Rabbi Yigal Levinstein, the head of a prominent pre-army training academy in the occupied West Bank, is standing his ground after his denigrating remarks about women soldiers made waves in the Israel.
“They recruit them to the army, where they enter as Jews, but they’re not Jews by the time they leave,” Levinstein said, in a video broadcast on Channel 2 News Tuesday. “Not in the genetic sense, but all of their values and priorities have been upset and we must not allow it.”
Levinstein told Channel 2 News that his tone had been “inappropriate,” and said that he regretted “hurting people in the way I communicated myself,” but he maintained that the Israel Defense Forces’ “feminist approach” of letting men and women serve together in mixed-gender units was intolerable.
His comments drew rebukes from Defense Minister Avi Lieberman, who said that Levinstein could be stripped of his position at the academy based in the Eli settlement, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who extolled women in combat as critical to Israel’s security.
“Female Jewish fighters, from the time of Yael the heroine to the present — with Hannah Senesh and the fighters in the Etzel, the Palmach and the Lehi and the IDF, heroic warriors in the police and Border Police that we see here on the streets — are an active, and sometimes very senior, part of our national defense,” he said in a meeting at the Knesset.