This article analyzes a form of visual euphemism which we call “masking the mask.” During the Gulf War, Iraq fired 40 missiles on Israel. Citizens were issued with gas mask kits and were ordered into sealed rooms in their homes during attacks. Thousands of Israelis of all ages were issued their gas mask kits.
With the passage of time and advent of new technology, now we all have access to ISRAELI G.I. civilian adult NBC protective gas mask hood and blower system. Although no chemical warheads were fired on the country, Israelis were unusually fearful of gassing because of associations with the Holocaust. Masking the mask served important psychological and communicative functions.
It provided a means to express one’s fears, to attempt a modest form of mastery over a threatening environment, as well as to rebel against dehumanization and personalization, and to express solidarity with the group under threat while reasserting one’s individual identity.
Later on, the gas mask production in Israel was to cease almost completely, under a decision approved by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. The decision was based on the significant decline in the threat of a chemical weapon attack as a result of the eradication of that country’s stocks of chemical arms in an operation that began in 2013 and was completed in June.