The Gap Is Narrowing Between IDF and ultra-Orthodox Customs

In both places there is a separation between women and men, between masculine and feminine areas, while the High Court of Justice says this is forbidden.

Never has the evil inclination been so evil and contagious. Kids turn into billy goats and heroes must struggle to overcome their urges on all fronts.

A month ago cadets left a pep rally after a female soldier-singer exposed her nakedness - with her voice. And last week, during the post-Simhat Torah celebration, hundreds of female soldiers were ordered to stay away from the celebrants and gather in a fenced-off area. The female commanders left in protest and returned to their base. It's a shame they didn't go home for good until they received an apology from the two brigadier generals who were present and didn't intervene. What's happening here all of a sudden? Have the emergency warehouses run out of baking soda to suppress our sexual urges?

A woman soldier.

The distance between the Israel Defense Forces and Mea She'arim is getting shorter. Although that ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem doesn't have any draftees, its spirit hovers over the ranks. In both places there is a separation between women and men, between masculine and feminine areas, while the High Court of Justice says this is forbidden. How very nice of it to do so.

And why shouldn't they expand the boundaries of separation if the gender-segregated buses continue to operate - young men in front and virgins in back - and the government subsidizes this gender-based apartheid. In New York too there was a report this week about a segregated bus line, and the mayor immediately declared: "Private people: You can have a private bus. Go rent a bus and do what you want on it."

It's clear that New York will mend its ways before Jerusalem, because the shtreimel-wearing shebab bow their heads before the authorities, and only here will they raise their heads. For from Zion shall exclusion come forth, for in Jerusalem ethnic and gender-based purification is taking place, women are disappearing from the public space, erased from ads and billboards. And the mayor fires his deputy for daring to turn to the courts to avenge the honor of her sisters.

"Don't judge someone until you've stood in his shoes," and we are trying to reach it, if not the place itself, then nearby. It's very hard to be a Jew who both guards his homeland and strictly observes the commandments; it's hard to be a brave soldier when there are so many Jewish Delilahs around.

It's hard to see 6-year-old child Liliths studying together with boys their own age; the holy community of Beit Shemesh is already working to change the situation. And it's hard to be a bagger standing behind the female cashiers at the supermarket, who stand or sit, and sometimes bend over, may God preserve them, and us.

Even religious Zionism has fallen victim to ultra-Orthodox fanaticism. More educational institutions are separating the sexes, and religious Zionism's youth movement is also trying to save young souls. It would be preferable for Bnei Akiva's girls to wrap themselves in black rags like the Taliban.

The modesty brigades go outside the walls, and now they're attacking the kibbutzim. I couldn't believe a friend who told me about Kibbutz Ashdot Ya'akov (Ihud ), which recently held a Simhat Torah celebration in strictly Orthodox style - men in one place, women in another. Who will remove the dust from the eyes of the pioneer women who chiseled stones on the Tzemah-Tiberias road, who with the sweat of their brows cultivated the vegetable garden at the Kinneret farm? Had there not already been so many eulogies for the kibbutz movement, another one would have been added here.

Never has the status of women in Israel been so high, and never has it been so low. A woman is the president of the Supreme Court, while women head the protest movement and two political parties, with a third on the way. The day will come when they are asked to sit in the balcony of the Knesset, like in the synagogue. Male MKs won't protest their marginalization too loudly for fear that pious rabbis will attack them in their sermons.