Never missing an opportunity to shill both for Israel and the almighty shekel, two Israeli entrepreneurs determined now was the opportune moment to launch a military-focussed fashion line. The fact that 2,100 Gazans were killed by the IDF only a few months ago seems not to have entered into their minds. Or perhaps, being Israeli, they actually believed that Operation Protective Edge had burnished the street cred of the army, making it an opportune “hook” for promoting a racy new clothing line.
From the look of the marketing, this seems little more than a Playboy-style fashion shoot. There’s the requisite video featuring a throbbing Jerry Bruckheimer-style car chase score. And of course, the sexy models who are, (how’s this for authenticity?), REAL IDF girls! “Sapir” even features a tantalizing job description: “classified.” What a honey pot babe, eh?!
We’ve seen Bar Rafaeli as a Mossad agent in Kidon, who persuades the al-Mabouh to bury his head in her ample cleavage, while drinking forbidden alcohol. So why not this? No one ever complained about an abundance of good taste among those who market Israel, especially those who do it to make a quick buck (or shekel).
The script of the marketing video is so hoky, it has to be read to be fully appreciated:
Narrator: One of the biggest secrets of the Israeli army is about to be exposed. A group of elite soldiers, armed and dangerous, fearless and highly trained, facing danger every day…but when the fighting stops that’s when they gear up and assemble to form one of the deadliest forces known to men: MTKL…
Missulawin: We created MTKL with the expectation of launching the sexiest and sharpest military-inspired street-wear the world has ever seen.
Shenfeld: we are now producing the world’s first Israeli army girl calendar. We recruited a real group of Israeli soldiers as our models, and we tell the stories of their actual military service while sporting the best military-inspired apparel ever designed.
Missulawin: these are not your run-of-the-mill models. These are real soldiers of an army which sees plenty of combat action. Contribute a few dollars to help us publish this calendar as a premium printed product and take a stand with us in the name of freedom, life and having fun.
Narrator: Women who handle guns, lead operations, and fight terror; highly-trained army machines by day, super-models by night. Because when you only have one shot, it has to be a killer one [sic]. Now, MTKL: over and out.
The two founders of MTKL (a play on the Hebrew acronym, Matkal, or “army high command”) are Amnon Shenfeld and Ilan Missulawin. Their LinkedIn profiles show that Missulawin did his IDF in the paratroopers, considered one of the army’s elite units. His work background is in marketing. Shenfeld doesn’t list his army experience and his work background focuses solely on computers and technology, specifically machine vision and gesture recognition. I don’t see any fashion experience among them. So how in hell are they going to sell clothes? Or are they?
Their Facebook page doesn’t appear ready for primetime of anything else. It’s a pastiche of girlie pics and inspirational sayings.
Given that their Indiegogo campaign seeks to raise $30,000 to fund the campaign, and offers donors a racy girl-of-the-month calendar, perhaps there isn’t really a fashion company here at all. It may just be someone’s idea of a joke meant to bolster morale after the blood-letting of the past summer. After killing so many Palestinians, the boys deserve to see something more healthy than dead bodies, don’t they? Perhaps the IDF is investing in a fashion start-up to keep the boys spirits up, so to speak.
And if you think there’s an element of hasbara involved in the project…well, let’s let Missulawin speak on the subject:
In Israel, there’s an element [among those who see the marketing for the product] of [concern] for running down the army and its “values,” but we don’t see it that way at all. We believe, on the contrary, that we’re performing a service for the army and the nation.
Couldn’t have said it better myself. What do you get for your contribution? The calendar, of course. For the big daddy donors there are replica IDF dogtags. Presumably not those of Oron Shaul or Hadar Goldin. But maybe those belonging to one of the models? A guy can always hope, can’t he? If you can’t get the girl at least you can get her dogtag. Sigh.
The message: killing is cool and sexy. It’s a tough job but some girls just gotta do it. All for the sake of love, Israel and fun!
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.