- 日本中東学会年報 (ISSN:09137858)
- vol.35, no.2, pp.33-70, 2020-01-15 (Released:2021-03-31)
This study analyzes the relationship between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and women. Institutional gender equality is being achieved in the IDF because of a universal conscription system, social networks developed by military personnel, and the cultural function of the IDF. The context of sexual minorities in contemporary Israel also influences the IDF’s gender structure. At the same time, the IDF maintains a male-dominated gender structure because of occupational limitations within the military, obstacles to obtaining civil leadership roles following military service, and gender-cultural beliefs. The IDF also faces unique complications, including the political context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the influence of Jewish Orthodoxy. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict encourages the IDF to represent female soldiers as symbols of gender equality in order to obtain international legitimacy. Israel’s occupation policy of West Bank and Gaza Strip also undermines women’s status because the IDF sees male combatants as ideal soldiers. Stemming from Judaism, religious groups have caused the IDF to establish gender segregation. Finally, Judaism sometimes encourages women to join the military based on nationalistic motivations.
This gender structure influences women’s gender norms. Through survey interviews with women who served in the IDF, military service was found to function as an opportunity for women’s empowerment. This study found differences in women’s sense of empowerment depending on their social class and occupation in the military. However, this article also points out that this empowerment was restricted by the military’s gender-dichotomous norms, in which “strength” is seen as masculine and “weakness” is viewed as feminine. These norms were reproduced in the women’s assumptions about members of sexual minorites. To conclude, the achievement of institutional gender equality in the IDF strengthens and reproduces existing gender norms in contemporary Israel.