By Elad Benari, Special to the Ledger ~
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke on Thursday at the conclusion of the 163rd Israel Air Forces pilots’ training course. The concluding ceremony took place at the Hatzerim Airbase on the outskirts of Be’er Sheva.
Netanyahu praised the graduates of the course and particularly the five women who were among the graduates. His remarks came on the heels of the recent media hype over the exclusion of women by small extremist groups of hareidi-religious Jews.
Netanyahu told the young pilots that they are “the fingers of Israel’s fist of steel, and that fist of steel is connected to our very, very long arm. It was designed to protect our country against those who seek to hurt it. And I know you’ve gone a long way to get here, and that you will all go far.”
“I want to say a special word to the fresh female pilots of the Air Force,” he added. “There is no greater proof of the absurdity of gender discrimination, what we call the exclusion of women, than you coming here today to take part in the conclusion of this course. There is no exclusion of women in Israel. Whoever stands the test of capabilities their place is here with us.”
Netanyahu added, “In a country where women sit in the cockpit, women sit everywhere. This is Air Force policy, this is the IDF’s policy, this is our policy. And I know there’s a change that didn’t begin today. There are already female pilots, female navigators and female helicopter pilots. You really serve as a model to the open, liberal, democratic society that is the State of Israel.”
He concluded by telling the young pilots, “May you fly high, protect the sky, I believe in you because I know you will do everything in your power, men and women, to protect our homeland, to preserve our country. May you return home safely and carry a blessing.”