Joining the campaign by rabbis against women enlisting in the IDF, dozens of high school girls took part in a new campaign where they were photographed holding up signs in support of Sherut Leumi (Israel National Service), in lieu of military service. The girls say they were subject to pressure at school to join the IDF.
The organization Chotam (dedicated to “restoring Judaism to the center of public agenda”—ed), which organized the campaign, blames Education Minister Naftali Bennett for bowing to pressure by liberal groups and allowing them to operate in all-girls schools and try to convince the students to choose IDF service against the position of the rabbis and religious educators.
Opponents argue that the aggressive pro-enlistment campaign the girls are subjected at school is a violation of their belief and ideals as religious girls. They hope for a widespread web campaign whereby girls declare: “Stop interfering with our education, we believe in National service.”
Chotam Director Amital Bareli said: “The Education Ministry under Shai Piron (the previous head) understood that one cannot force a foreign worldview upon girls in the religious educational system; graduates of religious education contribute in the form of National Service.
“It is unfortunate that the current Education Minister bowed to pressure from pluralist groups that influence the education of religious girls. Hundreds of girls decided to initiate this protest that is gathering steam and we are calling on the minister to prevent interference from foreign elements with motives that are opposed to most of the national-religious population.”
Kolech, an orthodox feminist movement, commented on the new campaign: “Attempts to portray the discourse between National service and IDF enlistment as a conflict between liberals and conservatives prevents the real dialogue regarding education. Unfortunately, pressure applied by the educational institutions is actually against choosing military service as part of an idealization of National service and ignoring its inherent challenges.