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Archive for June, 2010

The United Nations TFR Ranking is a list of countries by total fertility rate. I cannot say the data took me by surprise, but it naturally helped to confirm decades of independent observation with an actual model. The UN TFR Ranking coincides with troubling, though under-explored, aspects of the documentary film, The Demographic Winter — but really, anyone with good sense ought to know which way the wind blows in 2010. Unless you live in an ivory tower, or under a rock, a cursory glance and a little honesty is all that is required. Who is it that is multiplying? And who is it that is merely multiplying their possessions? Qualitatively and quantitatively, we must halt what we are losing and restore what we have lost. The trend reverses with you and I. -W.

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Source: UN.

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And more of Richard Proenneke’s adventures HERE.

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Motherland
Posted by Nina Kouprianova
Source: Takimag

Apart from “rogue” politicians like Geert Wilders, European leaders seem only willing to speak of the problem of dismal birth rates in the Old World by resorting to euphemism and wishful thinking. Faced with its disastrous postcolonial migration policies, the guilt-ridden establishment is only interested in maintaining domestic peace and order, when (not if) Europeans become ethnic minorities in their own lands.

It hasn’t always been this way. Modern European states, both democratic and authoritarian, have periodically attempted to boost indigenous population growth, especially after man-made catastrophes. France did it after the First World War and the USSR after the Second.

The USSR’s pro-natalist experience hasn’t been forgotten. What today’s Russia shares with “Europe-proper” is a quasi-colonial past and a poor demographic present. However, rather than mimicking Europe’s defeatism, the Russian government not only took the proverbial bull by the horns, but also pushed it to mate!

The Soviet Union is a peculiar case study because its social policy rapidly changed in the first decades of its existence. Immediately after the Bolshevik takeover, the state tried to closely adhere to Marxist ideology by legalizing abortion, establishing simpler divorce procedures, and promoting the “new woman,” among other measures. Certain hardcore communist feminists like Alexandra Kollontai rejected morality altogether. However, by and large, people avoided this adventurism and chose to preserve families as socio-economic units.

If the 1920s were a failed attempt to implement Marxist immorality, then the 1930s demonstrated a successful turn toward social conservatism. Abortion was banned, and divorce became more difficult to obtain. The government began rewarding women who had multiple children—the “heroic mothers,” who rescued the nation after the fertility drop as a result of collectivization, industrialization, and consequent famines.

Soviet “public service” posters reflected these changes. One 1930 advertisement, for example, urged women to take care of their breasts. A more subtle 1934 poster emphasized honest peasant labor by depicting a happy nuclear Slavic family. After 1945, the government attempted to make up for the near thirty-million population loss due to war and labor camps. And so, posters like “Grow, warrior! The Soviet Army protects you!” were used, featuring a blond Slavic baby underneath the red Communist flag.

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Beautiful blond Slavic babies appear in contemporary Russian pro-natalist advertising, too. It emerged in May of 2006, when Vladimir Putin had made Russia’s demographic crisis problem Number One. A year prior, the net human decrease in this country amounted to an alarming six hundred thousand people. At this rate, Russia is projected to lose 11 million people by 2025. Not unlike the case of “heroic mothers” of the past, he proposed to reverse depopulation pragmatically: better social services for new mothers, additional funding for multi-child families, a substantial amount of capital in the form of investments into children’s future education, and so on.

Putin’s critics immediately suggested that women might start reproducing out of greed, and they argued that Putin’s programs would lead to misleading short-term population boosts. Furthermore, they urged the government to address the poor health of the aging population, particularly men, whose life expectancy is at least a decade less than that of men in Western Europe and North America.

In 2008, Russia’s pro-natalism resulted in record birth rates—the highest since the Soviet Union’s collapse. However, while these measures have been covered by the media, two crucial aspects of Putin’s plan have been consistently ignored. First, this plan involves a significant cultural initiative which feeds into Russian traditions and contemporary advertising methods alike. Most important, this plan specifically targets people of European descent.

My temporary relocation to Moscow to conduct dissertation research has given me the opportunity to observe this sweeping initiative “live.” In general, the state offers its citizens cultural celebrations, secular federal and Eastern Orthodox Christian holidays, soccer matches, city jubilees, historic blockbuster films, military parades—all in the name of the Motherland. Russians are left with a sense of a glorious past—the kind of past that Western and American academic and government institutions are constantly telling us is “outdated” and “oppressive.”

More specifically, Russians are also rather conservative when it comes to marriage and children, despite the high divorce rate. So, it’s not surprising that the subjects of demographics, child rearing, a woman’s traditional role in the home, and even adoptions and surrogate motherhood receive extensive coverage in countless television miniseries, soaps, silly gossip talk shows, serious political programs, and “public service” advertising on major state-funded channels. For example, eligible bachelorettes and bachelors on a popular award-winning show “Let’s Get Married!” on state channel 1 systematically mention a multi-child family as their primary goal for resorting to television dating.

Yet, the most explicit pro-natalist messages appear within the confines of the 75-year old architectural wonder of the world—the Moscow metro system. This type of advertising grabs the attention of over six million people (90% of users), according to the recent study conducted by TNS Gallup Media. Long escalator rides deep underground and even longer commutes across the city make billboards on walls and posters inside trains simply unavoidable.

One frequently encountered advertisement features colorful matryoshka nesting dolls and reads, “’Love for the Motherland begins with family’—F. Bacon.”

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Another billboard is a photograph of good-looking European grandparents, parents, and children enjoying the outdoors together and captioned with, “’Family is one of nature’s masterpieces’—Philosopher George Santayana.” The most distinct feature of both ads is the fact that they don’t simply depict happy nuclear families, but, rather, emphasize genetic and historic continuity through multi-generational family “clans.”

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The most overt image in this campaign states that “The country needs our records. Every minute, three people are born in Russia” and shows a young Slavic woman holding three blond, blue-eyed babies. While enormous Moscow is quite multiethnic, here, too, the government’s demographic target market is very clear.

Whether this country’s current pro-natalist experiment, in conjunction with the recent anti-alcohol and anti-smoking campaigns, achieves significant results remains to be seen. But for those concerned with the “Death of West,” some comfort can be found in the fact that what is taboo in western Europe and America is a national priority in the Motherland.

Article URL: http://www.takimag.com/site/article/motherland/

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I, myself, welcome the thought of population decrease, worldwide, and there are a number of points of varying importance in this documentary that I happen to disagree with. But in stark contrast with the global trends of the last century, I emphatically support the procreation of the healthy, the intelligent, the creative, and the responsible — just as I support restrictions on the reckless reproduction of the unhealthy, the unintelligent, the destructive, and the irresponsible. This cannot, however, be accomplished without the conscious restoration and safeguarding of the traditional family unit, which must take place first and foremost in the developed countries of the world (if we intend to survive at all). -W.

Demographic Winter: Decline of the Human Family

One of the most ominous events of modern history is quietly unfolding. Social scientists and economists agree – we are headed toward a demographic winter which threatens to have catastrophic social and economic consequences. The effects will be severe and long lasting and are already becoming manifest in much of Europe.

A groundbreaking film, Demographic Winter: Decline of the Human Family, reveals in chilling soberness how societies with diminished family influence are now grimly seen as being in social and economic jeopardy.

Demographic Winter draws upon experts from all around the world – demographers, economists, sociologists, psychologists, civic and religious leaders, parliamentarians and diplomats. Together, they reveal the dangers facing society and the world’s economies, dangers far more imminent than global warming and at least as severe. These experts will discuss how:

The “population bomb” not only did not have the predicted consequences, but almost all of the developed countries of the world are now experiencing fertility rates far below replacement levels. Birthrates have fallen so low that even immigration cannot replace declining populations [as things currently stand], and this migration is sapping strength from developing countries, the fertility rates for many of which are now falling at a faster pace than did those of the developed countries.

The economies of the world will continue to contract as the “human capital” spoken of by Nobel Prize winning economist Gary Becker, diminishes. The engines of commerce will be strained as the workers of today fail to replace themselves and are burdened by the responsibility to support an aging population.

Government programs will slow-bleed by the decrease in tax dollars received from an ever shrinking work force. The skyrocketing ratio of the old retirees to the young workers will render current-day social security systems completely unable to support the aging population.

Our attempts to modernize through social engineering policies and programs have left children growing up in broken homes, with absentee parents and little exposure to extended family, disconnected from the generations, and these children are experiencing severe psychological, sociological and economic consequences. The intact family’s immeasurable role in the development and prosperity of human societies is crumbling.  

The influence of social and economic problems on ever shrinking, increasingly disconnected generations will compound and accelerate the deterioration. Our children and our children’s children will bear the economic and social burden of regenerating the “human capital” that accounts for 80% of wealth in the economy, and they will be ill-equipped to do so.  

Is there a “tipping point,” after which the accelerating consequences will make recovery impossible without complete social and economic collapse? Even the experts can’t tell us how far we can go down this road, oblivious to the outcomes, until we reach a point where sliding into the void becomes unpreventable.

Only if the political incorrectness of talking about the natural family within policy circles is overcome will solutions begin to be found. These solutions will necessarily result in policy changes, changes that will support and promote the natural, intact family.  

Just as it took the cumulative involvement of activist organizations, policy makers, the business world and the media to create the unintended consequences we are beginning to experience, so it will take the holistic contribution of all of these entities, together with civic and religious organizations, to change the hearts and minds of all of society to bring about a reversal.  

It may be too late to avoid some very severe consequences, but with effort we may be able to preclude calamity. Demographic Winter lays out a forthright province of discussion. The warning voices in this film need to be heard before a silent, portentous fall turns into a long, hard winter.

Questions & Answers

Question
What does the expression “Demographic Winter” mean?

Answer
The phrase “Demographic Winter” denotes the worldwide decline in birthrates, also referred to as a “birth-dearth,” and what it portends.

Demographer Philip Longman (author of “The Empty Cradle: How Falling Birthrates Threaten World Prosperity”) observes: “The ongoing global decline in human birthrates is the single most powerful force affecting the fate of nations and the future of society in the 21st. century.”

Worldwide, birthrates have declined by more than 50% in the past 30 years (since 1979). There are now 59 nations, with 44% of the world’s population, with below-replacement fertility

Sometime in this century, the world’s population will begin to decline. (The United Nations Population Division says that, worldwide, we could achieve below-replacement fertility by 2030.) At a certain point, the decline will become rapid. We may even reach what demographers call population free-fall in our lifetimes.

Russia is losing three-quarters-of-a-million people a year. Its population (currently 145 million) is expected to fall by one-third by 2050.

The term “nuclear winter,” popularized in the 1980s, alluded to the catastrophic environmental impact of a nuclear war. The long-term consequences of Demographic Winter could be equally devastating.

Question
What is replacement fertility, and why is the number 2.13 so important?

Answer
Replacement fertility is the point of equilibrium at which a country’s population is neither growing nor declining. In order to maintain current population, the average woman must have 2.13 children during her lifetime. She needs to replace herself and a man. Because some children will die before reaching maturity and having children of their own, slightly more than two children are needed – hence 2.13.

A birthrate of more than 2.13 equals population growth. A birthrate of less than 2.13 means long-term population decline.

Question
If birthrates are declining, why does the world’s population continue to grow?

Answer
If it’s already in motion, car in neutral will continue moving forward for a while, especially if it’s going downhill, even if gas isn’t being injected into the engine.

Today’s population growth is due to two factors: 1. higher fertility rates in the 1950s and 60s, and 2. people living longer than ever before.

The thing to remember is this: Declining birthrates will equal a declining population worldwide at some point in the next few decades. In the West (especially in Europe) population decline will become a reality much sooner. In some countries, such a Russia, it’s already happening.

A nation’s demographic future can be seen in its current birthrate. In Europe, the number of children under 5 has declined by 36% since 1960. Worldwide, there are 6 million fewer children, 6 and under, today, than there were in 1990. If present trends continue, the United Nations estimates that by 2050 there will be 248 million fewer children in the world then there are now.

Question
Where are birthrates lowest?

Answer
Of the 10 countries with the lowest birthrates, 9 are in Europe. Overall, the European fertility rate is 1.3, well below replacement level (2.1). No European nation [at present] has a replacement-level birthrate.

Italy’s fertility rate is 1.2. Spain’s is 1.1. That means in the not-too-distant future, absent massive immigration, these countries will lose half of their populace in every generation.

Russia’s birthrate fell from 2.4 in 1990 to 1.17 today – a decline of more than 50% in less than 20 years. Each year, there are more abortions than live births in the Russian Federation.

While birthrates are also plummeting in developing nations, most still have above-replacement fertility – for the time being.

The U.S. fertility rate is just at the replacement level, due in part to higher immigrant birthrates. How long this will continue is anyone’s guess. It’s also important to note that all of the factors driving down birth rates elsewhere in the world are present here as well.

Question
What are the consequences of demographic decline?

Answer
Economist Robert J. Samuelson wrote in a June 15, 2005 column in The Washington Post: “It’s hard to be a great power if your population is shriveling.” Samuelson warned: “Europe as we know it is going out of business…. Western Europe’s population grows dramatically grayer, projects the U.S. Census Bureau. Now about one-sixth of the population is 65 and older. By 2030, that could be one-fourth and by 2050, almost one-third.”

By the mid-point of this century, 16% of the world’s population will be over 65. In developed nations, today, 20% of the population is over 60. By 2050, the proportion of elderly will rise to 36%. By then, these societies will have two elderly for every child.

If present low birthrates persist, the European Union estimates there will be a continent-wide shortfall of 20 million workers by 2030.

Who will operate the factories and farms in the Europe of the future? Who will develop the natural resources? Where will Russia find the soldiers to guard the frontiers of the nation with the largest land mass?

Who will care for a graying population? A burgeoning elderly population combined with a shrinking work force will lead to a train-wreck for state pension systems.

This only skims the surface of the way demographic decline will change the face of civilization. Even the environment will be adversely impacted. With severely strained public budgets, developed nations will no longer be willing to shoulder the costs of industrial clean-up or a reduction of CO2 emissions.

Question
What factors contribute to demographic decline?

Answer
A number of social trends of the post-war era have converged to create a perfect demographic storm.

Men and women are delaying marriage, making it less likely they’ll have more than one or two children. Today in the West, almost one in two marriages ends in divorce. The children of divorce are less likely to marry and form families themselves. More married women are putting off having children for careers. After 35, it becomes progressively harder for women to conceive.

The news and entertainment media tell young adults that satisfaction comes from careers, romance, travel and “personal growth” – not from having children. It’s rare that Hollywood even portrays large families (today, more than 2 children). The culture’s message is live-for-moment and live primarily for yourself, with no sense of obligation to generations past or concern for posterity.

The growth of cohabitation also has an impact. (In Scandinavia, almost as many couples are living together as married.) Cohabitation is not conducive to childbearing or childrearing.

For the past 20 to 30 years, children have been taught that over-population (the so-called population bomb) will wreak havoc on the environment and economic development. Not surprisingly, children thus indoctrinated frequently choose to have fewer [if any] children when they reach maturity.

Religious observance has been shown to correlate with higher birthrates. The increasing secularization of Western societies has been accompanied by lower birthrates.

Thus, every aspect of modernity works against family life and in favor of singleness and small families or voluntary childlessness.

Question
Can’t the problem be fixed by increased immigration?

Answer
In a demographic sense, this is robbing Peter to pay Paul.

The host country gains people, but the home country loses. The developing world, which has seen its own birthrate cut in half since 1970 (from almost 6 to barely 4) can ill afford to lose large numbers through emigration.

Mass immigration changes the national character of the host country. Immigrants tend to have a lower education level than natives. Many never learn the language of their new home or identify with its history and heritage. (Instead of being French-Algerian, they remain an Algerian who happens to be living in France.)

Citizens of developed countries often worry about the loss of national identity.

Question
Can’t demographic winter be countered by governments encouraging people to have more children?

Answer
This is being tried in Western Europe and Russia. The Russian Federation pays families a bonus of 250,000 rubles (the equivalent of $9,200) for every child after the first – in a nation where the average monthly wage is only $330. It’s not working.

Couples decide to have children for all kinds of reasons – religious, emotional, cultural, etc. Money isn’t one of them.

Children are a life-long commitment. While governments should make childrearing easier by lowering the tax-burden on families (out of self-interest if not fairness), cash incentives don’t work.

Question
If the United States has near-replacement fertility, why should we care?

Answer
All of the factors that are leading Europe into the depths of Demographic Winter are present in the United States as well, including high divorce rates, the rise of cohabitation, families putting off procreation to pursue careers, an anti-family culture and voluntary childlessness.

We may be a few decades behind Europe, but we’re heading in the same direction.

National economies are interconnected to such an extent that the impact of economic collapse in one country or region can be felt around the world.

The social, political and economic decline of previously stable nations can destabilize entire regions and create perils for neighbors and far-ways allies. The United States is connected to Europe economically, [culturally], and through multiple security treaties.

Question
What Is “Demographic Winter: Decline of the Human Family”

Answer
“Demographic Winter: Decline of the Human Family,” is an hour-long documentary which explores every aspect of demographic decline based on interviews with hundreds of academics, scholars, researchers, elected officials and civil and religious leaders from more than 33 countries.

Produced by Barry McLerran and directed by Rick Stout, “Demographic Winter” brings together a number of disciplines to examine and analyze what could be the greatest threat confronting humanity in the 21st century.

Question
What role did declining birth rates play in the current economic crisis?

Answer
Economist Harry S. Dent notes that 70% of GNP in the U.S. is consumer-driven. As the Baby Boomers aged, they began spending less, moving to smaller homes and planning for their retirement. Gen-X can’t fill the gap of the decline of spending by 81 million baby-boomers. This contributed to the slump in the housing market – when Boomers began selling rather than buying, there was a glut on the market and home sales began to decline. “Demographic Winter” predicted the financial crash of 2008 to within 18 months. The “Demographic Bomb” forecasts worse in store for our economy.

Question
Can the economic impact of declining birth rates be seen outside the United States?

Answer
Yes, in Japan, which has a birth rate of 1.25. Of the 10 nations with the lowest birth rates today, Japan is the only one outside of Europe. [Ironlight: K strategists vs. R strategists] It also has the highest ratio of elderly to children in the world. As the rising sun sets, where will the next generation of producers and consumers come from? While much of the industrialized world saw their economies grow in the 1990s, from 1990 to 2005, Japan’s stock market fell 80%. Between 1990 and 2005. Its real estate market lost 60% of its value.

Question
What is the population control movement and how has it promoted demographic winter?

Answer
The population control movement includes organizations, governments and international bodies (like the United Nations), dedicated to lower birth rates. Their methods range from the voluntary to the coercive – including forced sterilization in Peru and China’s one-child-per-family policy, which has included forced abortions. Over the course of decades, population controllers have persuaded the public, through fear and hysteria, that there are too many people in the world and drastic action must be taken to curb population growth. Their fallacies have been institutionalized and become the “standard wisdom” of Western elites.

Question
Who is Paul Ehrlich and what is his relation to declining birth rates?

Answer
An etymologist by training, Paul Ehrlich is the author of the 1968 best-seller “The Population Bomb,” and the father of the modern population control movement. In “The Population Bomb,” Dr. Ehrlich argued that population would quickly outstrip resources, leading to global starvation. (“The battle to feed humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famine … hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death.”) Ehrlich also argued that if voluntary limitations on population didn’t work, coercion would be necessary – a refrain taken up by the movement he spawned. He described human population growth as a cancer that would require drastic action to treat. Currently a professor at Stanford, Erhlich continues to argue that (absent draconian measures) population growth will doom the planet – this notwithstanding that none of his more sensational predictions have come to pass.

Question
What is “The Demographic Bomb: Demography Is Destiny”?

Answer
Released in July of 2009, “The Demographic Bomb” is the long-awaited sequel to “Demographic Winter: the decline of the human family.”

It continues the examination of rapidly falling birth rates (and both the causes and consequences thereof) where “Demographic Winter” left off. “The Population Bomb” focuses on the economic impact of declining birth rates — especially as they relate to the current global economic crisis – and the role played by the population-control movement in this disaster in the making.

Like “Demographic Winter,” “The Demographic Bomb” includes input from distinguished economists, historians, demographers and other social scientists. It also includes the views of Dr. Erhlich, as well as the current and past heads of the United Nations Population Division.

To order a copy of “Demographic Winter: the decline of the human family” and “The Demographic Bomb: Demography Is Destiny,” or view a trailer for either documentary, go to http://www.demographicwinter.com

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The U.S. government cannot, with any integrity, declare opposition to the ongoing Israeli seizure of, and illegal settlement expansion upon, Palestinian land, while simultaneously funding and facilitating the Zionist occupation regime. These crimes are, for Israel, business as usual. As Netanyahu has said himself, “building everywhere […] will continue as it has over the past 42 years.” D.C.’s opposition is, therefore, wholly artificial, however “compassionate” it may sound to those with no significant grasp of political reality in the region. Such opposition on our end has, in all reality, amounted to a blind eye and a blank check, year after year after year. The darkness fades with [y]our awakening. -W.

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More archived material from “Cast Lead.” -W.
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Dead Palestinian Babies and Bombed Mosques – IDF fashion 2009
By Uri Blau
Source: www.countercurrents.org

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.

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 [“Officially denies”? We had International Red Cross correspondents reporting evidence of a 5 month old girl run over by a Merkava tank, destruction of schools and mosques and hospitals and even UN buildings, shootings of unarmed civilian women and children at close range, targeting of ambulances, targeting of relief supplies couriers, imposed starvation blockades, use of phosphorous and incendiary cluster bombs on densely populated areas.]- 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 may 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. [They repeatedly lied on television about who they were targeting and why. They lie to the world repeatedly, and with impunity, and we’re supposed to trust their word when it comes to something comparatively trivial? They lied about taking lives. Why trust them on this “fashion” issue in the I.D.F.?]

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/tolerate it.”

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 criticism. 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. [That means that this degree of bad taste enjoyed enduring popularity. For a people so historically obsessed with enforcing their morals and condemning the Gentiles, I find this all very interesting. A comical light has been shed on the murder of women and children, rape, wanton destruction of a people’s sacred sites, and now bestiality. Truly, a “light unto the nations”, this “priestly class.”]

“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. [Please. No one’s going to punish anyone. The so-called jokes are aimed at Arabs, so there will be no “insult to the army or those in uniform” detected, pursued, or prosecuted within Israel. This will be swept under the rug like all else.]

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. [And since military service is mandatory in Israel, everyone is a kind of soldier.] 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 [“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 (or her).”

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.”

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