A number of religious soldiers in the Armored Corps’ 188th Brigade told their commanders that they refuse to join the corps’ tank commanders course in protest of the plan to include women in the course starting in March, Army Radio reported Wednesday. The soldiers claim that serving with women under combat conditions would hurt their religious sensibilities.
The report noted that the soldiers were found to be suitable for the course and have been approached by their commanders to become tank commanders, but gave up the opportunity for fear of degrading their religious standards.
The IDF spokesman stated in response: “The course is constructed to fit the mission of defending the border and will not include training in a mixed team. The training of the female combat soldiers is conducted in parallel to and without affecting the regular armored units’ training.”
However, once the religious soldier becomes an officer, he may be sent to command mixed combat units, at which point he, too, would be thrown into situations of being under extremely intimate conditions—including bodily functions—for days on end with female soldiers, inside an enclosed tank.
Last month, Channel 1 News reported that a religious cadet in the Officers Training Course at Training Base 1 was dismissed from the course after refusing to carry out a mission with a female cadet. The task assigned to the male and female cadets was to prepare a lesson plan, which required the religious cadet to hold lengthy communication in an enclosed space with his counterpart.
The IDF spokesman responded at the time that “the cadet did not act as expected from a future officer, not performing a task assigned to him and not examine possible alternative solutions. It was a second mission he failed to manage.”
The IDF spokesman added that “before the impeachment committee, the dismissed cadet admitted that he had made a mistake.”
Of course, one admits a whole lot of stuff when fighting to prevent being expelled from officers’ school.
The Religious Zionist sector has been rattled in recent years by the erupting conflict over mixed-sex service in combat IDF units. Military service, which used to be the sector’s pride and glory, has been questioned by several Zionist rabbis over the issue of women’s combat service, and Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu has even called on Prime Minister Netanyahu to dismiss Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot, whom Eliyahu sees as responsible for “a decrease in motivation to enlist in the army.”