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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.”

It gets worse . . .

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. In many cases, the content is submitted for approval to one of the unit’s commanders.

The article has plenty of examples of way way out there T-shirt designs, whose anti-Arab image and text make “Kill them all and let God sort them out” seem like a politically correct pronouncement. Interviewed on the sartorial sacrilege for the article, the Israeli Defense Force condemned the unofficial practice.

The IDF Spokesman’s Office comments on the phenomenon: “Military regulations do not apply to civilian clothing, including shirts produced at the end of basic training and various courses. The designs are printed at the soldiers’ private initiative, and on civilian shirts. The examples raised by Haaretz are not in keeping with the values of the IDF spirit, not representative of IDF life, and are in poor taste. Humor of this kind deserves every condemnation and excoriation. The IDF intends to take action for the immediate eradication of this phenomenon. To this end, it is emphasizing to commanding officers that it is appropriate, among other things, to take discretionary and disciplinary measures against those involved in acts of this sort.”

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  1. Those are some pretty sick shirts. Then again, trying to find humor, even sick humor, in the dark side of a war against terrorsits is almost healthy. I have to agree with the reaction to one of the shirts:

    "There's a Golani or Givati shirt of a soldier raping a girl, and underneath it says, 'No virgins, no terror attacks.' I laughed, but it was … See Morepretty awful."

    Yep it is a sick. But so is the notion that a terrorist goes to heaven and gets 72 virgins for killing and maiming innocent civilians. Printing offensive t-shirts, and yes they too know they are offensive as evidenced by noting that they wouldn't wear them in public, is almost an impressive response.

    I have a nephew who is a US Army Ranger. He had a shirt with a logo with crosshairs on the pocket called the "72 Virgins Dating Club, We'll hook you up." A little more sophisticated than the Israeli ones, but still reflective of a mindset a bit foreign to most of us who don't have to kill people to protect others.

  2. Hi Robert; I can see this website heading in some interesting directions. This story was a little unsettling for obvious reasons. I can also see that your new subject matter will have many more issues that will surprise or shock me.


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