An Ugly and Symptomatic Consequence of Israel's Palestinian Occupation

05/28/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A recent article written by Israeli journalist, Uri Blau, and published in the Israeli national newspaper Haaretz, details a small, but symptomatic aspect of Israel's colonial policy toward the Palestinians: the dehumanizing attitudes that some Israeli soldiers adopt toward the Palestinians. Apparently, it is a custom that small units (squads, platoons, etc) in the Israel Defense Forces commission custom-made t-shirts and other apparel "featuring their unit's insignia, usually accompanied by a slogan and drawing of their choosing." The slogan and drawing typically express various (often x-rated or iconoclastic) attitudes, which the members of these units then wear in informal or civilian settings.

The problem is that there is apparently a widespread trend for these slogans and drawings to express racist and even genocidal attitudes toward Palestinians among the soldiers commissioning and then wearing them. Here is just one example: "A 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."

Yes, it is that bad, and this is not even the worst of them. And what makes it even more significant and scary is that the officers have to approve of these slogans and captions -- because the Unit's insignia is on them -- so there is institutional sanctioning of these incredible images and statements, which the unit members then wear in all sorts of informal settings.

Complaints about them are dismissed on the basis that these are lighthearted and playful, but I think we can see the sinister significance and brutal consequences of advertising and therefore validating these attitudes -- and the actions they encourage.

More broadly, the bland acceptance of this in Israel suggest corruption of military and civilian authorities, and the depth of the racism flooding through segments of the population there.

Oh my.