Arms, Diamonds and Settlements -- the IDF in Africa -- by Yossi Schwartz
[Here is a piece Chris Black sent us from his friend and a long-time radical, Yossi Schwartz. Schwartz was a medic in the Israeli army in 1967. He opposed the Israeli side for political reasons and propagandized against the war. Before that he was a lieutenant in the civilian defense forces (Haga). Today, as a member of the International Socialist League (ISL), he is closely implicated with several Palestinians causes.
The dad of one of my son Max’s best buds is a former soldier in the IDF, and Yves and I’ve been having some very cool, though also pretty heated, discussions about the current rehash of the tired, old Israeli organ trafficking Guignol. (For a more tongue-in-cheek than head-up-ass discussion of the administration of this ghoulish business, see ‘Black Samba’--a Brazilian Dance in two unnatural acts, elsewhere on this blog). There’s no talk of Anti-Semitic blood libels in our park bench palavers--and, though a shyster like Dershowitz wouldn’t make it off the first (bitch’s) tee in our games, Chris and Yossi would fill out our foursome nicely--it’s all about how the dignity and discipline of the Israeli military would not permit such degenerate practices as harvesting organs from Palestinian prisoners before killing them and returning their gutted corpses to their families.
But some of the IDF’s African strategies that Schwartz describes here--especially those collaborations with the Israeli military/industrial complex that have gone so far toward the total militarized wasting of that unspeakably rich and poor continent, and have placed the Zionist joint criminal enterprise butt up against the US, the UK and Belgium, as principal sponsors of the greatest (and most unheralded--like 6 million and climbing doesn’t make the Genocide cut) mass slaughter since the Eastern Front in WWII, ongoing since 1 October 1990 in the Great Lakes region of Central Africa--really make all that organ thievery woofing seem like out-takes from a Val Lewton movie. --mc] ***********************
Arms, Diamonds and Settlements.
Africa, the cradle of the Human being and so rich in natural resources, is the poorest and most bleeding continent. At the same time, the other side of the coin is that Africa is a paradise for the merchants of death: the arms traders, the diamond merchants and other minerals seekers. Diamonds and civil wars have replaced the slave trade of the period of the primitive accumulation of capital. The Africans are now paying the price for the continuation of imperialism, the epoch of the decay of capitalism.
Israel, like France, Britain, Belgium, and the US, has been instrumental in arming some African regimes and aggravating crises among others, including Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea and South Africa. Israel has also used parts of the continent for its military and scientific experiments, in the course of which it has ruined agricultural land, spread corruption and sown misery.
Israeli capitalists have long been keen on exploiting Africa's mineral wealth. They have a high interest in African diamonds and process them in Israel, which is already the world's second largest processor of diamonds. Israel is also interested in African uranium, thorium and other radioactive elements used to manufacture nuclear fuel. Many retired army officers are on the lookout for job opportunities as trainers of African militias.
Israeli concerns with Iran also feature high on the agenda of the Zionist state. Israel has been keeping a close eye on the Iranian drive in Africa, where Tehran, following in Beijing's footsteps, has become involved in a number of major economic projects using very cheap African workers. The Israeli ruling class is very wary of Tehran's ambitions in a continent so rich in the raw materials for producing nuclear fuel. It hopes to forge a network of strategic relations in order to check the expansion of Iranian influence in Africa. Israel also wants to remove the influence of the Lebanese communities in West Africa, whom Israel suspects of helping Hezbollah. Working to its advantage are its close ties with Washington.
This is the background for Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s visit to Africa.
This Friday, Lieberman, at the head of a huge convoy of Israeli political, military and security advisors and a train of merchants and representatives of major Israeli arms manufacturers, returned from his visit to Africa.
The representatives accompanying the Israeli Foreign Minister included, among others, executives from Soltam, Israel Military Industries, Israel Aerospace Industries, Silver Shadow Advanced Security Systems Ltd., Israel Shipyards IMI, IWI, and Elbit Systems.
Elbit Systems Group, Rafael, Israel Military Industries Ltd. (IMI), and Israel Weapons Industries (IWI) Ltd, are among the key players of the decades-long war against the Palestinians, benefiting not only from the consumption of weapons and ammunition by the Israeli military, but also from the use of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as testing grounds for new military equipment and technology.
IMI is a government owned firm that manufactures the armor plating for the Caterpillar D-9 Bulldozer, used almost exclusively for the demolition of Palestinian homes, while IWI is the primary developer and supplier of light arms to the Occupation infantry forces. Rafael, another government firm, is a key supplier of missiles, targeting systems, and technology for Occupation tanks. Elbit Systems, one of Israel’s largest private military technology firms, is responsible for the segments of the Apartheid Wall around Jerusalem and the Ariel settlement, as well as for supplying the Occupation military, navy and air force with a variety of equipment, including drones (UAVs).
During the massacres in Gaza, these firms supplied the Israeli war machine. Drones provided by the above-mentioned companies, for example, were directly responsible for the killing of nearly 100 people during the most recent attacks. To cite only one of scores of atrocities committed in Gaza: on 3 January 2009, a drone fired a missile at Palestinians praying at Martyr Ibrahim al-Maqadma Mosque in Jabaliya, northern Gaza, killing 15 and injuring 30. More than 1,450 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed, and it is intolerable that these war criminals be allowed to make huge profits from the misery of the Arabs, Latin Americans, and Africans.
Upon his return, Lieberman bragged about his greatly successful trip, which laid the groundwork for arms deals with five African states.
As in the 1950s and 1960s, the Israeli propaganda machine claims that Israel is trying to alleviate the misery of the Africans by humanitarian economic projects. For example, according to a statement issued by the Ugandan State news service: "In his meeting with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Wednesday night, Lieberman disclosed that the Israeli government will launch a special agricultural program for Uganda's famine-hit northeastern region, Karamoja, to supplement the efforts of the Ugandan government.”
Haaretz Correspondent Yossi Melman tells us the straight facts: "While Lieberman talked with African leaders about the hunger, water shortages, malnutrition and plagues afflicting their nations, the visit was also used to advance arms deals"…"past experience has shown that the Defense Ministry and arms manufacturers' lobby have hijacked Israeli foreign policy in recent decades and subordinated it to their needs, Israeli sources said"
Foreign Ministry officials estimate Africa's business potential at some $1 billion, in addition to the $3 billion of merchandise and services Israel currently exports to the continent.
The five states are Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda.
Ethiopia has long had close relations with Israel and allows Israeli military agents to operate from within its territory against other states like Somalia and Sudan. Kenya also works with Israel against Palestinians fighters.
Nigeria, is the largest market in Africa for Israeli weapons. Lately Nigeria has signed a $25 million deal with Israel Shipyards for the construction and delivery of two Shaldag patrol boats.
Under the deal, Nigerian crews will also be trained--some of them have already been trained--in Israel.
The $25 million deal is said to have been clinched through Amit Sadeh, a middleman implicated in the "controversial sale of air and sea drones by the Yavneh-based Aeronautics Ventures to the Nigerian defense ministry," the AllAfrica website reported.
Uganda had friendly relations with Israel until the late 1960s, when President Milton Obote strengthened ties with Sudan and tried to prevent the Israelis from continuing to use Ugandan territory to supply the southern Sudanese liberation movement. However, Idi Amin, then head of the army and increasingly at odds with Obote, helped keep these supply routes open. Amin, who received military training in Israel and received some help from the Israeli military mission in Uganda in his 1971 coup, immediately restored friendly relations with Israel after he seized power. The eight years of his rule were marked by violence, persecution and massive oppression. In March 1972, after peace was restored in Sudan and Amin's request for military equipment was rebuffed, he expelled Israeli residents from Uganda, broke off diplomatic relations, and established ties with Libya and other Arab nations. Israel imposed a trade embargo on Uganda. The Israeli press was full of stories about his cruelty, including his cannibalism. In 1978 Amin took one unbalanced step too far. He invaded Tanzania. Julius Nyerere, the Tanzanian president, used the opportunity not only to repel Amin's army but also to topple his government. Tanzanian troops, joining forces with Obote's private army, reach Kampala in April 1979.
Yoweri Museveni was briefly Uganda's minister of defense during the interim government after the fall of Amin. When Obote returned to power as president in 1980, and his party (the UPC) won a majority in elections widely regarded as fraudulent, Museveni refuses to accept the results. He withdrew into the bush and formed a guerrilla group, subsequently known as the National Resistance Army (NRA).
During the 1980s, the NRA steadily extended the area of southern and western Uganda under its control. And Tito Okello, after toppling Obote in 1985, proved no match for Museveni. In the mid-to-late 1990s, Museveni was lauded by the West as part of a new generation of African leaders. It was at this time that he invaded and occupied Congo. This war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, so rich in diamonds and other mineral resources, resulted in an estimated 5.4 million deaths since 1998. In the war, a number of diamond and other mining companies from the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan and Israel, supported the government of Congo for business reasons and made huge profits.
Of the 85 companies named in the October 2002 report, eight, including Cabot Corporation, Eagle Wings Resources International, Trinitech International, Kemet Electronics Corporation, OM Group (OMG), and Vishay Sprague, are U.S.-owned
Museveni was involved in other conflicts in the Great Lakes region. His style of rule included the abolition of presidential term limits before the 2006 elections and the harassment of the opposition. These days, Israel and Uganda are involved together in Somalia. According to China View (www.chinaview.cn): Museveni and the visiting top Israeli diplomat discussed the situation in Somalia. Uganda currently deployed about 2,300 peacekeepers along with another 2,000 from Burundi, under the auspice of the African Union. In a statement, Lieberman said Israel appreciates Uganda's move in the search for peace in Somalia and affirmed that "Israel recognizes Uganda's role in solving the insecurity in Somalia."
In 1957 Ghana, then known as the Gold Coast, became the first African state to gain independence from British colonial rule; it also became the first African country to grant diplomatic recognition to the Jewish state. In April 1959, Israel, with help from India, supervised the establishment of the Ghanaian Air Force. A small Israeli team also trained aircraft maintenance personnel and radio technicians at the Accra-based Air Force Trade Training School. Although the British persuaded Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, to withdraw Israeli advisers from Ghana in 1960, Ghanaian pilots continued to receive some training at aviation schools in Israel. After Nkrumah's overthrow, Israeli military activities in Ghana ended for a while.
Last November, we were informed that an Israeli businessman, Dror Weinstein, was kidnapped by a group of Nigerians. He was freed by Ghanaian security forces with the help of Israeli police. Thus close connections between the two states were recreated.
Israel long has been an established leader in the market for polished diamonds, selling 50 percent of all the stones worldwide and exporting $5.3 billion worth in 2000, up from $4.5 billion in 1999.
Most of the rough diamonds come from Africa--often from Angola, Sierra Leone and Congo, all nations devastated by civil wars related to control of the diamond mines. In the case of Sierra Leone, Siaka Stevens became Prime Minister seven years after independence in 1968. In 1971, Stevens created the National Diamond Mining Company (NDMC), which effectively nationalized SLST. All important decisions were made by the prime minister and his right-hand man, a Lebanese businessman named Jamil Mohammed. From a high of over two million carats in 1970, legitimate diamond exports dropped to 595,000 carats in 1980, and then to only 48,000 in 1988.
The failed (and probably phony) 1987 coup attempt in Sierra Leone, that removed the Lebanese influence in the government, opened the way for a number of Israeli "investors" with close connections to Russian crime families, and with ties to the Antwerp diamond trade. The best-known Russian is Alexandre Gaydamak.
Soon after the arrival of the Gaydamaks between 1991 and 1999, a civil war claimed over 75,000 lives, caused half a million Sierra Leoneans to become refugees, and displaced half of the country's 4.5 million people. Gaydamak made a fortune from this civil war. Another Israeli known to be involved in the civil war is Sigmund Rosenblum, an Israeli arms dealer and owner of GE TRAC, a mercenary outfit which provided bodyguards and vehicular security for Charles Taylor in Liberia and was wanted for questioning by the Sierra Leonean authorities.
In the past Israel relied heavily on the De Beers Group diamond syndicate to obtain a steady supply of pewter-colored rough stones that could be cut and polished for sale. Ninety-five percent of the world's rough diamonds are marketed by the De Beers Group, which has become known by its marketing arm, DTC, since partnering with the luxury products group, LVMH--Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy, SA--to create an independent company marketing premium diamond jewelry.
In August 2000, Congo, in gratitude for Israel’s military support in the war, appointed The Israel Diamond Institute Group of Companies (IDI Diamonds), an Israel-based company, as the sole purchaser of all its uncut diamonds. The deal was valued at $600 million, although IDI reportedly paid only $20 million. Since then, this business has flourished. Israel is buying rough diamonds from South Africa as well. South Africa's state diamond trader, Alexkor, is involved primarily in the mining and sale of rough, gem-quality diamonds on the South African Diamond Exchange. Being the world's largest importer of rough diamonds, Israel is known to buy up a large percentage of South Africa's rough diamonds. Alexkor is doing business with Israeli diamond magnate Lev Leviev. Leviev, a Ukrainian-born billionaire is heavily involved in the construction of settlements in the 1967 occupied West Bank.
In August 2004 we were informed that Lev Leviev, the Israeli diamond industry's largest exporter of polished diamonds and importer of rough diamonds, inaugurated what is being called Africa's largest diamond cutting factory in the Namibian capital of Windhoek.
The plant, which it is said to employ 500 workers, has the capacity to process between 25,000 and 30,000 carats a month. It processes rough diamonds supplied by Sakawe Mining, which is a Namibian-based marine diamond mining company owned by Leviev.
Boycott where it counts . Israeli newspapers this summer are filled with angry articles about the push to exclude Israeli Films from the Toronto film festival.
While we respect the calls for a boycott of the Toronto International Film Festival for screening a series of movies glorifying Tel Aviv while ignoring the fact that Tel Aviv was built on stolen Palestinian land, a boycott that is supported by dozens of Palestinian filmmakers, writers, and artists, who protested outside the offices of the Canadian representative in the West Bank town of Ramallah, a full-scale arms embargo on Israel, the fifth largest arm trader in the world, is overdue.
We think that a real and effective boycott can and should be organized by the trade unions and unorganized workers around the world, focusing on the Israeli arms trade and diamond industry. Workers in the sea and air ports, trains and trucks can block all shipments of the Israeli killing industry.
The trade unions in South Africa blocked arms shipments to the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe. Israeli is not only buying diamonds from but also selling weapons to South Africa under the ANC. The boycott of Israeli military goods is in place. From there, similar actions can spread around the world. Already in May 2007, South Africa's largest trade union federation stated it would launch a campaign against "the Israeli occupation of Arab lands" and demanded that Pretoria impose a boycott on all Israeli goods and break diplomatic relations.
The president of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), Willy Madisha, announced the launching of the campaign in Johannesburg, calling on the government to cease all diplomatic relations with Israel after its attacks on Palestinian leaders.
However it would be much more effective for Cosatu to organize the boycott rather than to rely on the ANC. Talk by Union bureaucrats is cheap, action is what counts.
One of the few Israelis who endorses the call to suspend cooperation with Israel is Dr. Neve Gordon. He explains his motives: "I am convinced that it is the only way that Israel can be saved from itself. I say this because Israel has reached a historic crossroads, and times of crisis call for dramatic measures. I say this as a Jew who has chosen to raise his children in Israel, who has been a member of the Israeli peace camp for almost 30 years and who is deeply anxious about the country's future. The most accurate way to describe Israel today is as an apartheid state. For more than 42 years, Israel has controlled the land between the Jordan Valley and the Mediterranean sea. Within this region about 6 million Jews and close to 5 million Palestinians reside. Out of this population, 3.5 million Palestinians and almost half a million Jews live in the areas Israel occupied in 1967, and yet while these two groups live in the same area, they are subjected to totally different legal systems. The Palestinians are stateless and lack many of the most basic human rights. By sharp contrast, all Jews–whether they live in the occupied territories or in Israel–are citizens of the state of Israel.
The question that keeps me up at night, both as a parent and as a citizen, is how to ensure that my two children as well as the children of my Palestinian neighbors do not grow up in an apartheid regime.
There are only two moral ways of achieving this goal:
The first is the one-state solution: offering citizenship to all Palestinians and thus establishing a binational democracy within the entire area controlled by Israel. Given the demographics, this would amount to the demise of Israel as a Jewish state; for most Israeli Jews, it is anathema.
The second means of ending our apartheid is through the two-state solution, which entails Israel's withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders (with possible one-for-one land swaps), the division of Jerusalem and a recognition of the Palestinian right of return with the stipulation that only a limited number of the 4.5 million Palestinian refugees would be allowed to return to Israel, while the rest could return to the new Palestinian state.
Geographically, the one-state solution appears much more feasible because Jews and Palestinians are already totally enmeshed; indeed, "on the ground," the one-state solution (in an apartheid manifestation) is a reality. Ideologically, the two-state solution is more realistic because fewer than 1% of Jews and only a minority of Palestinians support bi-nationalism.
So if the two-state solution is the way to stop the apartheid state, then how does one achieve this goal?
I am convinced that outside pressure is the only answer. Over the last three decades, Jewish settlers in the occupied territories have dramatically increased their numbers. The myth of a united Jerusalem has led to the creation of an apartheid city where Palestinians aren't citizens and lack basic services. The Israeli peace camp has gradually dwindled so that today it is almost nonexistent, and Israeli politics is moving more and more to the extreme right.
It is therefore clear to me that the only way to counter the apartheid trend in Israel is through massive international pressure. The words and condemnations from the Obama administration and the European Union have yielded no results, not even a settlement freeze, let alone a decision to withdraw from the occupied territories.
I consequently have decided to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that was launched by Palestinian activists in July 2005 and has since garnered widespread support around the globe. The objective is to ensure that Israel respects its obligations under international law and that Palestinians are granted the right to self-determination.
LA Times August 20, 2009
Like Neve, many of the middle class activists who call for a total boycott of Israel do it with the intention of getting the same result as in South Africa, where a revolutionary struggle of the working class ended due to the nationalist ANC and the reformist communist party with a democratic counter-revolution. The reformists in the case of Israel support either two states or, in the case of the more radical, a bourgeois "democratic state for all it citizens." However, the capitalist system that continues in South Africa is the source of the continuing misery of the black majority. Only a small group of blacks have gained from the heroic struggle of the black masses.
Israel is not South Africa. In South Africa a white minority stood against the black majority. In the case of Israel, the Palestinians alone cannot defeat the Apartheid regime. Yet a real force which can change the entire situation exists. This force is the super exploited Arab, Iranian and Turkish working class. Of course, on the existing level of political consciousness, the working class in the region cannot act as a revolutionary class. However, the super exploited workers in the region will develop their political consciousness in struggles like those we have seen in Egypt and in Iran. In these struggles and in the lessons gained from them, the most advance workers will form their revolutionary parties in each state in the region as part of reestablishing the world party of socialist revolution, the fourth international that was destroyed by the revisionists after WWII.
In the case of Israel, the reformist program of one or two bourgeois states is not only reactionary but a pie in the sky.
No solution will come without social upheaval in the entire region, and social upheaval is unthinkable with the retention of the rule of imperialism in the Middle East. The overthrow of imperialism in the region is as necessary for the victory of the masses led by the workers in the Middle East as it is for the working class in the imperialist states. The struggle for the expulsion of imperialism and its agents--and Israel is an imperialist state--is part of the program of the proletarian revolution in the region. Either the working class revolution will break the power of the imperialists and their servants or the rule of the imperialists will lead to the continuation of the horrors in the Middle East.
We defend the democratic right of Dr. Neve Gordon, who became known outside Israel for his call to boycott Israeli Apartheid. Beer Shiva University where he teaches is under pressure to fire him, and we say, ‘Hands off Neve!’ However, we oppose the rationale for his call, as he, himself, explained that boycott of Israel is necessary in order to save Israel from itself. This rationale is a clear example of the thinking of reformists who want to save the Israeli imperialist state by making cosmetic changes.
We want to see a different result: a working class revolution in the entire region with a Palestinian workers state from the river to the sea as part of the Socialist Federation of the Middle East.
While we do not have any illusions that the majority of Israeli workers who enjoy privileges in comparison with other workers in the region can become revolutionary and overthrow the Zionist state, and thus liberate themselves; we want to reach a minority of Israeli workers for the working class revolution that can be made by the super-exploited Arab and Iranian workers. A revolution where the Palestinian workers will occupy the front lines.
For this reason we must make sure that our message is clear. That the intention behind the boycott is not to punish all the Israelis, but to focus on the big criminals: the Zionist rulers of Israel. The interest of Palestinians and other would-be revolutionaries is to convince as many Israeli workers as possible that unlike with the Israeli death trap, under a Palestinian workers state, the lives of the Israeli Jews who support the revolutionary state will be safe, and they will not suffer from discrimination simply because they are Israelis. So we have to kill two birds with one stone. Organize effective Internationalist working class boycotts of Israeli arms and diamonds, while reaching the minority of Israeli workers to fight along side the Palestinians, the Arab working class, the Iranian workers, and others, for the socialist revolution.
For a working class boycott of Israeli arms and diamonds. For revolutionary workers parties in each state in the Middle East. For a Palestinian workers state from the river to the sea. For a Socialist Federation of the Middle East as part of the socialist world revolution.