Fashion of the year: T-shirts, IDF-style

22 03 2009


Photo credit: Haaretz newspaper

Photo credit: Haaretz newspaper

A feature story appeared on the Israeli newspaper, the Haaretz, on March 20th by reporter Uri Blau, about a new trend among Israeli soldiers.

From a shop in south Tel Aviv, t-shirts are customized and made for buyers with imprints and taglines of their choice. Some IDF soldiers are now choosing images of dead women and babies (among others) with taglines like “1 shot, 2 kills,” or “Bet you got raped!”

These t-shirts are a sort of graduation gift for soldiers who have completed their service, particularly those from the sniper courses. A higher-ranked IDF officer, or sometimes the platoon’s sergeant, is supposed to approve them. The IDF’s Spokesman’s Office said that the army has no authority over civilian clothing, however.

Soldiers have not worn these t-shirts in public yet, only in “an army context.” One soldier interviewed said that they’re supposed to be an “inside joke.”

The IDF emphasizes that the images and lines are not representative of IDF practices. But I ask: what exactly are they a representation of, then? The Adiv printing shop said that the first order was placed in July 2007 and the trend has picked up from then.

Here is why this is not just about silly t-shirts:

“Could the printing of clothing be viewed also as a means of venting aggression?

[Sociologist Dr. Orna Sasson-Levy, of Bar-Ilan University]: “No. I think it strengthens and stimulates aggression and legitimizes it. What disturbs me is that a shirt is something that has permanence. The soldiers later wear it in civilian life; their girlfriends wear it afterward. It is not a statement, but rather something physical that remains, that is out there in the world. Beyond that, I think the link made between sexist views and nationalist views, as in the ‘Screw Haniyeh’ shirt, is interesting. National chauvinism and gender chauvinism combine and strengthen one another. It establishes a masculinity shaped by violent aggression toward women and Arabs; a masculinity that considers it legitimate to speak in a crude and violent manner toward women and Arabs.””

It is a BIG problem if you think of dead women and children, wherever they’re from, as a laughing matter.  A BIG PROBLEM. Combine this article with recent Israeli soldiers’ testimonies about abuse during Operation Cast Lead and you’ll have some very juicy food for thought.



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