Life scripts, counter scripts and online videos: The struggle of religious-nationalist community epistemic authorities against military service for women

Udi Lebel, Dana Masad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Life Scripts and Counter Scripts are used to illustrate the struggle by Israel’s Nationalist-Ultra-Orthodox Rabbinical authorities within the Zionist-religious community against military service for women. Following years in which the army had been out of bounds for the normative life scripts of the community’s women, the enlistment of women was relatively legitimized and normalized (although still far from becoming mainstream). These women identified an epistemic community that enabled them to establish life scripts offering community logics by which military service is perceived as empowering and offering positive capital and meaning. Conversely, leaders of conservative organizations within the Zionist-religious community, identifying the enlistment of women as a threat to the essentially religious-chauvinistic community order, embarked upon an internal campaign aimed at preventing it. This campaign can be seen as an attempt to establish a ‘counter script’ to the women’s enlistment script. It does not attempt to convince based on religious logics but by refuting beliefs formed as part of the script the women imagined would become their reality after they enlist. The paper analyzes a specific discourse arena taking part in the campaign— that of online videos distributed on YouTube and social media, aiming to influence attitudes. We conclude that, despite attempts to establish counter-scripts, by definition, these initiatives consist of an admission of weakness by the religious-rabbinical authority, as its very need to distribute these videos points to a double-bind and an ‘own-goal’ of sorts for the conservative authorities within religious-nationalist society.

Original languageEnglish
Article number750
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We wish to thank Tal Alon, our Research Assistant, for contributing to the collection of publicist columns on the polemic in Zionist-religious society. We also thank Yael Nachumi for her professional editing and valuable suggestions. Many thanks to Esther Gleichman, Manager of the Library of Social Sciences at Bar Ilan University for extraordinarily professional and obliging support, even during this difficult year. Without her support our research would not have been completed.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Army
  • Counter scripts
  • Israel
  • Life scripts
  • Religious communities
  • Videos
  • Women


Dive into the research topics of 'Life scripts, counter scripts and online videos: The struggle of religious-nationalist community epistemic authorities against military service for women'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this