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3 February, 2020  ▪  Спілкувався: Yuriy Lapayev

Reut Shapir Ben-Naftaly: "With the inclusion of women, the Israeli Defense Forces utilizes the highest potential of the Israeli society as a whole"

Head of the political department of the Israeli Embassy in Ukraine on the role of women in the military and the feasibility of involving military veterans in government work

1.  What do you think of the role of women in army? Why it is important? Do we need to open all positions for woman  (including combat)?


Israeli women have taken a part in the defense of their country, even prior to its establishment. Today, Israel is one of just a few countries worldwide which include women in their defense forces (Israeli Defense Forces, IDF). The IDF was created as the “people’s army”, and therefore the principle of equality is applied to avoid bias of any kind. 

While men and women serve for different lengths of time, they can share almost any position. According to Israeli law, “The right of women to serve in any role in the IDF is equal to the right of men.” Today, 92% of all roles in the IDF are open for women, including in the military, navy and air force. The Chief of Staff is advised on women inclusion topics by a designated advisor since 2001. This position was introduced in 2001 to promote equal opportunities for women in the military. 

With the inclusion of women, the IDF utilizes the highest potential of the Israeli society as a whole.


2. Former military on Government job (on your example and Israel experience). Which impact it can have on political situation or effectiveness? Women-veteran in government – exotic or necessary?  


The responsibility given upon enrolling in the IDF, at just 18 years old, impacts both men and women enormously. The IDF’s ethical code emphasizes the importance of trustworthiness, morality, personal example, professionalism and constant improvement. These characteristics are taught throughout the military service and are then carried out in all spheres of the Israeli society. Working under pressure, and at times at life-risking conditions, also serves as a maturing process which prepares Israelis in their future careers.

Minister Miri Regev, a former Brigadier General who served as the IDF Spokeswoman, MK Anat Berko and retired Major General Orna Barbivai, a Knesset member, are all examples that female veterans are growing in numbers in the Israeli political scene.

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3. Your military experience – is it useful for your civil job?


My military service in the Israeli Air Force has taught me much and shaped me, in some aspects, to become the person I am today. First and foremost, it thought me that I should always do my absolute best, as there is no room for mistakes or inattentiveness. The IDF is considered the most moral military in the world, a fact I witnessed firsthand. Each person in the IDF, from the top commanders to the “simple solider”, understands the importance of what they do, and the consequences their actions have.

Furthermore, the cooperation between young soldiers to higher-ranked commanders, each treating each other as an equal, has also emphasized for me the importance of each player in a team, and the vast contribution any of my peers can have, irrelevant of their rank, age or gender.


4. Which approach does the State of Israel have to converting former military personnel into successful government officials and business managers? Do you have any special dedicated programs for that? How you solve the issue of psychological rehabilitation and adaptation? 


The IDF provides social services to those who serve, ranging from teaching Hebrew to immigrant soldiers to educating soldiers who did not graduate schools, and the social support is carried out upon completing the service. A special government office helps veterans reacquaint themselves in civilian life, providing grants, academic scholarships and even PTSD treatment if necessary. 

The division for PTSD treatment holds an integrative approach which includes working with psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists, art therapists, neurologists and more, to help individuals and families. Psychological treatment is also available throughout the military service, and according to a 2013 study published by the IDF Medical Corps Mental Health Department, reported cases of PTSD among Israeli soldiers are among the lowest in militaries worldwide

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5. What is your personal view on militarization of society?  Is it necessary? What could be the positive and negative consequences of that?


While I, as the rest of the Israeli society, wished that all 18 year olds could continue on to university or to travel the world as they graduate high schools, our geopolitical situation forces us to maintain a strong military in order to defend our borders and civilians. 

But the IDF also has a major social rule in the Israeli society, as it brings together men and women from all social, ethnic, religious & economic backgrounds. Together they work to achieve one aim, the defense of their families, friends and loved ones. 

Last, veterans of the IDF tend to be mature and responsible, living through stressful situations, having to make serious decisions and bare the responsibility of their actions.


Reut Shapir Ben-Naftaly. 2007 – 2009 - Office of the Israeli Air Force (Commander Sergeant), 2010 – 2013 - Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Communication Department), 2014 – 2015 - Office of the Prime Minister International (Visits Department), 2015 – 2016 - Embassy of the State of Israel to Kazakhstan (Cultural Attache), From 2016 - Embassy of the State of Israel to Ukraine (First Secretary, Head of Political Department)


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