Tempest in a G-String

IDF Women Soldiers Being Nice, Photo Too Boring to be News (Photo: CC-BY-SA Artur Andrychowski, Google Images)
IDF Women Soldiers Being Nice, Photo Too Boring to be News (Photo: CC-BY-SA Artur Andrychowski, Google Images)

In the last few days the internet was abuzz with articles about the four female IDF recruits who unwisely posted photos of their exposed backsides on Facebook. It’s none of my business what these women do in their free-time or what they post on their Facebook walls. Thankfully I’m not ‘friends’ with a lot of people who would post half naked photos of themselves online for kicks. But in any case, the media ran with the story, posting and reposting the photo in question in op-ed after news-story after television commentator rant (I assume the last, since I don’t have a television). For two or three days one couldn’t avoid seeing these women’s exposed posteriors when scrolling down any of the major Israeli news sites, including this one.

This raises two issues for me. One is my responsibility as a religious man who tries his best to avoid seeing anything too suggestive in following with the biblical command to not ‘stray after your eyes,’ and that I do not appreciate media outlets sprinkling photos of half-naked women around their sites to attract more clicks. But that’s my personal issue. (Warning: Some of the following links include semi-nude photographs) The second issue is more important, and that is the hypocrisy of an army which asks for volunteers to expose themselves in public for Israel as in the famous spread in Maxim magazine, and then censures those who do it themselves via social media. It seems that what is ‘unseemly’ about female recruits exposing themselves is the low quality of the photography. Or if an Israeli supermodel uses her ‘physical assets’ to promote Israel, the problem is not the method, or the objectification of women, but rather that the model in question never served in the IDF.

So what is a woman serving in the national defense forces of Israel to take away from all this? Apparently exposing your body for attention is good, but only when we tell you to. The IDF values female nudity as a tool of public diplomacy. Exposing female soldiers in public is good if it’s part of a government campaign to ‘improve Israel’s image.’ But if, God forbid, a woman chooses to post photos herself, she is going ‘against the values’ of the IDF. I’m not really sure what those values are, and it appears that neither is the army itself.

Of course I would prefer a world where no women felt a need to garner attention by showing off their naked bodies and were judged primarily if not solely on their character traits, their goodness and kindness. I hope that one day we can all live in a world where everybody is judged according to non-superficial criteria. But in the world we live in now, where the IDF top brass clearly has no problem with female nudity as a public relations tactic, let alone for fun, please spare us the hypocrisy.

About the Author
Rabbi Eitan Levy is a tour guide and organizer in Israel. He grew up in Denver, Colorado, got a BA in philosophy at Sarah Lawrence, and rabbinic ordination at a yeshiva in Jerusalem. He loves to share his love of the Torah, land and people of Israel in writing, lectures, and tours. He lives in Tekoa with his wife and three little gremlins.