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IDF Appoints Religious Officer to Top Female Post

Col. Rachel Tevet will become the IDF's Adviser on Women's Issues – possibly making life easier for religious male soldiers.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 8/9/2011, 12:33 PM

Col. Tevet
Col. Tevet
Bamahaneh

Colonel Rachel Tevet will be the next IDF Chief of Staff's Adviser on Women's Status. Tevet will be elevated to the rank of Brigadier General and will replace the current Adviser on Women's Issues, Brig. Gila Kalifi-Amir. The appointment appears to be politically meaningful, as far as the IDF's policies on religion and gender are concerned.

Kalifi – Amir will retire from the IDF after 30 years of service, and after two years as CoS Adviser on Women's Issues.
 
According to Yediot Aharonot, Tevet is religious. Her advancement is apparently the most senior appointment ever, for a religious female IDF officer.
 
The decision to appoint Tevet was made by the Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, and was announced after a consultation Monday morning with Major General Orna Barbivai, the highest ranking woman in the IDF, who was recently appointed Head of the IDF's Personnel Division. 
 
Tevet, 47, is currently President of the Military Court in Yafo. She served in the Military Prosecution in the 1990s and was later appointed judge. She was President of the Military Court in the Northern Command before her current position.
 
Yediot Aharonot and Yisrael Hayom cited Brig.-Gen. Kalifi Amir and other sources as being unpleasantly surprised by the choice of Tevet, and saying they had expected the Chief of Staff to choose one of two other leading candidates, Col. Ronit Lev or Col. Merav Kirshner. 
 
There have been reports in recent weeks of tension in the General Staff between religious officers and the Adviser on Women's Status. This tension has spilled over into the press, in a debate over whose rights to prefer – those of religious soldiers, or those of female soldiers -- in cases of conflict between the two groups' interests. Gender feminists within the IDF see the religious soldiers as anti-female because of the fact that Jewish rules of modesty prevent them from serving alongside women and cause some of them to refuse to watch performances by female singers. 
 
Tevet's appointment could signal the beginning of a less quarrelsome period in the IDF, as far as the gender vs. religion wars are concerned.