Israel’s National Security Council recently concluded a two-year study on gender equality, according to journalist Tal Schneider. Among other things, the committee in charge recommended legislation to ensure that at least one-third of NSC forums are reserved for women. I am a passionate supporter of equality, but this recommendation gave me some pause. Something didn’t add up, so I shifted my focus to the exact definition of the NSC’s purpose.
According to my research, the NSC is a professional security tool at the government’s disposal, whose purpose is to spearhead informed decision-making processes on matters of national security. Based on these parameters, one would expect the nation’s security to be the top priority for NSC members, and that the entire focus of their work would be to serve the country’s defensive and offensive security needs. It is unclear how setting a minimum quota for female representation serves this goal, and I must confess that even upon concluding this column, I still don’t have an answer. As a matter of fact, according to my logic, it is actually detrimental to our personal security.
This is a value-based decision that necessarily prioritizes gender equality over national security. In the aforementioned scenario, one cannot interpret the decision to hire the woman over the man in any other way, as the proposed law strictly prioritizes gender over professional acumen.
Who delegated the authority to make such a decision to the members of the NSC? It certainly wasn’t me. It certainly wasn’t Israeli taxpayers, who pay the members of the NSC their salaries and put faith in them to provide personal security. A value-based decision such as this, which pits one value against another, can only be made by the public. It is not the NSC’s job to concern itself with Israel’s moral integrity—certainly not at the expense of its physical security.
Generally speaking, my conservative soul is a little tired of government clerks who wake up in the morning and in addition to their regular jobs take it upon themselves to fix the world.
Good intentions aside, bitter experience tells us that mixing these two things is very rarely successful, and in most cases, everyone and everything ends up screwed: the actual job the clerk is supposed to be doing; the world, which shockingly refuses to be fixed; and mainly the citizens concerned, who ask themselves how these people, who are responsible for our lives, are spending their time on the clock.
I pray that in my lifetime, I’ll hear Israel Defense Forces chiefs of staff talk about nothing but how to win wars, police chiefs who only care about keeping the peace, and NSC members who wake up in the morning and do their jobs, instead of wasting their time on pet projects that have nothing to do with them.
Arnon Itiel is an Israeli author, broadcaster and columnist.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.