Haaretz – Opinion: Appointing a Woman as the Israeli Army’s Top Lawyer Is a Dubious Feminist Achievement

We tend to concur

The appointment of Brig. Gen. Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi, the IDF chief of staff’s adviser on gender affairs, as the army’s next military advocate general – making her the second female major general in the history of the Israel Defense Forces – was celebrated as a feminist achievement. But this is a dubious achievement for a number of reasons.

First of all, a decade has passed since Orna Barbivai, the first female major general, was appointed, and for seven years no woman served on the IDF General Staff. It was even said that during the current term of Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi, the promotion of women to senior posts suffered a setback. The feminist spokeswomen, who welcomed the achievement and complained about its rarity, took no responsibility. True, direct responsibility is that of the chiefs of staff and defense ministers, but the army acts the way it does for a simple reason: because it can.

And it can because all the feminist activists, including female lawmakers, have lost interest in promoting gender equality in the army. More than a decade has passed since lawmaker Miri Regev threatened to enshrine in law the promotion of women in the army, a threat that may have led to the appointment of the first female major general. Since then, most of the female legislators as well as women’s organizations have given up the attempt to influence the army and have rarely clashed with it over the issue.

For this reason, the recent appointment has contributed to a blurring of the gap between the status of women in the IDF and in other armies, or in the public sector in Israel. Symbolically, their status has even eroded. The top army brass sees women as cheap labor, substitutes for men. This was David Ben-Gurion’s view, and not only has it not changed over the years, it has even become more pronounced in the rhetoric of the army’s leaders. Moreover, there are increased complaints from female soldiers about insults they suffer stemming from the view of commanders and soldiers that they compromise “modesty.”

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