13 December 2018

How Israel uses the Holocaust to whitewash its role in aiding genocide

From Guatemala to Rwanda, Burma to the Philippines – there isn’t one murderous regime whose military Israel hasn’t armed and trained

For 70 years Israel has used the Holocaust as its protective charm. The Holocaust has been used to both justify and legitimise Israel’s actions, both internally and externally. It was with this in mind that Israel, after a lengthy internal debate, passed the 1953 Martyrs' and Heroes Remembrance (Yad Vashem) Law which created a Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem. Even the name was carefully chosen to reflect its propagandist role. Yad Vashem wasn’t built to remember the victims of the Holocaust but to use their memory as part of a propagandist myth of heroism and martyrdom. The Holocaust became part of official Zionist ideology.
The Holocaust, the death of 6 million Jews (nothing is said of the millions of other deaths) has become Israel’s main propaganda instrument, enabling it to whitewash the role of a State which was born in massacres and ethnic cleansing and which has continued to trade in the blood of others.
Every State visit to Israel includes a visit to Yad Vashem in order that the guest can pay his respects to the murdered Jewish millions (no other category of the murdered is included in the Holocaust – only the Jews suffered a Holocaust, others suffered persecution). Visiting state dignitaries are reminded that when criticising Israel they should remember that Israel arose on the ashes of the Holocaust.
The Holocaust is consciously used in order to put a kosher seal on Israel’s murderous activities, not only domestically but internationally. Israel’s supporters cry ‘anti-Semitism’ whenever any comparisons are made between Zionism, Israel and the Nazi regime but it is Israel itself which constantly makes those comparisons.
In a previous article I quoted Tom Segev, an Israeli historian and journalist who wrote about how the picture of a Palestinian, the Mufti of Jerusalem, a minor war criminal, was given a whole display wall at Yad Vashem. Its purpose being to ‘‘conclude that there is much in common between the Nazis’ plan to destroy the Jews and the Arabs’ enmity to Israel.’ (The Seventh Million p.425). The entry for the Mufti is the Holocaust Encyclopedia is longer than that of any other Nazi war criminal bar Hitler himself.
Israeli Professor of History, Edith Zertal noted there hasn’t been a war involving Israel ‘that has not been perceived, defined, and conceptualized in terms of the Holocaust.’ Israel has mobilised the Holocaust ‘in the service of Israeli politics.’ [Israel’s Holocaust and the Politics of Nationhood]. 
Thus we have the irony of Heinz Christian-Strache, the leader of Austria’s Freedom Party, which is part of the governing coalition of Austria, being welcomed to Yad Vashem to remember those who died at the hands of those his party supported.  The Freedom Party was set up as a neo-Nazi party and to this day contains many neo-Nazis.
In April 1976 the South Africa Prime Minister John Vorster visited Yad Vashem.  Vorster had been interned during the war because of his Nazi sympathies and his membership of the Ossewabrandwag which supported the Nazis.
When Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who described Admiral Horthy, the pro-Nazi ruler of Hungary during the war, as an exceptional statesman’, visited Yad Vashem he was met with protests by Holocaust survivors. Horthy it was who presided over the deportation of nearly half a million Jews to Auschwitz.
Yet instead of closing its doors to Orban Yad Vashem issued a statement that
The Hungarian prime minister is a guest of the State of Israel. Yad Vashem receives guests of the state in accordance with the visit plan made by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, which is in charge of official visits in the State of Israel."
thus making clear that far from being an independent historical institute dedicated to preserve the memory of the murdered, Yad Vashem was a propaganda arm of the Israeli state.
It is thus no wonder that when Philippines President  Rodrigo Duterte visited Israel in September 2018 he paid the obligatory visit to Yad Vashem. Duterte even wrote in the guestbook that "Never again. May the world learn the lessons of this horrific and benighted period of human history.” This is the same man who, in September 2016, compared his murder of drug dealers and addicts to the Holocaust, saying that he would kill a large number of addicts just as Hitler had killed a large number of Jews.
"Critics compare me to Hitler’s cousin,” he said. “Hitler massacred 3 million Jews... there’s 3 million drug addicts. There are. I’d be happy to slaughter them."
 Why shouldn’t Duterte visit Israel and pay his respects at Yad Vashem?  As Richard Silverstein explains below, the Philippines were one of Israel’s best weapons customers.
When Jeremy Corbyn was being smeared with allegations of anti-Semitism, the leader of Israel’s racist Israeli Labour Party, Isaac Herzog, extended an invitation to Corbyn to visit Yad Vashem. The understanding being that once Corbyn had visited Yad Vashem he would understood that the Holocaust gives Israel a licence to support the murder and massacre of thousands of non-Jews and even Jews.
What is particularly disgusting is that Israel was heavily involved in providing weaponry to the Hutu Interamwhe militias who massacred up to a million Tsutsis. 
In his article below Eitay Mack describes how Israel supported Rwandan dictator, Paul Kgame’s attempt to rewrite the history of the Rwandan Holocaust in order to erase the memory of those Hutus who were also murdered for trying to protect their Tsutsi neighbours.
When Israel earlier this year tried to deport 40,000 Black African asylum seekers, who came mainly from Eritrea and Sudan, it made a deal with Kgame whereby Rwanda would take the refugees in return for a payment of about $5,000 for each refugee.  This disgusting mixture of racism and corruption was only prevented because mass publicity, including pickets of Rwanda’s Embassy in Tel Aviv ensured that Kgame was so embarrassed that the Rwandan regime was forced to abandon the agreement. Israel suspends plan to resettle African asylum seekers despite deal.
Richard Silverstein’s article is not the only example of Israel lending military support to genocidal regimes. Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s Israel gave its support to murderous and genocidal regimes in Central and South America. In particular it helped the Guatemalan regime massacre up to 200,000 Mayan Indians under its fundamentalist President Rios Montt as it constructed protected villages, or kibbutzim, in order to isolate and defeat the native rebellion. Israel’s role in the Guatemalan genocide
The fact that the neo-Nazi Junta, which ruled Argentina between 1976 and 1983, tortured and murdered up to 3,000 Jews, was no obstacle to Israel supplying the regime with over a billion dollars worth of military equipment.  They were the ‘wrong sort of Jew’. When even the United States was forced to suspended arms sales to Argentina because of the military’s human rights abuses, Israel had no compunction in stepping into the breach, as it did when the Carter Administration froze arms supplies to Guatemala. During the Falklands/Malvinas war Israel was Argentina’s main arms supplier. See Argentina – Proof that Israel is no Refuge from Anti-Semitism
South African Prime Minister and former Nazi sympathiser lays a wreath at Yad Vashem
Jane Hunter has written extensively on Israel’s role in Central and South America for example Israel in Central America. What western liberals and apologists for Israel like Emily Thorberry and Angela Rayne find difficult to accept is how Israel uses the Holocaust in order to cleanse its reputation. 
The dead of Holocaust are used in order to justify the supply of weaponry to regimes that can quite legitimately be described as neo-Nazi. When Israel accuses its critics of ‘anti-Semitism’ we should bear in mind Israel’s role in the supporting repression and murder in countries like Burma/Myanmar and the depths of cynicism that lie behind Israel’s propagandist use of the Holocaust.
Tony Greenstein
Protest against Duterte
Israel isn’t just maintaining a brutal military occupation. It’s also supplying weapons to genocidal regimes around the world.
A Rohingya Muslim refugee boy is held by his father after arriving by boat to Shah Porir Dwip on October 30, 2017 near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Kevin Frayer / Getty

For the past few years, a group of nine Israelis led by human rights lawyer Eitay Mack has sought to peel back the layer of secrecy shrouding Israel’s collusion with some of the worst genocide regimes in the world. They have done so by filing freedom of information requests with their country’s defense ministry, seeking documents concerning Israeli arms deals, consulting contracts, and training of the armed forces in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Serbia, South Sudan, and Rwanda during decades of ethnic conflict in those nations. They’ve sought to learn the extent of the trade, what weapons were supplied and to whom, how the weapons were used, and how long the trade continued.
In every instance, the ministry denied their request, and they were forced to appeal to the Supreme Court. In every appeal, the court has sided with the military and ruled that such information was legitimately sealed from public view in order to protect the security of the nation.
It’s difficult to understand how the knowledge that Israel armed Rwandan murderers in the 1990s would harm national security. Much more likely, this exposure would damage Israel’s reputation and give ammunition to critics who claim it is a rogue state intent on violating international law and norms of conduct.
Protecting the State
In Israel, a national security state in which individual rights and the public’s right to know are subordinated to the interests of the military-intelligence apparatus, these two factors are often conflated. It is much easier to justify secrecy using the concept of protecting the state and its citizens than it is to admit that secrecy is meant to protect the reputation of the very security apparatus charged with protecting them.
Israel has recently censored two major reports claiming that the country was secretly arming nations and groups engaged in genocide or mass violence. The first again concerned Eitay Mack, who had appealed to the Supreme Court to permit exposure of Israeli arms trade to Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese forces. These forces exterminated the Tamil Tiger rebellion during a thirty-year civil war that ended in 2009, with the loss of forty thousand to seventy-five thousand civilians and combatants.

Polish fascist MEP Michal Kaminski, who accused Polish Jews are being responsible for their own massacre at Jedwabne, lays a wreath at Yad Vashem
Here is Mack’s account of the major role Israeli weapons played in some of the worst massacres of that thirty-year civil war:
In Sri Lanka the State of Israel played a most pivotal role in war crimes and crimes against humanity carried out there: [it] supplied drones which directed planes and warships made in Israel, and these deliberately targeted and bombed civilians and . . . humanitarian sites, and determined the fate of the war at an extremely high human cost. Sri Lankan forces which carried out the crimes had received [Israel Defense Forces] IDF training (especially from the Israeli Air Force and Navy), as well as from the Israeli Police.
One of the famous cases in which Israeli Kfir planes were used took place on August 14, 2006. The Sri Lankan air force used Kfir planes to bomb an orphanage for girls, in which 400 girls . . . resided. Security forces claimed the girls were being trained to be LTTE [Tamil Tiger] combatants. Around 60 girls were killed on the spot, and tens of girls were injured. Earlier, in 1999, another Israeli war plane attacked a school, killing 21 children and teachers.
The Government of Sri Lanka and [its] senior officials . . . have repeatedly [revealed], in official as well as media interviews, during and after the war, details [of] Israeli security exports, their extent and their massive use in the effort to win the war. Repeated statements [acknowledging] watching Israeli drone footage ahead of every attack, have incriminated the Sri Lankan government and proven that civilians and civilian targets had been deliberately hit with full awareness of the government’s security forces.

District Court Judge Shaul Shohat ruled that documents held by the Israeli defense ministry could be protected from public view. But his argument revealed the inner workings of the security apparatus and how it works hand in glove with the judiciary and intelligence services. He revealed that he held closed-door hearing with the state’s representatives, including attorneys, defense ministry officials, and even Israel’s national intelligence agency, the Mossad, from which Mack was excluded.
During this hearing, the state presented secret evidence to the judge meant to persuade him that revealing any of this information would irreparably harm the state. Shohat dutifully agreed with the defense and wrote in this passage of his ruling (one of the passages the defense ministry sought to suppress is in italics):
I . . . learned from a review of these documents that most of the[m] deal with the operational capabilities of the IDF and the security industries involved in various deals, and their ties with military industries in Sri Lanka. The documents contain the details of internal discussions among senior officials in the security establishment regarding the issue as well as discussions and agreements between senior officials in the security establishment and senior officials in the Sri Lankan government, specifically involving the formulation of security policies; working procedures and internal processes in the Ministry of Defense, mutual visits and data as to the deals that were signed and the extent of military exports, including the specification of various types of weapons, etc. It was also noted that there is a secrecy agreement with Sri Lanka, and that its violation by Israel would create a problematic precedent which would reflect on relations with other states, harm existent secret agreements and deter other states from forging new military ties [with Israel]. It was argued in this context that even if Sri Lanka has violated its obligation by the agreement and published specific, ad-hoc information, this does not detract from the State of Israel’s obligation under the agreement.
Israeli journalist John Brown published a report in Haaretz on Shohat’s ruling. Shortly thereafter, he discovered that the defense ministry division responsible for protecting military secrets, MALMAB, had asked the judge to censor a portion of his ruling, which Brown had included in his article. The ministry’s main concern was preventing the revelation of the fact that representatives of the Mossad had urged the judge to restrict media publication about Israeli arms sales to Sri Lanka. MALMAB also sought to suppress media reporting about the secret nature of the weapons dealing. Both parties had agreed to maintain secrecy about them (even though Sri Lankan officials had since revealed them publicly).
Brown appealed via Facebook for others to protect and preserve the article in the event it was censored. It seems that even censors in a national security state face obstacles, as the article remains available, uncensored, on the Haaretz website.
Another reason why the Israeli censor may be extremely sensitive to revealing such information is that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has announced pre-trial proceedings investigating Israel’s conduct during the 2014 Gaza invasion, Operation Protective Edge. During the month-long conflict, 2,300 Palestinians were killed, two-thirds of whom have been declared civilians by independent Palestinian human right groups and the United Nations.
The ICC announced the pre-trial phase amid this year’s Great March of Return, during which Israel has murdered nearly two hundred Gazans protesting Israel’s siege of the enclave. Israeli officials are aware that the publication of any evidence that it has been an accessory to genocide in other conflicts could bolster a case to be made before the international court.
Returning to Sri Lanka, it’s no wonder, given the close relations between Israel’s military and Sri Lanka’s, that the army chief of staff responsible for the genocide, after the conclusion of his Sri Lankan military service, was appointed the nation’s ambassador to Israel.
The World’s Seventh-Largest Arms Exporter
Sri Lanka is only one of Israel’s many weapons buyers. The country is one of the largest arms exporters in the world.
It is the seventh-largest exporter of weapons systems worldwide, while its GDP, $350 billion, ranks only thirty-second in the world. This means that the nation’s arms industry is not just one of the export engines of the economy, but it plays a far more prominent role than in other major arms-exporting nations, which have much larger economies than Israel’s.
The armaments industry is powered by ongoing conflicts between Israel and its frontline neighbors. They develop, test, and deploy some of the world’s most advanced weapons systems, which maximize the death and suffering of its enemies. Then it turns around and exports not just the weapons systems, but the suffering they cause.
In effect, just as Israel destabilizes the Middle East with invasions, assassinations, air assaults, and repeated military operations outside its own borders, it offers its clients the capability to inflict maximum damage on their own rivals and enemies. This makes Israel a major force for destabilization among the nations of the world.
Half of Israel’s overall weapons sales are to India, whose government is also engaged in an illegal occupation of Kashmir. It is the largest supplier of weapons to India as well.
To understand how Israel functions as one of the world’s principal weapons dealers, it’s worth examining some of its other major clients.
When Duterte Came Shopping for Israeli Guns
Last summer, the Philippines’ president and accused war criminal, Rodrigo Duterte, completed a highly successful visit to Israel, during which he signed contracts to purchase some of Israel’s most advanced weapons. Duterte stands accused of the murder of tens of thousands of Filipinos targeted in so-called drug busts.
Among the Israeli shrines the Philippine leader visited was Yad Vashem, the memorial to the Holocaust. Duterte has, in the past, likened himself to Hitler and expressed admiration for the Nazi leader. Duterte sees himself as eradicating the plague of drugs in his country, presumably, as Hitler eradicated the “plague” of Jews.
There appears to be no dictator too brutal, no thug too murderous to be considered treif as far as the Israeli arms industry is concerned.
Duterte praised Israel’s ask-no-questions approach to weapons sales. Unlike even the US, Israel placed no restrictions on their use. It asked no questions and expected no answers from any of its clients.
Arming Serbian and Rwandan War Criminals
In 2016, Brown also revealed that Israel supplied military training and weapons to the Serbian war criminal Radko Mladic, who commanded Serbian forces that massacred thousands of Bosnian civilians at Srebrenica.
Yet another Israeli court refused to release documentary evidence that Israel armed the Rwandan militias, which ultimately murdered eight hundred thousand Tutsis during the 1994 genocide. Again, a court determined that Israel’s facilitation of genocide was news the world should not hear, because it would hurt the country’s reputation.
It certainly would. Israel, which touts itself as the protector of world Jewry in the aftermath of the Holocaust, has been a willing participant in some of the worst instances of genocide since the Holocaust. But Israel’s judiciary, at the urging of its military-intelligence apparatus, deems this information damaging to the nation.
Myanmar’s Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya Muslims, Aided by Israeli Naval Warships
Last year, during the ethnic cleansing of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority, the same group of activists led by attorney Eitay Mack brought to the public’s attention Israeli arms sales to the Myanmar military junta. The court refused to intervene to stop the trade and even refused to permit its ruling to be made public.
Luckily, at a public protest, one of the speakers revealed the result of the ruling. I published video of his speech and the court’s ruling, believing that such opacity was completely unwarranted. As late as last month, a judge ruled that the charade of silence should continue.
As the world shrinks in disgust from former Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, Israel embraces her generals, who have wiped out entire villages in Rakine State, expelling five hundred thousand refugees to Bangladesh. Mack’s work on this case led to the Israeli military and its arms dealer partners suspending such sales. But if past behavior is any guide, as soon as the furore dies down, the commerce will resume.
Israel Fuels Genocide in Sudan
Israel has also interceded in the Sudanese civil war, selling weapons to both sides in a conflict that has taken four hundred thousand lives.
In 2017, Mack and a group of Israeli activists petitioned the Supreme Court to end Israeli weapons sales on the grounds that they constituted a war crime. In this case, Israeli-made Galil ACE rifles were used by the South Sudanese government to attack members of a rival tribe in a massacre that commenced the civil war. It also supplied eavesdropping equipment permitting the South Sudanese to monitor the communications of their enemies.
The Court later ruled that the arms sales were legal.
Acknowledging, Then Censoring
The second major story that broke last month is the censoring of a Jerusalem Post article that confirmed to Israelis for the first time that the IDF has supplied weapons and ammunition to the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, al-Nusra. I’ve reported before that the Israeli military has physically coordinated with these Islamist rebels, providing intelligence gathering and communications gear. It also built a camp just inside the Israeli occupation zone in the Golan that housed the families of Syrian militant fighters. The Wall Street Journal and Foreign Policy have also published exposés of this arms trade.
Until now, Israel only touted its humanitarian and medical aid to Syrian rebels, pretending that this somehow served as Israel’s contribution to ameliorating the suffering of Syrians during the civil war. Otherwise, Israel has falsely claimed it is either neutral in the Syrian conflict or restrained in its involvement. It is neither. But that hasn’t stopped credulous journalists from parroting the Israeli line.
Israel has flown hundreds of air sorties attacking Syrian air bases and targeting Hezbollah and Iranian weapons convoys. Further, it has assassinated leading Syrian, Iranian, and Hezbollah military commanders inside Syria.
It’s hard to know why an IDF officer offered this information to a Jerusalem Post reporter, then the army censor countermanded him, declared the story treif, and censored it. It appears the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.
Israel has made these alliances with Syrian Islamists as its prime minister has toured the world boasting that his country is the last bulwark against Islamist terrorism; that the West should thank Israel for warning of such terror attacks on European soil; and that ISIS and al-Qaeda seek first to destroy Israel and then follow up by invading the West.
It doesn’t seem to bother him at all to make common cause with the self-same al-Qaeda when his country’s interests are aligned with Israel’s. Few world leaders or journalists have noted the ultimate cynicism of this Israeli gambit. In the brave new world of IHRA-era Great Britain, such news might be greeted with charges of antisemitism.
About the Author
Richard Silverstein blogs at Tikun Olam, where he covers the the Israeli national security state. He has contributed to the essay collections, A Time to Speak Out: Independent Jewish Voices on Israel, Zionism and Jewish Identity and Israel and Palestine: Alternate Perspectives on Statehood.

Israel is helping Rwanda rewrite the history of genocide

By +972 Magazine

|Published February 20, 2018

Israel, which has supplied numerous despotic regimes with advanced weaponry, is now helping the Rwandan government rewrite the narrative of the 1994 genocide. So much for the lessons of the Holocaust.
By Eitay Mack

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with President of Rwanda Paul Kagame, at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on July 10, 2017. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with President of Rwanda Paul Kagame, at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on July 10, 2017. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Israel was the only Western state to endorse the Rwandan dictatorship’s scandalous proposal in January to change the factual and legal international consensus about the genocide that took place there in 1994. The Rwandan government seeks to create a new narrative that deletes from memory the murder of moderate Hutus who supported a compromise with the Tutsis. Following the resolution’s adoption, Noa Furman, Israel’s deputy ambassador to the UN, delivered a passionate speech justifying Israel’s support for the proposal with the claim that Israel, after the Holocaust, understands the global responsibility to remember human history’s darkest episodes.
Israel’s support for the Rwandan government’s proposal to rewrite its history has far-reaching implications for Rwanda itself. Israel’s support grants legitimacy to Paul Kagame, the Rwandan dictator, who is intensifying his harsh internal repression. Kagame has managed to remain president for life by holding improper elections and by the constant surveillance, persecution, torture, disappearance, and murder of opposition activists. The regime also restricts freedom of press and freedom of association. Thus, for example, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, who headed the opposition United Democratic Forces party, was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment after she asked why the museum commemorating the Rwandan genocide does not mention the Hutus who were murdered.

Foot-dragging and a war of attrition

Israel’s support for the Rwandan government’s proposal also has far-reaching implications for the ability to prevent genocide in the future. Proposals like this one restrict our understanding of the phenomenon of genocide as a product of the development of complex processes, which we can nip in the bud once we recognize their telltale signs. In Rwanda and Guatemala, for example, civil wars escalated into genocides. Had the international community acted to stop these civil wars and the flow of arms into these countries, perhaps the genocides could have been prevented. Today, we fear that the civil war in South Sudan could escalate into a genocide, but the UN Security Council is split — unable to agree on a resolution that calls for an arms embargo, significant sanctions on those responsible for the crimes and for the ongoing war, and their indictment.
Deputy Ambassador Furman lied on the podium of the UN General Assembly. I assume she knows this. For decades, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which she represents, has authorized or turned a blind eye to the exporting of arms and training to dictatorships and other violent regimes. Indeed, the Israeli defense industry has reached nearly every corner of the globe where genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and severe violations of human rights have occurred, supplying Uzis to members of the Tonton Macoute militia, which raped and murdered the masses of Haiti during the Duvalier dictatorship; arms and training to the militias of the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines; arms and training to the Guatemalan regime during the genocide there; and guns and munitions to Rwanda during the genocide in 1994.
Not only has the Ministry of Foreign Affairs allowed the selling of arms and training to despotic and murderous regimes (and continues to do so today), but the Ministry has also conducted a war of attrition against those attempting to expose these arms deals and bring them to the public’s attention. This January, the Tel Aviv District Court rejected a freedom of information petition, which I filed with genocide scholar Prof. Yair Auron, demanding the publication of documents regarding weapons sales to Rwanda during the genocide. The legal campaign began four years ago. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs objects to the publication of these documents, although it was already revealed in a letter we received from the State Attorney that the ministry had “missed” the beginning of the genocide by six days. During these six days, around 20,000 people were murdered in the capital Kigali alone before the director of the Defense Ministry ordered the freezing of security exports to the country. Furthermore, there is solid evidence that Israeli security exports continued throughout the entire span of the genocide.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs employs numerous foot-dragging tactics. Court hearings in cases regarding defense exports have been cancelled more than once at the very last minute because the ministry’s representative had to travel abroad all of a sudden. The freedom of information procedures take years. We have been waiting for two years for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to finish checking whether it can disclose the documents regarding arms sales to the military dictatorship in Argentina, which murdered or disappeared around 2,000 Jews. When we appealed to the Supreme Court, the government demanded that we post tens of thousands of shekels in guarantees just to be able to carry out the procedure to disclose the truth.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara visit the Remembrance site for the victims of the Rwanda Genocide in 1994, at Kigali, Rwanda, on July 6, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara visit the Remembrance site for the victims of the Rwanda Genocide in 1994, at Kigali, Rwanda, on July 6, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Lessons from the Holocaust 
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs opposes revealing documents that detail Israeli sales of arms and training to Pinochet’s junta in Chile, which was responsible for cruel, unprecedented tortures. The same holds true for documents that detail arms sales during the civil war in Sri Lanka, where tens of thousands of civilians were murdered in several months —  by planes and ships made in Israel. The ministry refuses to disclose documents regarding arms and training sales to the apartheid regime in South Africa and to the Serbian and Serbo-Bosnian forces during the war and genocide in Bosnia. The ministry has asked the Israeli Supreme Court for a gag order on the court’s ruling regarding arms and weapons sales to Myanmar, where an EU and U.S. arms embargo is in place. And the ministry has asked the courts for a gag order on the legal proceedings regarding weapons and surveillance systems sold to South Sudan, which, according to the UN Security Council, are being used to commit crimes against humanity there.
When Myanmar’s ambassador to Israel repeatedly claimed in interviews with Israeli media that Israel is still selling arms to Myanmar, and that the deal between the two countries was intended to bypass the EU and U.S. arms embargo, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reprimanded him. We have yet to hear the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Israeli ambassador to the UN publicly criticize the crimes that Myanmar’s security forces are committing, in particular the ethnic cleansing of the Muslim Rohingya minority.
Similarly, despite the presence of a local Armenian community in Israel and an ongoing public, academic and political campaign, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has prevented an official Israeli recognition of the Armenian Genocide for decades, so as not to harm Israeli arms sales to Turkey and Azerbaijan.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should atone for Israel’s weapons deals with despots around the world instead of collaborating with the Rwandan government to rewrite history. It is imperative that the ministry increase transparency regarding past and present Israeli defense exports. Israelis who have been complicit in grave crimes across the world — this includes senior former officials in the ministry — must be brought to justice — civil and criminal. The current law for monitoring security exports must be amended, so that the sale of Israeli arms to foreign security forces that commit severe crimes, such as disappearing people or using rape as a weapon of war, can be prevented. MK Tamar Zandberg has been trying to promote such legislation in the Knesset for several years, but has so far been blocked by the Foreign Affairs and Defense Ministries.
Over the years, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its representatives have been complicit in the sale of arms and training used in atrocities across the world, and complicit in concealing documentation of these atrocities from the Israeli public. They have dishonored the memory of the Holocaust, its survivors and their families.
Eitay Mack is a human rights activist and lawyer, campaigning for increased transparency and public scrutiny regarding Israeli security exports. This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here. Translated from the original Hebrew by Ofer Neiman.

See also:

Eitay Mack wants Israel to reveal its secret arms sales

Mack, a gadfly and lawyer, says he believes his country is selling arms to governments that abuse human rights.
Christian Science Monitor, November 19, 2015
By Ben Lynfield Correspondent
Myanmar is a long way from Eitay Mack’s modest office in West Jerusalem. But on a recent day during the Sukkot or Feast of Tabernacles holiday, while fellow Israelis were vacationing, this self-effacing young lawyer was fretting about the upcoming elections in Myanmar (Burma).
Mr. Mack is dismayed that in September Israel hosted a senior Army delegation from Myanmar, which included a meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and visits to leading weapons technology producer Elbit Systems Ltd. and naval and air force bases. The European Union has imposed an arms embargo, and the United States military sanctions, against the Southeast Asian regime because of its poor human rights record.
Mack is concerned that by hosting the visit, Israel has sent a message of support for Myanmar’s military government precisely when the country’s transition to civilian democracy is facing its biggest test following Nov. 8 elections.
Israel has increased the risk that the transition to democracy will not be successful,” Mack says. If the military maintains a dominant role after the vote, Mack intends to file a lawsuit against the Israeli Defense Ministry demanding that it disclose all of its security ties to Myanmar.
The Defense Ministry declined to comment, saying that it does not respond to queries about weapons sales.
Mack says Myanmar is just the tip of the iceberg. In recent years there have been reports in Israeli and international news media, and from organizations such as Privacy International (based in Britain) and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, of Israel providing weapons to regimes that are egregious human rights abusers without having a prior national discussion.
Now that may be changing, in large part because of Mack’s efforts.
Mack, who wears the kippa, or skullcap, of an observant Jew, is trying to pierce the wall of secrecy around Israeli weapons exports and is pressing for an end to weapons and know-how transfers that he says are helping to fuel conflicts worldwide. He has his sights set on reported Israeli sales of weapons or expertise to South Sudan, Eritrea, Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Cameroon, Gabon, and Chad, among others.
Yaacov Havakook, Israel’s Defense Ministry spokesman, declined to comment on whether Israel is equipping these countries nor did he respond to criticism that it is abetting human rights violations.
Mack, who believes he is on a lifesaving mission, does the work on a voluntary basis, although it often takes up most of his time.
“I want to do all I can to stop war crimes and crimes against humanity...,” he says. His office is adorned with the iconic photo of a lone protester facing a column of tanks during a protest in China’s Tiananmen Square. “I am a citizen of the world, and I have global responsibility,” he says.
In December the EU imposed an embargo on weapons sales to South Sudan after that country’s civil war resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of nearly 2 million people. The US, for its part, has halted all military assistance to the South Sudanese government.
But Israel, according to Mack’s information – which he says is based on press reports, or comes from aid workers he has interviewed and other sources he cannot divulge – is providing Israeli-made rifles and training South Sudanese forces. It is flouting the EU embargo, he says, and in June openly hosted a senior South Sudanese delegation at a weapons fair in Tel Aviv.
At the same time the guests were being welcomed in Israel, South Sudanese forces and their allies were winding up an offensive in which they burned villages and carried out scores of rapes and killings, according to Human Rights Watch. It said the regime was guilty of committing war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during South Sudan’s April-to-June military push.
Israel is prolonging the fighting in South Sudan,” Mack says. (The conflict has continued despite the signing of a peace deal in August.)
Mack has joined forces with a liberal Israeli legislator, Tamar Zandberg, a member of the Meretz party, who demanded that the Defense Ministry cut all Israeli military aid to South Sudan. Mack helped organize several street demonstrations that drew attention to the issue.
The Defense Ministry rebuffed Ms. Zandberg’s request, saying that it couldn’t discuss arms exports to a specific country. “They don’t want a public discussion,” Mack says. “What is most threatening to them is that the public will start to intervene in what they are doing.”
Mack and Yair Oron, an Israeli academic, are also fighting a court battle to obtain the release of all documents related to weapons that may have been provided to Rwanda during its genocide in 1994 and to the Serbs in Bosnia from 1991 to 1995. The Defense Ministry responded by specifying that release of the documents would harm foreign relations and the security of the state.
A lower court has backed the ministry. Mack and Mr. Oron are appealing the decision to Israel’s Supreme Court.
Born near Tel Aviv, Mack acquired his interest in world affairs at an early age. Rather than have a party for his bar mitzvah, the religious rite of passage into manhood at age 13, he persuaded his parents to take him on a trip to China, which he had become curious about from reading National Geographic magazine.
But it wasn’t until he traveled to South America in 2004 that he began to think seriously about Israel’s military role in the world. On that trip he met a traveler from Ireland who was wearing a well-known Israeli brand of sandals. He asked her why she had on Israeli footwear. She explained that she was going into the jungle in Colombia, and that Israelis were training the forces fighting there. She thought that if she wore the sandals she would be protected.
Mack wondered why Israel was involved in Colombia.
“I began to research, and I found that in some cases we are training and arming both the government and the rebels,” he says. “I found out we are supporting many dictatorial regimes and are involved in violent conflicts throughout the world.”
Mack makes a modest living by representing Palestinians who have suffered physical harm or property damage from Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank or from the Israeli army. He does not charge his clients but takes a percentage of the damages if he wins a case.
He refuses to establish a nongovernmental organization to pursue his goals, something that would enable him to seek foreign funding. “I’m independent, and I do what I believe in,” he says. “I’m not subject to donors or agendas. I do what seems right, and what seems right is international law, which I try to apply here in Israel and to the security exports abroad.”
Mr. Havakook, the Defense Ministry spokesman, has also declined to comment on Mack’s activities.
“Eitay Mack is one of the most important human rights activists in Israel today,” says Zandberg, the Israeli legislator. “He is a very rare combination of dedication, commitment to values, and professionalism, with a very strong moral emphasis. Without him, the Israeli public wouldn’t know about these sales and the security establishment wouldn’t be forced to know it has to be accountable. I’m sure his work will lead to operative steps like increased supervision and legislation that we have to work on.”
“What he’s doing is especially hard because it’s a security issue and that’s a holy of holies in Israel,” she adds.
“Many people don’t think civil society and civilians have the right to work on this. They think it should be the domain just of generals and security people. There’s no doubt that what he does is difficult, but that just shows how important it is.”

Israel court gagged, details of ruling on arms sales to Myanmar remain secret

September 27, 2017
Israeli cornershot, a weapon the army sold to Myanmar [Wikipedia]

Israel has issued a gag order against the country’s High Court which will now be forced to keep secret details of its ruling on a petition against arms sales to Myanmar.
Petition lawyer, Eitay Mack, has been plying pressure on the courts to end the country’s lucrative arms sale to the military junta in Myanmar who have been accused by the UN of carrying out “textbook ethnic cleansing” against the Rohingya Muslims.
Politicians and state lawyers have resisted the call and brushed aside concerns of the international community over allegations of genocide and massacre. State lawyer and the defence ministry have maintained that the court has no say on the matter.
Campaigners were expecting the court to make a favourable decision today but the Israeli government has moved quickly to suppress the ruling by imposing a gagging order.
This is not the first time the government has moved to suppress court rulings over controversial arms sales to armies accused of committing genocide.
A similar petition to the High Court of Justice to end arms sales to South Sudan last year also ended with a gagged order. Mack was also the attorney who presented evidence of the sale of surveillance equipment to civil war-hit South Sudan, where nearly 300,000 lives were said to have been lost and two million people displaced.
Mack also came up against a brick wall in getting a court ruling over Israel’s role in arming groups during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Over a million Rwandans are thought to have died in the brutal conflict with weapons that allegedly included Israeli-made bullets, grenades and rifles. However, the official documentation of those sales was sealed behind closed doors.
In addition to these recent cases, Mack was reported by the Time of Israel of having filed a number of Freedom of Information Act requests over his country’s sale of arms to countries in the midst of genocidal war, including Bosnia, Chile, Uganda and Guatemala.

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