Israel’s army faces a new challenge: beard complaints


(JTA) — Israel’s army requires all its soldiers to shave their beards — that is, unless they are religious.

Two secular (and bearded) soldiers have launched a campaign against the religious facial hair exemption, as detailed in an Agence France-Presse article published Tuesday.

Bar Pinto and Gilad Levi started “Beard Exemptions for All” (“Ptor Zakan Lekulam” in Hebrew) because they see the rule as a double standard that is hurting the army. Defense Minister Benny Gantz has cited statistics saying that over half of young Israelis are avoiding the country’s mandated military service with one exemption or another.

“We want the army to focus on what really matters: investing time and resources to defend the country,” Pinto told AFP. “Why complicate the lives of these young men who are making an effort to serve their country and give the best years of their lives?”

Their Facebook group has nearly 4,000 members, and they have created a series of videos about the issue. They are even selling merchandise, including T-shirts and stickers of the army’s logo, “branded with a beard.”

Read the full report here.

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