Women in Israel: As the IDF becomes more religious, the rights of female soldiers suffer. – Slate Magazine

Women in Israel: As the IDF becomes more religious, the rights of female soldiers suffer. – Slate Magazine.

When 25-year-old Shani Boianjiu served as an infantry instructor in the Israel Defense Forces, her job occasionally involved touching other soldiers—teaching her students how to hold a gun correctly, how to lie on the ground in position, how to protect themselves from enemy attack. Although this was an essential part of the job and made her an excellent instructor, it also caused problems for certain soldiers—that is, for religious male soldiers.

In an essay in the New York Times in September, Boianjiu described what happened when she was teaching a soldier to sit correctly in the field.

 I came up behind him and put both hands on his shoulders, shaking him. I wanted to explain, ‘Look how easy it is for me to shake you out of position,’ but I couldn’t, because the soldier was yelling at me like he was on fire. I couldn’t make out what he was saying, but he was still in training and I was shocked by his disobedience. I thought maybe he was confused, so I bent down in the sand and grabbed his foot, moving it so that his toes pointed forward. If anything, he screamed louder. It was only when the drill ended that I caught what he was saying: ‘I observe touch.’ What this meant was that he couldn’t touch or be touched by girls or women. I was his superior and trainer, but I was also a girl.

It is important for both women and religious men to serve in the Israeli army- as it is the main path to social acceptance and good jobs in Israeli society.  But trampling on women’s recently and hard-won rights should not be the answer. If only Israel could have a smaller, non-draft army….

This entry was posted in Feminism and Jewish Ritual & Practice, Judaism and Social Justice and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Women in Israel: As the IDF becomes more religious, the rights of female soldiers suffer. – Slate Magazine

  1. silver price says:

    When our son David first told us that he wanted to join the Israeli army, we were quite taken aback but not surprised. On the one hand we were very proud of him for feeling so passionately about Israel and displaying his passion for Zionism. This is a huge commitment on the part of any young man and woman. One of our concerns were whether or not he truly understood this type of commitment. It is not like attending a summer camp or training for a marathon. Whether it is a 2 or 3-year commitment, this is intense, both physically and mentally. Also, not having family members nearby when you have time off is a challenge compared to Israeli soldiers that can go home on their free weekends and receive TLC from their families, someone doing their laundry, giving them homemade food, a comfortable bed to sleep in, etc. These were some of the concerns that we had when David decided to join. Also, of course, being safe. Being part of any country’s army is dangerous, and we are always worrying about his safety.

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