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Israeli rabbi: women joining army become ‘non-Jews’

JERUSALEM:  An Israeli rabbi was fiercely criticised on Wednesday for saying women who join the army come back as “non-Jews,” in a controversy that coincided with International Women’s Day.

Ultra-conservative rabbi Yigal Levinstein, who heads a pre-military academy in the Eli settlement in the occupied West Bank, said in a lecture that women enter the army as Jews and come out non-Jews.

“Who will marry them?” he asked.

Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman condemned the comments and urged Levinstein to consider his position.

“Since the establishment of the state (of Israel), women have served in the army and have greatly contributed to the security of the country,” said Lieberman.

“Rabbi Levinstein’s statements are not only an insult to Israelis, but also to the Israeli army, its heritage and all the fundamental values of the state of Israel,” he said.

Lieberman said he would “reconsider” the rabbi’s role in preparing young men for military service.

Military service is compulsory for both men and women in Israel.

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