Israeli - U.S. Terror
excerpted from the book
the Roots of Terrorism
edited by Ellen Ray and William
Ocean Press, 2003, paper
Israeli - U.S. Terror
Introduction by Ellen Ray and William H. Schaap
For more than 35 years, the violent and
bitter history of the Palestinian-lsraeli conflicts have centered
around a history of collaboration between U.S. and Israeli military
and intelligence services and their coincidence of interests.
Israeli covert operations have backed up U.S. clandestine schemes,
especially in the Middle East, but also in Central America, southern
Africa and elsewhere in a global conquest in which U.S. domination
has reached its apex under George W. Bush.
Ever since the discovery of vast, almost
unimaginable oil reserves in the region, the overriding strategic
objective of the United States in the Middle East has been access
to and eventual control over that resource. And since its 1967
victory in the six-day war, when Israel established itself as
the regional military superpower capable of aiding in this primary
U.S. objective, massive U.S. foreign aid and subsidized weapons
of war have ensured an Israeli-U.S. alliance with mutually expansionist
agendas. Both want unfettered access to Arab oil and more.
The second U.S. imperative is its strategic
partnership with Israel, a function of the power of the pro-lsrael
lobby in the United States, exemplified by the ability of the
American-lsrael Political Action Committee to influence congressional
and even presidential elections. And the White House, State Department
and Pentagon are riddled with insiders with dual loyalties, the
belief that U.S. and Israeli interests are and should be, identical.
The quid pro quo for Israel, an extension
of this objective, is the relative free play given to its own
designs in the Middle East as a military force and an ever-expanding
The United States has given Israel virtually
every sophisticated weapon system it has to offer, more than $18
billion in the last decade, with more than $2 billion in military
aid slated for the next fiscal year (2003-4). As a further reward
for cooperation in covert activities around the globe, the U.S.
remained silent, if not actually assisted, Israel's development
and testing of its own nuclear weapons.
Just how cooperative the Israelis have
been and how some U.S. power brokers view its role in Washington's
overall strategy was expressed by Senator Jesse Helms when he
boasted in 1995 that "Israel is at least the equivalent of
a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Middle East."
Although no significant policies of the
Israeli Government could be implemented without the tacit concurrence
of its U.S. benefactor, when it suits Washington's rapacious oil
policies, arrangements of convenience with Israel's enemies were
not precluded in the past. The United States (and Britain) supplied
chemical and other weapons to Iraq during the Iraq-lran war, while
covertly working with Israel to supply Iran.
And Israel has also conducted its own
military intelligence operations against U.S. targets, such as
the seemingly inexplicable Israeli bombing of the U.S.S. Liberty
during the 1967 war, a deliberate act apparently to prevent the
U.S. communications ship from monitoring, perhaps disrupting its
invasion and occupation of the Golan Heights. And, of course,
each nation spies on the other; while Jonathan Pollard was caught
and jailed, both countries have active operatives, collaborators
and media assets in each other's territory.
But no matter which regime may be in power
in either country, both Israeli and U.S. campaigns plot the elimination
of any viable, sovereign, Palestinian state. Together, their machinations
of incremental negotiations followed by betrayal, assassination
and invasion have imposed upon the Palestinians what Noam Chomsky
called "a system of permanent neocolonial dependency."
Brutal attacks on Palestinian civilians,
collective punishment, obliteration of entire villages, mass forced
expulsions, illegal settlement of occupied land including East
Jerusalem, torture, terrorism, starvation and murder have been
used by successive Israeli governments with U.S. approval. They
have reached new heights under the Sharon Government, with the
approval of the current Bush Administration. Indeed, the Israel
lobby has been jubilant over the nearly identical policies of
Sharon's Likud and Bush's Republicans, dominated as it is by Likudniks.
Universal military conscription of Israeli
youth thrusts young draftees into endless confrontations with
Palestinians in Israel and in the occupied territories, ensuring
an existential racial hatred in deliberately provocative "strategies
of tension" and expansion, all in the name of a "fragile"
Israeli state security. This while Israel has one of the most
powerful and best-equipped armed forces in the world, the only
nuclear power in the region.
Sharon defended his unilateral military
carnage as his country's "best path to security." What
he described as antiterror tactics, including stepping up assassinations
of Palestinian military and civilian leaders, led to the predictable
increase in acts of terrorism against Israeli citizens themselves,
most notably indiscriminate suicide bombings. While Sharon claimed
he was "making every effort to prevent" escalation,
his military actions suggested precisely the opposite: Each deadly
suicide bombing that followed Israeli military assassinations
became the justification for the next Israeli atrocity.
War crime charges leveled against Sharon
are legion, from his demolishing of a Jordanian village in 1953,
to his complicity in the Sabra and Shatila massacres in Lebanon
in 1982, to his Central American adventures involving arms and
drugs, to his multiple invasions and reoccupation of most of the
West Bank and Gaza in 2002. The U.S. role in this mayhem cannot
be overemphasized. U.S. F-16 fighter jets and Apache helicopter
gun ships were employed daily. Washington vacillated as the military
assault was consolidated, trying all the while to appease its
Sharon's deliberate and systematic rampage
through every Palestinian town and village has been conducted
with personal hatred and revenge, in furtherance of the Israeli
Government's intention of destroying the Palestinian people's
social and physical will for self-government. Jewish religious
graffiti splashed on walls of occupied Palestinian Authority offices
were stark evidence of domination, symbols of Israel's goal of
killing, imprisoning, or transporting Palestinian militants and
their families from their homeland.
Despite Israel's control through the ClA-approved,
Oslo-directed Palestinian Authority, the PA was locked in an endless
cycle of repression and corruption through enforced collaboration
with security committees run by the CIA and Israeli intelligence
against the Palestinian people. Sharon's campaign against its
institutional infrastructure also included intentional killings
of large numbers of Palestinian civilians through saturation bombings
of refugee camps and villages and the homes of suspected terrorists
(with no regard for the lives of innocent neighbors), aided by
computerized targeting and the rounding up of thousands of Palestinian
men and women and their families for planned expulsion.
The Palestinians themselves, dispersed
and dispossessed and used as pawns by other Arab nations, have
never been able to develop a united vision. There are Palestinian
nationalists and socialists and there are Palestinian fundamentalists.
The fostering of disunity and corruption within these factions-whether
in the Occupied Territories or in exile-has been a major element
in the U.S.-lsraeli targeting of the Palestinian national struggle
by covert manipulation of Palestinian exiles and groups. In what
was hardly a coincidence, during the early 1980s, while the United
States actively encouraged an Islamic "Holy War" in
Afghanistan, the Israelis infiltrated and supported a burgeoning
Islamic fundamentalist movement, later allowing Islamic charities,
religious schools and training sites to flourish, as their well-financed
graduates countered the growing influence of Palestinian nationalists.
The occupation army's control of land,
travel, water, food and medicine intensified, even as Palestinians
attempted to negotiate an ever-changing "peace process"
with Israel. Orchestrated with the United States as a delaying
tactic, this effectively prevented an independent Palestinian
state. The Oslo accords achieved only greater Israeli control
over the territories and the geometric expansion of armed, militant
Zionist settlements entrenched in the West Bank and Gaza.
The plan for the gradual creation of an
autonomous Palestine was transformed from a blueprint for a contiguous
territory into a jigsaw puzzle divided by Jewish settlements,
fortified access roads and innumerable security zones. The proposed
map of Palestinian areas resembles the Bantustans of apartheid
South Africa. Israeli tanks and troops poured into these tiny
"cantons," bombing and killing civilians at will. And
Bush's minimal support for such a state, conditioned upon "regime
change" in the Palestinian Authority, may disappear altogether,
as events suggest a Likud push towards a final ethnic cleansing.
At an estimated cost of well over $1 million
per mile, Israel has begun construction of a "security fence"
that will eventually stretch 225 miles, walling off Palestinians
on the West Bank-from Israel, from each other and from Israeli
Palestinians. While the implausible rationale is put forth that
this wall will inhibit the infiltration of suicide bombers, in
fact this physical separation will facilitate the long-standing
"transfer policy," discussed below. The psychological
and historical implications of such separation cannot be overemphasized.
Many informed commentators, including some Israeli journalists,
see these developments as inevitably leading to the forced expulsion
of all Palestinians from all Israeli-occupied territory.
With this escalation in Israeli terrorism,
the devastating retaliatory suicide bombings have turned a war
against occupation soldiers and settlers into the targeting of
civilians within Israel. And after September 11, Western fears
of Islamic extremism conflated the fanaticism of organizations
like the Taliban with the genuine national aspirations of the
the world focused first on George W. Bush's
"war against terrorism" and then on his unilateral attack
on Iraq, Sharon was free to launch a massive re-invasion of Palestinian-controlled
territory. Now both Israel and the United States have brought
the jihad of their own creation home to plague their own civilian
Israeli State Terror
by Naseer Aruri
Israeli State Terror
In his personal diary, which was published
against the wishes of the Israeli establishment, former Israeli
Prime Minister Moshe Sharett reveals that Israeli military operations
against Arab civilian populations were designed to terrorize them
and create fear, tension and instability. Sharett's documentation
shows that Israel's territorial expansion (such as in the Suez
in 1956) was facilitated by Israeli acts of provocation, which
generated Arab hostility and created pretexts for intervention.
For example, the attack by Israeli Army Unit 101 led by Ariel
Sharon on the Palestinian village of Kibya in October 1953, causing
numerous civilian casualties and destruction of homes, was condemned
by Sharett. He writes, "[In the cabinet meeting] I condemned
the Kibya affair that exposed us in front of the whole world as
a gang of blood-suckers, capable of mass massacres regardless
it seems, of whether their actions may lead to war.
More recent accounts by Israeli writers
show how earlier acts of terrorism provided a historical background
to adoption of a policy of state terrorism by Israel. Benny Morris's
explanation of the Palestinian exodus in 1948, based on state,
military and Zionist archives, refutes the official Israeli version
that the Palestinians bear responsibility for their own expulsion.
An earlier work by Irish journalist Erskine Childers demonstrated
that, contrary to the official Israeli version, there were no
Arab radio broadcasts ordering the Palestinians to leave. And
Israeli journalist Tom Segev reveals in his book how instrumental
was Zionist terrorism in the creation of the Palestinian refugee
problem. Sixteen months after 250 Arab civilians were massacred
in the village of Deir Yassin (April 9, 1948) by the combined
forces of ETZEL (known as Menachem Begin's Irgun) and LEHI (known
as Yitzhak Shamir's Stern Gang) there was a debate in the Israeli
set in which, according to Segev, a member of Begin's Herut Party
had boasted: "Thanks to Deir Yassin, we won the war."
Another account by Lenny Brenner reveals
that Israeli Prime Minister Shamir was a convert to the pro-Mussolini
Betar (Zionist Brownshirts) in the late 1930s and that his Stern
Gang had attempted to strike a deal with the Nazi regime in Germany
in 1941 in which the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine
on a "totalitarian basis" would be bound by a treaty
with the German Reich.
Shamir's commitment to right-wing causes
and to terrorism was unmistakably revealed in an article he wrote
in the LEHI journal Hehazit (The Front) in the summer of 1943.
This excerpt stands in contrast to Shamir's constant moralizing
and condemnation of what he calls "PLO terrorism:"
Neither Jewish ethics nor Jewish tradition
can disqualify terrorism as a means of combat... [T]errorism is
for us a part of the political battle being conducted under the
present circumstances and it has a great part to play: speaking
in a clear voice to the whole world, as well as to our wretched
brethren outside this land, it proclaims our war against the occupier.
Shamir's cabinet colleague Yitzhak Rabin
who, as defense minister in charge of the occupied territories,
proclaimed the policy of "might, force and blows" in
January 1988 (which has so far resulted in an estimated 281 deaths,
more than 50,000 injuries and 30,000 detentions) has also had
a consistent record of terrorism for more than 40 years. As the
deputy commander of Operation Dani, he, along with the late former
Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and the late former Deputy Prime
Minister Yigal Allon, were responsible for the expulsion of between
50,000 and 70,000 people from the towns of Lydda and Ramleh in
July 1948. The town of Ramleh had surrendered without a fight
after the withdrawal of the Jordan Army but the inhabitants were
rounded up, expelled and told never to come back. Benny Morris
characterized that as the "biggest expulsion operation of
the 1948 war." Rabin expressed empathy with "the great
suffering inflicted upon" his men who caused the expulsion.
One of those expelled was a 13-year-old
boy by the name of Khalil alWazir, later known as Abu Jihad. Yitzhak
Rabin, who was responsible for that act as a member of the Zionist
militia, was one of the inner cabinet decision-makers who decided,
40 years later, to assassinate al-Wazir far away from his home
in Ramleh. The man who headed the inner cabinet, Yitzhak Shamir,
told an inquirer who wanted to know who killed Abu Jihad, "I
heard about it on the radio."
It was typical of the official response
to the killing; claims of ignorance, broad hints that Abu Jihad's
responsibility for the Palestinian uprising could only trigger
that kind of response and the usual reference to a factional conflict
within the Palestinian movement as being responsible for the assassination.
In fact, the murder of Abu Jihad is the latest incident in a continuous
pattern of Israeli assassinations of Palestinian leaders and intellectuals
among whom are Karmal al-Adwan, Ghassan Kanafani, Kamal Nasser,
Majid Abu Sharar, Abu Yurif and many others.
In a New York Times article summarizing
the official Israeli interpretation of its own policies, Thomas
Friedman maintains that Israel endeavors to "turn terror
back on the terrorists." This strategy has gone through several
different stages. For the period of 1948-56 the strategy was described
as "counterterrorism through retaliation or negative feedback"
and was employed against Egypt and Jordan to prevent border crossings
by Palestinian refugees attempting, in the main, to check on the
conditions of their former homes." By 1972, Israel was striking
against "the nerve centers and the perpetrators themselves"
using letter bombs, exploding cars and telephones and quiet assassinations
of Palestinian leaders and intellectuals on the back streets of
Europe. Later acts of terrorism including the destruction of entire
villages in Lebanon, raids on Beirut, Baghdad and Tunis have become
typical of Israeli policy towards Arab nonacceptance of its regional
hegemony. Such acts have rarely evoked U.S. condemnation. In fact
the Reagan Administration characterized Israel's raid on the PLO
headquarters in Tunis as an act of self-defense.
United States and Israel-A "Special"
Strategic cooperation between Israel and
the United States was consummated between 1982 and 1988 and has
dramatically elevated Israel's role in U.S. global strategic calculation.
By 1983, the Reagan Administration had accepted the Israeli view
that the Palestine question was not the principal cause of instability
in the Middle East. Henceforth, it would not be allowed to interfere
in the "special relationship" between a superpower and
its strategic ally.
In the special relationship between the
United States and Israel, the latter is considered a "unique
strategic asset. In the crucial Middle East, Israel is viewed
as the cornerstone of U.S. policy, which is perceived as a bulwark
against the Soviet Union and radical revolutionary transformation.
Outside the Middle East, Israel has emerged as the most important
supplier of the technology of repression, antiguerrilla training
and infrastructure to combat revolution, all euphemistically phrased
"counterterrorism." Israel ranks as the fifth largest
exporter of arms in the world, according to CIA estimates and
it has become an essential component of the global counterinsurgency
business. "Hit lists" used by the death squads in Guatemala
have been computerized with Israeli assistance and the Uzi machine
gun is the standard weapon of the death squads. The special relationship
between the United States and Israel is a two-way street. Israel
is the largest recipient of U.S. economic and military aid and
in return Israel has much to offer the United States. The Reagan
Administration has publicly declared that Israel's substantial
experience and "success" in coping with terrorism should
provide guidance for the United States. When George Shultz spoke
at a New York synagogue in 1984 he said:
No nation has more experience with terrorism
than Israel and no nation has made a greater contribution to our
understanding of the problem and the best way to confront it.
By supporting organizations like the Jonathan Institute, named
after the brave Israeli soldier who led and died at Entebbe, the
Israeli people have raised international awareness of the global
scope of the terrorist threat... [T]he rest of us would do well
to follow Israel's example.
The fact that the United States and Israel
are so closely allied and use the same criteria for defining who
are "terrorists" and who are not, necessarily makes
the United States a dubious participant in mediating the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict and brings into question the possible results of U.S.-sponsored
negotiations with George Shultz behind the wheel.
When Secretary of State Shultz became
the Reagan Administration's chief proponent of close strategic
cooperation with Israel he went far beyond the initiatives of
his predecessor Alexander Haig. Haig's framework for U.S. Middle
East policy was the "consensus of strategic concerns,"
which would bring together a conservative constellation of regional
powers that would include Israel. Shultz's framework, however,
promoted Israel to the center of U.S. policy and assigned it a
global role in addition to its regional duties on behalf of the
status quo. Thus with Shultz in power, the United States conducted
its Middle East policy on the basis of the "consensus of
strategic concern" plus the special relationship with Israel.
With all the attention Shultz received
on his five trips to the Middle East in the last six months and
with the outcome never in question, it is important to ask: What
were the real objectives behind the 'Shultz shuttles'?
Reagan's Commitment to Peace
U.S. involvement in the Middle East since
the 1967 war reveals a number of precedents for unimplementable
peace plans actually designed to justify U.S. obstruction of the
global consensus and to contain Palestinian nationalism. An example
was the Reagan plan of September 1,1982, which denied sovereignty
over the West Bank and Gaza to Israel and the Palestinians. Its
territorial and confederal aspects evoked a swift yet predictable
rejection from the Israeli cabinet.
The principal spur for the Reagan plan
was the siege of Beirut, which tarnished Israel's image and at
the same time provided a catalyst in the world community for linking
PLO withdrawal to Palestinian statehood. To justify its virtual
sole dissent from the international will, the Reagan Administration
felt obliged to launch its own initiative based on "the Jordan
option," which proved to be a non-option.
More recently, Reagan has sent his premier
ambassador of peace, George Shultz, to the Middle East to again
make a public press for a settlement. However, knowing that Israel
will not meet even the minimum requirements for a territorial
settlement, what then does Mr. Shultz hope to accomplish in view
of the fact that his initiative lacks any means of pressuring
The United States has three objectives:
1. The Shultz plan is an attempt to contain
the Palestinian uprising and prevent its extension to U.S. allies
and clients in the region. It is also designed to repair Israel's
tarnished image in the United States.
2. The United States would like to set
the terms before any other actor emerges with a plan for settlement.
The Soviet Union, which has been trying to broaden its options
in the region, is one such actor. The Arab states or the PLO are
also possible sources of peace initiatives. The Shultz plan represents
a reaffirmation of U.S. custodianship over the Middle East. It
serves as a reminder that the area is U.S. turf and hence it is
designed to elbow out or preempt any genuine proposals for a settlement.
3. The plan also attempts to bridge the
gap between the requirements of public opinion and those of public
policy in the United States. The United States has broken barriers
for the first time in the Middle East. The public mood in this
country has changed and the people seem ready for a political
settlement. Yet Palestine has never been high on the official
agenda. There is no sense in Washington that the Palestine question
is urgent. Unless it becomes urgent, there will be no movement
America's policy objectives in the region
center on oil and containment of Soviet influence as well as containment
of the natives. As long as Palestine does not interfere with these
objectives, the administration feels no compulsion to initiate
peace proposals. But given that the public mood has changed in
this country, the Shultz plan offers the U.S. public a rejectable
plan, which would absolve Washington of responsibility for the
The Reagan Administration clearly perceives
the uprising as a political threat to its hegemony in the region
and would like to check its potential for extension beyond the
occupied territories into Arab countries ruled by conservative
regimes. The administration is also concerned about Israel's repressive
image-perhaps more than Israel itself-in the United States. Washington's
strategic relationship with Israel must continue to have the blessings
of U.S. public opinion.
Hence, Shultz's sudden awakening to the
fact that the unresolved Palestine-Israel conflict is a threat
to the status quo and his embarking upon a mission to save Israel
in spite of itself. The erosion of U.S. public support for Reagan's
policy towards Israel is seen as a dangerous strategic step backward
and his administration is desperately trying to counter the bad
Shultz's endeavor turned out to be a series
of diplomatic shuttles not only between Arab capitals and Israel
but also between the two heads of the Israeli Government. His
diplomacy seems to operate on the assumption that the crucial
choices are between Likud's preference for functional autonomy
(which keeps "Greater Israel" intact as the Palestinians
in the West Bank and Gaza are enfranchised in the Jordanian state)
and Labor's "territorial" autonomy, which is a diminutive
version of the Jordan option. His diplomacy also assumes that
the only choices are between Labor's cosmetic international conference
and Likud's direct negotiations.
The fact that the Jordan option is dead,
that the concept of a Palestinian-Jordanian delegation is unacceptable
and that the Camp David formula is discredited throughout the
Arab World seems to have escaped Mr. Shultz's attention. The outcome
of Shultz's diplomacy has so far worked for the benefit of Israeli
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir. Shamir's visit to the United States
in March 1988, ostensibly to discuss peace with the Reagan Administration,
enabled him to respond to U.S. critics of Israeli repression in
the occupied territories, to raise funds in the U.S. Jewish community
and to solidify and upgrade the U.S. strategic alliance. In his
visit, Shamir repeated the Israeli position that the Palestinian
uprising was not a demonstration of civil disobedience but a war
waged "against Israelis, against the existence of the State
of Israel"; hence, he declared the media coverage unfair
and non-contextual. This theme was dutifully repeated by prominent
U.S. Jewish figures such as Morris Abram, chairman of the Council
of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations and New York Mayor
Edward Koch, among others. Henry Kissinger, who had erected the
principal barrier to a Palestinian-Israeli settlement back in
1974 and who was willing to bomb Vietnam back to the stone age,
was already on record one week prior to Shamir's visit as saying,
"Israel should bar the media... accept the short term criticism...
and put down the insurrection as quickly as possible-overwhelmingly,
brutally and rapidly.''
The recent dramatic ascendancy of the
far right in the Israeli body politic and the rampant anti-Arab
racism sweeping the country provide a fertile environment for
the kind of state terrorism witnessed today on the West Bank and
The orientation of this rapidly growing
group toward brute force and its contempt for debate is partly
the cause for the sharp increase in repression against Palestinian
civilians under occupation. Worse yet is the tendency of members
of the political and religious establishment to encourage such
acts of terrorism. Given the close and special relationship between
the United States and Israel, given that no prominent U.S. politician
is willing to condemn Israel publicly for its repression of the
Palestinians and given that the United States and Israel share
the same understanding of what terrorism is, it seems likely that
if peace is to come to the Middle East it will be in spite of
what the United States and Israel do.
Israel Shahak on the "Transfer Proposal"
by Ellen Ray
... in Israel the use of death squads
to murder Palestinians has been discussed in some of the Hebrew
press. It was not employed in the occupied territories until about
September or October 1987, when we had one very well-documented
case in the Gaza Strip. According to the Israeli Hebrew press,
three Palestinians were discovered dead, in a car. One of them
was a Palestinian guerrilla who had escaped from prison. The two
others were collaborators [Palestinians who work with or support
the Israelis]-well-known, rich collaborators. One of them had
established a branch of the Tel Aviv stock exchange in Gaza. The
other was of a similar background. So you can understand that
such people are neither guerrillas nor helpers of guerrillas.
Since the families were very rich they
could employ very good lawyers -Palestinian lawyers from Israel.
And by using such lawyers and with the help of a Hebrew weekly
called Koteret Rashit, which is sensitive and courageous about
corruption in the intelligence and security services, even if
not so good about Palestinian national rights, the case was brought
into the open. By now it is completely clear that the two businessmen
were murdered simply because they were accidentally eyewitnesses
to the murder of the guerrilla.
There was also a recent case in which
Israeli television, against orders, photographed an Israeli Jewish
civilian shooting straight into a crowd of Palestinians. But when
it was discovered that the person was a member of the General
Security Service, Shabak, there was not even the smallest judicial
investigation. It was simply announced that he was reprimanded.
And that was it.
It is well known that Israel is involved
with death squads in countries like Guatemala and many others,
so it is only natural that this matter would come home. I think
there is no doubt that the employment of death squads, especially
in the Gaza Strip, was one of the sparks which ignited the violence.
Washington's Proxy: Israeli Arms in Central
by Clarence Lusane
The war drums are beating in Central America and Israel is an
important player. The State of Israel has emerged as a major and
in some cases, principal supplier of arms, advisers and training
to the repressive forces in the region. Long denounced for its
military ties to South Africa, Chile and the Philippines, the
Zionist regime has extended its role as surrogate for the United
States to the front line of Central America. Although much of
what is happening is held in strict secrecy, the vast extent of
Israeli aid has begun to fray the cover under which Reagan Administration
policy objectives circumvent congressional obstacles.
Stopping U.S. military aid to Central
America also requires stopping U.S. military aid to Israel. By
the end of the 1960s Israel had emerged as an arms exporter, but
only since the Reagan Administration has it been able to reach
its potential as a full junior partner to U.S. imperialism.
The Israeli Arms Industry
Fourteen percent of Israel's industrial
labor force is employed in its arms industry. If the armed forces
are included, the number rises to 25 percent According to the
latest CIA estimates, Israel is the fifth largest exporter of
arms in the world, up from its seventh place ranking in 1980.
Israel remains the largest supplier of arms to sub-Saharan Africa
and Latin America.
In 1977, Israel's arms exports were valued
at $285 million. Despite the loss of two reliable customers, Iran
and Nicaragua, by 1981 military exports had risen to $1.3 billion.
The Israeli-built Uzi submachine gun... is the shining star of
Israeli weaponry. It is the choice of NATO and is used in at least
43 countries, including virtually all the nations of Latin America.
Since 1970, Israel's military budget has
consumed more than 30 percent of its national budget. Limited
domestic use has made the export of arms essential to its economic
survival. Latin American money has become indispensable to the
Israeli arms industry. Central America has become a goldmine for
Israeli arms sales.
After the Israeli-sanctioned massacres
at Sabra and Shatila then Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon
and the Air Force Chief arrived in Honduras. In his 38-hour visit,
Sharon and the Hondurans agreed that Israel would send Honduras
12 Kfir planes, radar equipment, light weapons and spare parts
and 50 advisers. Military training was also proposed.
Less than six months later, Israel was
sending weapons to Honduras: artillery pieces, mortar rounds,
mines, hand grenades and ammunition. Most were to go to U.S.-backed
counterrevolutionaries seeking to overthrow the Nicaraguan Government
from bases in Honduras.
In the period of 1970-80, Honduras received
the following weapons from Israel: 12 Dassault Super Mystere fighters;
four Arava (STOL) transports; I Westwind reconnaissance plane;
14 RBY Mk armored cars; five fast patrol boats (unconfirmed);
106-mm mortars; and 106-mm rifles.
The estimated $25 million in weapons promised
to Honduras by Sharon is a continuation of past practice. However,
Honduras is now playing a new role in Central America, similar
to the one Israel plays in the Middle East, strategically important
to U.S. interests and goals in the region as a rear base for the
contras attacking Nicaragua and as a training ground for Guatemalan
and Salvadoran fascists. In addition to aid from the United States
and Israel, Honduras has received military aid from Argentina
and Chile allowing it to increase its armed forces six-fold since
1970 (from 5,000 to over 30,000). The Honduran Air Force is the
most powerful in Central America.
U.S. officials have admitted that Israeli
assistance is important in achieving Reagan Administration military
and political goals. Worried about potential congressional locks
on aid to the Nicaraguan contras, the administration's military
aid to Honduras will go toward buying weapons from Israel which
have themselves been produced with U.S. military aid.
By its own account, the United States
has at least 300 military advisers, technicians and engineers
in Honduras. The United States is spending $20 million to construct
a modern airport at Comayagua to accommodate U.S. troop transports.
Another four airstrips are being expanded to handle military jets.
It is the goal of the United States, with
the critical assistance of Israel, to make Honduras the chief
gendarme of Central America. There is one central objective in
the U.S.-Honduras-Israel connection. If U.S. policy makers launch
an all-out invasion of Nicaragua, it will duplicate the Israeli
invasion of Lebanon, launched from Honduran soil.
Ronald Reagan pledged to draw the line
against communism in El Salvador and any hesitation by the U.S.
Congress to send military aid finds a willing substitute in Israeli
aid. For example, in 1981 when the administration was scrambling
to find more aid to send El Salvador, Israel agreed to "lend"
the U.S. $21 million to give to El Salvador, money which came
from previous U.S. aid to Israel. In other words, the United States
took out a loan on its original funds, thereby violating the expressed
will of Congress.
The United States has only recently become
a major supplier of military aid to El Salvador. Through the 1970s,
Israel was the biggest seller of weapons and aircraft to the country.
The arsenal made up more than 80 percent of El Salvador's military
imports, supplemented by an estimated 100 Israeli advisers, who,
like their U.S. counterparts, are training the Salvadoran military
in counterinsurgency strategy and tactics at a secret base near
Tegucigalpa. In addition, Israeli pilots are believed to be flying
Israeli-made aircraft against the guerrillas. The Gouga Magisters
and Dassault Ouragans are actually outmoded French planes which
have been overhauled by Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd. (IAI),
fitted with motors manufactured by the U.S. company, Pratt &
Israel has also set up advanced computer
systems to gather and analyze intelligence about the citizenry.
Similar to the Israeli-installed computers in Guatemala, the network
in El Salvador also monitors changes in water and electricity
consumption. All Israeli aid to El Salvador comes from U.S. military
and economic aid to Israel. The fact is that to cut off U.S. aid
to El Salvador also requires cutting or limiting aid to Israel.
After the killing of journalists by Somoza's
National Guard in 1978, President Carter cut off all U.S. aid
to Nicaragua. Israel picked up the slack and until just before
the Sandinista victory, providing 98 percent of Somoza's arms.
When questioned about selling arms to Somoza, Israeli Prime Minister
Menachem Begin responded, "We have a debt of gratitude with
Somoza." In 1948, the UN General Assembly recommended the
partition of Palestine and the creation of a Jewish state. The
new state of Israel needed weapons and had almost nowhere to turn.
Israel struck a deal with Somoza. Somoza appointed Yehuda Arazi
as a Nicaraguan ambassador to Europe where he could purchase weapons
in the name of Nicaragua. Eventually, all the weapons ended up
in Israel. Arazi, it turned out, was a member of the Jewish underground's
clandestine army organization, Haganah.
Since 1976, Israel has been the main provider
of weapons, aircraft and training to Guatemala. In fact, between
1977 and 1981, after the U.S. cut off aid due to gross human rights
violations, Israel was the only nation giving military aid to
Training of Guatemalan military strongmen
by Israel has included education in the use of terror and interrogation
techniques, modern intelligence methods and psychological warfare.
Israeli advisers are the key link in Guatemalan counterinsurgency
operations. From national planning to civilian rural cooperative
programs to military maneuvers, Israel is centrally involved.
Israeli advisers have trained many of the officers of Guatemala's
police intelligence (G-2). The right wing openly calls for the
"Palestinianization" of the rebelling Mayan Indians.
Some of Israel's most advanced electronic and computer technologies
have been installed in Guatemala. Hit lists used by the death
squads have been computerized. Technologically sophisticated murder
is coordinated by a Regional Telecommunications Center (RTC) built
and managed by Israeli Army experts. The RTC is also linked to
the U.S. Army's Southern Command at Fort Gulick in the Panama
Canal Zone. The RTC is run by the generals from the fourth floor
of the National Palace Annex.
The U.S. Agency for International Development
has said that the RTC is Guatemala's principal presidential level
security agency and works with a high level security network.
It links the key officials of the National Police, Treasury Police,
Detective Corps, Ministry of Government, the Presidential Palace
and the Military Communications Center.
The Tel Aviv newspaper Haolam Hazeh and
the London Guardian revealed in December 1982 that Israeli advisers
work closely with Guatemala's G-2 police units in the use of interrogation
and torture. Computerized death lists are a mainstay of government
terror; by 1980, computers already listed 80 percent of the Guatemalan
In November 1981, the Israeli-sponsored
Army Electronics and Transmission School was opened in Guatemala
to teach computer and electronic monitoring of the Guatemalan
people. Equipment at the school is capable of doing everything
from checks on potential apartment renters to detecting changes
in electricity consumption that might indicate that an illegal
printing press is in operation.
Israel has also been helpful in developing
Guatemala's major military-civilian program, to create Vietnam-style
strategic hamlets. The means of implementing these counterinsurgency
plans were couched in terms of establishing peasant cooperatives
similar to the kibbutzim in Israel. Guatemalan and Israeli agricultural
and military officials were exchanged.
Under the Rios Montt regime, the Israeli
model was put into full operation. In August 1982, a "Plan
of Assistance to Conflict Areas" (PAAC) program was begun,
reproducing many of the tactics applied by the Israelis on the
West Bank, such as finding mayors willing to accommodate to the
Rios Montt's strategic relations with
Israel began before his March 23, 1982, coup. Tel Aviv newspapers
reported that 300 Israeli advisers had helped to execute the takeover.
On August 8, 1983, Rios Montt was overthrown in another military
coup led by General Oscar Humberto Mejia Victores. Mejia, who
was Defense Minister under Rios Montt, is also a fierce anticommunist.
While the precise U.S. role in this latest coup is unclear, it
has been reported that some of the Israeli-trained officers that
brought Rios Montt to power also participated in his overthrow.
Costa Rica's northern border has become
an operational base for attacks by contras on Nicaragua. Former
Sandinista turned traitor, Eden Pastora, leads a small army estimated
at 5,000 from this border area.
At one point, Pastora claimed that he
had to shut down his activities because he had run out of funds.
He stated that because of his "anti-U.S." stance, he
would not accept funds from the CIA. Within days he was fighting
again, reportedly with an infusion of funds from Israel, as well
as other countries. In fact, much of this was a propaganda charade,
as Pastora has been receiving CIA aid all the time.
Although Costa Rica has no army, Israeli
military trainers and arms are beginning to pour into the country.
In 1982, President Luis Alberto Monge met with Menachem Begin
in Washington. They discussed the possibility of Israeli military
aid in building up Costa Rican security forces. The funds would
come from Washington.
The United States has been pressuring
Costa Rica to consolidate its security forces. This would include
a 5,000-member Civil Guard, a 3,000-member Rural Guard, 1,700
prison guards, the 100-member National Security Agency and the
Chilean-trained, 500-member Organization of Judicial Investigation.
In 1983, the United States will have spent $150,000 to train 103
members of Costa Rica's security forces, three times the amount
spent in 1982.
Israel has been chosen by AID to build
a $10 million settlement project along the Nicaragua-Costa Rica
border. The military squeeze that the contras are currently operating
from Honduras and Costa Rica would obviously be enhanced should
the U.S. Congress fund this proposal.
The U.S. Role
Has exposure of illegal arms transfers
by Israel forced the United States to cut back on aid? Or has
the fact that Israel has sent arms to countries which the U.S.
Congress and others have designated as flagrant violators of basic
human rights made the Reagan Administration voice any criticism
of Israel? The answer to both questions is no.
The immense scale of continued U.S. military
and economic aid to Israel is obscene. Israel remains the largest
recipient of U.S. foreign aid. It receives about one-third of
all U.S. foreign aid, which in the last 10 years has amounted
to about $25 billion, or roughly $7 million a day. Since 1976
Israel has not spent a penny of its own for military imports.
The average U.S. subsidy to Israel for military imports has been
129 percent of the actual cost of those imports.
Israel's Defense Minister, Moshe Arens,
was in Washington in late July to discuss more military aid and
the right to use U.S. aid to develop weapon systems that are currently
only available in the United States The State Department and White
House refused to comment on the results of the meeting, but an
Israeli official said "this trip was one of the most successful
trips ever made by an Israeli minister to Washington."
The above figures shed light on the important
and central role that Israel plays in U.S. foreign policy goals.
No amount of struggle against U.S. aid to repressive dictatorships
and juntas will be complete, or even marginally successful, unless
Israel is also taken to task.
Israeli - South African Collaboration
by Jack Calhoun
Over the last decade the world community has increasingly ostracized
South Africa's white minority regime. Arms embargoes, economic
sanctions, bans on the transfer of nuclear and other high technology
have been applied to compel South Africa to dismantle its racist
system of apartheid. But at the same time a triangular strategic
partnership of Israel, South Africa and the United States has
developed to cushion the apartheid state from the full force of
To understand the Israeli relationship
with South Africa, it is useful to put it in the context of Israel's
growing involvement in the Third World. Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi,
a former professor at the University of Haifa who now teaches
at Colombia University, writes, "Consider any Third World
area that has been a trouble spot in the past 10 years and you
will discover Israeli officers and weapons implicated in the conflict-supporting
U.S. interests and helping what they call 'the defense of the
West."' Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras and
Nicaragua under the Somoza dictatorship are examples.
"In South Africa," Beit-Hallahmi
observes, "Israel is actively involved in defending what
Washington sees as 'a strategic outpost'-with the complicity and
encouragement of the United States. In this case, although the
United States is committed to the survival of the South African
regime, Washington feels that the overt support it can give to
South Africa is severely limited by world opinion."
But, Beit-Hallahmi notes, "Israel's
role in South Africa is qualitatively different from its role
elsewhere." Israel's investments in South Africa, the burgeoning
volume of trade between the two countries and their extensive
sharing of high technology and military experience has resulted
in a unique network of mutual support.
In The Unnatural Alliance: Israel and
South Africa, James Adams points out "While it is impossible
to place an accurate figure on the true total volume [of trade
between the two countries], it is probable that when all trade
is taken into account, Israel may be South Africa's biggest trading
partner." Economic relations between the two countries are
shrouded in secrecy, says Adams, an executive of the London Sunday
According to International Monetary Fund
statistics for 1983, South African exports to Israel totaled $142
million, while Israeli exports to South Africa amounted to $69
million. But these numbers don't include Israel's secret arms
trade with South Africa, or South Africa's export of raw diamonds
"South Africa stands out as the single
largest customer [of Israeli weapons]," Aaron Klieman, a
political scientist at Tel Aviv University concludes in his book
Israel's Global Reach: Arms Sales as Diplomacy. "It is thought
to have been the purchaser of 35 percent of all sold in the years
1970-79." The Tel Aviv regime doesn't allow much information
to reach the public about its weapons sales, especially those
to South Africa, which are in defiance of the UN's 1963 and 1977
arms boycotts of the apartheid state.
"It is believed that Israel currently
gets 50 percent of its diamonds from South Africa," Adams
reveals. "South Africa currently exports in excess of $100
million of uncut gems to Israel each year and it has been a steady
and lucrative market for both parties." The diamond polishing
industry -s a mainstay of the Israeli economy. Israel's foreign
sales of polished diamonds in 1983 totaled $1 billion.
Many Israeli companies have invested extensively
in South Africa. Afitra and Koors, corporations owned by Israel's
Histadrut labor federation, are big investors in South African
commercial agriculture, high technology and power generation industries.
Israeli investments are also concentrated in other critical sectors
of the apartheid state's economy, such as communications, computers,
advanced computer software and electronics.
As writer Jane Hunter explains, "One
of Israel's chief attractions, as far as South African industrialists
are concerned, is its preferred status with the European Economic
Community and the United States." Under the 1984 U.S. Free
Trade Agreement, all Israeli exports to the United States will
eventually be duty free. "To take advantage of Israel's privileged
trade status, South African companies have systematically established
manufacturing facilities in Israel, most often joint ventures
with Israeli firms. Raw or semifinished materials are shipped
from South Africa to Israel where sufficient 'local content'...
is added, 'made in Israel' label is attached and the finished
merchandise is shipped off to unsuspecting consumers abroad."
This practice of "springboarding" is made profitable
by the slave wages paid to black South African workers.
The Military Alliance
A military alliance between the two countries
evolved gradually in the 1960s as the UN adopted its first arms
embargo against South Africa in 1963 and European suppliers of
weapons to Israel stopped selling their wares to Israel after
Israel's aggressive land grabs in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. But
the Israeli-South African military partnership intensified after
South African Prime Minister Johannes Vorster visited Israel in
1976 and signed an agreement with the Tel Aviv regime setting
up a Ministerial Joint Committee of the two nations' defense ministers.
According to the agreement, "the exchange of Israeli arms
and advice has three major areas: conventional arms trade, nuclear
collaboration and counterinsurgency.''
Israel has exported sophisticated Kfir
aircraft and rebuilt Mirage jet warplanes to South Africa. Israel
has also supplied the apartheid state with Dabur coastal patrol
boats, Reshef-class gunboats armed with Gabriel missiles, self-propelled
105 mm howitzers, antitank missiles, air-to-air missiles, assault
rifles, radar bases and surveillance equipment.''
"Beyond outright sales, Israel has
enabled South Africa to become almost completely self-sufficient
in several types of weaponry and weapons systems," Hunter
notes. "The two countries have set up a joint helicopter
manufacturing project - Rotoflight of Capetown and Chemavir-Masok
in Israel-which supplies the armed forces of both countries with
Scorpion helicopters. Without the Israeli-South African alliance,
she concludes, Pretoria could not have broken the UN arms embargo.
Adams points out Pretoria's debt to Israel
in its counterinsurgency wars against the black African front-line
states surrounding it and its repression of South Africa's black
majority. Much of the efficiency of the South African security
services must be placed at the door of Israel," Adams writes,
"for both army experts and specialists in counterintelligence
operations and interrogation from Mossad [the Israeli central
intelligence agency] have been based in South Africa in a permanent
advisory capacity since 1976.''
Israel Aircraft Industries constructed
an electrified fence between Angola and Namibia, which South Africa
illegally occupies, to block the infiltration into Namibia of
SWAPO guerrillas fighting to liberate their homeland. Antipersonnel
mines made in Israel are planted by South Africa along the Angolan
and Mozambican borders. An Israeli spy drone was shot down in
1983 flying over Mozambique.
Israeli military officers helped South
Africa plan its 1975 invasion of Angola. In 1981 Gen. Ariel Sharon,
then Israeli Defense Minister, spent 10 days with South African
troops in Namibia near the Angolan border. The London Financial
Times and the London Observer published reports of Israeli involvement
in 1983-84 with Jonas Savimbi's UNITA guerrillas, the South African
backed contras fighting against the MPLA government of Angola.
Israel and South Africa have also collaborated
with regard to nuclear weapons technology since the mid-1960s.
Adams states, "For South Africa, Israel had one primary advantage:
a relatively advanced nuclear industry that had been working on
uranium-enrichment techniques and on the design of a nuclear bomb.
For the Israelis, South Africa possessed almost unlimited supplies
of uranium that it might be persuaded to part with as part of
a uranium-for-technology swap.''
' Despite a curtain of secrecy, it appears
that both Israel and South Africa have developed nuclear weapons
and could not have done so without each other's help. Israeli
nuclear scientists were frequently reported to have been in South
Africa in 1977, the same year the apartheid state abruptly canceled
what the CIA thought were preparations for an atomic weapons test
in the Kalahari desert.
Two years later, the CIA concluded, Israel
and South Africa carried out a nuclear bomb test in the south
Atlantic Ocean, although the Carter Administration and the regimes
in Pretoria and Tel Aviv denied it. CBS News correspondent Dan
Raviv reported in 1980 that Israel "had detonated an atomic
bomb in a joint nuclear project in the south Atlantic," referring
to the 1979 double flash in the south Atlantic, which is characteristic
of an atomic explosion.
Sophisticated weapons technology purchased
by Israel from the United States also has been diverted to South
Africa. Adams reveals how the Israelis helped the racist white-minority
regime obtain the 155 mm howitzer, then the world's most advanced
artillery piece. Israel bought the weapon from the U.S.-based
Space Research Corp. (SRC) and used the big gun with great effectiveness
in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.
After South African troops were repelled
in their 1975 invasion of Angola by MPLA forces with superior
artillery, Pretoria turned to Israel. Although the Israelis were
willing to sell the 155 mm howitzer technology to South Africa,
Tel Aviv didn't own the rights to the weapon. So the Israelis
teamed up with some former CIA agents to fashion a clandestine
deal. SRC in the end not only sold Pretoria the advanced weaponry
but also trained South African technicians, who later reconstructed
"It is possible that another major
weapons system-Israel's Lavi aircraft, which incorporates highly
advanced U.S. technology and is largely dependent on U.S. financing-is
now making its way to Pretoria," Hunter warns. There have
been numerous reports in the Israeli and international press that
South Africa is covertly financing part of the Lavi project in
return for a deal that would eventually allow the South Africans
to build the Lavi under license in the apartheid state.
[Jane] Hunter notes that the U.S. corporations
may, under pressure from antiapartheid campaigns, stop their operations
in South Africa, but use their corporate subsidiaries in Israel
to continue doing business with South Africa. Motorola has recently
won praise for its announcement that it will stop selling two-way
radios to the South African police. However, its subsidiary, Motorola
Israel, which produces military communications systems and distributes
them in South Africa through Afitra, can offer Pretoria continued
access to those radios," she writes.
The Israeli-South African partnership
evolved in part as a relationship between two nations faced increasingly
with international isolation because of their destabilizing and
oppressive policies in the Middle East and Southern Africa. But
this relationship was also encouraged by the United States.
"[Secretary of State Henry] Kissinger
in early 1975 secretly asked the Israeli Government to send troops
to Angola in order to cooperate with the South African Army in
fighting the Cuban-backed MPLA," the British magazine The
Economist wrote. "They sent South Africa some military instructors
specializing in antiguerrilla warfare plus equipment designed
for the same purpose. In return, the Israelis took Kissinger's
request as the green light for an Israeli-South African partnership."
The next year the United States turned
again to its covert partner in Tel Aviv. "British television
(and subsequently the press as well) aired a report referring
to the sale of U.S. helicopters to South Africa, in the middle
of their notorious invasion of newly liberated Angola. It turns
out Kissinger, with reason, expected the U.S. Congress would not
confirm the sale of such equipment... so... an 'Israeli solution'
was found for this problem by means of a fictitious sale effected
by 'unknown Israeli companies,' and the 'copters were transferred
to South Africa'," Hebrew University professor Israel Shahak
Jane Hunter sums up: "Israel has
become an indispensable covert partner for the United States because
this partnership isn't subject to congressional scrutiny or even
public debate because of Israel's 'special relationship' with
Washington." But, she concludes, "The question for progressive
Americans should be simply whether we are doing all that we can
to end apartheid. If we find, therefore, that the 'special relationship'
between the United States and Israel spills over into South Africa,
then issues like the level of U.S. aid to Israel, the role of
U.S. firms in three-way trade and U.S. diplomatic attempts to
cover up this involvement cannot be ignored."