The woman who won a landmark court ruling affirming her attempts to be admitted to the Israeli air force’s fighter-pilot training program has failed the qualifying exam.
A spokesman for the Israel Defense Force announced last week that Alice Miller, a 23-year-old South African immigrant, had failed the exam and would not be allowed into the air force’s training program.
Miller fought a two-year court battle that culminated in a Supreme Court ruling in November granting her the right to take the exam.
In her quest to gain entry into the air force, Miller became a symbol for sexual equality in Israel.
In the wake of the court’s ruling, the air force issued an invitation for female soldiers to try out for pilot training.
Miller obtained her civilian pilot’s license in South Africa and studied aeronautical engineering at Haifa’s Technion Institute.
She now holds an office job in the air force, and because she is a soldier is barred from speaking to the media.
The IDF spokesman said Miller had failed the qualifying exams that every person needed to pass in order to get into flight school. He refused to elaborate on the nature of the exams, citing security reasons.
But Miller’s lawyer, Neta Ziv Goldman, reportedly said Miller had failed medical tests after passing a battery of aptitude examinations with high grades.
“The air force was fair,” the lawyer was quoted as saying said. “They didn’t fail her deliberately.”
Her father, Rafi Miller, told Israel Radio last week of his daughter’s disappointment.
“That’s it, the story’s over,” he said. “Everyone who dreams of something and works hard for it and then doesn’t reach it feels disappointed.”
IDF officials have created a policy under which women who train as fighter pilots will be asked to make a commitment to become career soldiers and sign a promise that they will not attempt to leave duty early because of marriage or pregnancy.
The IDF has defended the policy, saying that the two-year pilot course is one of the longest and most expensive in the Israeli military.
Prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling, the air force had turned down Miller’s requests to enter pilot training, saying that women did not serve long enough in the military to justify the expensive investment made in pilots.