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Another powerful Israeli commits crimes in Africa — and again his government does nothing

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Once again, a powerful Israeli commits serious crimes in Africa. Once again, there are no consequences in Israel.

This time, the alleged criminal is a former major general named Israel Ziv, who once headed the Israeli army’s Operations Directorate. The scene of his crimes is the nation of South Sudan, which has been torn by a civil war since 2013, in which some 400,000 people have already died. The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) has just added more details to the terrible story.

The story is complicated, but here is a summary: in 2015, ex-General Ziv’s “security services firm” contracted with the South Sudanese government to run a farming project, intended to alleviate hunger there. The need is obvious; some 7 million South Sudanese face hunger, mainly due to the disruption of the civil war, and 1.8 million of them are on the brink of starvation.

In fact, the farming project was a fraud. Ziv allegedly used it as cover to sell the government $150 million worth of weapons, “rifles, grenade launchers, and shoulder-fired rockets.” The OCCRP just found that he worked with a big international oil trader, Trafigura, to cover his tracks.

But the story gets even worse. Ziv wasn’t apparently content with his profits —  so he allegedly also stoked the conflict. The U.S. government, which blacklisted him last December, charged that “he has also reportedly planned to organize attacks by mercenaries on South Sudanese oil fields and infrastructure, in an effort to create a problem that only his company and affiliates could solve.”

Ziv’s activities are so reprehensible that even the Trump administration’s Treasury Department sanctioned him and three of his companies.

But Israel’s government? So far, nothing. Larry Derfner, a leading Israeli journalist, said Ziv appeared briefly in the Israeli press when the U.S. sanctioned him, but since then not a word. Derfner, author of the acclaimed memoir, No Country for Jewish Liberals, added that Ziv “is just another Israeli mercenary living his life.”

Ex-general Ziv is hardly the first Israeli to commit crimes in Africa with no punishment in Israel. Dan Gertler, an Israeli billionaire, has teamed up with Joseph Kabila, the former president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, to loot that desperately poor country of billions. Another Israeli super-wealthy businessman, Beny Steinmetz, was mixed up in corruption over mining deals in the West African nation of Guinea. 

Israel’s silence is the more surprising given that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been conducting a diplomatic offensive to improve relations with Africa. Israel must hope that more Africans do not learn that Israel looks the other way when its citizens commit terrible crimes on the continent.   

James North

James North is a Mondoweiss Editor-at-Large, and has reported from Africa, Latin America, and Asia for four decades. He lives in New York City.

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4 Responses

  1. Kay24 on July 18, 2019, 6:43 pm

    They commit crimes while they wear their uniform, and they even commit vicious crimes before they start wearing it.

    America keeps supporting and protecting these criminals, and had this been Iran, we would have been feigning outrage, and threatening to bomb it again. When will the rest of the world start holding Netanyahu and his officials, responsible for war crimes? Israel seems to have a bad habit of provoking, and causing problems in many nations, that they sell their stinking weapons too. They do not care if helpless civilians are killed, as long as they are not Israelis, all they care is to sell their damn weapons, by creating problems, and innocent people end up being killed. I am sure the same model was used in Myanmar too. Wherever the US and Israel sells their weapons, you can be sure there are civilians being killed, because there was provocation, and interference.

  2. KieranKelly on July 19, 2019, 6:50 am

    No surprise there… Israel has no moral compass when fermenting bloodshed and plunder throughout Africa. “Never again” seems to only applied to them. They have participated in some of the bloodiest crimes against humanity; most notably the Rwandan Genocide where they armed the Hutu perpetrators before, during and even after the massacres.

    • Keith on July 19, 2019, 2:26 pm

      KIERANKELLY- “…most notably the Rwandan Genocide where they armed the Hutu perpetrators before, during and even after the massacres.”

      Rwandan “genocide” is one of the greatest propaganda triumphs of empire. The conflict was started when Tutsi imperial proxy and Israeli darling Paul Kagame invaded Rwanda with the support of the US. This graduate of the US Army Command and General Staff College is one of the 20th Century’s greatest mass murders responsible for up to 6 million deaths in the East Congo. He is Rwanda’s official President for Life and is a staunch supporter of Israel and vice versa, and has addressed the annual AIPAC conference. His Wikipedia entry is wildly dishonest. Below is a quote and link to an interesting interview of Ed Herman on Rwanda. Below that a link to a listing of articles regarding Kagame appearing on the Black Agenda Report, a reliable source.

      “In this book, Ann, we describe the fact that Paul Kagame, the leader of Rwanda, has killed more than five times as many people as Idi Amin. He invaded Rwanda in 1990 and carried out a war of conquest there that ended sometime in 1994. He invaded the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1996 and went in and out of that country for years, killing what the U.N. itself admitted was probably more than 4 million people.

      He runs a dictatorship in Rwanda, where he gets 93 percent of the vote in a country where 90 percent of the people are Hutu who consider him to be a conqueror, a terrorist leader. And yet he’s considered, in the West, to be a hero, a savior.

      In The New Yorker, he was described as the Abraham Lincoln of Africa. For a man who has outdone Idi Amin, I think this is miraculous.

      The only way we can explain it is that he serves the ends of the United States, but it’s still a miracle that a man with that record can, in the free press of the United States, be considered a noble spirit.” (Edward S. Herman)

      Link to Black Agenda Report Kagame listing of articles.

  3. Misterioso on July 19, 2019, 9:59 am

    Apart from its well documented monstrous crimes committed against Palestine’s indigenous Christian and Muslim inhabitants, it never ceases to amaze and shock me how “Israel” so easily casts aside the slaughter of six million Jews by the Nazis and chooses to “make a buck” selling arms to other thuggish regimes around the world who are murdering their own people en masse. South Sudan is only one example.

    “Israel media: Tel Aviv still arming Myanmar military despite allegations of genocide”

    Middle East Monitor, Feb. 6/19

    “Israel still maintains ‘warm ties’ with Myanmar and is downplaying human rights concerns, a new report by the Times of Israel has uncovered today. Despite allegations of genocide of Rohingya Muslims, the Zionist state continues to claim that it’s ‘first friend’ in Asia is safe to trade with and has continued to sell arms to Myanmar’s military while ethnic cleansing and genocide were taking place in Rakhine State.

    “Confirming its well-earned reputation for assisting some of the most brutal regimes in the world, Israel has been selling arms to Myanmar long after most Western countries banned such sales over concerns that weapons sold to the country were likely being used to carry out genocide.

    “The United Nations has described the plight of Rohingya Muslims as a ‘text book’ example of genocide. Its conclusion was repeated recently by the chair of the UN fact-finding mission on Myanmar who described the latest situation as ‘an ongoing genocide.’

    “In December the US House of Representatives effectively rebuked the Trump administration and overwhelmingly passed a resolution declaring that Myanmar’s military has carried out genocide against Rohingya Muslims.

    “A key committee of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum has said that it also found ‘compelling evidence’ of genocide by Myanmar’s military against the Muslim minority Rohingya. Describing the situation, the chairman of the museum’s Committee on Conscience, Lee Feinstein was quoted by the Times of Israel saying: ‘The Burmese military’s campaign against the Rohingya, especially the attacks of August 2017, has been deliberate, systematic, and widespread.’

    “Their position was backed by the Centre for the Prevention of Genocide. ‘We want to help set the historical record for the future and for the Rohingya who continue to be at risk of genocide today,’ the centres deputy director was reported saying.

    “In one of the latest reports compiled by the US State Department, which tallied atrocities in the Buddhist-majority country’s northern Rakhine State, it was found that violence against Rohingya Muslims was ‘extreme, large-scale, widespread, and seems geared toward both terrorising the population and driving out the Rohingya residents.’ Some 1.1 million Rohingya have fled Myanmar.

    “Despite the widespread condemnation, however, Israel remains on friendly terms with Myanmar and has remained relatively silent, said the Times of Israel. While admitting that they couldn’t confirm if Israel was providing training, intelligence and surveillance technology, the report found that Tel Aviv had allowed its arms companies to sell weapons to Myanmar’s military in autumn 2017, long after most Western countries had banned such sales. The Israeli firms are said to have refused to answer questions about their current sales.

    “David Tal, an Israeli historian who chairs the University of Sussex’s Modern Israel Studies programme, explained the Zionist state’s continued friendship with Myanmar saying: ‘A general trend of Israel’s foreign policy is to give priority to interests over values. Having good relations with Myanmar … I would assume is worth any moral price Israel accrues.’

    “The report traced Israel’s trend of assisting racist regimes to the country’s historical cooperation with apartheid South Africa and recent friendly relations with Viktor Orban’s Hungary and Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippines.

    “As with Israel’s assistance to the White South African government – which installed an apartheid regime to control majority black South Africans – its ties with Myanmar has been a source of controversy and embarrassment. The Israeli government has repeatedly resisted full details of arms sales to Myanmar coming out into the public.”

    Nor should we forget that the horrors the Muslim Rohingya suffer at the hands of the government of Myanmar are virtually identical to those that befell defenseless Palestinian Christians and Muslims when 800,000 were dispossessed and expelled from their ancestral homeland between late 1947 and the autumn of 1948 (according to Walter Eytan, then Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry) by Jewish militia and the IDF through force of arms, several massacres, mass rape and intimidation. Over 500 Palestinian towns and villages, including churches, mosques and cemeteries, were destroyed by Jewish forces of foreign origin. Palestinians’ homes, possessions and lands were permanently seized and their bank accounts and safety deposit boxes were looted.

    The same tactics were used by Israel before and during its first invasion/occupation of Egypt in 1956 when about 25,000 more Palestinians were dispossessed and expelled. During and after Israel launched the June 1967 war a further approximately 250,000 Palestinians were driven out and not allowed to return.

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