Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.


with 12 comments


“The IDF does not and has never had a policy of targeting civilians.”
—Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister of Israel

Isn’t that just lovely? Breaking news in Israel: some IDF soldiers got these t-shirts after completing their training. In fact a number of similar t-shirts have come to light in the past few days, more or less covertly circulating in the Israeli military. Let me see if I understand this, soldiers in the “most moral army in the world” that “does not and has never had a policy of targeting civilians” are wearing t-shirts that say exactly the opposite? Hmm.

As is so often the case, there’s a lot of ways to look at this. First of all, note how much attention this story got in the USA and western press. At least in Israel the press has the stones to report on such stories so there can be a public debate. And it’s a good bet that this will be widely circulated in the Muslim world. In the west, the so called free press seems to be more and more simply a mouthpiece for government propaganda, and the official line in the west is that the Israelis are good and peaceful, the Arabs violent and warlike …  so stories like this get little or no attention.

In Israel the propaganda machine is already spinning this in the predictable way, it’s just a few bad apples. And the soldiers in question will be punished. The first almost certainly isn’t true, these t-shirts were widely available and distributed within the IDF. And the second remains to be seen. In either case it is being passed off as of little significance. Despite the fact that there is piles of evidence that Israel is becoming militarized in a very dark way, the pretence of the peaceful Israelis defending themselves against Palestinian violence has to be maintained.

I would like to point out that from personal experience, similar stuff was widely available in the USA military when I served in the 1970s. It was Asians that were mostly targeted in that era, especially Japanese and Vietnamese, and some of the stuff I saw was just as vile a that pictured above. Of course stuff like this was never worn in public, in that era as well the pretence of an army for peace had to be maintained. Heck, you can still buy t-shirts like this at USA gun shows last time I checked.

Does this sort of stuff prove that Israelis and Americans are inherently violent? No. At least not any more violent than anyone else. There’s some violent chimpanzee in all of us.The point here is that having a big standing army and a good guy/bad guy foreign policy breeds this sort of sickness. You form a gang of young men, arm them, teach them to kill, and tell them who their enemies are … and this sort of thing is inevitable. And when this sort of attitude is present, atrocities are inevitable whether the higher ups order them or not. It’s also a pretty good bet that since the higher ups came from the lower ranks to start with, that they aren’t exactly too upset about stuff like this. Though not all, it’s good bet that wearing one of these around General Eisenhower would have meant an instant court martial, but General Petraeus is no Eisenhower.

But I digress. Our founding fathers understood the hazards of a huge standing army, and this sort of moral decay is one of them. I wish I could get more people to see this. I joined the military myself to “serve my country.” And I pretty quickly discovered that the military’s real mission as they understood it had nothing to do with defending the country, we were an armed gang for the express purpose of travelling to foreign lands and killing people. I met some of the most decent honourable people in my life in the Marines, but it didn’t change our mission.

The other terrible hazard with a large standing army is that its leaders will sooner or later move into politics in a big way, and do their best to influence their nation’s policies both foreign and domestic. And not to put it too strongly, a gang of armed killers is about the last people you need influencing your government. They will strive to create a need for themselves by fair means and foul, and in both Israel and the USA this has become a terrible problem. I mean, we have two of the most powerful military machines in the world … and the threats they face are some of the most trivial in their nation’s history.

In other words, in more ways than one, what’s wrong with this picture?

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit, it is central to illustrating the post, and its use here in no way interferes with the copyright holder’s commercial use of the image. Credit: Yanai Yechiel. I have nothing further to add, for once the picture pretty much tells the story.)


Written by unitedcats

March 24, 2009 at 8:45 am

12 Responses

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  1. You can’t have soldiers feeling guilty about accidently shooting women and children when dealing with an enemy who hides behind women and children. Both sides treat each other like subhumans to be effective killers.


    March 24, 2009 at 3:36 pm

  2. I just had a thought: maybe Israel wants the world thinking that it doesn’t kill indiscriminately, but at the same time they want the world to think that they aren’t afraid to kill. I don’t like the idea and I hate feeling divided, but I think that it’s understandable. In this world, a lot of times it’s about being tough and showing a strong face. So that begs the question, is trying to be moral…wussy? Maybe, if it keeps people from doing what they have to. JMHO. ;-)


    March 24, 2009 at 6:37 pm

  3. “You can’t have soldiers feeling guilty about accidently shooting women and children when dealing with an enemy who hides behind women and children.”

    Then the T shirt SHOULD say “three kills”.. it does not.


    March 25, 2009 at 11:30 am

  4. What you have clearly ignored is that in each t-shirt picture, the targeted person is armed…the arab woman is pregnant and is carrying a rifle. Nothing to explain here except the fact that many Palestinians are armed and do kill Israelis. The implication is that the antisemitic teachings of the parents will be taught to the children–just google Palestine and sesame street to see what kind of hatred is taught to their kids–and therefore, the children are potential killers. What I don’t see from you is any mention of the disdain for innocent life coming from the Arab world.

    jon tea

    April 4, 2009 at 11:16 pm

  5. It is beyond me how people refuse to acknowledge that the Palestinian people are in a fight for their lives. They are defending themselves against an aggressor in a war they did not start.

    US militia armed boys and even women in the War for Independence. They were defending themselves against a foreign invader and are praised for it.

    This just goes to show the complicit hypocrisy when it comes to the actions of the US and Israel. The US and Israel have redefined “terrorism” to exclude themselves, the perpetrators and instigators of terrorism.


    April 5, 2009 at 8:55 am

  6. “They are defending themselves against an aggressor in a war they did not start.” LOL…

    Hey, Nick, perhaps a little history lesson is in order. 1948 and 4 Arab armies attack Israel with the intention of killing every Jew. They tell the Arabs living there to get out and when they come back, they’ll have double their housing. The Arabs have never wanted peace, they wanted Dar-al-islam, a caliphate. Any history of the ME will confirm that in 1922 Churchill carved out 80% of Palestine to create a Palestinian state called Transjordan. Jews were not allowed to buy property or live their. Now they want another country for themselves. Nice.

    The hypocrisy is that you consider America and Israel terrorists without even knowing about Palestinian culture that teaches so much hatred. During 911 Palestinians were celebrating. They celebrate death. I guess you have the same lack of ethics if you side with the blood lust that is Palestinian.

    jon tea

    April 5, 2009 at 10:37 am

  7. jon tea,

    “They celebrate death.”
    “…blood lust that is Palestinian.”

    Please listen to yourself. You are categorizing millions of people here. Are you offended by the statement, “all black people are thieves”? How about “all Jews are thieves”? Do you get my point? Clearly you feel emotional about the issue… but this isn’t a forum of hate. Thanks.


    April 7, 2009 at 6:31 pm

  8. I find it fascinating that all arguments made to defend Israeli violence boil down to some combination of “Arabs aren’t really human beings/they made us do it to them.” I mean, there’s no other way one could take pride in justifying the killing of pregnant women, right?


    April 7, 2009 at 7:36 pm

  9. The tee shirt is in poor taste and brilliant. I think you fail distinguish a point of view that is perhaps the creator’s purpose and underlying message. The obvious one is that of a pregnant female as a target of violence. Seen in this regard, the shirt sparks outrage and encroaches upon our patriarchal prejudices that females are vulnerable, weak, and in need of protection. And her flagrant pregnancy serves to magnify that prejudice. The fact that she also carries a gun requires a second look and rightly so. The message is clear if you can view the image without letting your emotions get the best of you. From birth, men (and women) are imbued with the certainty that males are the dominant sex and thus obligated to protect females, the weaker sex. That is why so many are horrified by an image of a woman or a child being shot. However, male chivalry, while honorable, is also dangerous. A soldier is vulnerable if he succumbs to his belief or even instinct that a woman or a child poses little threat. Beyond that, more and more Palestinian women are usurping the traditional male role of soldier and suicide bomber. The tee shirt’s juxtaposition of a gun and an impregnated female is a triumph in many ways. Not only does it successfully portray women as a new and growing threat but it also demonstrates how pregnancy serves as a psychological shield. While you’re thinking twice about shooting her, she has already fired.


    April 8, 2009 at 12:32 am

  10. 1. Israels neighbors have constantly tried to wipe them from the face of the earth

    2. hamas fires rockets into cities trying to kill as many people as they can

    3. the Arab countries will never accept Israel sovereignty or right to exist

    4. and yes the idf has killed civilians mostly because they enemies hide among the civilian population or because well the soldiers are fucking tired of having they cities and loved ones attacked so they take they anger out on a civilian but even this is rare where as the hamas purposely targets civilians

    5. israel has every right to defend themselves against any foe

    6. radical Islam and other Arabic fractions have always been at war with someone take the crusades for explam this was to fight back the aggressive radical Islamic army that was trying to conquer the world

    7. Israel has given up the Gaza strip to try and stop the fighting but no hamas was relentless with the rocket attacks


    May 3, 2009 at 11:50 am

  11. I have answered Dragunov’s comment in a recent post: War Rationalisations Deconstructed


    May 6, 2009 at 8:18 am

  12. Where can I get one of those T-Shirts?


    December 10, 2013 at 7:42 pm

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