Dead babies and zones of exception

IDF fashion

Just a day after the revelations about what Israeli soldiers really did in Gaza came the story about the Jaffa T shirt factory, where 500 T shirts per month with dead babies, mothers weeping on their children’s graves, a gun aimed at a child and a bombed-out mosque accompanies with slogans such as ‘better use Durex’ (next to a picture of a dead Palestinian baby with his weeping mpther and a teddy bear beside him), ‘1 shot, 2 kills’, (beside a pregnant Palestinian woman with a bull’s eye superimposed on her belly), and ‘no matter how it begins, we’ll put an end to it’ (Uri Blau, Dead Palestinian babies and bombed mosques – IDF fashion 2009 – Haaretz – Israel News). Haaretz reports plenty of shirts with blatant sexual messages, such as a drawing of a soldier next to a young woman with bruises, and the slogan, ‘Bet you got raped!’

A few of the images describe actions whose existence the army officially denies – such as ‘confirming the kill’ (shooting a bullet into an enemy victim’s head from close range, to ensure he is dead), or harming religious sites, or female or child non-combatants.

Importantly, T shirt contents must be submitted for approval by one of the unit’s commanders, but they remain the soldiers’ private initiative as drawing or slogans, such as ‘we won’t chill until we confirm the kill’ (a practive the IDF keep claiming does not exist) banned by some units find their way to other units

Chllingly, the online article by Blau is accompanied by an advertisement for ‘Libi’ (Hebrew for’my heart’) – ‘the fund for strenthening Israel’s Defence’ , which boasts that ‘Our soldiers prevail not by the strength of their weapons but by their sense of mission; by their consciousness of the justness of their cause, by a deep love for their country, and by their understanding of the heavy task laid upon them: to ensure the existence of our people in their homeland and to affirm, even at the cost of their lives, the right of the Jewish people to live their lives in their own state, free, independent and in peace.’

Clearly the IDF’d commitment to the justness of its cause and the soldiers’ love of their countryt means dehumanising the Palestinian other, making Gaza, as transpired from the soldiers’ recent testimonies, the worst Agambean zone of exception where all is permitted, including memorialising their murderous acts on their T shirts.

What is particularly worrying, however, is that the liberal Israeli left, just as it did in relation to Ari Folman’s Waltz with Bashir (for a critique see Gideon Levi,, will use the revulsion at these disguting T shirts to portray Israel as ever the moral country, and the IDF as ever the moral army, and the murderous charade will on on uninterrupted. Disgust with what can easily be conceived of as some ‘bad apples’ is much easier than a serious critique of the whole Zionist ideology.