Saturday, March 21, 2009

IDF T-Shirts

It's starting to look like those warning of a culture of dehumanization of Arabs in the IDF have a point:
"The office at the Adiv fabric-printing shop in south Tel Aviv handles a constant stream of customers, many of them soldiers in uniform, who come to order custom clothing featuring their unit's insignia, usually accompanied by a slogan and drawing of their choosing. Elsewhere on the premises, the sketches are turned into plates used for imprinting the ordered items, mainly T-shirts and baseball caps, but also hoodies, fleece jackets and pants. A young Arab man from Jaffa supervises the workers who imprint the words and pictures, and afterward hands over the finished product.

"Dead babies, mothers weeping on their children's graves, a gun aimed at a child and bombed-out mosques - these are a few examples of the images Israel Defense Forces soldiers design these days to print on shirts they order to mark the end of training, or of field duty. The slogans accompanying the drawings are not exactly anemic either: A T-shirt for infantry snipers bears the inscription 'Better use Durex,' next to a picture of a dead Palestinian baby, with his weeping mother and a teddy bear beside him. A sharpshooter's T-shirt from the Givati Brigade's Shaked battalion shows a pregnant Palestinian woman with a bull's-eye superimposed on her belly, with the slogan, in English, '1 shot, 2 kills.' A 'graduation' shirt for those who have completed another snipers course depicts a Palestinian baby, who grows into a combative boy and then an armed adult, with the inscription, 'No matter how it begins, we'll put an end to it.'

"There are also plenty of shirts with blatant sexual messages. For example, the Lavi battalion produced a shirt featuring a drawing of a soldier next to a young woman with bruises, and the slogan, 'Bet you got raped!' A few of the images underscore actions whose existence the army officially denies - such as "confirming the kill" (shooting a bullet into an enemy victim's head from close range, to ensure he is dead), or harming religious sites, or female or child non-combatants."

I would have liked to see numbers with this story to assess just how widespread this kind of thing is, but unfortunately they weren't there. The article include's soldiers' fear of social disapproval, which is a hopeful sign. Some will shrug and say that there is similar dehumanization of Jewish Israelis in Arab countries, but that doesn't excuse this, even if both forms of bigotry contribute to a culture of mutual dehumanization that gives rise to cycles of this sort of thing.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Starting to look"? And what mutual dehumanization? No Arab country has done anything like this to the Israelis. Here soldiers are saying they deliberately shot children. How is this just "starting to look" like the whole Zionist enterprise is rotten: such contempt for the Palestinians has been its core since it all began.

4:46 AM  
Blogger Brian Ulrich said...

Good point on the "deliberately shot children," though some suicide bombings have come close. I was focusing on the content of T-shirts with those comments.

12:37 PM  

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