Israel's dirty laundry

March 27, 2009

Israel is a deeply militarised apartheid society.

For the most part, the slick spokespeople of the Israeli government and the army use a well-oiled PR machine to present Israel as a peaceful society, unlucky to have such "war mongering" and "fundamentalist" neighbours.

But every now and again, the mask slips and the world gets a glimpse into the reality of everyday life in Israel. Israeli newspaper Haaretz offered some such glimpses on March 19.

In an article that made world headlines, some of the first soldier accounts of the atrocities committed by the Israeli Defence Force in the December-January war on Gaza were revealed.

IDF soldiers described some of the war crimes they witnessed or participated in. Shooting and killing medical teams, elderly women, trashing people's houses and writing "death to the Arabs" on Gazan walls, are just some of the stories that came out in soldier testimonies.

It is important to remember that for more than a year, Israel have put a complete ban on journalists entering Gaza. Many of these crimes have not previously been reported.

On March 26, Hareetz followed this with a revealing and sickening piece on the latest IDF "fashion".

For many years now, it became a tradition for classes, platoons, and divisions in the IDF to commemorate meaningful events in their military career with commemorative T-shirts.

This has become a significant part of everyday life in Israel, as you regularly see people proudly wearing their shirts.

The graphics on the shirts are designed by soldiers and will usually portray a part of their joint experience — often with a "comic twist" or "inside jokes".

After the recent Gaza massacre, many platoons and divisions of the army who participated prepared their own commemorative shirts portraying their actions in Gaza.

Although the practice is nothing new, due to the international revulsion at Israel's crimes that translated into mass global protests, this time it made international headlines.

For the first time, many people got to see Israel's dirty laundry — and were rightly shocked.

One shirt, for example, featured a drawing of a dead Palestinian baby, a woman crying and a teddy bear, with the text "Better use Durex".

Another shirt, which made media around the world, featured a drawing of a pregnant Palestinian woman in the sights of a sniper cross-hair. The words "1 shot, 2 kills" are written underneath.

A militarised society, such as Israel, dehumanises the people living in it, to such point where deeply racist views can take hold. Such views are used to justify even the most atrocious crimes.

These shirts provide a powerful example.

Another shirt, reported in the article, featured a drawing of a young, bruised woman next to an Israeli soldier, with the text "Bet you got raped!".

Another shirt featured a ruined Mosque with the slogan, "We came, we saw, we destroyed!".

One soldier, who participated in the Gaza massacre and designed his paratroop battalion's shirt featuring a King-Kong sized Israeli soldier in the middle of a ruined city with a mosque in his hand, was interviewed in Haaretz.

"I can understand people who look at this from outside and see it [negatively]", he said, "but I was in Gaza and [the commanding army officers] kept emphasizing that the object of the operation was to wreak destruction on the infrastructure, so that the price the Palestinians and the leadership pay will make them realize that it isn't worth it for them to go on shooting."

This is just a small glimpse of the types of T-shirts being designed, which speak volumes about the indoctrination that these young soldiers go through.

This is the true face of Zionism — the ideology of an exclusively Jewish state on the land of historic Palestine. This ideology is accompanied with a deep indoctrination process to dehumanise the dispossessed Palestinian people, which justifies such atrocities.

Another example of Israel's militarised apartheid society was provided when the Palestinian Cultural Festival was held in cities within Israel as well as in the West Bank on March 21. The festival included cultural and sporting events, often involving children.

Israel has declared this festival illegal and the authorities set out to violently suppress it. Haaretz reported that day that "police had shut down eight events and arrested 20 people, believed to be the events' organizers".

Among the people arrested were two students from the Al Quds University, who were handing out festival T-shirts. There were no drawings of dead babies, raped women or destroyed buildings on these shirts.

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.