Caroline Glick

On balance, Israeli society is extremely healthy.

Unemployment is at record lows. At a time of global recession, the Israeli economy is growing steadily.

Israeli Jewish women have the highest fertility rate in the Western world with an average of three children per woman. Education levels have risen dramatically across the board over the past decade with dozens of private colleges opening their doors to more and more sectors of the population.

Israel's diverse Jewish population is becoming more integrated. Sephardic and Ashkenazi intermarriage has long been a norm. Secular Jews are becoming more religious. A new educational trend that received significant media attention in recent months involves secular parents who send their children to national religious schools to ensure that they receive strong educational grounding in Judaism.

And as secular Jews become more religious, both the national religious and ultra-Orthodox sectors are becoming increasingly integrated in nonreligious neighborhoods and institutions. Ultra-Orthodox conscription rates have increased seven-fold in the past four years. In 2010, 50 percent of ultra-Orthodox male high school graduates were conscripted.

The IDF assesses that by 2015, the rate of conscription will rise to 65%.

While this is still below the general conscription rate of 75% among male 18-year-olds, the rapid rise in ultra-Orthodox military service is a revolutionary development for the sector.

With military service comes entrée to the job market. The trail towards employment integration was blazed by ultra-Orthodox women. Over the past decade, ultra-Orthodox women have matriculated en masse in vocational schools that have trained them in hi-tech and other marketable professions and so enabled them to raise their families out of poverty.

These ultra-Orthodox women, who are now being followed by their IDF veteran husbands, are part of a general trend that has seen women fully integrated in almost every sector of society and the economy. The fact that women make up the senior leadership echelons in both business and government is not a fluke. Rather it is a product of the largely egalitarian nature of Israeli society.

True, as is the case everywhere, Israeli women suffer from male chauvinism. And like the rest of the world, Israel has its share of sexual abusers, rapists, and criminal and social misogynists. But imperfection does not detract from the fact that women in Israel are free, educated, empowered and advancing on all fronts.


Caroline Glick

Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.

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