Israel's IDF Heroine, a Symptom of Male Chauvinism

A female Israeli soldier kills a terrorist - and the entire country goes wild with excitement over the heroine of the moment.

An Israeli soldier kills a terrorist - an almost routine story. A female Israeli soldier kills a terrorist - and the entire country goes wild with excitement over the heroine of the moment, Corporal S. of the Karakal battalion.

The Russians have Pussy Riot and we have Pussy Caracal, a female cat, or perhaps we should say Caracal, another carnivore from the cat family, on a hot tin roof. Her picture - standing legs apart on the hood of the jeep in a ridiculous combat pose, armed to the teeth, with her terrifying Tavor assault rifle pointing to the sky - decorated the front pages of the newspapers.

This picture could not fail to remind me of the covers of the sick "Stalag" magazines of our childhood. "I attacked and I thought about my parents," shrieked the headlines to stir up various strange instincts. With just a little bit more imagination, S. could have reminded us of grandpa and grandma, or perhaps great-grandma from the Holocaust.

It's a good thing the terrorist was killed. S. acted well and prevented more people from being killed on the Egyptian border. She is apparently a heroine; the Israel Defense Forces investigation has not yet been completed. But from that to this sickening festivity, there's a long way.

The hints could be heard here and there: It was not a male soldier, a macho man, who killed the terrorist, but a charming young woman. Here she is, her face is blocked out but we can see a little of her well-built body in uniform, of course in uniform, in a picture of war and erotica, blood and sex. Rambo in the body of a blue-and-white woman; the movie will be out shortly.

Following the pictures of women who could kill with a joy stick, to whom admiring cover stories were also devoted, we now have the real thing - a female soldier who can kill with a rifle. Israel, which garnered the enthusiasm of the world shortly after its birth because of the equality between men and women, which was then a little bit more real - pioneering men and women, male and female combat soldiers - is doing so now again. In those days, Rachel Sevorai joined the famous commando fighter, Meir Har-Zion, when he went to Petra and came back alive; and Netiva Ben-Yehuda, the "blonde Amazon" of the Palmach, who operated an improvised mortar in the battle for Safed - and now we also have S., of the Karakal.

But the name of the game hasn't changed - it's male, militaristic machoism, violent and chauvinistic, even if they allow women to take part in the game a little in one of the IDF battalions. S. dressed up like a man, she wore a man's clothes and boots, she held a man's gun and killed like a man, and therefore she is a heroine. What did former prime minister Golda Meir's admirers use to say? That she was "the only man in the cabinet."

The route to gender equality is still long and painful, the discrimination is still at its height, but we have S. from Karakal as winning proof of a bogus equality. That will not be achieved on the killing fields - the way to equality doesn't pass through the barrel of a gun or the killing of a terrorist; after all, the excitement over S. stems entirely from male instincts. A society that is so male-oriented, with such outrageous salary gaps between men and women, and almost all of whose fateful decision-makers are males, will not suddenly become more just and equitable because S. killed a terrorist.

But S. was not alone in the battle. A day after she became a heroine, her colleague also suddenly appeared in our lives, an anonymous female soldier who was also thrown into the battle but hid. Even if only in hints, the criticism hurled at her reminded us that at the end of the day, we are referring to a woman.

This female combat soldier was not a macho. When the fighting broke out, she was in the middle of talking by cellphone to her mother; how feminine. And she went to hide behind the wheels of a Hummer - how unmacho. But by hiding, this female soldier apparently saved herself from being killed or abducted. Just try to imagine what would have happened had she been kidnapped. Perhaps another pointless war would have broken out so that she could be rescued. Her parents were forced to defend their daughter's name in public, to describe every one of her tactical steps, while she personally wrote an impassioned explanation on her Facebook page. It is possible that she, too, was a heroine of the day but it is most doubtful that she will be recognized as such.

In another day or two, the festival will be over. The male soldiers will continue to kill and be killed, and from time to time so will a female soldier, to the applause of the masses. And equality? It will be found far away from these battlefields.