The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) is Israel's army. Serving in this army is mandatory for Israeli citizens. The minimum recruiting age is 18. Men serve 3 years consecutively, after which they are called once a year to serve for a duration of no more than a month (untill they reach 50 or so). Women serve less than 2 years consecutively, and have no more obligations after that(!).

The army has a profound impact on the many young people who enter at 18, and leave at 21. Those that decided to get their BA before their service, are rewarded with an unpleasant surprise: 3 additional years of service (usually doing something only remotely related to their studies, if at all).

Anyway, since I served in the rear (AKA jobnick), I got to see a the administrative side of the army. It was my first taste of things to come:

  • People hate their jobs and just want to pass the time between 8am and 5:30pm.
  • If you have a problem, make a lot of noise or it wont go away. Most of the time it's stupid misunderstandings.
  • Anything written on paper or (especially) appearing on a computer monitor is sacred. Just like those credit auditing companies.

The army is a very social environment, especially during boot camp and courses. If you lack social skills (like I was), you're in for a hard time.
If there was one thing that the army taught me well, was to handle the unpleasant, boring and maddening tasks and situations with peace of mind (or IOW: to suffer cheerfully). You can say, "Why do I have to do this?" but you can also stop asking stupid questions, thereby releasing yourself from suffering. Be careful of individuals who infect others with their stupid questions.

Women are mostly confined to secretarial and administrative roles in the IDF. New legislation which allows them to take part in any area of military service has recently been passed, but is yet to be implemented.

Those women who have more responsible roles, such as in the Intelligence forces, the Air Force etc. do indeed get called back for reserves service until a certain age or until they have children.

On finishing army service, men get a grant from the government that is much larger than the one women get (on the grounds that they served longer and contributed more).

Male officers in the IDF are paid more than female officers and are given better benefits (on the grounds that they serve longer and contribute more).

Most high ranking positions in government institutions, as well as political appointments* go to ex-IDF officers (on the grounds that they served long and contributed a lot).

In fact, this so-called injustice towards men in the mandatory part of army service is the number 1 factor in creating inequality in the workplace in Israel. That is why women's groups have been lobbying to get it changed for years, finally with some apparent results.

It's too late for the likes of me, though - I spent two hellish years making coffee for a lecherous bureaucrat, and on leaving the army got "500 shekel and a kick in the arse", as they say back home, while my male peers got enough money to pay for their higher education for at least one year (on the grounds that they served longer and contributed more, of course).

* See our current Prime Minister for a good example.

Update, 29/03/04

Toastie says: According to Boogey, out of two otherwise equal candidates, a woman candidate should be preferred. Don't know whether this is a new policy. And girls in fighting positions serve 3 years now.

Yes, I can definitely confirm that affirmative action is a very new policy in the army. Even when my younger sister served, and that was only 4 years ago, the situation was very different.

It's great that the IDF is prepared to acknowledge the advent of the 21st century. I'm not tring to a be a critic of the system as a whole. What makes my blood boil is when guys whine about what a grave injustice it is that girls are not made to do the same service as they are, because the injustice, to my mind, goes all the other way.

Even if this new liberalism holds (and as the country becomes more religious, it may yet see a reverse) it will be a couple of decades before the difference is felt in the higher echelons of government and industry. For the foreseeable future, we're stuck with retred generals of the Arik Sharon variety. Now doesn't that thought just make you want to be a feminist?..

Men mostly serve in menial labor or combat jobs in the IDF. Those who have secretarial, administrative and “blue collar” roles (jobniks) are looked down upon, and make less money even when serving in hard and dangerous positions while those serving in combat are called “suckers” they come home once a month and finish their military service without acquiring any real life skill.

Men get called back into the reserves for a period averaging one month a year (more for officers) during most of their adult life (until around age 45-50). All able bodied men including fathers, independent business owners and university students. (On the grounds that after 3 years, what’s 30 more?)

Upon finishing 36 months of army service, including much physical strain and in many cases little time home, men get around 1300$ more then women who serve 21 months. (That works out to about 85 dollars for each month over 21 served)

Male officers in the IDF have to do a longer and harder officer course than females after they already do a longer and harder basic training than females. (On the grounds that they will serve longer anyway)

Most high ranking positions in government institutions, as well as as political appointments go to ex-IDF officers because frankly, there isn’t much else to do with a 50 year old man who spent his whole life as an administrator in the army and has no education or life experience in any thing else but managing large groups of people and the intricacies of Israeli politics.

This so-called injustice towards women in the reserves of army service is the number 1 factor in women starting their life a year earlier and going straight through university uninterrupted, getting a tax reduction for their entire life, not having stigmas of who they are according to the unit they served in and not having problems getting a job because they were an officer and serve an above average number of days in the reserves. This is why people who serve in the reserves are considered suckers, and fewer people serve every year.

For a men, getting out of service is much harder than for a women. Women just have to declare they do not want to serve for religious/humanitarian reasons, while men have to get a Profile of 21 which follows you around your whole life.

It’s too late for the likes of me, though, I will be spending one month of every year for the next 30 years driving trucks or guarding bases in Arab territories not going home to my family while being harassed by officers and 19 year old women soldiers who have absolutely no respect or regard for the fact I have a real life to attend too aside from this one month nonsense.

I often am thankful for just bringing in a water tankers to soldiers my age who haven’t showered in a month because they might get shot at by Hizzbolah terrorists and not being one of them sent into battle by hellish bureaucrat. and some poor girl who serves him coffee and goes home at 5 o’clock.

As I was told on the day I was discharged after serving 38 months. “You have now just begun your service… when you are 50 you’ll be free”

The IDF or Intermediate Distribution Facility acts as a secondary wiring closet in a star topology Ethernet network. IDF's are usually connected to the MDF via backbone cabling, from the IDF workstations are connected. The IDF can include a hub, router or switch in addition to any patch panels which are installed and is dependant on the MDF for connectivity.

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