their religiousness had either stayed the same or intensified during their service.

Some 4,000 religious girls currently serve in the IDF, Tevah-Wiesel said.
The prime minister rebutted Levenstein's statements with this:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the rabbi's remarks, saying Wednesday: "The Hebrew women fighters, since [the biblical] Yael and Deborah, [pre-state paratrooper] Hannah Szenes and Palmach, Irgun and Lehi fighters to today's IDF fighters, border policewomen and the heroic police officers in the streets of Jerusalem, all take an active part in ensuring the security of the State of Israel and in the defense of our nation. We are very proud."
Given that Deborah and Yael were commanders in some way or other, the challenging query is: do rabbis like Levinstein believe their examples were criminal? At worst, he obscures their very existence, putting his devotion to Torah history under a question mark. And he emerges little better than any of the Haredi clans who spout similar dialogue.

He may have apologized, but if he's against soldiers maintaining relations in the army with women outside marriage, his stance on homosexuality is a joke. And it looks like he's still taking up that same position:
Rabbi Levinstein stressed that young men can continue to serve in the IDF in the segregated units, but stressed that "in every place where the army insists on doing things which are halakhically prohibited, a religious soldier cannot participate. What can we do? We're religious. Just like they respect Kashrut and Shabbat, they must understand that religious youths have other restrictions. They have no problem with women but they cannot have physical contact with them or be secluded with them."
And why not? Because pre-marital sex is a sin? Or because these lady soldiers are all Delilahs or something? He acts like everywhere must be considered a synagogue, and there's no room for leisure. On the other hand, he said:
Rabbi Levinstein apologized for his derogatory tone regarding religious female soldiers but stressed that he was not changing his viewpoint. He said that "the IDF has made huge campaigns to conscript religious girls and the campaigns stem from a broader feminist desire to draw girls into these processes."
If there's been any kind of a leftist campaign to do this, no, it wouldn't be good. Even so, the way he makes it sound like women shouldn't even work in simpler jobs like intel, and doesn't say it can be good for women to learn combat skills or show any kind of gratitude for what heroic feats they did accomplish is telling and troubling.

Maybe the most surprising thing, however, is the revelation he reads Haaretz, and is supposedly a liberal himself? Very strange. For now, somebody's going to have to tell these rabbis to start rethinking their approach, because it's not only insulting and cavalier, it's also contradictory.

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