The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has been trying to recruit female officers, but women in the army still face challenges.
An article by Rima Shukranov, who is a retired brigadier general, and a team of researchers published on Wednesday shows how Israel is still struggling to integrate women into the ranks of its armed forces.
In Israel, women in combat roles are required to serve three years on active duty, but some do not have that obligation, said Avigdor Liberman, who heads the Defense Ministry’s gender equality committee.
“Women in combat are under a lot of pressure to go into combat, and when they do, they are usually assigned to a combat role,” he said.
He said that as women in battle were less likely to find work, they were more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted.
“The military has a very high rate of rape, sexual abuse, and sexual harassment,” Liberman said.
Liberman noted that there are no official statistics on the numbers of female officers in the IDF, but he said the military was planning to open a women’s training center in 2017.
While the military has started training women, it still faces a long road ahead to change its culture, he said, adding that the IDF needs to change attitudes.
“In my opinion, the IDF has a culture of victimhood,” Libermans statement said.
“In the military, you’re told: We are fighting terrorism.
We are the most dangerous enemy in the world.
And you are the victim.”
The IDF has an “unconscious bias” against women, Libermans statements said.
Women are “not valued” in combat positions, he added, and “their contribution is minimal.”
“I think that it is an open secret in the military that a female soldier is less likely than a male soldier to get promoted,” Libermons statement said, “and they are less likely, in general, to be promoted into higher positions.”
Women are not valued in combat or any other job, Liberman added.
He said the IDF had an “institutionalized and very biased” culture against women in both combat and non-combat roles.
“The way that the military sees it, they have a war against terrorism and the enemy is the terrorists, but there is a problem with women and men,” Libermen said.
He said women in uniform were “not respected,” and they were considered less qualified for combat roles because of their gender.
Libermans statement was met with skepticism.
Libermans comments were criticized by Avi Weiss, a member of the Jewish Home party and the head of the Israel Democracy Institute, a think tank.
According to Weiss, the comments are reminiscent of the comments made by the head and namesake of the IDF.
In the late 1990s, the head-butting incident that led to the killing of IDF Lt.
Col. Moshe Yaalon by a Palestinian terrorist was captured on video.
In the video, Yaalon can be heard shouting, “Why did you shoot me?
You killed my soldiers!”
A video clip that showed Yaalon saying, “I did not know that he was an enemy, so I shot him” has become a symbol of the decades-long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
Yaalon later apologized for the comments.