Last Friday Haaretz had an article about the nauseating T-shirts some IDF units print. The worst, according to the article, emanate from the sharpshooter units, and they include depictions of the wrong Palestinians in the cross-hairs: a child, a pregnant woman, a fleeing teenager who is taunted with the slogan "run faster before we get you".
True, the soldiers themselves admitted they'd never wear these T-shirts in public because of the total opprobrium they'd be greeted with; and also true the sharpshooters are carefully controlled and have strict guidelines for their operation and I can't remember a single case where it was alleged that even one of them ever did such a thing as is depicted on these shirts; but still, it's an ugly tale, and someone clearly needs to add some common sense to that course of training. Make no mistake: I'm condemning the shirts.
And yet. Achikam got home last night, and at about 1PM he got up to eat breakfast, wearing a T-shirt prepared recently by his unit depicting a hand shooting lightning over Gaza. He read the article, and agreed with me that it's an ugly story, but pointed out something I, and everyone else, had overlooked. In most of the cases where the drawing showed Palestinian civilians in the cross hairs... they weren't civilians. The pregnant woman shown behind the above link is brandishing a rifle, as is the child ("when they're smaller they're harder to hit"), while the teenager being exhorted to run has the full set of drawn knife, grenade, and suicide belt (these picture aren't online, they're in the paper version).
Bottom line: we've got ugly T-shirts,worn by sharpshooters whose actual combat behavior belies the message, while the message itself is much more complex than anyone gives credit for. Including the sophisticated journalist at the sophisticated newspaper whose main marketing line is that it's "a newspaper for thinking readers".