Buying into Occupation and War: The implications of military ties between South America and Israel, March 2010.
Israeli military exports to South America have been on the rise in the recent years. Brazil is gearing up to become the gateway for Israeli military technology and companies. Israel continues to be a top supplier of the Colombian military. Ecuador, while not having extensive military ties with Israel, has recently purchased drone aircraft. Chile, already a buyer of Israeli arms, also has expressed interest in similar drone technology.
It is the goal of this report to analyze these trends, both in light of recent events and also as they relate to the history of Israeli involvement in South America. We will highlight that it is impossible for South America’s democratic governments to reconcile protection of human rights – whether at home or abroad – with military ties and arms trade with Israel.
Any military ties with Israel support the state’s policies of occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing, policies whose sustainability depends on Israeli military capacities and the profits deriving from its military industry, and adversely affect the Palestinians and their struggle. Israel has developed an indigenous military industry that produces much of the equipment used by its military. International buyers help ensure the survival of the Israeli military industry which:
-Has in exports a necessary lifeline. The Israeli national military industry survives on exporting, without which it would collapse.
-Profits considerably from the occupation in terms of marketing. Private military and security companies (PSMCs) advertise how their employees’ years of experience set them apart, while Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) producers highlight their products’ performance and extensive use by the Israeli military. However, advertising need not be as explicit, as in the military industry products are judged on their performance in the field, meaning, “every military operation, not by intent per se, acts as an advertisement for the weapons and techniques used.” The fact that Israel has a constant “battlefield” in the West Bank and Gaza is a significant advantage to its military industry.
-Develops more effective means of repression. Years of experience in operating in Palestinian cities, villages and refugee camps, for example, has helped Israeli Weapon Industries (IWI) to develop an effective rifle for urban combat. Constant mobilization by the popular resistance against the Wall has in turn forced the Israeli military to develop more effective means of crowd control to break demonstrations. The constant use of UAVs has allowed ample opportunities for real-time testing and development.
Military ties with Israel do not only fuel an occupation that affects Palestinians, but also have negative effects on South America.
-Strengthening ties with Israeli arms producers and PSMC sets a poor precedent in terms of accountability, considering Israel’s support of repressive regimes and role in profiting and fostering from instability in the 60s, 70s and 80s.
-Military ties with Israel leave elements in place which could support or form oppressive, and at the most extreme anti-government activity, in a given country.
-Even if military ties pose no threat to a country’s stability, support of the Israeli military industry casts doubt on a government’s commitment to human rights.
Despite these issues Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Ecuador are all buyers of Israeli military equipment and/or services. In addition to the supply of conventional arms there has been a steady rise in high-tech exports, in particular Unmanned Ariel Vehicle (UAV) technology. Colombia, Brazil and Ecuador have purchased Israeli UAVs.
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