I recently read Martin Gilbert’s “Israel – A History” which takes the reader through Israel’s history from the time Jewish people had lived in the land and were immigrating in the 1800s, right through and up to 2008.
I was particularly impressed with one of the four principles Ben Gurion intended would guide him in his leadership of the new state of Israel. Along with collective responsibility within the government, a strengthening of ties and working for peace for Israel’s national and international relations and maintaining a Labor majority in Government is the following statement:
- Complete civil equality for women – Jewish, Christian and Muslim – and the abolition of all existing discrimination against women as embodied in Turkish and Mandatory laws that are still on the books. These laws deny women full equality and civil rights. On the day we established the State we proclaimed that it would accord equal rights to all its citizens without regard to religion, race or sex. Let us be faithful to that declaration.
Ben Gurion’s vision of equality extended also to women being involved in Israel’s army. Have a read of this blog entry on the IDF’s website from 2008 which gives us insight into Ben Gurion’s reasoning behind his viewpoint. The blog post also reveals he probably supported some of his arguments with Bible references when discussing the issue with religious leaders who were against women entering the army.
Though being part of war is never one’s end goal or greatest hope for gender equality, perhaps the women of Israel can thank Ben Gurion for the freedoms they have far and above any other Middle East country today.