The Israeli Female Soldier: An Analysis of the Role of Women in the Israeli Defense Force and the Implications for Israeli Society
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The Israeli Defense Force is celebrated in Israel and throughout the world as the primary example of an army that has successfully combined military might with gender equality. Because women, like men, are drafted into compulsory military service in Israel and serve in the army, the image of the female Israeli solider has been cited as proof of an enlightened society built on justice and equality. Militaries in developing societies are often seen as vehicles for social integration and creation of citizenship. In Israel this has been a central tenet of the army since the state's conception. It would seem then, that the incorporation of women into the military should have created a more equitable situation for women in Israeli society. Yet, the image of gender equality in Israel, both in and outside of the military, has proven to be predominantly myth. Women, although important in the structure of the IDF, are not men's equals. My research suggests that rather than eliminating inequality, the Israeli military has served to create, reinforce, and perpetuate gender inequity in Israel. The different experience and status given to women in the military negatively affects women's integration as full citizens of the society as well as limiting their possibilities in the labormarket and politics.