The Israel Defense Forces has expelled a cadet in an officer training course for drawing a picture of Adolf Hitler in his notebook during a company lecture.
The incident took place last summer at the IDF’s officer training base known as Bahad 1, when the soldier made the offensive drawing alongside caricatures of David Ben-Gurion, Mickey Mouse, Moshe Dayan and Harry Potter in his notebook.
The matter was brought to the attention of his commanders after he gave the illustrations to another cadet who liked his work. She put the caricatures in a clear plastic frame, which was sewed onto a bag.
Following a comprehensive investigation of the incident both the cadet who drew the caricatures and the one who framed them were expelled, the latter because of “trust problems” that emerged during the probe.
The cadet asserted that he saw nothing wrong with drawing Hitler’s image alongside those of the others, and that during the company talk he had felt bored and sought to pass the time by sketching. He recalled that at the end of class he meant to throw out the drawings, but one of his colleagues was impressed by their quality and asked to keep them. He also told his officers that he is the grandson of Holocaust survivors, and added that he had taken an active par in the educational series the cadets completed at Yad Vashem, and had even cried there.
As is customary in the IDF, the dismissal was approved by the battalion commander as well as the base commander, Col. Eran Niv (who has since been replaced).
In a talk, a recording of which was obtained by Haaretz, the battalion commander told the other members of the course from which the cadet was expelled that drawing the image of Hitler was a serious, unthinkable crime. He added that if a psychologist were to hear of the incident he would seek to hospitalize the offending cadet on suspicion of insanity.
The commander dedicated some of his speech to blaming the cadet’s 300 comrades, wondering aloud how it was possible that none of them knew about the fact that he had sketched an image of Hitler in his notebook, and drew parallels between them and those who knew about the deeds of the Nazis and ignored them. In addition, the commander told his subordinates that in the dismissal process he had asked the cadet if it had occurred to him to draw a picture of a soldier smashing the skull of a baby. When the cadet responded “no,” the commander said that to draw Hitler, who sought to smash the skulls of a million Jewish babies, had somehow seemed reasonable to the cadet.
The IDF spokesman commented: “The deeds of the cadet, a future officer, who has the responsibility of being an example to his subordinates, do not meet the expectations of his commander, and so it was decided to expel him from the officers’ course.” The office did not comment on the question of whether the IDF forbids soldiers in general or officers in training from drawing any other figures.
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