Activists call to ban Israeli arms sales to genocidal regimes

“Despite our deep disagreements on almost every topic, there is one test of morality that is so basic that we can all agree to it,” say the campaigners in a video posted to YouTube.

September 12, 2019 21:55
3 minute read.
Activists call to ban Israeli arms sales to genocidal regimes

Demonstrators attend a protest against what they say are killings of Rohingya people in Myanmar, in Kolkata, India, October 24, 2017. . (photo credit: REUTERS/RUPAK DE CHOWDHURI)

A group of public figures from across the political, ethnic and religious spectrum have called on all political parties ahead of Tuesday’s election to commit to banning Israeli arms sales to regimes which commit human rights abuses and genocide.

The activists involved in the campaign include religious-Zionist rabbis, Reform rabbis, ultra-Orthodox activists, LGBTQ campaigners, a rabbi and former IDF paratrooper, journalists, artists and a Black Panther.

In recent years, Israeli-made patrol boats with weapons systems and advanced rifles have been sold to Myanmar, which is engaged in an ethnic cleansing against its Rohingya minority. Israeli assault rifles have also been sold to South Sudan, which is now in the midst of a brutal civil war.

The campaign against Israeli arms sales to regimes with very poor human rights records is demanding that Israeli political parties commit to passing legislation to prohibit such sales to states that have committed war crimes and genocide.

Among the activists involved in the campaign are Rabbi Yoel Bin Nun, a founder of the settlement movement who was one of the paratroopers who liberated the Temple Mount in 1967; Amnesty International Israel campaigner Chen Brill Egri; Orthodox Rabbi Benny Lau; Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman; co-founder of the Israeli Black Panthers protest movement Reuven Abergel; and peace activist Rabbanit Hadassah Froman.

“Despite our deep disagreements on almost every topic, there is one test of morality that is so basic that we can all agree to it,” said the campaigners in a video posted to YouTube. “A simple test that every political party should be able to pass. But only if we demand it of them: a law forbidding Israeli military exports, spy software, and military training to murderous regimes, even if it is indirect or through middlemen.”

The Jerusalem Post contacted every major political party expected to enter the Knesset after the election on Tuesday. None was willing to comment.

In 2017, the Myanmar military made public their purchase of three Super Dvora MK III patrol boats, manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries, reportedly with weapons systems installed on them.

Ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar’s northern region began in late 2016, and more than 900,000 Rohingya have fled the country since 2015 to due to a campaign of mass arson, rape, massacres and other atrocities carried out by Myanmar security forces.

In August 2016, the Israeli global defense contracting company Tar Ideal Concept Ltd. published pictures on its website of Myanmar forces training with the Israeli manufactured CornerShot rifle, seemingly with Israeli trainers.

ACE Galil assault rifles manufactured by Israel Military Industries have also been sold to South Sudan, where atrocities have been carried out since the civil war there began in 2013, although the rifles were likely sold before the violence broke out.

Israel has also exported assault rifles and other firearms to the Philippines police and security services.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has engaged in a brutal police campaign supposedly against drugs dealers that human rights groups estimate have led to the deaths of more than 12,000 Filipinos, including drug addicts and children, many in extrajudicial killings.

Duterte has praised Israel for its lack of arms exports controls.

Israel has also sold armored vehicles to the Cameroon army, which has committed atrocities in separatist regions of the country.

Although there is a government oversight body in the Defense Ministry – the Defense Export Control Authority – there are no regulations regarding to what countries Israel may sell arms.

There is also no transparency on arms sales. Records of arms sales to foreign countries are not accessible to the public, and efforts to gain access through the Freedom of Information Law are rejected by the courts on grounds of national security considerations.

Avidan Freedman, a leading activist in the campaign against Israeli arms sales to regimes that commit human rights abuses, said that legislation is needed to create greater oversight over arms sales; expand membership on the oversight committee to include ethicists and officials from outside the Defense Ministry, and guarantee transparency in the sale of weapons to foreign countries.   

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