Religious male soldiers may choose to opt out of recreational events that feature women singing, the Forum of the General Staff of the IDF decided this week, but are required to remain in their seats during official events with female vocal performances. Examples of events that cannot be skipped include Remembrance Day ceremonies and ceremonies for outstanding soldiers.
The committee was presided over by the Head of IDF Manpower Directorate, Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai, and tasked with finding gaps in the IDF's policy on mixed-gender services in order to outline an up-to-date policy, anchored in IDF directives, to provide guidance to commanders. The IDF said that these directives would be implemented at every rank of the military and would be enforced on a daily basis.
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The Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, decided that female soldiers would continue to sing at every IDF event. In his opening remarks at the forum, Gantz reiterated his statement, made on several previous occasions, that the commander's authority is the sole authority by which rules are determined.
During the discussion it was also agreed that meetings between rabbis and heads of yeshivas, with students who are soldiers, will only be approved in advance by the chief military rabbi.
Additionally, a representative of the military rabbinate will be present at every such meeting, and will ensure that the meeting is being conducted in accordance with the spirit and principles of the IDF.
Meanwhile, President Shimon Peres on Monday also commented on the recent incidents of exclusion of women in Israel. In a speech he gave during the swearing-in ceremony of new judges, Peres said, "The soul is revolted when it sees such harmful manifestations against women, and even against children. No man has authority from God to force women to sit in the back [of buses] while men sit in the front."
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