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Forget Trump: Israel's sordid history of supporting dictatorships

Netanyahu’s silence in the face of the White House’s anti-Semitism should surprise no one. From Argentina to Rwanda, Israel has a sordid history of providing weapons and support to murderous dictatorships.

By Eitay Mack (translated by Ofer Neiman)

President Donald Trump walks alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a ceremony the president, as he arrives at Ben Gurion Airport, May 22, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

President Donald Trump walks alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a ceremony the president, as he arrives at Ben Gurion Airport, May 22, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The Netanyahu government was silent in January when the Trump Administration omitted any reference to Jewish victims from its official statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The Netanyahu government was silent in July when Trump chose to be the first U.S. president since the fall of the Communist regime in Poland, to forgo a visit to the monument commemorating the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. In a speech delivered in Warsaw on the topic of World War II in Poland, Trump stressed the suffering of the Polish people and failed to mentioned the Jews who fell victim to anti-Semitism and Nazi collaborators. After a shameful delay, Netanyahu joined the last Western leaders and condemned Trump’s comparison of neo-Nazis and white supremacists to anti-racist protesters.

The attempt to portray this conduct of the Israeli government as another moral failure of the Israeli Right is a historical mistake. One can safely assume that a “leftist” government headed by the Zionist Camp or Yesh Atid parties would act similarly to Netanyahu, just as Israeli Labor Party governments had previously done. After all, political and economic interests have always come first. Successive Israeli governments have abetted the genocides of other nations, preferring realpolitik to confronting anti-Semitism, Nazism, and the like.

The first Rabin Government (1974-1977) did not balk at hosting Apartheid South Africa’s Prime Minister John Vorster in April 1976. He had been a member of a pro-Nazi group during World War II. The visit was part of Israel’s security relations with the apartheid regime. During his visit, Vorster laid a wreath at Yad Vashem. The apartheid regime tried to develop chemical weapons that would harm black Africans only, including the fertility of African women.

South African Prime Minister Vorster meets with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Knesset members Menachem Begin and Moshe Dayan, during a reception at Jerusalem's Hilton.

South African Prime Minister Vorster meets with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Knesset members Menachem Begin and Moshe Dayan, during a reception at Jerusalem’s Hilton.

That regime also developed chemical toxins for the murder of individuals in the liberation movements, which included scientific experiments on Africans. Such experiments were carried out on prisoners of war; after they were killed, their bodies were dumped by planes in the Atlantic Ocean. Documents in the South African archives, uncovered by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and investigative journalist Sasha Polakow-Suransky, reveal that the director of this project, Wouter Basson, also known as Dr. Death, visited Israel in 1979. Basson sent his representatives to additional visits to Israel for consultations with Israeli security officials, with Israeli representatives even taking part in a conference, as part of this mad plan, which was held in South Africa in 1986.

Both the first Rabin Government and the Begin Government collaborated with the junta in Argentina, despite the fact that Jews were murdered by the regime between 1976 and 1983 in large numbers. Members of the military government supported Nazi ideology and the repression of dissidents included the use of Nazi expressions and symbols, even in torture chambers. In the generals’ trials, which took place following Argentina’s transition democracy in Argentina, some officials testified that they had drawn inspiration from the Nazis for their actions. Senior officials in the Carter administration upset Israel by expressing their bewilderment at the Jewish state’s willingness to turn a blind eye and collaborate with an anti-Semitic regime that persecuted Jews.

Between 1973 and 1991, Israeli governments and the IDF sold weapons and training to Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile, a regime that committed crimes against humanity, disappeared thousands, and tortured tens of thousands. The Pinochet regime brought torture to new heights of cruelty, unseen in modern history. The State of Israel was not interested in this regime’s ties with Nazi war criminals; Pinochet had granted asylum to senior Nazi criminal Walter Rauff, the inventor of the mobile gas chamber. One of the regime’s central torture centers was Colonia Dignidad, a Nazi and neo-Nazi colony in southern Chile. On top of that, Israel also engaged in public relations efforts for Pinochet in Washington.

Chilean President Augusto Pinochet meets with U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1976.

Chilean President Augusto Pinochet meets with U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1976.

In the 70s and 80s, Israeli governments sold arms to the military regimes in Bolivia. One of the senior figures in the Bolivian junta’s security establishment, which cast terror on the indigenous population, was senior Nazi criminal Klaus Barbie, head of the Gestapo in Lyon, who was nicknamed “The Butcher of Lyon.”

In the 70s and 80s, Israeli governments and IDF officers sold arms and training to the juntas in Guatemala, which carried out a genocide of around 200,000 people, most of them indigenous.

Between 1991-1995, the second Rabin Government sold arms used in both the Rwandan Genocide and the Bosnian War. As early as mid-1992, reports and footage of concentration camps set up by the Serbs for Bosnian Muslims began to emerge. Detainees in these camps were starved and tortured, and their bodies were thrown to the animals. Additional findings attested to the existence of rape camps, where Serbs held Muslim and Croatian women. Yet Israeli arms exports did not stop. At a Knesset hearing on August 5th 1992, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres confirmed that acts of massacre had indeed been carried out, but repeatedly refused to assign responsibility to Serbian criminals affiliated with Israel.

A concentration camp in Bosnia. (ITN)

A concentration camp in Bosnia. (ITN)

In the summer of 2016, the Netanyahu Government sold weapons and provided training to the Burmese (Myanmar) special forces, who are committing crimes against humanity in Rakhine State, against the Muslim Rohingya minority. Women and girls are being raped; civilians are being tortured, murdered, and disappeared. Security forces employ “scorched earth” methods, while civilian property is looted and entire villages are going up in flames, some set ablaze by rockets aimed at residential houses.

In September 2016, it was revealed that Israel is trying, through the U.S. and European states, to ensure the lifting of sanctions against Sudan, following the latter’s abandonment of its alliance with Iran. This took place although no one can deny that Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir — wanted by the International Criminal Court for the genocide in Darfur — continues to commit grave crimes.

Three laws — The Nazis and Nazi Collaborators (Punishment) Law (1950), The Israeli Law on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide (1950) and Article 16 of the Israeli Penal Law (added in 1994), which deals with offenses by “the Law of the Nations” — have all stipulated universal jurisdiction in Israel for severe crimes under international law. In reality, these laws have been rendered null and void by the IDF, the Ministry of Defense, Israeli arms dealers, and senior Israeli officials. Thus, the state attorney announced that he would not open a criminal investigation into Israeli security exports to Rwanda during the genocide there in 1994, or into the delivery of Galil-Ace rifles used for crimes against humanity in South Sudan in December 2013, or for selling arms and training used for crimes against humanity by the Pinochet regime in Chile.

Similarly to its efforts to distinguish the Holocaust of Europe’s Jews from other genocides, Israel also tries to distinguish anti-Semitism from racism against other populations in the world. Even if anti-Semitism and the Holocaust have unique characteristics, it is now evident that understanding the universal characteristics of the phenomenon of racism and the conditions for genocide are the key to preventing them from happening.

The State of Israel’s fight against global anti-Semitism has been hollow from the beginning, in view of the racist elements underlying the ostensibly democratic regime within the Green Line and the military government in the occupied Palestinian territories, as well as Israel’s treatment of Mizrahi Jews, Ethiopian Jews, Palestinian citizens, refugees, and foreign workers. One cannot fight anti-Semitism seriously without fighting racism inside and outside Israel, and without ending Israeli support for racist regimes across the world. One cannot speak of the lessons of the Holocaust while abetting the genocide of other nations, and even inviting murderers to lay wreaths at Yad Vashem.

Eitay Mack is an Israeli human rights lawyer and activist, who is active for increased transparency and public scrutiny of Israeli security exports. This article first appeared in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Tarik

      And you even forgot to mention Israel’s weapons supplies for Colonel Mengistu, the Marxist military dictator of Ethiopia

      Reply to Comment
    2. Lewis from Afula

      Yes, as if USA, UK and France did not have relations with South Africa, Chile or other unpleasant regimes.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bruce Gould

        @Lewis: This is your defense of the Jewish State? Everyone else does it?

        Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Israel exports arms to the very country the EU and the US are levying sanctions against. (But Israel is “singled out,” huh Lewis?):

        Human rights activists and lawyers in Israel have urged the Ministry of Defense to nullify or suspend a military shipment ordered by the Burma Army, stating that the country still commits human rights abuses against minority groups.

        They wrote to Racheli Chen, head of the Israeli Ministry of Defense’s export control department, and called for a review of all defense export licenses purchased by the Burma Army under the authority granted to her in Clause 9 of the 2007 law on defense export control.

        “It is surprising that the State of Israel, while struggling for continued sanctions against Iran, has no qualms about ignoring the US and EU sanctions against Burma for the most severe crimes being committed there,” read the letter dated Dec. 11.

        http://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/israel-urged-to-suspend-military-shipment-to-burma.html

        Reply to Comment
        • Lewis from Afula

          Ben, USA exports military equipment to Saudi Arabia and other unpleasant Muslim dictatorships. Israel exports other military equipment to an unpleasant Buddhist dictatorship. Your point is nonsensical.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Hmmm. You would think that wouldn’t you. Gangsters think like that. The US arms Saudi Arabia for geopolitical reasons including the containment of Iran, and the protection of Israel. Israel arms Burma for no other reason that filthy lucre, all the while sending a big f— you message to the US and Europe. Israel of course gets a pass nobody else gets and operates by a blatant double standard all the while complaining about being “singled out”:

            The world’s blatant double standard – in Israel’s favor
            https://972mag.com/the-worlds-blatant-double-standard-in-israels-favor/84499/

            Reply to Comment
          • Lewis from Afula

            Summary of Ben’s Views
            American military aid to Saudi Arabia – So, so
            Israeli military aid to Burma – Very very Bad

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Correction:
            Summary of Ben’s Views
            American military aid to Saudi Arabia – So, so
            Israeli military aid to South African, Argentine, Chilean, Guatemalan, Rwandan, Serbian, and Burmese criminals – Very very Bad

            Recommendation:
            Read the article.

            Reply to Comment
          • Lewis from Afula

            Final Correction:
            Real summary of Ben’s Views:
            American military aid to Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Argentina, Guatemala, Rwanda, Serbia and Burma – So, so

            Israeli military aid to South African, Argentine, Chilean, Guatemalan, Rwandan, Serbian, and Burmese criminals – Very very Bad

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Show me where the United States sold military aid and training to Rwandan, Serbian and Burmese genocidal criminals. President Clinton failed to act to intervene against the Rwandan genocide and came to regret it and later expressed contrition but he never aided it militarily. Clinton bombed the Serbian criminals into submission, quite the opposite of aiding them. The United States has active sanctions against the Burmese criminals, the same sanctions Israel is as we speak defying while providing weapons and training to said criminals who torture, rape and murder their civilians. All your simplisms go up in smoke.

            Reply to Comment
          • Lewis from Afula

            Yes, Ben.
            America NEVER sells arms to bad regimes……HAHHAHHA

            Reply to Comment
    3. GSP

      And…what does this have to do with Israel/Palestine? How is part of the peace building mission +972 cites in their applications for grant money? These pieces about Israel being the fount of evil across the world reveal better than anything else that +972 is really just an anti-Israel site and not focused on positive solutions in Israel/Palestine.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Right winger asks:

        “Oh hello, what does calling Israel to account about its transgressions of international sanctions in regards to its selling arms to brutal dictatorships, in order to supply its own brutal occupying and international law-violating army have to do with Israel’s moral standards and with Israel-Palestine? I don’t get it. You are picking on poor little Israel, you Israeli non-right-wingers.”

        You can’t make this stuff up. The insularity and sociopathic narcissism of the Israeli right on full display.

        Reply to Comment
    4. Richard Lightbown

      This is only the tip of the iceberg. Here are two more countries not mentioned in the article where Israel has been involved in human rights abuses. And no one has yet mentioned the blood diamonds that go through Israel.

      http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/israeli-allegedly-trained-colombia-guerillas-lands-in-israel-after-release-from-russia-jail-1.325655
      “Lt.-Col. Yair Klein wanted in Colombia on charges of training the ‘death squads’ released from jail and is on his way back to Israel.”

      http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21112
      “The CIA had joined forces with Israel’s Mossad intelligence service that would go on to become one of the founders and manipulators of the Savak secret police force in Iran. It should be noted that Savak as conceived by Mossad and the CIA was a force that combined the institutional attributes of the Nazi Gestapo secret police and the SS military fighting units. Thousands were deported, butchered and disappeared. That was, however, a non-issue for the yellow corporate press. The repression bore striking similarities to Pinochet’s Chile, save that it was on a far vaster scale. The entire nation was blanketed by Savak, which became the highest-paid and most privileged thugs of the Shah’s Anglo-American-dominated empire.”

      Reply to Comment
    5. Ben

      The violence directed at Myanmar’s Rohingya minority by the country’s regime has intensified. United Nations data show that about 60,000 members of the minority group have recently fled Myanmar’s Rahine state, driven out by the increasing violence and the burning of their villages, information that has been confirmed by satellite images. But none of this has led to a change in the policy of the Israeli Defense Ministry, which is refusing to halt weapons sales to the regime in Myanmar, the southeast Asian country formerly known as Burma….
      On June 5, in answer to a parliamentary question by Knesset member Tamar Zandberg on weapons sales to Myanmar, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that Israel “subordinates [itself] to the entire enlightened world, that is the Western states, and first of all the United States, the largest arms exporter. We subordinate ourselves to them and maintain the same policy.”
      He said the Knesset plenum may not be the appropriate forum for a detailed discussion of the matter and reiterated that Israel complies with “all the accepted guidelines in the enlightened world.”
      Lieberman statement was incorrect. The United States and the European Union have imposed an arms embargo on Myanmar. It’s unclear whether the cause was ignorance, and Lieberman is not fully informed about Israel’s arms exports (even though he must approve them), or an attempt at whitewashing.
      In terms of history, as well, Lieberman’s claim is incorrect. Israel supported war crimes in Argentina, for example, even when the country was under a U.S. embargo, and it armed the Serbian forces committing massacres in Bosnia despite a United Nations embargo.
      read more: http://www.haaretz.com/world-news/1.810390

      Reply to Comment

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