The Chinese People’s Liberation Army has been harassing Taiwan by frequently sending its warplanes and battleships across the median line of the Taiwan Strait. Growing cross-strait tensions have brought the issue of universal conscription back to the fore.
Notably, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Hsu Chiao-hsin (徐巧芯) suggested that women should also perform military service and said that she would be willing to do so herself. Her suggestion has opened up discussion on the issue of women serving in the military.
There are countries around the world where it is quite normal for women to serve in the military. Israel, which was founded in 1948, is perhaps the best-known example.
Let us consider the true story of a particularly famous Israeli female soldier.
If you have seen the movie Wonder Woman, you will remember the heroine, whose secret identity is Diana Prince, and the way she fights for justice with flawless moves, shining with a blend of strength and beauty. Wonder Woman broke with the stereotype of American superhero movies always giving pride of place to male characters.
More than that, it promoted Israeli actress Gal Gadot, who played the star role in the film, from the sensuous female fighter she played in Fast & Furious to a super goddess who has a unique place in the hearts of movie fans.
With the slim figure of a fashion model, Gadot has the beauty and aura that befit her title of Miss Israel.
However, it was her deft fighting skills that won the hearts of so many moviegoers. If you wonder where those skills came from, the answer has to do with Israel’s policy that “every citizen is a soldier.”
Gadot became Miss Israel at age 18 and proceeded to compete in the Miss Universe pageant. Then, at the age of 19, she joined up and became a member of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
Although Israeli women can choose to perform social rather than military service, they have proven themselves to be just as valiant as men. Women account for about one-third of Israel’s military personnel, and the army even has all-female tank crews.
As a soldier, Gadot received training in combat skills and weapons handling. She served as a fitness and combat readiness instructor in an army whose principal opponent is the radical Palestinian organization Hamas.
When Wonder Woman was being screened in movie theaters, the Lebanese government banned it on the grounds that its star Gadot had served for two years in the IDF. It therefore listed Wonder Woman as an Israeli army film.
Ridiculous as this reasoning might be, it shows what a tough situation Israel — the state that Jews waited 2,000 years to found — still finds itself in.
That is why Jews clearly understand that they are responsible for saving their own country.
Even though Gadot has become an international superstar, she still takes the lead in demonstrating her loyalty to Israel and fearlessly supporting her home country on the world stage.
For Jews, being responsible for saving their own country is more than just a slogan, but what about Taiwan? When will Taiwanese see “wonder women” like Gadot emerge from their armed forces?
Brave Taiwanese women, including Hsu: Are you willing to stand on the front line to defend Taiwan?
Frank Tsai writes for a US-based project that supports Taiwanese democracy and appreciates the spirit of Jewish diaspora nationalism.
Translated by Julian Clegg
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