Exile and the prophetic: Israel’s (global) enablers

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This post is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

Edward Snowden, whereabouts unknown?  Russia says it has no idea where he is.  So does Ecuador.  I doubt either is telling the truth.

Is Ecuador the home of the free and the brave?  If the Palestinian campaign, Stop the Wall, is right, I’d think again. 

Through globalization, we know everything is linked.  Injustice in one place is bound to affect other places.  But when it comes to running a police state – among other police states – in a world of police states, what is a small country like Ecuador to do?  Take the road less taken?

It’s a difficult issue but Ecuador’s military ties with Israel compromise its solidarity with Julian Assange and Edward Snowden.  If, understandably, it’s not an issue for a person on the run, it’s an important issue for the rest of us.

This is the quandary that Palestinians are in – as it turns out all over the world.  If we limit it to South America, according to Stop the Wall’s ‘Buying into Occupation and War: The Implications of Military Ties Between South America and Israel’, almost every country in the hemisphere is an enabler of Israel’s occupation. 

Brazil is an interesting example.  There’s little doubt that Brazil is using Israeli equipment and techniques to deal with its burgeoning protest movement.  This includes the use of Israeli drones the Brazilian police purchased.  Interesting enough, Brazil’s dealings with the Israeli military are relatively new, since 2000, the time of the second Palestinian Uprising.  Stop the Wall believes Brazil is the “gateway” for Israel in the South America market for Israeli military technology and security companies.   This includes Ecuador.

Stop the Wall claims that it is ‘impossible for South America’s democratic governments to reconcile protection of human rights – whether at home or abroad – with military ties and arms trade with Israel.’ In their report they make four main points: 

1.       Any military ties with Israel support the state’s policies of occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing, policies whose sustainability depends on Israeli military capacities and the profits deriving from its military industry, and adversely affect the Palestinians and their struggle.

2.       Israel has developed an indigenous military industry that produces much of the equipment used by its military. International buyers help ensure the survival of the Israeli military industry.

3.       Years of experience in operating in Palestinian cities, villages and refugee camps, for example, has helped Israeli Weapon Industries (IWI) to develop an effective rifle for urban combat. Constant mobilization by the popular resistance against the Wall has in turn forced the Israeli military to develop more effective means of crowd control to break demonstrations. The constant use of UAVs has allowed ample opportunities for real-time testing and development.

4. Military ties with Israel leave elements in place which could support or form oppressive, and at the most extreme anti-government activity, in a given country.  Even if military ties pose no threat to a country’s stability, support of the Israeli military industry casts doubt on a government’s commitment to human rights.

So if we ask the question –Does a person on the run have an ethical responsibility where they find refuge?  Or:  What’s a small country like Ecuador to do when shopping for arms and security technologies? We are still left with the question:  What are we to think about all this?

Here’s something else to ponder.  For years, Israel/Palestine activists have sighted the United States as the great enabler of Israel’s occupation.  True enough.  And false.

If we look at military and security trade – leaving out other economic venues – more or less the whole world is Israel’s enablers.  And as Stop the Wall has it, more or less, the whole world uses what it buys from Israel to repress their own people.

It doesn’t seem to matter to Israel’s enablers that the Palestinians are essentially a captive test population for the weapons and technologies they purchase.

Is their support for Palestinians doublespeak – only?

The oft repeated maxim of American support being the key to Israel’s occupation is true enough.  It’s only part of the story.  Voting in the UN and offers of asylum for whistle blowers aside, the global appetite for military security and domestic stability trumps Palestinian freedom.

On Israel, America sings solo.  But we shouldn’t forget the backup chorus either.

About Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is retired Director and Professor of Jewish Studies at Baylor University and author of The Heartbeat of the Prophetic which can be found at Amazon and www.newdiasporabooks.com

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