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Report of Gender Row at Hakafot – Denied

IDF sources, journalists deny Haaretz report that 100 female soldiers left event after being "fenced off."
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 10/23/2011, 5:36 PM

Female soldiers near Beit El.
Female soldiers near Beit El.
Flash 90

Sources within the IDF and journalists who were present at the main military Second Hakafot ceremony were surprised Sunday to read a report that 100 female soldiers had left the event after being forced into a fenced off area. According to the report in the ultra-leftist Haaretz, religious officers made the women move out of the area where the hakafot were being held.

"This is a false report that is intended to besmirch the religious establishment within the IDF," a military source told Arutz Sheva. "For years, Haaretz has been trying to damage the IDF Rabbinate and its head. The newspaper can keep slinging mud and we will continue to work for all of the IDF's soldiers."

IDF top brass looked into the report but found no evidence supporting its veracity.

The IDF Spokesman said: "As usual in these events, every year, there is an area defined as being for women only and a separate area defined as being for men only. No official representative of the IDF was instructed to ensure that separation between men and women was indeed in place. The IDF Rabbinate is unfamiliar with some of the claims made and will look into the matter in the coming days."

The former Chief IDF Rabbi, Rav Avichai Ronsky, who was a favorite target for the newspaper, told Arutz Sheva in the past that he chooses not to respond to Haaretz's attacks on him. "There were 12 items written about me, but I decided to ignore them. They should be ignored because answering them just adds fuel to the fire." 

The row follows another recent high-profile dispute involving female soldiers and religious male soldiers, in which several religious cadets were thrown out of Officers' Course. Militant feminists within the IDF are at loggerheads with the national-religious soldiers, as the two groups represent opposing values. On the one hand, Torah values see the two sexes as qualitatively different and put am emphasis on modesty and creation of families; on the other hand, militant feminist values oppose the "patriarchal" family and teach that differences between the sexes are not natural but culturally imposed "oppression" that must be fought.

While the Zionist religious establishment generally frowns on female service in the military, preferring no service or National Service in its stead, militant feminists are divided between those who believe that women should serve in male units, and those who oppose the entire IDF as a male organization and call on people of both sexes not to serve in it.