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PAGE 10A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 27, 2018 The first four female tank commanders in the Israel Defense Forces pose with Brig. Gen. Guy Hasson, head of the Armored Corps. By Yaakov Lappin (JNS)--The first four female tank commanders in the Israel Defense Forces have successfully complet- ed their grueling training course and will now begin their operational duties. Several additional female soldiers will serve in other duties in tanks. The new female command- ers and tank crew members will conduct critical border- defense missions, though they will not belong to brigades that would maneuver deep into enemy territory in case of war. Sgt. Charlotte Feld-Davi- dovici of Tel Aviv, who moved to Israel from the United Kingdom in 2016, had served in the Karakal border-defense infantry brigade that defends the Egyptian border before joining the pilot program for female soldiers in the Armored Corps. "Today, I have concluded it as one of the first four female tank commanders," she said. "The training course was defi- nitely a mental and physical challenge, which was made even more difficult because we were just four female combat soldiers among a sea of male combat soldiers. "However, I do believe it was a great success. And this is only thanks to my personal commanders and the other three girls. Army friends are like no other friends you could have in any other place in the world," said Feld-Davidovici. "Becoming one of the first female tank commanders in the IDF means not only do I getto fulfill my role in defend- ing the country, but I also get the opportunity to bring women forward in combat and open up chances for future generations to defend their country, just like their male counterparts." The IDF began incorporat- ingwomen into units from its very establishment, during the 1948 War of Indepen- dence. Partly due to manpower shortages, women served in combat roles within its ranks during the 1948 conflict, playing a highly active role in artillery and intelligence units. They also were members of infantry units during that time. However, afterwards women were generally barred from combat service until more recent years, when a change in the military-service law occurred. IDF commanders today say the integration process is being informed by in-depth examinations of data, and by the results of trials, which Beth Shalom Memorial Chapel Proucll 5,qerving Our Cornrnunit; Por Over 95 Years . a"ae Trad shed light on the operational advantages of such reforms. Some controversy and even some criticism Israel is one of the few coun- tries in the world that sets mandatory military service for women. Until now, most female combat soldiers have served in mixed-gender light- infantry units, such as Kara- kal, and the Lions of Jordan, which defend the Egyptian and Jordanian borders. In 2017, the first female fighter jet deputy squadron commander was appointed, and in 2011, the first combat helicopter female appointed received her wings from the air force. Now, the IDF Armored Corps is moving forward with a staged plan to incorporate women in border defense missions. Nevertheless, the program has attracted some controver- sy and criticism, particularly from a number of conservative commentators and rabbis. Some have questionedwheth- er women could handle the rigors of the Armored Corps; others have feared that hav- ing females in combat roles could threaten the country's national security. The IDF, for its part, has said that the data created by its trials fully supports the position thatwomenwho pass the intensive tests and train- ing courses are fully capable of taking up tank roles (as members of all-female tank crews), In general, the IDF has re- mained committed to increas- ing gender integration, with women serving in combat roles increasing from 547 in 2012 to 2,700 in 2017. Female soldiers have for many years played a vital role in a range of combat-support units, such as the navy's op- erator control rooms. 'Achieved all goals set for them' Lt.-Col. Beni Aharon, com- mander of the Armored Corps Command Battalion, described the intensive train- ing that the female com- manders-the first of their kind--underwent. The purpose of the pilot program, he said, "was to examine whether and how women can be integrated as combat tank commanders" for border-defense missions. Army recruiters chose candidates for the program from among existing infan- try battalions that already incorporate female soldiers. Specifically, he said, they were on the lookout for highly motivated participants. A four-week selection pro- cess included a gathering of medical data, questionnaires that gaged levels of motiva- tion and feedback with the candidates' commanders. A group of 30 candidates then made it to the training stage. They began a six-week Armored Corps professional training course held in a base in the Eilat Mountains. They thenunderwentanad- groups urge (JNS)--Three-dozen far- left pro-BDS Jewish groups from around the world have signed a statement rejecting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's definition of anti-Semitism over its alleged conflation of anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel. The statement, spearhead- ed by the anti-Israel U.S.- based group Jewish Voice for Peace, said that the IHRA definition, which has been ad- opted by a number of Western countries, "isworded in such a way as to be easily adopted or considered by western govern- ments to intentionally equate legitimate criticisms of Israel and advocacy for Palestinian rights with anti-Semitism, as a means to suppress the former." The statement said the conflation "undermines both the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equal- ity and the global struggle against anti-Semitism." "It also serves to shield Is- rael from being held account- able to universal standards of human rights and inter- national law," the statement said. "Israel does not represent us and cannot speak for us when committing crimes against Palestinians and denying their UN-stipulated rights." Among the other U.S.- based groups that signed the letter are Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, Jews of Color ditionall4 weeks of advanced training, which "is nearly identical as the training" for the male soldiers, with a few adaptations to match their future work of defending the Egyptian border. The trainees gained ex- pertise in firepower, urban warfare, navigation and how to run a tank, stated Lt.-Col. Aharon. Finally, they began opera- tions in their platoon, which is under the command of the co-ed Karakal unit that secures the borderwith Egypt. In the final stage, the IDF selected a number of the female soldiers for the com- mander's course, which they completed in recent days. Aharon described the pro- gram as a "success," adding that "the soldiers achieved all of the goals that were set for them." While there were no un- usual injuries or illnesses during this time, five female soldiers could not complete the Armored Corps course, mostly due to medical issues that arose during training. A medical team accompanied them throughout the training process. "The pilot integration program of female tank commanders ended suc- cessfully," the military said in a statement. Its results will be presented within the next few weeks to senior IDF commanders, who are likely to continue to the program based on its results. & Sephardi/Mizrahi Jews and Jews Say No! The statement by the far- left Jewish groups comes amid an intense debate within the United Kingdom's Labour Party over the adoption of the IHRA definition. The Labour Party, which has been dogged by allegations of anti-Semitism in recent years centered around party leader Jeremy Corbyn, adopted an amended version of the IHRA definitionthatleftoutsome for- malexamples of anti-Semitism largely dealing with Israel. The move to adopt the amendedversion came despite an outcry of opposition from dozens of Jewish leaders, Brit- ish Jewish organizations and even Labour Party politicians.