Israeli army refuses to let soldier read poems on radio

London, June 18 (IANS) A brigade in the Israeli Defence Forces has banned a soldier from reading out his own verses on the radio over fears that it might cast aspersions on the army's "manliness", a media report said.

The Independent daily said that throughout history, soldiers on the battlefield "have been inspired to write some of the world's most memorable poetry".

The unnamed soldier from the Nahal Infantry Brigade was to appear on the Army Radio's weekly Hebrew literary programme called "Books, Gentlemen, Books".

According to the Haaretz newspaper, the soldier was on his way to the radio station when he got a call from a spokesperson who reports to brigade commander Colonel Yehuda Fuchs.

The spokesperson told the soldier that his appearance would "ruin the image of the combat soldier" and that he ran the risk of revealing "personal and sensitive" information.

He was also told that having poem-quoting soldiers was "not how the Nahal Brigade wants to be portrayed in public", the daily said.

The decision also appears odd given that the Israeli army has a tradition of encouraging its soldiers' artistic flair. There are a number of literary competitions for soldiers in Israel, including in a military newspaper where troops are encouraged to write fresh endings to well-known stories.

In the past, entrants in officially sanctioned poetry competitions have had their entries posted on the army spokespersons' website.

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