IDF Officer Dismissed for Approving Soldiers' anti-Arab T-shirts

Shirts featured the slogan 'Nablus, we are coming!’ and warned Arab mothers that their sons’ fates lay in Israeli soldiers’ hands.

Anti Arab shirt
The anti-Arab T-shirt worn by members of the Nahal Brigade. Screengrab

A platoon commander was dismissed and two soldiers in the Nahal Brigade battalion patrol demoted from combat roles for arranging the printing of T-shirts with an aggressively anti-Arab message. The decision was announced late last week by Nahal commander Col. Yehuda Fuchs.

The shirts, which were ordered for the graduation of the battalion patrol training course, featured a Hebrew slogan warning Arab mothers that the fates of their sons lay in the hands of the shirts’ wearers, followed by, “Nablus, we’re coming!” A drawing showed an armed Israeli soldier, his face masked, among the homes of the West Bank city.

A commanding officer informed Fuchs about the shirts after seeing two members of the battalion wearing them during an evening run last week, and Fuchs ordered an investigation. Citing “moral failure,” on Wednesday Fuchs ordered the platoon commander dismissed from Nahal for having approved the shirts.

The soldier who drew the illustration and a Sgt. 1st Class were demoted from combat positions and assigned to administrative tasks.

A number of soldiers in the battalion criticized the demotions, arguing that shirts of this type were meant as a joke and were common in the Israel Defense Forces.

In 2009, Haaretz Magazine reported on the violent and racist messages of some of these shirts. In a statement issued at the time, the IDF Spokesman’s Office said, “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.”

With regard to the latest incident, the spokesman’s office again denounced the soldiers’ actions as violating the IDF’s values, adding, “For that reason, significant measures were taken against them, in accordance with the judgment of their commanders.”