Culture, Identity, Israel, Mishegas, Politics

File this one under: barf!

Haaretz has a disturbing story on the moral erosion in the fashion of young soldiers and delves into the psychology that inspires such imagery.
A particular quote that I feel sums up the complexity of the matter, especially considering many of these young people are barely adults making life and death decisions, was this:

“As a sniper, you get a lot of extreme situations. You suddenly see a small boy who picks up a weapon and it’s up to you to decide whether to shoot. These shirts are half-facetious, bordering on the truth, and they reflect the extreme situations you might encounter. The one who-honest-to-God sees the target with his own eyes – that’s the sniper.”

Now I’ve never been a soldier, and I do not desire to be. So I do not know what decision making like that entails, but I’ll tell you what I do know… slogans like “We came, we saw, we destroyed!” – alongside images of weapons, an angry soldier and a Palestinian village with a ruined mosque in the center or like “If you believe it can be fixed, then believe it can be destroyed!” well, I know those are just plain gross.
I understand that these things are “half-facetious” but they’re still half serious! Serious or not, humor like this says something quite loud about the culture that produces it. This reflects belligerence and racism in the worst regard. I do not know Israel well enough to know if this is truly indicative of its culture, but I do know Judaism, and to the Jewish culture that I know this just doesn’t seem okay.

2 thoughts on “File this one under: barf!

  1. Three things:
    1) I think these shirts are reprehensible.
    2) I guess I can understand them from the point of view of a militaristic culture like Israel or at least the culture of the IDF. That is not a justification but I think I can understand where they might be coming from.
    3) I was also never a soldier nor do I desire to be but I also suspect that being able to bring some levity to a military scenario might be therapeutic in some way for the soldier.

  2. I’m mixed about these. I know they’re gross and inappropriate. But for example, when working with the Breaking the Silence guys on their tour this time last year, our humor behind scenes was just as gross and offensive. Black humor is how we dealt with the macabre subject material. For one who finds shocking humor humorous, I thought we were hilarious.
    But I didn’t put it on a t-shirt. I didn’t make it the public and permanent symbol of the tour. It was behind closed doors between just us. And I’m quite sure that these aren’t intended to be funny; they’re group identity builders and expressions of collective values. Even if done hastily by the artsy guy in the unit. And it should be the commanders’ perogatives to encourage an atmosphere of tolerating black humor as coping mechanism but pointing out when it becomes more than that. I think here is where it crossed over.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.