Tali Farkash
Photo: Gabi Menashe

How I dodged service with the IDF

Tali Farkash, our in-house strictly Orthodox girl, tells all about the service call-ups, the rabbinical nightmare, and the time wasted at recruitment center

Officers ranking colonel and up, please, skip this column. It is not for you. You will never understand it, you warmongers, so let us part as friends. And you, the militaristic feminists that filled the earth in the 1980's, please move on. Nothing for you to see here. I have nothing to say to anyone who repeatedly claims that men and women are equal.


My relationship with the IDF started, believe it or not, when I was 11. Every year since then, I received a letter in the mail addressed to "dear Tal" (yes, male Tal), inviting me to spend the next three years in some remote paramilitary school. The letters, that gradually turned into a family joke, kept coming until the moment of truth came. I turned 17 and was asked to show my face at the recruitment center.


From that point on, my military career followed the routine procedure of every strictly Orthodox girl. In most cases, the girl schools organize an exempt for all the students together, but when my turn came, a decision was made upstairs to change the routine. Every girl had to go to the rabbinate and, amidst marrying and divorcing crowds, have a rabbi endorse her statement that she is religious.


The presiding rabbi, who was finally thrilled to talk to someone who did not yell at him, took his time. Instead of asking me one or two routine questions on kosher laws, he inquired about my house in Bnei Brak and whether I know his second cousin, and so on. Only after people started really banging on his door was he willing to bid me farewell and sign my statement form.


I thought this was the end of the story, but I was so wrong. The IDF kept insisting and call-up orders that reached my mailbox chased each other, turning red-inked by the week, sent me back to recruitment center.


There, in a particularly surreal section, sitting with foreign nationals, handicapped, and other special cases, I wasted three hours doing nothing because the devoted inspecting soldier went out to lunch. Just before he stamped my release form, he raised his eyes and asked: "So, this is it? No regrets?" "I'm so out of here," I made it plain to him and ran out of there, not even stopping to respond to the soldiers at the gate who wished that I have "a good service term!"


I am not the only one

Did I really miss out on anything by not serving? Now that I am closely familiar with the military institution I can say that the answer is "an angry negative" - that is, absolutely not. Can you really see me at 03:00, standing at the roadblock of Hawara with an M-16 on my shoulder, trying hard to push off the Palestinians who ogle me with horny or murderous intentions? I don’t think so.


I do not want to dress up like a man. I refuse to take part in competitions of who can drag the company fat guy in full gear up the hill the fastest. I pass on checking who grew hairs on their chest, or who swears better and faster. I am a woman, and forgive me for not apologizing that I am. The army has long discovered that which the feminists refuse to hear: Women bodies, skeletons, and muscles are not cut out for long physical efforts. They are not!


At the same time, specializing in making coffee with two sugars for a freshly appointed general is not exactly my cup of tea. Just the thought that I should have spent two years of my life on filling forms and making coffee feels like life without parole.


And I am not the only one. Just look at the hundreds of soldier girls you can see wondering around the Azrieli shopping mall just next to Tel Aviv's largest base.


What about volunteering and giving back to your homeland, you may ask. Well, since every average strictly Orthodox girl spends quite a few hours a week working for various charities, I would call it quits, okay?


I do not even want to utter the various religious arguments against. Important rabbis did that better. This is the time to yell that "appropriate integration" is only good for the papers. Women's military service is a sad joke wrapped in lots of sexual harassment because it is impossible to create equality in an organization that is based on the principles of brute force.


So forgive me, my secular brothers, for slaughtering this last holy cow, but placing a mirror in front of your face every now and then is a kind of Passover sacrifice.


פרסום ראשון: 04.01.07, 16:20
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