Women, Don’t Be Suckers

The protest's female voice is not being heard.

Uri Misgav
Uri Misgav
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Uri Misgav
Uri Misgav

Kadima has left the coalition, August 1 is approaching, and once again the argument over "sharing the burden" is taking center stage. Granting exemptions from military service and the implications for integrating those exempted into the workforce is a very weighty issue. We're talking about a defect inherited from the past and a time bomb for the future that can't be dismissed with a shrug.

But the debate on the issue is tremendously damaging the social protest movement. From a bird's-eye view, we could be talking about the biggest spin of all. And with spin, you have to figure out who stands to gain.

In this case, the protest is an obvious victim. It's no longer justice for all but conscription for all. This isn't a debate about the rights that were raised last summer for the first time in the country's history. It's a debate about duties. It's not a discussion about civilian issues but about security issues.

Once again, a new world has been pushed aside by the old world. We're not talking about common economic interests, something that cuts through different camps. We're talking about something polarized, tribal and traditional. And another aspect is significant because it's so grave - an aspect that for some reason has remained under the radar: silencing the protest's female voice.

The key figures in the heated debate over the draft are Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner and Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz; Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid. At the last protest espousing "equality in sharing the burden," the stars were former IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz and former Deputy Chief of Staff Moshe Kaplinsky; former Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and a former head of the Shin Bet security service, Yuval Diskin.

Also taking part were reservists from the "suckers' tent," Ronen Shoval of the right-wing Im Tirtzu movement, and student union leader Itzik Shmuli, who self-righteously dissociated himself from the "violent demonstration" and turned out to be a hypocrite who relies on a tycoon's donations. At the demonstration he took front stage once again, while waving the national flag. There was also a good mixture of people with special interests - and these guys made it very clear they were men.

When the civic social protest is paralyzed, the voices of the women who lead it are also paralyzed. There is no room for Daphni Leef and Stav Shaffir. There is no room for Ibtisam Mara'ana, Carmen Almakais, Vicki Idzinski, Rotem Ilan, Shir Nosatzki, Noa Savir, Orly Bar Lev, Anat Rosolio and so many other women activists who put on the agenda so many issues that have always been pushed aside by the sound of war drums. "Be quiet, they're shooting!" is being replaced by "Be quiet, they're enlisting!" But it's always the male version.

Meanwhile, Labor Party leader Shelly Yacimovich and Meretz leader Zahava Gal-On are sinking in popularity, and there is less interest in women broadcasters and writers like Keren Neubach and Orly Vilnai who deal with "social" topics. After all, what did they do in the army?

This division on gender grounds is so well rooted that it might even overshadow the absurdities of the anachronistic debate on army conscription (for example, the military past of two of the most vociferous and well-paid protagonists - Lapid, who wrote for IDF magazine Bamahane, and Lieberman, who served less than a year, as a quartermaster ).

In the reports on the demonstration outside the museum, the voices of only two women were heard: former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, who said she had come as "the mother of a son who has just spent Shabbat in the army," and a Muslim woman who called on Israel's Arab citizens to serve in the army. What a farce.

In Israeli history there have been extra-parliamentary movements that were built on women alone and chalked up achievements. These include Women in Black, Machsom Watch, and above all Four Mothers, which pushed Israel to end the foolishness in Lebanon. The civic protest movement is not a gender movement, but the women leading it have historic importance and qualities. They are not suckers, and we mustn't shut their mouths with khaki uniforms and flannel for cleaning a gun.



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