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IDF tells pre-draft man he cannot fill education role because of his sex

CM 23/05/2021

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Nir Mirtenbaum passed the IDF tryouts to be a teacher in his service but was then told the position was not open to him because he is a man, The Israel Women’s Network (IWN) said on Thursday. Mirtenbaum has worked in education in a number of frameworks and is a valued educator, said the network, but despite this he was told the job is “not relevant” to him because he is a man.
Soldier-teachers are IDF soldiers who fill a variety of educational roles in the IDF, working in a number of formal and informal educational frameworks. According to the IDF website, the position is open to men and women but selection for the role is dependent on a candidate’s “personal information,” as well as “professional considerations and the army’s needs.”
The IWN and The Israeli Antidiscrimination Legal Center (IALC) sent a letter to the head of Israel’s Manpower Directorate earlier this month demanding that Mirtenbaum’s appeal be accepted and he be allowed to fill the role. They also demanded that the IDF change current procedures that make service as a soldier-teacher dependent on the sex of the candidate.
Mirtenbaum has a medical profile that means that he cannot fill a combat role in the IDF, said the IWN.
“What makes a woman a better teacher?” Mirtenbaum asked, saying that he wanted to fill the role because it is similar to experience he gained in his youth group and because he wants to gain more educational tools. 
“Why would the IDF give up on me as a teacher? Aside from the fact that I really want them to change this decision, I think that they are sending a flawed educational message and it should be fixed.”
The IWN and IALC handled a similar case in 2018 that the network says led to changes on the IDF website which now reflects that the job is open to men and women. Since then, the position has reportedly by open to both sexes, although the IWN says that Mirtenbaum’s situation shows that this is not true and the role is only open to women.

IDF service is a formative experience for many young Israelis and so IDF positions that align with gender norms harm both men and women, said the IWN. These divisions perpetuate the image of women as helpers, teachers and carers and they are seen as weaker and in need of protection from men that they then need to teach and care for, said the IWN.
This causes a cycle, said the IWN. The army perpetuates gender divisions that it then uses as an excuse to justify the divisions it enforces.
Young women are also currently working to open “traditionally male” roles to them in a case that is being heard by Israel’s High Court. Female combat soldiers have historically not been allowed in units that cross Israel’s borders and so have not been able to fill front-line combat roles.
Four teenagers petitioned the High Court to force the IDF to allow all potential recruits to try out for elite commando units, regardless of their gender, causing the IDF to form a committee in August to examine this.
“We’re not asking that demands be changed for us,” one of the women told Channel 12. “Just let us try out, and if we qualify, let us join the units.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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