Israeli general warns against religious extremism

An Israeli general issued a warning against the danger of religious extremism in the military’s ranks.

Maj. Gen. Avi Zamir, the outgoing head of the Israel Defense Forces’ Personnel Directorate, sent a report to his colleagues on the army’s General Staff warning that accommodations for Orthodox soldiers were marginalizing female soldiers and alleging religious coercion.

Zamir’s report recommended that responsibility for building soldiers’ Jewish identity be shifted from the military rabbinate to the Education Corps.

The report was sent by Zamir weeks ago, and its contents were reported July 20 by the Israeli daily Ha’aretz.

Zamir’s report has fueled debate in Israel over the military’s efforts to accommodate religious soldiers, who make up a growing proportion of its officers.

Elazar Stern, a reserve brigadier general and Zamir’s predecessor at the Personnel Department, accused him of “lighting a fire and walking away.” Stern, who is himself Orthodox, criticized Zamir for sending the report as he left his office rather than dealing with the problem during his four-year tenure. — jta