I have read, more than once, articles by people in the US who say, “if the Israeli army drafts women, they must be doing something right, because they’re a darn good army!”
This reasoning is problematic on very many levels.
IDF is really very much the people’s army. Most men (excepting the Ultra Orthodox and, of course, Arabs) serve, as do the majority of the secular women. This is considered a rite of passage, and something most Israelis culturally identify with.
It is worth noting, however, that the idea of “everyone doing their part” is rather based upon old-school communist ideology, the same that instilled children’s homes in the kibbutzim to revolutionize the family unit, an experiment that traumatized a whole generation of children. The IDF is notorious for its ineffective management of human resources – it is commonly known that quite often, women in the Israeli army are assigned office jobs with little value, because there are just too many soldiers in auxiliary positions to dispose of. This leaves many, many young women – and, to tell the truth, many young men as well – in a position of basically killing time (a little less than two years) while they could have worked, studied or started a family. Essentially, the massive draft of women turns into an economic drain, and something that stands in the way of a professional, efficient army.
Israel is, to my knowledge, the only country in the world with an obligatory military service for women. Contrary to popular belief, it is not justified by Israel’s precarious political situation, since advanced technology plays a more important part these days than numbers, certainly more than numbers of soldiers who are superfluous.
This wastefulness and inefficiency, however, is not the worst of it. The feminist agenda of integrating women into combat units which were previously comprised of men only has led to reduced capabilities of said units, and a whole host of problems.
The young women who apply to serve in combat units are often highly motivated and propelled by the best intentions, being little aware of the left-wing agenda that is ready to undermine the army’s capabilities in the name of gender equality.
When it comes to physical performance, it’s a no-brainer, really: women are not as strong as men, on average, and less able to carry heavy loads. The thresholds of acceptance into said combat units have been lowered for the sake of admitting women, which is alarming in itself, but in the moment of truth, men often find themselves performing physical tasks for women who are simply incapable to do what must be done. Nevertheless, the young women are still driven to exertion far beyond their physical capability, sometimes to the detriment of their long-term health.
The second thing one must remember is that the vast majority of Israeli military recruits consists of 18-year-olds straight out of highschool. Put a bunch of teenagers in coed army units, and you get a whole lot of sexual tension, and reduced discipline and unit cohesion.
The third, and very concerning prospect, is what might happen if a woman soldier is taken into captivity. The horrors that would fall to her lot are hardly imaginable (though it is horrifying to think of any soldier in enemy’s hands).
Ultimately, the IDF is supposed to have one single purpose: defending Israel with the utmost efficiency. It’s not a place for social experiments, for gratifying feminists or for indulging individual ambition. If combat units function better when they include men only – and hardly anyone can argue against it being the case – no agendas or prickly egos are supposed to interfere with that.
Furthermore, if a smaller, better managed and more professional army would do better to defend me and my country, I’d take this army any day over a large, clumsily managed “people’s army”.
A lot of people might dispute this, but here is what I, and many others who know far better than I, believe: IDF can do without all its women, and a significant part of its men, with rational management. I believe that such management, and maintaining the safety of Israel, are the only principles that should guide our army.
12 thoughts on “Women in the IDF: an opinion”
You seem to be blaming all the management problems of the IDF on women being drafted. That is disgusting.
I can fully agree that mandatory service is stupid because there are only so many military jobs that need to exist. Forcing people to do busy work is government waste at it’s worst. But blaming the wastefulness solely on women ignores the fact that a highly motivated woman who wants to serve is worth more to the military than a man who doesn’t want to serve.
“The young women who apply to serve in combat units are often highly motivated and propelled by the best intentions, being little aware of the left-wing agenda that is ready to undermine the army’s capabilities in the name of gender equality.” This sentence shows that you have no respect for the autonomy of women. Rather than respecting the women who have both the motivation and aptitude to excel in whatever military capacity they choose, you have belittled them into the pawns of some mysterious left-wing conspiracy.
I’m sorry that you have been abused your entire life, that you have been taught that you are incapable of making decisions for yourself. You are more powerful than you realize and you can do whatever you want with your life. Believe it or not, women are just as capable as men to think and plan and manage. Yes, most women may not be able to carry as much gear as men, but grunts are a dime a dozen and 21st century warfare requires more than mere warm bodies who can point a gun in the right direction. And a woman can easily find a man that she can beat athletically.
Comparing all women to all men only serves to make a straw man argument. It’s as stupid as John McEnroe saying Serena Williams would be ranked 700th on the men’s circuit. She probably wouldn’t beat whomever is #1, but to rank her next to some 21 year old kid from the Czech Republic is beyond insulting. Even if she wasn’t of a similar size to him, she has been playing tennis longer than he’s been alive.
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Catherine, there are certainly more management problems and wastefulness in the IDF than connected with women being drafted, because IDF is a sort of holy cow in Israel, and whenever someone questions their budget there’s an outcry of “would you compromise our safety?!”
Now, certainly young women are able to think for themselves, and nobody forces anyone into a combat unit. But the image of the young woman with a gun, fighting shoulder to shoulder with men, is glorified, and many young women in their zeal to serve choose to do what ultimately is to the detriment of the army.
There are many positions in the army where women can genuinely contribute without risking either their health or the unit’s overall performance, but the coed units reform is pushing the ideal of women #doing just what men do#. And many a soldier has complained, on quite a practical level: “we have a girl on our team, and we end up carrying gear for her because she isn’t physically up to handling it”. This is unpardonable and cannot be allowed to happen in the name of “equality”. IDF is not a feminist playground.
Sweden is on gbe way to be the next country in the world to draft women. My english does not stretch itself to give any in depth explenation to the background of this, suffice it to say that the draft of young men was abolished after the fall of the Soviet Imperium and when a strong belief in world wide eternal peace made the cost of drafting seem uneccecary. The military threat from Russia was what had fuelled that arrangement, and now it was obsolete. Well, time has changed again and the draft is once again used, and this time ybe young girls are drafted also. Only time will tell how this will work out. BUT one thing learned by the old way of drafting is how ineffeccient it was. This time strict tests of fitness and motivation is done to ensure that no resources are wasted on thosr not willing or able. That means that many women and MANY men wont be allowed to serve their country even if they should wish to do so. There are also already a lot of women in yhe army that joined as a career choice, and are serving in areas that are not dependent on physical strength. Most women are serving in intelligence, border patrolling, weapon instruction and other units where physical strenght are not as important. Still, this is an experiment that I as a feminist are strongly opposed to. We women are taking on the hard burden of child birth, and we will be needed to serve our countries at home if war ever struck. My daughter escaped the draft with one year, and I am very happy for that. For those women who want to join the military, that career has already been open för 20 years and more now. The draft and the possibility to serve your country are not excluding each other. Time will tell how it works out.
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Maria, thanks for commenting. What I take issue with is the obligatory drafting of women, and sticking them in the army for almost two years, only to perpetuate an ideology of a “people’s army” and equality, disregarding real needs, abilities, etc, as it is done in Israel. I think that offering a position to women in the army as a possible career choice is quite enough.
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I must say that I cannot see how a person who belongs to a tranche of Israeli society that refuses to serve in its country’s military, even as it insists on occupying territory that most needs to be defended if those Jews wish to stay there, can justifiably have anything much to say about that military. But comment you have, and I’m sure that is your right.
I’m also sure you know far more than I do about the inefficiencies and weaknesses supposedly attending the IDF, if only because you have more access to media and other sources of information on the subject than do many living outside your country. I have no doubt that compulsory service brings its own problems, and it seems reasonable to say that chief among those may be a simple surplus of bodies (although the notion that people in any military can only gain work and life experience of any value by being part of a direct combat force at all times strikes me as a bit naive).
But oh, the leap from reasonable observations to saying that women should be cut out of the military entirely, and to linking their presence to combat weakness (heavens, I really would have thought that old canard had been put to bed by the now-substantial experiences of women on police forces and in fire departments, as well as in many branches of military service throughout the world)…that’s disheartening and frustrating. The truth is doubtless that any number of young men should be left out of Israel’s military in favour of more-capable women, and vice-versa. The idea of a strong, united unit is linked to how discipline and training intersect with each recruit’s abilities and focus, and that has far less to do with biological sex than you wish to think. It’s interesting that you point out yourself that technology is heavily implicated in combat now, yet seem to see no connection between its execution and the role of soldiers therein–solider who often are not huge, strapping hulks, but trained techs of various physical type.
But in fact, I recognise that regardless of what you feel in your heart, you are obliged to say this sort of thing because of your own right-wing agenda. Because–come, now–if you’re going to link Israel’s current military and its notions of equality to some evil Commie past, surely you must own up to your own beliefs, which place women within very definite parameters throughout life, and men within others, quite apart from any of their personal abilities and desires. Fortunately, not everyone thinks as you do, in your native country or elsewhere, and many, thank God, lean more on empirical evidence than on notions of what women supposedly can or cannot do because of their size and strength
*You* feel that women *shouldn’t* be in the army, not that they *cannot* serve efficiently. You would feel far more comfortable is all women, or at least all Jewish women, lived as you do. That’s not going to happen–because many, many women do not want the life you have. I hope they’re all happy for you to have it–but they do not want it imposed on them. Even if they don’t want to serve in the military for any number of reasons, they want the freedom for others to do so, and they want respect for the choices they do make. That’s why many women serve happily and effectively in your military and elsewhere, and on police forces, and in fire departments, and as EMTs, and on construction sites, and in any number of other contexts of which you would not approve.
Object if you wish. But be honest about your grounds. Accept that your lot is what you want–or at least what you chose–and that other women have their own, distinct from yours.
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I’m not sure how you surmise that we “refuse to serve in the military”. My husband served for 3+ years. He saw many of the issues I describe in this post, with my own eyes, though in his time the country was not mad enough to place liberal agendas over the army’s efficiency.
If physical abilities had no advantage on the battlefield anymore, why do the standard tests have to be lowered in order to admit women into combat units? Because let them do the same test men do, and very very few women will be able to pass it, that’s why. Like it or not, in some units, physical strength is still necessary.
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Do you live in Israel? or just believe this?
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I live in Israel.
I think that overall, women need not be drafted in IDF.Firstly,they become Emasculated and view motherhood with disdain.It causes an issue with the men soldiers.Sexual harrassment, feminized males etc. Social experiments have no place in IDF.At the end of the day, women are not sent to front line position s anyway.
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I agree 100%
I’m late to this party, but I do agree with most of your points. As you said, women are not a physically strong as men, and simply cannot accomplish the tasks necessary. There’s also a lot of “make work” going on, which is, as you said, very wasteful. And of course, female soldiers who are captured are in a world of trouble. It brings to mind the mantra of the American Wild West: Save the last bullet for yourself.
One comment caught my eye; you said these eighteen year olds could be home starting families. I disagree with that for any number of reasons. First, having married at 19 the first time, I’m here to tell you 18 is far too young! Maybe being forced to put this off for two years is not bad idea. And while I understand large families are a tradition, the world is over-populated; please don’t start having babies too soon.
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Today I also agree that starting a family at 18 is probably too young. There’s no rush. In any case I believe compulsory drafting for women has no place.