Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Women in the IDF

Lydia in the comments asks about women in the IDF in general, and about my daughter Nechama in particular.

It's an interesting question, precisely because the answer is so diverse. The simple answer is that women serve about two years instead of the three that men usually serve. Though, truth be told, the entrance bar for women is higher, meaning that women with weaker socio-economic backgrounds are more likely not to be enlisted than men. Then again, the range of jobs women can do in the military has been broadening consistently for decades; you're still unlikely to find them in combat units, though interestingly they often participate in the training of combat soldiers. And after a long legal battle back in the 80s (or was it early 90s?), women are now considered for pilot training, the most prestigious of all jobs, and if only very few complete the course, well, hardly any men do, either.

All jobs that require brains not brawn are equally open for men and women. Achikam’s girlfriend, for example, enlisted months ago to some special unit for whiz kids, which however demands of all its personnel that they stay in longer than the normal legal stint. Their willingness to do so is an example of my fourth point in the previous post.

Orthodox women who are leery of the overtly macho ambience that is often found in the army (any army) can do national service. Nechama did two years at a children’s cancer ward in a large hospital near Tel Aviv; very few women in the army could claim to have done anything more worthy… or demanding.

1 comment:

Lydia McGrew said...

I was merely curious, as we in the U.S. really know very little about Israeli culture, laws, etc.

To be honest, I think it's very good that there's a macho ambience in the IDF. A feminized army is not a good army, IMO. Of course, it's possible to be macho and gentlemanly, too, but that's a different discussion.