MINNEAPOLIS — When talking about the Middle East, Israel is often touted as the only democracy in the region and a beacon of human rights surrounded by hostile neighbors.
It’s a dubious notion, to say the least, considering Israel’s inhumane treatment of Palestinians, its illegal occupation of Palestine and its institutional racism that has left Israel as world’s leading apartheid state.
But Israel’s support for oppression has no borders and, possibly, no limits.
The country’s arms industry has a not-so-secret history of fomenting civil strife, from enabling genocide in Sudan and Myanmar to quashing dissent and arming despots across the Middle East, Africa, South America and even Asia.
Israel exports billions of dollars worth of military equipment and training each year to major human rights abusers, and it keeps the full list of buyers notoriously close to its chest.
Take the military alliance between Israel and Saudi Arabia. While the two nations often pretend to be at odds in the media, Saudi Arabia and Israel’s militaries are actually closely aligned behind an agenda of regional oppression and control.
This couldn’t have been more obvious last year when Israel and Saudi Arabia stood united in their opposition to America’s impending deal with Iran over the Iranian nuclear program. Both nations poured a combined $100 million into PR and lobbying efforts to sway public and political opinion in the U.S. against peace with Iran while convincing Americans that Iran had non-existent nuclear weapons.
Opposition to the deal was so serious that Israel and Saudi Arabia were planning a joint attack on Iran if the deal went through. A meeting between the two showed how the Saudis would allow Israel to use their air space and provide drones, rescue helicopters and tanker planes.
Beyond uniting against Tehran, WikiLeaks dumps of classified State Department documents revealed that Israel and Saudi Arabia collaborated with the United States as early as 2006 to overthrow the Syrian government through forming, funding and arming opposition groups that provoked a sectarian civil war.
And according to leaked Clinton emails, a sectarian civil war in Syria was not only touted as beneficial to Israel but was encouraged by the Jewish State .
As if 300,000 civilians dead, 3 million refugees and over 6.5 million Syrians internally displaced wasn’t enough, the collaboration between the two rogue states runs even deeper and more deadly.
Israel has used the threat of terrorism, which it helped fuel in Syria, to justify a massive military buildup along its border in order to illegally extract oil and gas from Syria’s Golan Heights. Saudi Arabia supported this build up with as much as $1 billion in funding.
In return for Saudi support, Israel agreed to arm the kingdom’s bombing spree of impoverished Yemen, which has left nearly 10,000 people dead and over 300,000 children starving just one year into the conflict.
Beyond the Middle East, since 9/11, American police have been traveling to Israel to learn methods of brutality and repression that Israel uses against indigenous Palestinians. These military tactics have been used to quash dissent on American soil, targeting African Americans, antiwar activists and income equality protesters. Police brutality in the US has gotten so out of control that the U.N. Human Rights Council chastised the U.S. over its epidemic of police violence, discrimination, needless killings, and general neglect.
South of our border, Israel used its experience suppressing indigenous uprisings in Palestine to aid Mexico’s police state in its battle against the Zapatistas, an ongoing indigenous Mayan uprising.
And Israeli military-turned-mercenaries helped to train the deadly paramilitary forces of Colombia’s infamous Medellín drug cartel, led by notorious narco Pablo Escobar. In the end, the cartel, was responsible for as many as 3,500 assassinations at the height of its power, when it supplied 80% of the world’s cocaine.
Just as Israel sold arms to genocidal regimes and pariah states like Apartheid South Africa and Rwanda, it’s sold weapons, military and homeland security training and surveillance technology to South Sudanese rebels.
Now these factions use these Israeli exports to carry out war crimes and commit potential crimes against humanity.
And Israel’s been doing this since the 1960s.
Of course, Israel’s not aiding a legitimate quest for freedom or upholding humanistic values. If it were, it wouldn’t allow millions of South Sudanese to face starvation while it protects its own strategic interests there.
As we reported at MintPress:
“South Sudan is geographically located along a route used by Iran to transfer financial and military assistant throughout the region that supports Palestinian resistance movements. Israel sees potential in the growing alliance with South Sudan as a gateway to weakening these groups by blocking transfer routes previously used by Iran to reach Sudan and other countries in the Middle East.”
And, naturally, it’s not just about quelling Palestinian resistance — there’s also oil involved: South Sudan just so happens to provide Israel with black gold at a very convenient price.
Support for oppression can be seen as part of a long Israeli tradition — a tradition that’s made Israel, a country no bigger than New Jersey, one of the world’s top arms exporters.
Israel uses the Occupied West Bank and Gaza as “laboratories to test and refine weapons and methods of domination and control.” They can sell their products as “battle-tested” and “combat proven,” giving them an edge in the international arms trade.
According to the journalist Rania Khalek, “Israeli weapons aid potential genocides in Myanmar and Burundi.”
Just like in South Sudan, when most of the world slapped Myanmar with sanctions following a 1988 military coup and the end of democratic elections in 1990, Israel boosted its investment and helped to modernize the country’s arsenal.
And even though the military junta is no longer in power, those military sanctions — including sanctions from the U.S. — remain in place. And Israel’s weapons and war industry continue to profit.
So what’s Myanmar doing with advanced military training and cutting edge technology from its long-time supporter? Committing genocide against its Rohingya Muslim minority, for one.
It’s this atrocious disregard for human life that propels the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. From the Israeli tourism industry to hummus to Sodastream, the movement doesn’t hold back on targets, and even the Israeli arms industry is starting to feel the effects.
In 2015, the industry was expected to see $4 billion in sales — over $3 billion less than it raked in in 2012. And a lot of that drop can be contributed to “less desire for Israeli-made products.”
However, with the moral support and $3.1 billion of military aid offered annually by U.S., it may be a long time before Israel’s faces any significant consequences for its worldwide human rights violations.
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