Women in the IDF

Israel is one of only nine countries in the world with mandatory military service for both men and women. Although females serve in combat and many hold high-level officer positions, holding such positions is a recent phenomenon. Find out how women are defying tradition and expectations and climbing higher than ever before in the IDF. After watching the video, use the prompts below to learn more and get your students thinking.

  • Review
  • Discussion
  • Activities
  • Reflection
  • Further Learning
  1. How many countries have mandatory military service for both men and women?
    • 105
    • 9
    • 78
    • 200
  2. Which of the following statements about the IDF is true?
    • Women serve 24 months and men a minimum of 30
    • Women and men both serve 3 years
    • Women and men both serve 2 years
    • Women serve 30 months and men a minimum of 24
  3. True or false? Israel was the first country on earth to make military service mandatory for both men and women:
    • True
    • False
  4. Who said “security will not exist if our nation’s women do not know how to fight”?
    • Golda Meir
    • Moshe Dayan
    • David Ben Gurion
    • Menachem Begin
  1. How do you feel knowing that Israel was the first country on earth to conscript both men and women to the military? Does this give you a sense of pride or does it make you feel uneasy knowing that this was and continues to be a necessity due to security concerns? Or does it make you feel something else altogether?
  2. In recent years, there has been an increase in Orthodox male soldiers as well as women serving in traditionally “masculine” units. This has led to a clash of interests and plenty of controversy concerning how to accommodate the Orthodox soldiers while at the same time being inclusive and empowering female soldiers. Due to Halakhic laws such as “Yichud”, many Orthodox male soldiers refuse to seclude themselves with women who are not their wives, mothers, daughters or sisters. On the other hand, this prevents women from having full access to certain units and positions within the military. Let’s train our empathy muscles. Put yourself in the shoes of both a female soldier and an Orthodox soldier in the same unit. What are the issues affecting you and how do you feel about it? Do you think the IDF should try to accommodate certain soldiers at the expense of others (in both cases)?
  3. Why do you think serving in the IDF is so beneficial for “moving up” within Israeli society? If men and women don’t serve in all of the same units, how can this impact gender equality within Israeli society ?
  4. Israel was one of the first countries in the world to have a female prime minister and is working to create equality within the ranks of the IDF. What do you think is the next “glass ceiling” for women to break within Israeli society?
  1. Read the story of Alice Miller, the young Israeli soldier who took the IDF to the Supreme Court for not allowing her to enroll in the Israeli Air Force pilots course. What is the legacy of her story? Have you ever been in a similar situation in which you were prohibited from doing something because of factors that were out of your control?
  2. Watch the following scene (Hebrew) from the popular Israeli show Taagad which demonstrates tensions that arise within a mixed unit of male and female soldiers during a fun day when the unit is to go swimming. The commanders want the men and women to swim separately in order not to offend the religious soldiers, despite the fact that the majority of the soldiers want to swim together. These are real issues that trigger deep tensions within Israeli society and specifically within the IDF. If you were the commander of the unit, how would you have dealt with this situation? What would have been the most fair compromise?
  3. Watch our video about the Women of Zionism and utilize the accompanying educational resources.
  4. Watch our film Beneath the Helmet and utilize the accompanying educational resources.
  5. Give your students our Kahoot on Women of the IDF!

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