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Stern: Join combat units
Photo: Yaron Brener
Zamir: Education Corps should teach Judaism
Photo: Avishag Shaar Yeshuv
'Some people think army is yeshiva'
Former head of IDF Personnel Directorate addresses religious coercion: Maintain female soldiers' dignity

As IDF officials continue to grapple over the subject of religious coercion in the army, the former head of Personnel Directorate said Wednesday that "there is indeed a problem with some people who don't realize they have joined the army and not a yeshiva".

 

Brigadier-General (Res) Elaza Stern was responding to a letter circulated by the outgoing head of the personnel directorate, Avi Zamir, who complained that a battle for authority between the Education Corps and the Military Rabbinate was harming female soldiers and officers forced to abide by rules of modesty and religion.

 

 

"We need to maintain their dignity so that they can serve in any position, as this is for the IDF's benefit," he said, urging coordination between the two military entities.

 

Stern was also outraged by Zamir's decision to issue condemnations on his last days of office. "Army commanders must take care of what needs to be done while in office and not send out a letter on the last day," he said.

 

He added that some religious rules have no place in the military, such as the prohibition on hearing a woman sing. "This is a pathetic demand," he said.

 

"A soldier serving as a shooting instructor doesn't have to touch a soldier who doesn't want to be touched. The army is large enough and wise enough to handle all of society's complications, but it demands thought and reason that cannot be summed up in a few rules."

 

Finally, Stern said, the best solution for parents concerned over religious coercion would be to send their kids to serve in combat units.

 

In his letter, Zamir recommended transferring Jewish education matters from the Rabbinate to the Education Corps, igniting the ire of many in the religious community, including the former IDF chief rabbi.

 

"Who are the officers in this corps? These are just guys from Tel Aviv! They can't teach Judaism – where will they get their information from, Wikipedia?" he told Ynet.

 

Ronsky added that he believes such awesome battles are taking place over the IDF because it is Israel's most influential education system. "This is a battle over the image of Israeli society – no less," he explained.

 

"The question is whether it will have the image of a Jewish national army – and I'm not referring to religion – which stresses Jewish history, the Bible, and other connections with religion, or whether it will be an army of a 'people's state'."

 

Kobi Nahshoni contributed to this report

 

 

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