Head of IDF intelligence got it wrong about women on International Women’s Day

Major General Tamir Hayman sends a letter thanking the wives of men under his command, then corrects to add the spouses of the women that serve too.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

A top IDF general got an embarrassing lesson on women’s issues when a letter he wrote for International Women’s Day raised a ruckus for praising only the wives of the men serving under his command, Channel 12 reported Monday.

Maj. Gen. Tamir Hayman, head of the IDF Intelligence Corps, sent a letter to the families of those serving in intelligence units in which he thanked the spouses for supporting the soldiers.

“This is an opportunity to express my deep appreciation for the remote support that enables your spouse to lead, contribute and influence the day-to-day work of the Intelligence Division,” Hayman said in the letter.

However, in Hebrew that sentence came out referring only to male spouses who serve in intelligence, as the language is specific for the male and female genders.

Following the many angry reactions received by the head of the armed forces, Hayman realized that he had made a mistake and moved to try and reduce the damage. A few hours later, he issued a corrective message in which he specifically referred to male and female spouses, writing: “I would like to make it clear that the spouses of the men and women serving are part of the IDF intelligence family.”

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He then used the specific Hebrew gender form to emphasize the women serving under his command.

“I will use this platform stage to point out that in the intelligence division there are many women serving who hold key positions, by right and not by charity. We will continue to promote equal opportunities and work for the integration of women in all positions and ranks in the division.”

On Monday, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi hosted a special International Women’s Day forum with the CEOs of top high tech firms in Israel and announced a strategic plan to continue the advancement of women in the IDF, the IDF Spokesperson’s Office said in a statement.

The heads of Microsoft, Intel and Facebook in Israel shared their various strategies for promoting gender equality of opportunity as part of improving business effectiveness.

Kochavi noted that the number of women in IDF combat roles has increase by 250% in the past six years, adding that women serving in the IDF “have been integrated into senior key positions, including groundbreaking positions in which women have not served in the past.”

“I welcome the increase in the number of women serving in the IDF in compulsory service in recent years, emphasizing the significant increase in the number of women serving in combat roles and technical systems, as well as the number of officers serving permanently,” Kochavi said.

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“We must preserve these trends and, at the same time, act to increase the number of [female] senior officers by about 50% in the next five years, as well as act to increase the number of women serving in the technology and cyber professions,” Kochavi added.

“The IDF must also serve as an example and role model in the field of women’s integration, and the commanders must lead the change and deal with it personally,” added Kochavi, although his comments were apparently not specifically addressed to Hayman.

“I am full of appreciation for the women who serve in the IDF, for their great contribution and for their professional, valued and dedicated service throughout the year, which is a source of inspiration and pride,” Kochavi said.