by Arutz Sheva
Minister of Agriculture, Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) vowed Tuesday to fight new orders being finalized by the IDF, which would encourage mixing of the sexes in all units, regardless of religious objections and possible damage to combat effectiveness.
New IDF orders will call on commanders to create as much mixing as possible, regardless of the impact on combat effectiveness.
Ariel held a meeting on the subject with Zionist rabbis at the Sderot Yeshiva on Tuesday. The head of the Sderot Yeshiva, Rabbi David Fendel, and the other rabbis present, expressed great frustration with the way the IDF has been handling the issues relating to the mixing of the sexes.
The rabbis told Minister Ariel about their conversations with students who are serving in the IDF Officers' Course and in various units, who have had to face difficult situations because of the liberal mixed-sex policies, even before the new order's promulgation.
The rabbis emphasized that there is "wall to wall consensus among Zionist rabbis against the order", and asked him to take action on the matter vis-à-vis the Minister of Defense. Ariel said he hopes for cooperation with the Minister of Defense regarding the re-extension of men's mandatory military service, and against the planned establishment of ten mixed-sex battalions next summer.
Ariel added that he is considering convening an urgent discussion in the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, to debate the issue in the presence of the relevant experts. He agreed with the rabbis that there is a feeling that the IDF is trying to educate soldiers to new values, and to change the Jewish character of the military.
Combat effectiveness relegated to second place
The IDF's Joint Service Order lays down the governing principles and regulations regarding the service of men and women in the IDF. Under pressure from liberal elements, discussion about changing the order has been ongoing for the past five years. Recently, however, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot gave instructions to speed up the drafting of the new order.
The current version of the order makes the absorption of women into combat units conditional on ensuring that combat effectiveness is not diminished. In the new version of the order – this condition is removed. The new order calls on commanders to create as many mixed programs as possible, and avoid any separation of the sexes. Soldiers are obligated to take part in formal ceremonies that include vocal performances by women. Officers and NCOs will no longer be allowed to opt out of serving in mixed-sex units.
In addition, soldiers in mixed-sex units will be obligated to take part in all cultural activities, and exemptions on religious grounds will only be granted through special instructions by the unit commander. It will be possible to place religious soldiers in mixed-sex units during training, except for activity that involves physical contact with the opposite sex.
Female religious soldiers will no longer be allowed to opt out of serving in mixed sex units. In addition, in special cases, it will be possible to place female and male soldiers in the same dormitory rooms.
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