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Major-General Barbivai. 'Commander determines reality' Photo: Yoav Zitun
Major-General Barbivai. 'Commander determines reality' Photo: Yoav Zitun

General: Women should sing on any stage

Major-General Orna Barbivai, IDF's most senior female officer, rushes to defend women's rights following tensions with rabbis demanding religious troops be exempt from listening to women perform

Moran Azulay
Published: 11.22.11, 14:35 / Israel Jewish Scene

Most senior female officer in IDF rushes to defend women's rights: Major-General Orna Barbivai, head of the IDF Personnel Directorate, said Tuesday that "women should sing on any stage and in any every ceremony."


Speaking at a subcommittee of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Barbivai explained that her stance stemmed "from a respectable and equal perception".


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She stressed that "the commander is the one who determines his unit's reality and uses discretion in cases of specific sensitivity."


The first woman to be made a major-general, the Israeli army's second-highest rank, has been appointed to head a committee tasked with examining all aspects of joint service.


"We are talking about a worldview of a service which will suit both sexes," she said. "We have increased the enlistment of haredim out of the same perception."

"שהשירות יתאים לשני המינים" (צילום: רויטרס)

'Service should suit both sexes' (Photo: Reuters)


Barbivai also mentioned the initiative to increase the salary of soldiers in compulsory service, which is being advanced by Knesset Member Miri Regev (Likud).


"It makes sense to pay more, but we view the army as a value and therefore it's wrong to pay according to work hours, and we call it a "living fee". It's true that the current living fee should be improved, but the right thing to do is to maintain the hierarchy between fighters risking their lives on the front and soldiers on the other end."


Rabbi favors 'firing squad'

Earlier this week, IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz expressed his discontent over comments made by Samaria Chief Rabbi Elyakim Levanon against forcing religious soldiers to attend official ceremonies which include the performance of women.


Levanon, head of the Elon Moreh hesder yeshiva, had slammed the expected recommendation of a committee appointed by Gantz, and said rabbis would instruct their students not to enlist into the military service.


Elyakim warned that if the IDF were to adopt the recommendations, many rabbis would orders their students to walk out of these events, "even if they are faced by a firing squad for doing so."


In an interview to Kol Hai Radio, the rabbi blasted the expected recommendation, saying that soldiers must "give their life for this issue."


The women's singing row began several months ago, when religious cadets were dismissed from an officers' course after walking out from a ceremony as female soldiers began singing.



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