Gender policy document removed from IDF site

A controversial policy document regarding gender attitudes in the IDF was recently removed from the website of the IDF adviser on gender issues, and its use prohibited.

The document, adopted in 2015, changed previous aspects of the army’s position on dealing with matters pertaining to women’s service, but included contentious assertions about the nature of gender.

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The document stated, “looking at humanity as divided into groups (men and women) is not precise, establishes humans in inappropriate patterns, and represents an incorrect and unhelpful basis for managing human resources and utilizing them.”

It also stated that “behavior and thought patterns of men and women do not stem from the physiological and biological differences between them, but are rather the product of social attitudes which we have as a society for them. They are merely cultural structures which are subject to change through societal action.”

The document also asserted that the “stereotypical attitudes to gender are characterized in the main by hierarchal attitudes between the two genders, when for the most part they give superiority to men.”

Due to strong pressure from national- religious groups, including a strongly conservative group called Torat Lechima, the IDF announced in March that the document was no longer in use, although it continued to appear on the website of the IDF adviser on gender issues.

It has now been removed from the site and withdrawn.

Bayit Yehudi MK Betzalel Smotrich said in response that there was “no place for the infiltration of radical agendas which that strongly disputed among the public via the army,” and said that he was “happy” that IDF commanders understood “the damage inherent in this document.”

Zionist Union MK Merav Michaeli was however sharply critical of the withdrawal of the document, saying that it was “unbelievable that the IDF, which needs to defeat our enemies, loses to rabbis and extremist right-wing elements,” saying that accusations of the “religionization” of the army and marginalization of women in the IDF were now proved to be true.

“The IDF has now found it correct to harm women due to [national-] religious and haredi men, rabbis, and extremist right-wing elements in the name of ‘integration’,” she charged, and called on the IDF chief of staff to restore the document “and protect his women soldiers.”

The IDF said in response that the document was already withdrawn in March, “and was removed from the website as part of [a process] of updating content.”