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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.

Marc H. Ellis
About Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is Professor of History and Jewish Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of the Global Prophetic. His latest book is Finding Our Voice: Embodying the Prophetic and Other Misadventures.

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8 Responses

  1. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870 on June 25, 2013, 1:41 pm

    RE: “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.” ~ ‘Stop the Wall’ report

    “IDF Skunk Cannon Odorizes West Bank”, by Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam, 3/06/13

    [EXCERPT] The IDF routinely uses a truly disgusting weapon of war to maintain the Occupation: a skunk cannon. To the uninitiated, imagine instead of fire hoses and police dogs, Sheriff Bull Connor used a massive stream of raw sewage mixed with skunk oil and let it fly not just on the civil rights marchers but all the citizens and businesses in town. Then imagine you’re one of the victims and it’s flying at you from a truck the size of a small tank. The ostensible purpose of this vehicle is to disrupt protests on the West Bank. Keep in mind, that these are for the most part totally non-violent incidents in which demonstrators are expressing their legitimate opposition to issues like building the Separation Wall, which in itself is an illegal project under international law. In short, the purpose of the skunk cannon is not to break up violent rallies or protect the IDF from the wrath of Palestinians. It is purely meant to suppress the political will of the Palestinian people.
    Ynet reports that in addition to spraying protesters, those who operate the vehicles randomly spray residential homes and businesses having nothing to do with the demonstrations. This is collective punishment . . .


    *P.S. FROM WIKIPEDIA [Skunk (weapon)]:

    [EXCERPT] “Skunk” is a malodorant, non-lethal weapon used for crowd control by the Israeli Defense Forces. Deriving its name from the animal of the same name, “Skunk” is dispersed as a form of mist, fired from a water cannon, which leaves a terrible odor of rot or sewage on whatever it touches. It does not wash off easily and is said to linger on clothes for up to five years.[1] First attempts at developing a scent-based form of crowd control began in Israel in 2004; Skunk was first used for crowd control in September 2008.
    According to David Ben Harosh, head of technological development for the Israeli police, the recipe is based entirely on natural organic ingredients, including yeast and baking powder, does not include any harmful materials, and may even be ingested without causing harm. The inventors plan to market Skunk to other forces worldwide. . .

    SOURCE –

  2. frankier
    frankier on June 25, 2013, 5:25 pm

    Sadly, the Palestinian struggle is not known in most countries on earth (or at least to most people in most countries). Conversely, the struggles of other peoples on earth share the same destiny (Chiapas comes to mind).

  3. Keith
    Keith on June 25, 2013, 6:15 pm

    “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.’”

    Try substituting any other country in the world for Israel and the human rights answer will be the same. Military ties and arms trade with the US? Are you not familiar with the School of the Americas? Or how US military to military ties to most of the Third World form the basis of the new militarized US diplomacy as the State Department willingly yields influence to the US military theater commanders? From Russia or China? There are problems with that too. The point being that most of the Third World suffers from the legacy of First World exploitation and current neoliberal globalization. They are weak and their options are few. Compared to the US empire, Israel may be seen as the lesser evil. Also, to what degree does the South American civilian leadership even control their militaries, who frequently are more loyal to their Washington suppliers and paymasters, and to the local oligarchs?

  4. James Canning
    James Canning on June 25, 2013, 6:57 pm

    Israel can be strong, with global links to the military in many countries. Within the “1967” borders.

  5. Citizen
    Citizen on June 25, 2013, 7:02 pm

    So all the world buys Israel’s security products and services, lab-tested with Palestinian rats.

  6. American
    American on June 26, 2013, 12:53 am

    Israel sells it’s home developed weapons primilary to lesser (small) countries. It hit 2.4 bllion in sales last year and the bulk of that was drones, now their most in demand export. It was 2nd to the US in drone sales. Drone techonology is not secret, but instead of the expense of aquiring the materials and setting up their own production facilities other countries will purchase them as long as the price is right.

    To put Isr sales into context however, the United States exports more than $28 billion a year in weapons- Russia 10 billion –France, UK, Germany about 5 billion each.

    • OlegR
      OlegR on June 26, 2013, 6:01 am

      Used to be uzi’s and galil’s now it’s drones and spike missiles,
      and tavor’s.
      Ugly business though profitable.

      Should be shipped labeled “Tested with the cooperative courtesy of Hamas and Hizbollah” and the odd Syrian reactor…

    • Citizen
      Citizen on June 26, 2013, 1:03 pm

      Actually, Israel is #1 in drone sales, ahead of the USA.

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