Archive for March, 2009

Marwan – Los hijos de las piedras

Posted in Palestine, Songs with tags , , , , on 31/03/2009 by 3071km

This is a song from Marwan, a Spanish-Palestinian songwriter, called The sons of stones.

There is also a Catalan version he did for the documentary Palestina, la veritat assetjada. Reflexions i testimonis per un procés de pau just produced by Xarxa d’Enllaç amb Palestina.

If you want more information about him please check his website or his MySpace site, where you can listen to some of his songs.

Señores de occidente escribo de muy lejos
Soy niño y palestino, no creo que recuerden que hace medio siglo
Ustedes permitieron tan sólo por dinero
Que fuera amputada la tierra de mi abuelo

Tierra Santa de todos y con los mismos dioses
Dioses por los que matan en modernas cruzadas por ser distinto el nombre
Dioses en los que algunos nunca más creeremos
No pueden ser reales si vemos lo que vemos

De un gatillazo mueren los brotes de esperanza
Y aquí se desdibuja una paloma blanca

Con el alma curtida de recibir mil golpes
Los hijos de las piedras habitan barricadas
Hondas contra cañones
La historia ha cambiado, David es de otro bando
Ahora es asesino y nos está apuntando

Y los niños no se libran cuando silban las balas
El pupitre vacío de mi mejor amigo me ha sangrado el alma
Que se traguen su odio y venga la vergüenza para ajustar las cuentas
Mi boca es la de todos si digo…

Señores en sus manos yace nuestra esperanza
La vida, la justicia y una paloma blanca

The Knesset: many parties, one mind

Posted in Gaza, Israeli politics with tags , , , , , on 30/03/2009 by 3071km

This is an interesting article written by Daphna Baram and posted last week in The Guardian (Thursday 26th March 2009). We hope you find it interesting!

Intransigence, expansionism, racism and warmongering now seem to be the consensus across Israeli politics

Ehud Barak’s move to join Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition and rub shoulders around the cabinet table with arch racist Avigdor Lieberman should not have surprised anybody, but was still met with shocked lamentations from the ranks of the decomposing remnants of the Zionist left. The fact that Tzipi Livni, leader of the opportunistic “central” Kadima party, demonstrated more courage and integrity (for which the long knives in her party have already been drawn against her), is hardly a breathtaking bombshell either for anybody who has been following the careers of the power-obsessed general and the goody-two-shoes girl scout. Many ask themselves what’s left of the Israeli left.

The answer to that, as it always has been, is simple. The Israeli left is combined of the following: the diminishing Meretz, a group of liberal Zionists who are torn by the realisation that they will soon have to decide whether they want a Jewish state or a democratic one – if they opt for the former they’ll have to waive the liberal tag, while if they choose the latter they’ll have to part with the Zionist one; Arab and Jewish Hadash voters who are struggling to hold on to their two-state solution while beginning to realise that it may well be too late for that; and the mainly Arab voters of Balad, whose plain call for a state for all its citizens is heard by most Jewish Israelis as a subversive “antisemitic” plan. Traditionally, the other Arab party, The United Arab List, is also counted with the left, though there’s nothing particularly lefty about it. However, since it represents a part of the constituency of the Palestinian-Arab deprived minority, it naturally aligns itself with the cause of Palestinians’ rights, both inside Israel proper, and in the context of the West Bank and Gaza.

This whole block, which has just been defined as “the left”, is represented now by 14 parliamentary seats out of the 120 seats in the Israeli Knesset. To them one may hesitantly add four out of the 13 representatives of the Labour party in the newly elected Knesset, who are close in their political stance to Meretz. Hence 18 out of 120 is what’s left of the Israeli left, and even that only if one is willing to engage in some intellectual gymnastics and expand the notion of “left” way beyond its traditional boundaries.

As for the Labour party, labelling it a traitor for joining a rightwing government involves a certain amount of wishful thinking regarding its true nature to start with. The answer to the question “when has the Labour party transformed?” is “never”, when it comes to its patterns of dealing with Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and “in the mid 1980s, just like most Labour parties in the west” when addressing its stance on social and economic issues. On society and economy, it might suffice to say that it was none other than Ofer Eini, the leader of Israel’s huge workers union, the Histadrut, who instigated Barak’s move to join what will be, in all likelihood, Israel’s most radical neoconservative government ever. The Israeli Labour party has long ago abandoned any commitment to social issues; it has joined up with the ruthless new economy and the big money behind it. The few Labour MKs who still bother paying lip service to social equality are all among the four “rebels” mentioned previously. The rest do not even flinch at the idea of hooking up with Netanyahu, who branded himself as the enemy of the workers and the poor in his last tenure as finance minister.

The case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is more complicated. Internationally, the Labour party is viewed as a kosher stamp for any Israeli government, promising a less belligerent stance and a bigger willingness to reach a peaceful solution. This rather hollow belief is exactly what makes Barak such a desirable partner for Netanyahu, despite the pathetic size to which his party has just sunk in parliament (13 out of 120 MKs). Netanyahu is well aware that any type of intransigence and pig-headedness, not to mention actual acts of war, would be more digestible for the Obama administration when coming from a government that includes the Labour party.

The fact of the matter is that the Israeli Labour party has supported all the wars Israel has waged, and actually ran and instigated most of them. The two latest gory interventions, in Lebanon in 2006 and in Gaza this year, were both orchestrated by Labour ministers of defence, Amir Peretz and Barak. Paying lip service to the division of Palestine while planning and propagating territorial expansionism and land-grabbing has been the policy of the Labour party ever since the early days of the Zionist movement, sprinkled by sporadic attempts at giving up some of the territory in return for getting rid of as many Palestinian inhabitants as possible from under Israel’s control in the process. Labour might have invented this double-tongues policy, but it has now been adopted by all the main powers in Israeli politics, from Kadima to Likud and even the radical mark on the right – Lieberman’s Israel Beytenu.

Everybody is chanting the now popular two-state solution slogan, while in effect expanding the settlements, waging war on the Palestinians in Gaza and devising discriminatory policies aimed against the Palestinian citizens of Israel. Considering the fact that the largest party in the emerging default opposition, Kadima, is holding to identical values and political programme to that of the parties in the government, there’s no choice but to recognise the painful truth. The intransigence, the expansionism, the racism and the warmongering are not the problem with only one of the big parties in the Israel’s politics; at the moment they seem to be the national consensus. The extent to which Barack Obama’s new administration will try to bend this consensus remains to be seen. The precedents, however, do not leave much space for hope.

The politics of numbers

Posted in Gaza, Gaza war crimes investigation, Hamas, IDF, Operation Cast Lead, War crimes with tags , , , , , , on 26/03/2009 by 3071km

While Richard Falk, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, says Israel’s military offensive on Gaza “would seem to constitute a war crime of the greatest magnitude under international law”:

While reports from human rights organisations worldwide talk about an “unlawful war” that has caused many evitable civilian deaths;

Israeli politicians and military repeat the mantra of the use of civilians as human shields by Hamas and challenge the number of death civilians in the Gaza offensive.

And nothing changes but the world is still claiming for justice… How long will we have to wait for an independent investigation to take place??

Rain of Fire: White Phosphorous in Gaza

Posted in Gaza, Gaza war crimes investigation, IDF, Israel, Operation Cast Lead, War crimes with tags , , , , , , on 25/03/2009 by 3071km

In their report published today, the Human Rights Watch declares in Gaza the IDF air-burst white phosphorus in at least three unlawful ways:

  1. In densely populated areas hitting homes, hospitals and UN compounds where civilians were taking shelter.
  2. On the edges of populated areas therefore not taking all feasible precautions during military operations to minimize civilian harm.
  3. In open areas along the boundary separating Israel and Gaza, although Human Rights Watch was not able to investigate the extend of the destruction because of the security concerns prohibiting to travel to the area.

White phosphorus munitions are not illegal if they are used properly in open areas, but the Human Rights Watch report “concludes that the IDF repeatedly exploded it unlawfully over populated neighborhoods, killing and wounding civilians and damaging civilian structures, including a school, a market, a humanitarian aid warehouse, and a hospital.”

Israel first denied its use of white phosphorus in Gaza. However, facing mounting evidence to the contrary, it declared it was using all weapons in compliance with international law but announced an internal investigation into possible improper white phosphorus use.

All of the white phosphorus shells that Human Rights Watch found were manufactured in the United States in 1989 and 1991.

The Human Rights Watch report concluded that the IDF had deliberately or recklessly used white phosphorus munitions in violation of the laws of war: “First, the repeated use of air-burst white phosphorus in populated areas until the last days of the operation reveals a pattern or policy of conduct rather than incidental or accidental usage. Second, the IDF was well aware of the effects of white phosphorus and the dangers it poses to civilians. Third, the IDF failed to use safer available alternatives for smokescreens.”

The Human Rights Watch report also reminds the international community that “The laws of war obligate states to investigate impartially allegations of war crimes” and calls for a serious international investigation and the prosecution as appropiate of those who ordered or carried out unlawful attacks using white phosphorus munitions.

Please check this if you want to watch the documentary Rain of Fire: White Phosphorous in Gaza and here if you want to download the report in English (PDF, 6.08 MB).

This 71-page report provides witness accounts of the devastating effects that white phosphorus munitions had on civilians and civilian property in Gaza. Human Rights Watch researchers in Gaza immediately after hostilities ended found spent shells, canister liners, and dozens of burnt felt wedges containing white phosphorus on city streets, apartment roofs, residential courtyards, and at a United Nations school. The report also presents ballistics evidence, photographs, and satellite imagery, as well as documents from the Israeli military and government.

This 71-page report provides witness accounts of the devastating effects that white phosphorus munitions had on civilians and civilian property in Gaza. Human Rights Watch researchers in Gaza immediately after hostilities ended found spent shells, canister liners, and dozens of burnt felt wedges containing white phosphorus on city streets, apartment roofs, residential courtyards, and at a United Nations school. The report also presents ballistics evidence, photographs, and satellite imagery, as well as documents from the Israeli military and government.

Proved crimes against all of us

Posted in Gaza, Gaza war crimes investigation, Hamas, IDF, Israel, Operation Cast Lead, War crimes with tags , , , , , , on 24/03/2009 by 3071km

The Guardian publishes today the result of its own investigation uncovering evidence of alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza during the so-called Operation Cast Lead, which was presented to the public opinion as being aimed to Hamas but left over 1,400 Palestinians dead including more than 300 children.

Through its month-long investigation The Guardian can finally prove Israel used Palestinian children as human shields and targeted medics and hospitals – in other words: it committed war crimes. This is no news for all those who were in the Gaza strip during the massacre, not even for those who attempted to follow the news from all around the globe – especially for those who could watch Al Jazeera and get both sides of the picture.

If you want to read more about it, you can check the article written by Clancy Chassay and Julian Borger and watch the three documentaries with some of the most dramatic testimony gathered by the British newspaper.

Erased – Wipped off the map

Posted in Gaza, Siege with tags , , , on 23/03/2009 by 3071km

I’ve just received this link from a friend. It’s the promotional trailer of the documentary film made by the Free Gaza activists that were present on the ground during the Israeli attack on Gaza.

If you want to watch the English or Spanish versions of the trailer or you want more information about the film please visit http://www.wipeoffthemap.com

For more information on the Free Gaza Movement please visit their website.

Erased – Wipped off the map

On december 19th 2008, the Free Gaza movement sailed from Cyprus to Palestine.
Our objective was to break the Israeli siege over the Gaza Strip.
We were the last and only foreigners to enter and stay in the territory.
We got involved in something that nobody expected.

This is a C.I. COMUNICACIÓN production.

Directed by Alberto Arce and Miguel Llorens.

Outlandish – Look Into My Eyes

Posted in Israel, Palestine, Songs with tags , on 22/03/2009 by 3071km

OK, so this is about songs… and sure this will also be in the list. One of Ash’s favourites and mine as well!

Look Into My Eyes (by Outlandish)

Look into my eyes
Tell me what you see
You don’t see a damn thing
’cause you can’t relate to me
You’re blinded by our differences
My life makes no sense to you
I’m the persecuted one
You’re the red, white and blue

Each day you wake in tranquility
No fears to cross your eyes
Each day I wake in gratitude
Thanking God He let me rise
You worry about your education
And the bills you have to pay
I worry about my vulnerable life
And if I’ll survive another day
Your biggest fear is getting a ticket
As you cruise your Cadillac
My fear is that the tank that has just left
Will turn around and come back

Yet, do you know the truth of where your money goes?
Do you let the media deceive your mind?
Is this a truth nobody, nobody, nobody knows?
Has our world gone all blind?

Yet, do you know the truth of where your money goes?
Do you let the media deceive your mind?
Is this a truth nobody, nobody, nobody knows?
Someone tell me …

Ooohh, let’s not cry tonight
I promise you one day it’s through
Ohh my brothers, Ohh my sisters
Ooohh, shine a light for every soul that ain’t with us no more
Ohh my brothers, Ohh my sisters

See I’ve known terror for quite some time
57 years so cruel
Terror breathes the air I breathe
It’s the checkpoint on my way to school
Terror is the robbery of my land
And the torture of my mother
The imprisonment of my innocent father
The bullet in my baby brother
The bulldozers and the tanks
The gases and the guns
The bombs that fall outside my door
All due to your funds
You blame me for defending myself
Against the ways of my enemies
I’m terrorized in my own land (what)
And I’m the terrorist?

Yet, do you know the truth of where your money goes?
Do you let the media deceive your mind?
Is this a truth nobody, nobody, nobody knows?
Has our world gone all blind?

Yet, do you know the truth of where your money goes?
Do you let the media deceive your mind?
Is this a truth nobody, nobody, nobody knows?
Someone tell me …

Ooohh, let’s not cry tonight, I promise you one day it’s through
Ohh my brothers, Ohh my sisters,
Ooohh, shine a light for every soul that ain’t with us no more
Ohh my brothers, Ohh my sisters,

American , do you realize that the taxes that you pay
Feed the forces that traumatize my every living day
So if I won’t be here tomorrow
It’s written in my fate
May the future bring a brighter day
The end of our wait

(pause)

Ooohh, let’s not cry tonight, I promise you one day it’s through
Ohh my brothers, Ohh my sisters,
Ooohh, shine a light for every soul that ain’t with us no more
Ohh my brothers, Ohh my sisters,

[with kids]
Ohh let’s not cry tonight I promise you one day is through
Ohh my brothers! Ohh my sisters!
Ooh shine a light for every soul that ain’t with us no more
Ohh my brothers! Ohh my sisters!

New fashion among (some) IDF soldiers

Posted in Gaza, IDF, Israel with tags , , , on 21/03/2009 by 3071km

Take a disturbed mind lacking any signal of education but well equipped with high-tech weapons, an overdose of testosterone and a total absence of humanity.

The resulting individual couldn’t be too far away from them.

But still, as one of them says: “Don’t take this somewhere you’re not supposed to, as though we hate Arabs.”

No, of course not…


Dead Palestinian babies and bombed mosques – IDF fashion 2009

By Uri Blau

Published in HAARETZ.com

Last update – 22:41 20/03/2009

A T-shirt printed at the request of an IDF soldier in the sniper unit reading I shot two kills.

A T-shirt printed at the request of an IDF soldier in the sniper unit reading 'I shot two kills.'

The office at the Adiv fabric-printing shop in south Tel Aviv handles a constant stream of customers, many of them soldiers in uniform, who come to order custom clothing featuring their unit’s insignia, usually accompanied by a slogan and drawing of their choosing. Elsewhere on the premises, the sketches are turned into plates used for imprinting the ordered items, mainly T-shirts and baseball caps, but also hoodies, fleece jackets and pants. A young Arab man from Jaffa supervises the workers who imprint the words and pictures, and afterward hands over the finished product.

Dead babies, mothers weeping on their children’s graves, a gun aimed at a child and bombed-out mosques – these are a few examples of the images Israel Defense Forces soldiers design these days to print on shirts they order to mark the end of training, or of field duty. The slogans accompanying the drawings are not exactly anemic either: A T-shirt for infantry snipers bears the inscription “Better use Durex,” next to a picture of a dead Palestinian baby, with his weeping mother and a teddy bear beside him. A sharpshooter’s 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.” A “graduation” shirt for those who have completed another snipers course depicts a Palestinian baby, who grows into a combative boy and then an armed adult, with the inscription, “No matter how it begins, we’ll put an end to it.”

There are also plenty of shirts with blatant sexual messages. For example, the Lavi battalion produced a shirt featuring a drawing of a soldier next to a young woman with bruises, and the slogan, “Bet you got raped!” A few of the images underscore 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.

In many cases, the content is submitted for approval to one of the unit’s commanders. The latter, however, do not always have control over what gets printed, because the artwork is a private initiative of soldiers that they never hear about. Drawings or slogans previously banned in certain units have been approved for distribution elsewhere. For example, shirts declaring, “We won’t chill ’til we confirm the kill” were banned in the past (the IDF claims that the practice doesn’t exist), yet the Haruv battalion printed some last year.

The slogan “Let every Arab mother know that her son’s fate is in my hands!” had previously been banned for use on another infantry unit’s shirt. A Givati soldier said this week, however, that at the end of last year, his platoon printed up dozens of shirts, fleece jackets and pants bearing this slogan.

“It has a drawing depicting a soldier as the Angel of Death, next to a gun and an Arab town,” he explains. “The text was very powerful. The funniest part was that when our soldier came to get the shirts, the man who printed them was an Arab, and the soldier felt so bad that he told the girl at the counter to bring them to him.”

Does the design go to the commanders for approval?

The Givati soldier: “Usually the shirts undergo a selection process by some officer, but in this case, they were approved at the level of platoon sergeant. We ordered shirts for 30 soldiers and they were really into it, and everyone wanted several items and paid NIS 200 on average.”

What do you think of the slogan that was printed?

“I didn’t like it so much, but most of the soldiers wanted it.”

Many controversial shirts have been ordered by graduates of snipers courses, which bring together soldiers from various units. In 2006, soldiers from the “Carmon Team” course for elite-unit marksmen printed a shirt with a drawing of a knife-wielding Palestinian in the crosshairs of a gun sight, and the slogan, “You’ve got to run fast, run fast, run fast, before it’s all over.” Below is a drawing of Arab women weeping over a grave and the words: “And afterward they cry, and afterward they cry.” [The inscriptions are riffs on a popular song.] Another sniper’s shirt also features an Arab man in the crosshairs, and the announcement, “Everything is with the best of intentions.”

G., a soldier in an elite unit who has done a snipers course, explained that, “it’s a type of bonding process, and also it’s well known that anyone who is a sniper is messed up in the head. Our shirts have a lot of double entendres, for example: ‘Bad people with good aims.’ Every group that finishes a course puts out stuff like that.”

When are these shirts worn?

G. “These are shirts for around the house, for jogging, in the army. Not for going out. Sometimes people will ask you what it’s about.”

Of the shirt depicting a bull’s-eye on a pregnant woman, he said: “There are people who think it’s not right, and I think so as well, but it doesn’t really mean anything. I mean it’s not like someone is gonna go and shoot a pregnant woman.”

What is the idea behind the shirt from July 2007, which has an image of a child with the slogan “Smaller – harder!”?

“It’s a kid, so you’ve got a little more of a problem, morally, and also the target is smaller.”

Do your superiors approve the shirts before printing?

“Yes, although one time they rejected some shirt that was too extreme. I don’t remember what was on it.”

These shirts also seem pretty extreme. Why draw crosshairs over a child – do you shoot kids?

‘We came, we saw’

“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.”

Have you encountered a situation like that?

“Fortunately, not involving a kid, but involving a woman – yes. There was someone who wasn’t holding a weapon, but she was near a prohibited area and could have posed a threat.”

What did you do?

“I didn’t take it” (i.e., shoot).

You don’t regret that, I imagine.

“No. Whomever I had to shoot, I shot.”

A shirt printed up just this week for soldiers of the Lavi battalion, who spent three years in the West Bank, reads: “We came, we saw, we destroyed!” – alongside images of weapons, an angry soldier and a Palestinian village with a ruined mosque in the center.

A shirt printed after Operation Cast Lead in Gaza for Battalion 890 of the Paratroops depicts a King Kong-like soldier in a city under attack. The slogan is unambiguous: “If you believe it can be fixed, then believe it can be destroyed!”

Y., a soldier/yeshiva student, designed the shirt. “You take whoever [in the unit] knows how to draw and then you give it to the commanders before printing,” he explained.

What is the soldier holding in his hand?

Y. “A mosque. Before I drew the shirt I had some misgivings, because I wanted it to be like King Kong, but not too monstrous. The one holding the mosque – I wanted him to have a more normal-looking face, so it wouldn’t look like an anti-Semitic cartoon. Some of the people who saw it told me, ‘Is that what you’ve got to show for the IDF? That it destroys homes?’ I can understand people who look at this from outside and see it that way, but I was in Gaza and they 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. So that’s the idea of ‘we’re coming to destroy’ in the drawing.”

According to Y., most of these shirts are worn strictly in an army context, not in civilian life. “And within the army people look at it differently,” he added. “I don’t think I would walk down the street in this shirt, because it would draw fire. Even at my yeshiva I don’t think people would like it.”

Y. also came up with a design for the shirt his unit printed at the end of basic training. It shows a clenched fist shattering the symbol of the Paratroops Corps.

Where does the fist come from?

“It’s reminiscent of [Rabbi Meir] Kahane’s symbol. I borrowed it from an emblem for something in Russia, but basically it’s supposed to look like Kahane’s symbol, the one from ‘Kahane Was Right’ – it’s a sort of joke. Our company commander is kind of gung-ho.”

Was the shirt printed?

“Yes. It was a company shirt. We printed about 100 like that.”

This past January, the “Night Predators” demolitions platoon from Golani’s Battalion 13 ordered a T-shirt showing a Golani devil detonating a charge that destroys a mosque. An inscription above it says, “Only God forgives.”

One of the soldiers in the platoon downplays it: “It doesn’t mean much, it’s just a T-shirt from our platoon. It’s not a big deal. A friend of mine drew a picture and we made it into a shirt.”

What’s the idea behind “Only God forgives”?

The soldier: “It’s just a saying.”

No one had a problem with the fact that a mosque gets blown up in the picture?

“I don’t see what you’re getting at. I don’t like the way you’re going with this. Don’t take this somewhere you’re not supposed to, as though we hate Arabs.”

After Operation Cast Lead, soldiers from that battalion printed a T-shirt depicting a vulture sexually penetrating Hamas’ prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, accompanied by a particularly graphic slogan. S., a soldier in the platoon that ordered the shirt, said the idea came from a similar shirt, printed after the Second Lebanon War, that featured Hassan Nasrallah instead of Haniyeh.

“They don’t okay things like that at the company level. It’s a shirt we put out just for the platoon,” S. explained.

What’s the problem with this shirt?

S.: “It bothers some people to see these things, from a religious standpoint …”

How did people who saw it respond?

“We don’t have that many Orthodox people in the platoon, so it wasn’t a problem. It’s just something the guys want to put out. It’s more for wearing around the house, and not within the companies, because it bothers people. The Orthodox mainly. The officers tell us it’s best not to wear shirts like this on the base.”

The sketches printed in recent years at the Adiv factory, one of the largest of its kind in the country, are arranged in drawers according to the names of the units placing the orders: Paratroops, Golani, air force, sharpshooters and so on. Each drawer contains hundreds of drawings, filed by year. Many of the prints are cartoons and slogans relating to life in the unit, or inside jokes that outsiders wouldn’t get (and might not care to, either), but a handful reflect particular aggressiveness, violence and vulgarity.

Print-shop manager Haim Yisrael, who has worked there since the early 1980s, said Adiv prints around 1,000 different patterns each month, with soldiers accounting for about half. Yisrael recalled that when he started out, there were hardly any orders from the army.

“The first ones to do it were from the Nahal brigade,” he said. “Later on other infantry units started printing up shirts, and nowadays any course with 15 participants prints up shirts.”

From time to time, officers complain. “Sometimes the soldiers do things that are inside jokes that only they get, and sometimes they do something foolish that they take to an extreme,” Yisrael explained. “There have been a few times when commanding officers called and said, ‘How can you print things like that for soldiers?’ For example, with shirts that trashed the Arabs too much. I told them it’s a private company, and I’m not interested in the content. I can print whatever I like. We’re neutral. There have always been some more extreme and some less so. It’s just that now more people are making shirts.”

Race to be unique

Evyatar Ben-Tzedef, a research associate at the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism and former editor of the IDF publication Maarachot, said the phenomenon of custom-made T-shirts is a product of “the infantry’s insane race to be unique. I, for example, had only one shirt that I received after the Yom Kippur War. It said on it, ‘The School for Officers,’ and that was it. What happened since then is a product of the decision to assign every unit an emblem and a beret. After all, there used to be very few berets: black, red or green. This changed in the 1990s. [The shirts] developed because of the fact that for bonding purposes, each unit created something that was unique to it.

“These days the content on shirts is sometimes deplorable,” Ben-Tzedef explained. “It stems from the fact that profanity is very acceptable and normative in Israel, and that there is a lack of respect for human beings and their environment, which includes racism aimed in every direction.”

Yossi Kaufman, who moderates the army and defense forum on the Web site Fresh, served in the Armored Corps from 1996 to 1999. “I also drew shirts, and I remember the first one,” he said. “It had a small emblem on the front and some inside joke, like, ‘When we die, we’ll go to heaven, because we’ve already been through hell.'”

Kaufman has also been exposed to T-shirts of the sort described here. “I know there are shirts like these,” he says. “I’ve heard and also seen a little. These are not shirts that soldiers can wear in civilian life, because they would get stoned, nor at a battalion get-together, because the battalion commander would be pissed off. They wear them on very rare occasions. There’s all sorts of black humor stuff, mainly from snipers, such as, ‘Don’t bother running because you’ll die tired’ – with a drawing of a Palestinian boy, not a terrorist. There’s a Golani or Givati shirt of a soldier raping a girl, and underneath it says, ‘No virgins, no terror attacks.’ I laughed, but it was pretty awful. When I was asked once to draw things like that, I said it wasn’t appropriate.”

The IDF Spokesman’s Office comments on the phenomenon: “Military regulations do not apply to civilian clothing, including shirts produced at the end of basic training and various courses. The designs are printed at the soldiers’ private initiative, and on civilian shirts. The examples raised by Haaretz are not in keeping with the values of the IDF spirit, not representative of IDF life, and are in poor taste. Humor of this kind deserves every condemnation and excoriation. The IDF intends to take action for the immediate eradication of this phenomenon. To this end, it is emphasizing to commanding officers that it is appropriate, among other things, to take discretionary and disciplinary measures against those involved in acts of this sort.”

Shlomo Tzipori, a lieutenant colonel in the reserves and a lawyer specializing in martial law, said the army does bring soldiers up on charges for offenses that occur outside the base and during their free time. According to Tzipori, slogans that constitute an “insult to the army or to those in uniform” are grounds for court-martial, on charges of “shameful conduct” or “disciplinary infraction,” which are general clauses in judicial martial law.

Sociologist Dr. Orna Sasson-Levy, of Bar-Ilan University, author of “Identities in Uniform: Masculinities and Femininities in the Israeli Military,” said that the phenomenon is “part of a radicalization process the entire country is undergoing, and the soldiers are at its forefront. I think that ever since the second intifada there has been a continual shift to the right. The pullout from Gaza and its outcome – the calm that never arrived – led to a further shift rightward.

“This tendency is most strikingly evident among soldiers who encounter various situations in the territories on a daily basis. There is less meticulousness than in the past, and increasing callousness. There is a perception that the Palestinian is not a person, a human being entitled to basic rights, and therefore anything may be done to him.”

Could the printing of clothing be viewed also as a means of venting aggression?

Sasson-Levy: “No. I think it strengthens and stimulates aggression and legitimizes it. What disturbs me is that a shirt is something that has permanence. The soldiers later wear it in civilian life; their girlfriends wear it afterward. It is not a statement, but rather something physical that remains, that is out there in the world. Beyond that, I think the link made between sexist views and nationalist views, as in the ‘Screw Haniyeh’ shirt, is interesting. National chauvinism and gender chauvinism combine and strengthen one another. It establishes a masculinity shaped by violent aggression toward women and Arabs; a masculinity that considers it legitimate to speak in a crude and violent manner toward women and Arabs.”

Col. (res.) Ron Levy began his military service in the Sayeret Matkal elite commando force before the Six-Day War. He was the IDF’s chief psychologist, and headed the army’s mental health department in the 1980s.

Levy: “I’m familiar with things of this sort going back 40, 50 years, and each time they take a different form. Psychologically speaking, this is one of the ways in which soldiers project their anger, frustration and violence. It is a certain expression of things, which I call ‘below the belt.'”

Do you think this a good way to vent anger?

Levy: “It’s safe. But there are also things here that deviate from the norm, and you could say that whoever is creating these things has reached some level of normality. He gives expression to the fact that what is considered abnormal today might no longer be so tomorrow.”

We will not go down…

Posted in Gaza, Songs with tags , , on 21/03/2009 by 3071km

If there was to be a list of songs to listen to while reading our posts sure this would be in it…

Please visit http://www.michaelheart.com if you want to know more about Michael Heart or download his song.


WE WILL NOT GO DOWN (Song for Gaza)

(Composed by Michael Heart)
Copyright 2009

A blinding flash of white light
Lit up the sky over Gaza tonight
People running for cover
Not knowing whether they’re dead or alive

They came with their tanks and their planes
With ravaging fiery flames
And nothing remains
Just a voice rising up in the smoky haze

We will not go down
In the night, without a fight
You can burn up our mosques and our homes and our schools
But our spirit will never die
We will not go down
In Gaza tonight

Women and children alike
Murdered and massacred night after night
While the so-called leaders of countries afar
Debated on who’s wrong or right

But their powerless words were in vain
And the bombs fell down like acid rain
But through the tears and the blood and the pain
You can still hear that voice through the smoky haze

We will not go down
In the night, without a fight
You can burn up our mosques and our homes and our schools
But our spirit will never die
We will not go down
In Gaza tonight

All Music and Content Copyrighted. All rights reserved. ©

In remembrance of Mahmood

Posted in Gaza, Poetry with tags on 17/03/2009 by 3071km

TO MY BROTHER MAHMOOD

For your sake, Mahmood,

I broke the lock of my lips

For you

I slaughtered silence in my heart

to write these lines

to build a wall in the face of death.

For you Mahmood, believe me,

I cast the letters to make a sentence.

Mahmood,

The sun that bathes the wonds of the fig trees

its rays are dyed in blood by the executioners of Gaza

that some sun toasts the wheat into gold in the fields of China.

It wrings tears from the foreheads of the peasants in our village.

You may not understand Mahmood

but tomorrow you shall grow up more and more in our hearts.

And the fields will grow green root before your eyes.

You are there in the grave yard, but here in our veins

WHO KNOWS-

you may accept or reject the present reality;

if you reject it you shall grow more in our hearts

Mahmood

You may not understand

why the East is tired of silence

or why the dead vomited, and death

a bridge.

Or why our feet cried

or why I wrote this.

But tomorrow the world shall grow and understand.

A question broke my head

WHY THEY KILLED YOU???

(by Ash)