Photo Credit: IDF
A female tank instructor during her training course.

MK Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid) on Monday told Israel Hayom, regarding integrating female soldiers in combat service that he not only does not object, he believes such integration is “wonderful.”

“It’s good for the Israeli army and society,” he said, adding, “I do not accept the argument that female soldiers should not be inside a tank with male soldiers, because it would be equally legitimate to claim that it’s not good for them to be together at the university and in every public place.”


Albert, an ex-gunner and loader in the Canadian Armed Forces who fought the Taliban in Afghanistan from inside Leopard tanks, shared with some of the realities of spending as many as seven uninterrupted days with his comrades inside those war machines: “The smell,” Albert recalled, “We don’t usually have a way to wash, other than baby wipes and bird baths … There’s also no toilet in a tank, so we use buckets with bags in them. Usually, we just use them when we stop, but one of my friends got a stomach flu when we were on an op… Still, though, you get used to the smell, because everyone around you smells.”

Does Stern honestly believe that sitting in a college lecture hall next to members of the opposite sex imposes the same degree of unwanted intimacy, often the revolting kind – as the reality of the inside of a combat tank?

Unfortunately, MK Stern’s statement is disturbing because it cannot be dismissed on the grounds that he lacks military experience. A Major General (res.) in the IDF, he served as Head of the Human Resources Directorate, commander in the IDF Officers School, and Chief Education Officer, as well as a combatant and commander in the Paratroopers Brigade. His knowledge of the undesirable intimacy described above, and all the many other, similar situations under combat conditions, suggests that Stern supports the integration of female combat soldiers not because he lacks this knowledge, but because he is fully aware of it.

Elazar Stern began his life inside Religious Zionist society, but has since become one of the most controversial yarmulke-wearing public figures – having moved to the left with Tzipi Livni in the 19th Knesset, then turning back to center-right with Yair Lapid. He is loathed both by religious Zionists and by Haredim, which on occasion has erupted in violence against him.

Asked what is the difference between himself and the equally controversial religious Zionist—but from the opposite extreme—MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi), Stern suggests, “For me the main thing is the People of Israel, for him it’s the Land of Israel.”

Stern also says he views democracy and Judaism as being equal; and that the lesson of the Holocaust is not to do the same thing to anyone else. He supports the 2-state solution, with Israel retaining the settlement blocks and compromising on the more remote outposts. In short, despite his yarmulke, Stern is completely interchangeable with many Israeli politicians whose education was secular.

In fact, his religious upbringing implies that he is better at attacking Orthodox Jewish institutions than the Israeli left. The left may despise the Chief Rabbinate, Stern expertly points to the failures its has accumulated over the years – from a Jewish perspective.

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