A Wider Bridge is concerned about an apparent change in Israel Defense Force (IDF) policy which restricts access to training related to issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. We echo our partner organization Hoshen’s call to the IDF to reconsider this policy.
The IDF has long been a leader in LGBTQ inclusion. For the past 15 years, soldiers of all ranks in the IDF have received education aimed at increasing inclusion of the LGBTQ community from Hoshen, the only LGBTQ organization in Israel that is recognized by the Ministry of Education. Unfortunately, Hoshen will be prevented from continuing this work under the IDF’s new policy, which limits access to training opportunities to soldiers with a rank of captain or higher.
In a statement, Tyler Gregory, executive director of AWB, encourages the IDF to continue upholding its principles of inclusion and warns about the dangers of sliding backwards:
“In our advocacy work, we uphold the IDF for being a model of LGBTQ military inclusion for many years, which makes this decision all the more concerning. Curbing our partner Hoshen’s ability to educate all soldiers about issues of sexuality and gender identity does a disservice not only to the LGBTQ community, but also to the soldiers, especially those who identify as LGBTQ.
“We echo Hoshen’s call for the IDF to take into consideration the safety of its LGBTQ soldiers, which includes all soldiers receiving education by trained professionals related to the inclusion of LGBTQ individuals.
“The last thing we want to see is for the IDF to step back from its well-earned reputation for the inclusion of the LGBTQ community. If this policy goes forward, it won’t only be IDF forces disadvantaged by the new restrictions placed on Hoshen and other organizations that have worked closely with the IDF for many years; it will affect all Israelis. The decision will also be to the detriment of A Wider Bridge and LGBTQ American organizations, which have long held up the IDF as a model for military inclusion, from the days of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ to today’s battle to protect transgender service members.”