On May 29, 2017, YNET published a long article about conversion to Judaism in the Israeli army.

Christian soldiers and those registered without religion are being asked to attend a preparation event for a course in conversion. A woman soldier, who went on to do the course, has said: “I did not want but the pressure influenced me”. A male soldier registered a complaint about invasion of privacy. The Association for Civil Rights is trying to change the situation. The IDF insists: “The goal – to strengthen the sense of belonging of the soldiers”.

Each year, more than 1500 people convert to Judaism in Israel and the vast majority do so with the framework of the military, by means of a conversion course called “Netiv”. According to Orthodox Judaism, the candidate for conversion has to pass through a process with complete conviction and freely. However, the IDF, it seems, obliges its soldiers who are not Jewish to at least participate in explanatory meetings of a conversion course and many of these soldiers are saying that pressure is exerted on them – both in the line of command and personal pressure – to participate in the course.

“I participated in the course after unceasing pressure. I did not want to but I felt that I had no choices,” Yael, a soldier about to finish her military service, says. “I have to be like everyone else, and they make me feel bad if I do not go. In the course, I suffered and felt humiliated. Just as they do not ask Druze and (Arab) Christians in the IDF to convert, there is no reason to put pressure on me. This is not right”.

Evidence of compulsion to participate in these meetings can be found in a letter that is revealed here for the first time; which is sent by the Education Service in the military to soldiers who are not Jewish and it imposes on them the obligation to present themselves at “Netiv”, the IDF’s conversion course. Not attending the meeting, that will take place twice during the month of June in Jerusalem, might be considered with regard to these soldiers, mostly Christian immigrants or those who define themselves officially as without religion, the refusal to obey a military command.

Read more in Hebrew here