Ebrahim Moosa – Opinion | 22 March 2017 Radio Islam
Water, agriculture, food security, cybertech, finding solutions for drought, changing lives in Africa.
For anyone attuned to Zionist hasbara discourse in South Africa, these are the buzzwords.
Israeli technologies and innovations are game changers, making meaningful interventions in African lives, it is purported, in contrast with anything Palestinian which is inevitably tied up with negativity, hatred, backwardness and terror.
“Has Israel-hatred #BDSFAIL campaign created one job, cured one patient, exported one product, grown one veggie or invented anything for South Africa,” Israeli Ambassador Arthur Lenk recently posed.
The argument inevitably lends itself to an exhaustive citing of Israel’s ‘gifts’ to the world: Intel processors, mobile phone technology, drip irrigation and more.
Through this approach, Zionist advocates are keen to portray Israel as a bastion of progress, a philanthropic state most concerned about the well-being of the Third World.
In itself, such claims to altruism are questionable, as Israel herself has made no qualms of the desired outcome of such philanthropy being unquestionable support for Israel, particularly at international forums.
Transforming African countries into a voting bloc that would support Israel could help create an automatic pro-Israel majority at the United Nations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu observed recently.
“There are 54 countries [in Africa]. If you change the voting pattern of a majority of them, you at once bring them from one side to the other,” he said as he spoke about his strategy for eroding the Palestinian automatic majority at the UN.
“You have changed the balance of votes against us at the UN and the day is not far off when we will have a majority there. This sounds delusional? It is not delusional at all,” he said.
Netanyahu made it clear that while Israel was very interested in strengthening its economic ties with Africa, the diplomatic department was more important.
The most important goal is to change the voting pattern at the UN, he underscored.
There is hardly ever an acknowledgment of this deeper intent and the strings attached to economic co-operation when Israel presents its overtures to Africans.
Regardless, even with the degree of upliftment that these Israeli interventions bring to Africa, the water, agriculture and medical offerings serve to obscure one of Israel’s other big exports to the world.
Pedro Charbel dubs this particular product repression.
“Israel is a leading actor in exporting repression. They have very good repressive technology. They are oppressing Palestinians for decades and are happy to export that all over the world,” says the Latin America campaigns coordinator for the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), who recently visited South Africa.
“Where I come from in Brazil, movements are doing BDS campaigns against Israeli military companies that are also affecting their lives – repression technology that our countries are importing from Israel, and applying against us. This technology is developed using the Palestinian people as a lab. And Israel is exporting this repressive technology all over the world.”
The recent drive by US President Donald Trump to build a border wall with Mexico brought to the fore Israeli enthusiasm to peddle this export, says Charbel.
Netanyahu voiced his support of the initiative publicly, and Israeli companies chipped in to flaunt their security expertise.
“Israeli companies have been involved with dictatorships and despots in Latin America where I come from, and they are now training our military police. The Brazilian military police kill more people a year than the war in Syria – so imagine what type of training they are getting from Israel.”
Former Ha’aretz journalist Yotam Feldman does an exceptional job of piercing through the lucrativeness of Israeli security and military exports in his 2013 documentary film, aptly named ‘The Lab’.
Feldman, who had written extensively on the relation between military operation and financial profit in Israel, saw the production of the film – featuring prominent Israeli politicians and arms dealers – as the natural postlude to his important research.
“While making the film, I witnessed the relationship between a network of military generals, politicians and private business; the use of current military operations as a promotional device for private business; the brutal employment of the Israeli experience, and the blurred lines between what is legitimate and forbidden in this line of business,” Feldman told Al Jazeera.
Hinting at why IDF military operations rake in such high approval ratings from the Israeli public, he reveals in the film just how lucrative war is to the Israeli economy.
“Everyone speaks about the Israeli miracle – growth and prosperity despite military conflicts. But maybe, it is not despite them, it is because of them. Hundreds live of it, and many others enjoy prosperity in a country that has become the fourth biggest arms exporter in the world”.
In Israel, the Defence Ministry deals not only with wars and homeland security but also ensures that the Israeli defence industry is successful at exporting its wares. At the end of active duty, army officers and generals are simply deployed from the battlefield to the boardrooms of arms companies. Arms and machinery ‘tested’ in Bil’in, Jenin, Khuzaa or Shuja’ea are soon thereafter swaggered before military fairs in Tel Aviv or Paris. 150 000 Israeli households are directly dependent on the arms industry for their livelihoods, and the sector plays a principal role in Israeli economic policy.
Following the 9/11 attacks, and in the wake of the illegal invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq war, Israel positioned itself not only as a provider of military hardware, but also as a source of military expertise and ‘security solutions’. Countries all over the world became increasingly interested in the way the Israeli army controls civilian populations, how it fights in urban areas, and how it deals with terror and guerrilla tactics. Henceforth, Israel became a leading exporter of theory for its brand of “asymmetric warfare”. Says Feldman, “Israel has created a science out of targeted killings and of close combat fighting. In fact, Israel’s produced some of the world’s leading advisors and lecturers specialising in armed combat”.
For Israel, a key selling point of its military wares and services are that they are ‘tried and tested’.
Quizzed in the film by Feldman on why there is such a global demand for Israeli war technology, former Israeli defence Minister Benjamin Benaliezer responds unapologetically that people like to buy things that are tested: “If Israel sells weapons,” he says, “they have been tested, tried out. We can say: we used this for 10 years, 15 years…so the demand is tremendous. It brings Israel millions of dollars”.
It is such brazenness borne out of the monetisation of its military exploits, argues Professor Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions, that breeds Israeli ambivalence to international criticism and a perpetuation of the Occupation.
“The occupied territories are crucial as a laboratory not just in terms of Israel’s internal security, but because they have allowed Israel to become pivotal to the global homeland security industry.
“Other states need Israel’s expertise, and that ensures its place at the table with the big players. It gives Israel international influence way out of keeping with its size. In turn, the hegemonic states exert no real pressure on Israel to give up the occupied territories because of their mutually reinforcing interests.”
Charbel believes activists are becoming more aware of this confluence of disturbing interests and are consequently synchronising their campaigning accordingly.
“The [boycott] campaign against G4S[for the aid it renders to the Occupation] is being led by activists in the United States who are fighting against police violence against blacks in the United States. So the movement Black Lives Matter supports the BDS movement, has endorsed the BDS movement and is pressuring G4S, because they see their struggle is connected to the struggle of the Palestinians not only at a rhetorical level, but very materially. The tear gas that is thrown against them in demonstrations is the same tear gas that is thrown against Palestinians in the West Bank. The bullets that kill people in the US, or in Brazil, they come from Israeli companies. The training of military police is done by Israelis. These are very real connections”.
On another level, says academic and BDS South Africa board member Farid Essack, Africans and others offered general Israeli innovation as part of a propaganda ruse, should note that these propositions are not neutral and be more circumspect about their intent.
“Apartheid South Africa was one of the most developed countries in the world, it was a nuclear force, it made huge strides in discoveries – from the kreepy krawly that cleans our swimming pools to the CAT scans that is indispensable in medical technology, apartheid South Africa was second to none. It had a huge amount to offer the world. But on whose back, and whose blood?
“So, it’s not a question of how advanced you are, it is on whose back and blood you are achieving your advancement”.