Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman banned three rabbonim from participating in army events after they lambasted the army’s excessive integration of female soldiers following the introduction of the “IDF joint-service protocol” in 2016. He even canceled a scheduled meeting with Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef.
Leading religious-Zionist religious leader Rav Shlomo Aviner began the attack by writing on the Kipa news site that although he considered it a mitzvah to serve in the army, because of the impossibility of preserving morality in mixed gender units, soldiers must serve in separate units. When a respondent argued that this is not always possible, Rav Aviner stated: “If that’s the case, then unfortunately, for now, one should not go to the army. Either a separate unit or don’t enlist for now.”
Chief Rabbi of Tzefas Shmuel Eliyahu backed Rav Aviner’s wake up call, telling Army Radio, “The army has adopted a crazy feminist agenda.”
Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef praised Rav Eliyahu for consistently backing the Rabbinate’s stance against female enlistment.
Rav Ariel Bareli, head of a Hesder yeshiva in Sderot and grandson of Rav Moshe Neriya, who founded the Bnai Akiva yeshiva network, said yeshiva students should go to jail rather than serve in mixed units and accused Chief of Staff Eizenkot of possibly basing his feminist policy on political motivations.
Prime Minister Netanyahu, Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett and senior religious Zionist leader Rabbi Chaim Druckman backed Lieberman. MK Bezalel Smotrich of Bayit Yehudi slammed the mixed unit trend and the unprecedented appointment of a woman to leader of a squadron of air force transport planes.
“There are professions for men and there are professions for women, this is how Hashem created the world… Everyone who tries to blur these simple distinctions does wrong to himself and to the world,” Smotrich said.