Recruiting religious girls for national service is an accomplished fact.
The time has come to halt discrimination and to cease hiding information from them
On Monday, 29 May 2017, Member of Knesset Dr. Aliza Lavie led a session for the Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality discussing the integration of religious women in the Israel Defense Forces and National Service. In attendance were representatives from religious communities, both for and against the participation of religious women. Also present was Member of Knesset Eliezer Stern, Brigader General Sharon Nir, the Women’s Affairs Adviser to the military, and representatives from the state-funded religious high schools.
In this session, officials from “Aluma”, a non-profit organization that promotes the distribution of information on military opportunities to religious women, presented statistics refuting the assertion that army service undermines religious identity: according to Aluma, 90% of religious women who serve in the army believe that their service did not weaken their religious identity. Moreover, 37% of respondents testified that their service actually strengthened their religious identity.
MK Dr. Aliza Lavie concluded that “Reality is stronger than intimidation and threats. In fact, more and more religious girls are recruited to the IDF, making meaningful contributions both to themselves and to the army. Contrary common thought, religious identity of religious women is not weakened by IDF service. Therefore, the issue is not the recruitment of religious women into the IDF, because this already happens, but rather the lack of information regarding the participation of religious women in the army. The Ministry of Education still deliberately prohibits the army from entering religious high schools, further hampering the ability for them to learn about military service opportunities. This is like putting an obstacle before a blind person. It’s time to stop campaigns of intimidation and demonization against religious women who serve, and to allow them to make a conscious and free decision with their families.
A concluding comment from MK Lavie: ” I call upon Naftali Bennet, the Minister of Education, to initiate a conversation between the religious schools and organizations like Aluma, understanding the reality that more religious women are joining the IDF, and looking after a future generation of young religious schools and organizations like Aluma, who understand the reality that more religious women are joining the IDF thus, concerning themselves with the future generations of young religious girls, repairing this breach of responsibility by the educational authorities. Their success is our success.”