Joseph said ever since he learned of Israel’s involvement in unethical arms sales three-and-a-half years ago, he felt compelled to take action.
By ELIANA SCHREIBERUpdated: JULY 3, 2018 14:06
Around 50 activists demonstrated outside the Knesset in Jerusalem earlier this week to protest Israel’s arms sales to countries violating human rights.British-born activist Elie Joseph is leading the movement to draw public attention to the issue, which he believes many Israelis are unaware of. The goal of the rally, Joseph said, is to mobilize people, over the next two weeks, to speak to individual members of the Knesset, to convince them to pass a law prohibiting the government from selling arms to countries with serious accusations of human rights violations.Joseph said that ever since he learned of Israel’s involvement in unethical arms sales three and a half years ago, he felt compelled to take action.“We’re trying to bring awareness to the fact that we, as a Jewish state, as people of Israel, cannot be involved in any way in assisting these types of criminals,” he said.Because the arms sales are profitable for the people and companies involved, Joseph said the issue has been largely diverted from the public’s attention.Rabbi and educator Avidan Freedman wasn’t aware of the issue until he attended one of Joseph’s speeches.Freedman, who made aliya eight years ago, said ever since he learned of the issue a year and a half ago, he couldn’t go on without trying to help fight it.Advertisement“In my eyes, it’s literally the worst thing we’re doing as a Jewish nation-state right now,” Freedman said.He said that he sees the issue as part of his religious Zionist identity – to try and make Israel as morally just as possible. He is disappointed in how difficult it has been to get other religious Zionists on board.The biggest way to combat the problem, Freedman said, is to raise public awareness.Yarden Lam, 19, who attended the rally, said she hopes more people will pay attention to the cause. “It’s not something there is a lot of awareness about.”“Massive public pressure is... maybe the only thing that can get this law to pass,” Freedman said, adding that it is difficult because the parties involved are interested in keeping it quiet. “There are people who are making many, many millions of dollars off of [these sales]. And it’s a lot more convenient for people to not be getting involved,” Freedman said.