Israeli soldiers fire their weapons (Photo: Hazem Bader/AFP/Getty Images)
[Researched, written, and edited by members of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, this twenty-eight-page exposé focuses on the role of Israel’s government, military, and related corporations and organizations in a global industry of violence and repression. The states most involved with this industry profit from perpetual war and occupation across the globe while maintaining vastly unequal societies of their own. Click here to learn more about this booklet and an associated project to build global testimony towards popular tribunals.]
Israel’s Worldwide Role in Repression
This pamphlet focuses on the role of Israel’s government, its military, and related corporations and organizations in a global industry of violence and repression. The states most involved with this industry profit from perpetual war and occupation across the globe while maintaining vastly unequal societies of their own.
Israel exports weapons, technologies, training, and techniques of violence for use by governments and corporations against populations around the world. The expertise on which it relies has been developed through its occupation of Palestine and parts of Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt, as well as its repression of and military aggression against the people living there.
The colonization of Palestine was once part of the British and French assault on the movement for Arab unity and independence that threatened European control of the region’s resources. The state of Israel is now a junior partner in the US-allied strategy for the same control of the region’s resources.
For Israel, this partnership has enabled the imposition and maintenance of a settler colonial state in Palestine. For its Western partners, Israel has ensured control of what F.D.R.’s administration once described as “the greatest prize in human history” – Arab oil.
The importance of Israel to the United States is a reflection of the growing significance of both oil and the arms trade to the world economy. The United States, the main arbiter of power worldwide, is Israel’s largest funder. The majority of US aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance. The US government gives Israel approximately three billion US dollars per year in financial aid and several billion more per year in military assistance and contracts. The United States provides eighteen percent, or nearly a fifth, of Israel’s military budget. From 1949 until 2011, the estimated cumulative total in US direct aid to Israel is between 115 and 123 billion U.S. dollars.
In 2009, Israel’s military spending accounted for an additional 15.1% of the country’s overall budget. It was the biggest defense spender as a percentage of GDP. It also spent the greatest amount of its overall budget on the military out of all developed countries.
Israel uses US aid to fund its ongoing occupation of Palestine and Syria and its military campaigns, which in turn serve as an laboratory to develop weapons, surveillance technology, and tactics of population control that are then marketed across the globe.
Israel’s Worldwide Role
Israel’s unique skills in crowd control, forced displacement, surveillance, and military occupation have resulted in placing it at the forefront of a global industry of repression: it develops, manufactures, and markets technologies that are used by armies and police around the world for purposes of repression.
Israel’s role in this industry began with the Israeli military, which first used its weapons of war against Palestinian people in historic Palestine, and against neighboring countries. In recent years, as interest in surveillance and policing technologies and techniques has grown among governments around the world, an Israeli “homeland security” private service industry built on these field-tested instruments has emerged to exploit and export this interest.
This industry includes government agencies, the Israeli military, and a network of private corporations that grossed over 2.7 billion US dollars in 2008. This industry accounts for approximately seven percent of the Israeli economy. The Israeli Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor says on its website:
Israel has more than 300 Homeland Security (HLS) companies exporting a range of products, systems and services… These solutions have been born by the necessity of Israel’s survival and matured by the reality of the continual terrorist threat to the country… No other country has such a large pool of experienced former security, military, and police personnel and no other country has been able to field test its systems and solutions in real-time situations.
In addition to the Israeli government, military, and corporations, a network of Zionist organizations provides political and economic support to the state of Israel. For example, in the United States, these organizations participate in surveillance and facilitate exchanges between the Israeli military and US police forces, federal agents, and armed forces.
This network of state bodies, corporations, and non-profits shares intelligence information, coordinates strategies for surveillance and repression, and collaborates for profit. The precise function of each varies according to their role.
Israel has provided arms, trained militia, and military and civilian police, developed and provided surveillance technology and repression strategies, and supplied the means for a broad array of other control techniques, from ”non-lethal” weapons to border technology. Israel has played a role in arming and training the apartheid regimes of South Africa and Rhodesia, colonial regimes in the Middle East and North Africa (otherwise known as Southwest Asia and North Africa, or SWANA), and dictators in Central and South America and Asia.
The Israeli government has assumed a major, worldwide role in enforcing limitations on the freedom of movement, policing of communities, and undermining peoples’ struggles for justice. Though well documented, this fact is rarely if ever mentioned or discussed, and even more rarely challenged.
Our movements – those in solidarity with the Palestinian people, against war, poverty, and an unjust globalized economy – need to take into account the very real ways the state of Israel contributes to violence and repression around the world.
Israel sells its weapons, technologies, training, and techniques of violence to those it considers allies and even to those whom it considers enemies. Israel sells or has sold to Islamist, communist, capitalist, dictatorial, and social democratic states. The driving force behind Israeli arms exports, in addition to the profit motive, is the need for a close and strong alliance with major imperialist powers that provide it with continuous military and diplomatic support, economic markets and access to power. Therefore, Israel has prioritized selling weapons to the allies and agents of these powers.
Israel Shahak’s 1982 book, Israel’s Global Role: Weapons for Repression, documents that “from Rhodesia to apartheid South Africa to the Gulf monarchies, Israel ties its interests not with the masses fighting for freedom, but with their jailers.”12 Despite competition and other conflicts between governments and regimes that rely on repression, those same governments and regimes have no trouble cooperating with one another against peoples’ movements.
[Click here to download the full report.]