For over a century, the status of women has been one of the most enduring and pointed differences between the Zionists and their neighbors. Whether it was the sight of women working in the agricultural fields in shorts, striding the beaches of Tel Aviv in bikinis, or serving as prime minister of the country, women's robust status has proved one of the more difficult aspects for Arab Muslims of the yishuv and then Israel.
One can only imagine the impact of the news today that the Israel Defense Forces is about to unveil, as it were, a combat squadron composed solely of women. As Ma`ariv puts it, "In the new squadron, all positions are staffed by members of the fairer sex: from the combat pilot to the operations officer, training officer, air traffic control sergeant right down to the ground technician." More: the air force says that senior positions, such as that of squadron commander, will also eventually be filled by women. (July 20, 2004)