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Seeking Her Wings, New Immigrant Flies First to Israel’s High Court

August 17, 1994
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Citing sexual discrimination, a recent immigrant from South Africa has petitioned the High Court of Justice to force the Israeli air force to allow her to join a pilot training course.

Alice Miller, 22, brought the petition with the support of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel after the air force rejected her application to take the training course.

She claimed sexual discrimination alone was behind the rejection, since she had obtained a civilian air pilot license before emigrating to Israel and has since earned a degree in aeronautical engineering from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.

The air force, which was given 45 days to prepare its response to Miller’s petition, said its refusal to let her take the course was based on the Israel Defense Force’s opposition to allowing women to serve in combat areas.

The IDF already employs women soldiers as instructors for tanks, artillery and other frontline equipment, but not in combat.

Miller claims that the IDF policy not only prevents her from becoming a fighter pilot but also bars her from most senior army positions, since even posts such as the chief education officer require experience in combat units.

She said the policy also significantly reduces her professional chances in the civilian aviation field after her military service is completed, since companies such as El Al give preference to people with air force experience.

In supporting her petition, the Association for Civil Rights noted that most Western countries have begun integrating women into combat units and, far from hurting the morale of these units, female soldiers have shown themselves highly capable of handling combat assignments.

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