Israeli chaplain: Women in military equals

Dec. 30, 2011 at 4:12 PM
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JERUSALEM, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Discrimination of women in the Israeli military by ultra-Orthodox religious groups must not be tolerated, the chief military chaplain said.

Brig. Gen. Rafi Peretz, the military's highest ranking rabbi, said recent extremist religious assaults and verbal attacks against women in Beit Shemesh go against Jewish law, Army Radio reported

"The spirit of Jewish law does not allow discrimination or violation of women in any circumstance and on any grounds," Peretz said in a letter to the military. "I cannot stand idly by in the face of such serious affronts."

A member of the Haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, Jewish community in Jerusalem was indicted Thursday for sexual harassment after allegedly shouting a sexual slur at a female soldier who refused to move to the back of a bus, the Jerusalem Post said.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, speaking Thursday at a graduation ceremony for the Israel Air Force pilot's course, said, "in the State of Israel, in which women sit in the cockpit, women can sit in any place."

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who also addressed the graduates, made a point of mentioning that five of the new pilots are women, the newspaper said. "Women are part of our society, more than half of it, and all of us, religious and secular alike, must not only treat them with respect, but also must understand that equality is a natural-born right," Barak said.

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