WORLD SOCIAL FORUM MONTREAL
Workshop :Military Embargo Against Israel
Université du Québec à Montréal
August 12th, 2016
Why A Military Embargo Against Israel Is Necessary
Presentation by Bruce Katz, Co-President, Palestinian and Jewish Unity (PAJU)
In an article published in the Electronic Intifada in 2006, Ilan Pappe refers to Israeli policy on the Gaza Strip as ‘incremental genocide’ which simply refers to the series of calculated and murderous attacks on Gaza every few years as a plan for a slow but steady genocide aimed at eliminating as much of the Palestinian population of Gaza as possible over a period of time. The idea is, and in effect always has been, for Israel to maintain its control over the Palestinian territories it has illegally expropriated by eliminating as much of the Palestinian population as possible through ethnic cleansing, economic strangulation and settler terrorism in the West Bank, aided and abetted by the Israeli army, and massive destruction and indiscriminate killing in Gaza resulting from the disproportionate use of superior military technology against a civilian population, the latter portrayed, by way of Israel’s well-conceived Hasbara or propaganda program, as terrorists. Israel, despite its disproportionate use of military force, presents itself as the victim. As Ilan Pappe points out, “Downsizing the number of Palestinians all over historic Palestine is still the Zionist vision. In Gaza, its implementation takes its most inhuman form.”
The traditional media lend a helping-hand to Israeli Hasbara. Anyone who doubts media complicity in the white-washing of Israeli war crimes need only reflect on the mainstream media blackout of the Montreal World Social Forum where BDS is denounced as anti-Semitic but Israel’s program of ethnic cleansing goes unmentioned. Let it be remembered that in 2014, it was Israel and not Hamas that broke the cease-fire arranged previously between the two parties. That was not reported in our media either.
The attack on Gaza came on the heels of a period of social unrest in Israel beginning in 2011 which resulted in a public call for cuts in Israel’s military budget and an increase in spending on social programs. The military-industrial complex, be it in Israel or elsewhere, does not like the idea of transferring money from bloated military budgets to social programs and as Ilan Pappe also points out quite succinctly, “There is nothing like a military operation to stifle any voices calling on the government to cut its military expenses.” In other words, Israel’s attack on Gaza in 2014 served as the justification for maintaining Israel’s inflated military budget. Moreover, the population of Gaza served as the human guinea pigs on which new military hardware was tested, as Israel also did in its attack on Gaza in 2009- code-named Cast Lead – when its air force dropped white phosphorus on Gaza’s population to see what the effect would be. White phosphorous burns the skin on contact and the negative consequences for the health and welfare of Gazans is still being felt today. When Israeli military officials boast at arms -fairs where they peddle their high-tech weapons, that these weapons are field- tested, they mean tested on human beings who live in Gaza.
Up to 85% of Israeli military production is exported, which is about 10% of Israel’s total industrial exports. Israel manufactures 60% of the world’s drones. 180 Palestinians in Gaza were killed by drones in 2014; a number of them were children. In 2009 and 2010 Israel’s exports of weaponry reached 7.4 billion dollars, dipped slightly in 2011 to 5.8 billion, rose again in 2012 to 7.5 billion and from 2013 to 2015 remained at about 6 billion dollars.
Europe is one of Israel’s major export markets for armaments. Israel has also been working on increasing its exports to developing countries. Since 2009, the United States has provided about 30 billion dollars in military aid to Israel and the European Union exported more than 1 billion dollars in arms to Israel in 2014 and imported 1.6 billion in arms from Israel in 2015. We now know that Israel supplied weapons that were used in committing crimes against humanity in Rwanda and South Sudan.
Israel is also the epicentre of technology for the security state and it has developed security systems to monitor civilian populations, especially through the use of drones which have the capability to remain in the air for a number of hours and send back footage. It produces sophisticated surveillance equipment to collect private information about individuals. It trains police forces and security guards. Israeli security companies provide security services for airports .An Israeli security company is involved, for example, in organizing security services at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro with an eye to keeping the favelas quiet. Might we say then, that the favelas are being Palestinianized and Brazil’s security services Israelized? What about Ferguson ,Missouri where a number of police officers who initially incited the riots there, had previously received training from Israeli security services , or the foul-smelling Israeli skunk spray –also tested on Palestinians – sold to the St. Louis, Missouri Metropolitan Police force, as reported in the Electronic Intifada? Israel has become the world-wide model for repression by police forces. Essentially, Israel is exporting both the technology and the methodology of the Occupation to the ruling elites of Western countries.
What to do? Impose a military embargo on Israel and denounce the hypocrisy of political elites that trumpet democracy and human rights while undermining them by way of a pervasive system of global pacification and militarism.