Four young women recently graduated the IDF's prestigious Ground Forces Officers Course, again signaling the Israeli army's intention to fully integrate women in all combat roles.
The four will all serve as officers in the Lions of Jordan Battalion, one of three co-ed battalions tasked with "routine security" along some of Israel's volatile borders, which is nevertheless not viewed as "full" combat.
At the same time, the IDF is starting a new experimental program to fully integrate women into the Armored Corps. Women can already serve in the Armored Corps, but not (yet) as tank crew members. The program aims to determine how mixed tank crews function under normal training conditions. If successful, women would be able to join any combat role in the IDF except for elite special forces.
These further efforts to integrate women into combat roles were probably inspired by the conduct of female security forces over the past two years amid the wave of "lone wolf" Palestinian terror attacks. Female officers serving in the Border Police time and again proved to be as competent and courageous as their male comrades.
Of course, as the name indicates, serving in the Border Police is not the same as facing full-scale combat in a time of war.
Many in Israel are questioning why we are now repeating the failed experiment of 2015, when the ability of women to serve in the Armored and Artillery corps was thoroughly examined. At the time, the army's psychological and medical experts concluded that "the attempt to train women for frontline combat roles (which is beyond their physical ability) for the sake of 'equality' may result in many injuries just to find the one woman who can cope with the required physical demands."
The army also argued that a woman's special privacy needs couldn't be accommodated by crew operating for days at a time in their tanks.
It is no secret that the IDF was forced into equal opportunity by the Supreme Court back in 1995, following the appeal of Alice Miller, who sued the military for her right to enlist into the prestigious Aviation Course. In a historic decision, the court deemed the ban on female recruits to the Aviation Course to be unconstitutional.
Backed by the likes of the feminist Women's Lobby and the ultra-liberal Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the case effectively transformed the issue of women in combat from a professional discussion to an ideological crusade.
The IDF's present efforts to find ways for women to serve in all military units have elicited harsh criticism from retired colonels and generals who think that such ideology can only be detrimental to the army as it takes precedent over real military demands.
Col. (ret.) Raz Sagi was especially alarmed: "It will turn the IDF into something which is not combatant. This is not about women, but about unqualified people … men included, of whom not all are qualified to serve in Golani or the Paratroopers … (By this) I understand that it was decided to turn the IDF into something that does not fight." Sagi concluded by saying he hopes that the report is nothing more than a canard. If not, he said, "we better know how to swim to the nearest shore, which is Cyprus. And that's a long swim."
Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yiftah Ron-Tal took a similar position. Though later he apologized for suggesting it, Ron-Tal initially accused a left-wing NGO of deliberately trying to weaken the IDF. "There are evidences, and I am being very careful, that the purpose of this initiative – is the weakening of the IDF," he told Israel Radio.
Right-wing activist Noam Federman, a resident of Hebron, wrote yesterday on Facebook: "This is the second week in which female soldiers of the Lions of Jordan Battalion are securing the road from Kiryat Arba to the Cave of the Patriarchs. But, as it turns out, a back-up paratrooper platoon is present, just in case … By placing women in Hamas-dominated Hebron, the IDF is sending a message of weakness and flaccidity … that invites terror."
Whether it is a good idea or not, it is clear that the question of women in combat has turned completely political, which means that the future fighting capability of the IDF will now be dictated by political correctness.