Discussion Forum

Arms Trade with Israel

Posted by Barbara Green
Monday, August 28, 2006

Copy of letter to Chris McCafferty, MP

I have just learnt to my shock that Britain conducts a flourishing two way arms trade with Israel. The value of our military exports to Israel and other areas of conflict doubled from £12.5 million in 2000 to £22.5 million in 2001. Between the 29th September, 2000, when Sharon marched with his military escort around the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem in an act of deliberate provocation and May 2002, just after Israel’s attack on Jenin and Nablus, our government issued licences for 383 arms exports to Israel.

It is a matter of fact that there are British components on all major Israeli weapons systems used in occupied Palestine, including Apache gunships, Merleava tanks and APCP. These were used in the attacks of April 2002, on Jenin and Nablus, attacks condemned by Amnesty International as war crimes.

Meanwhile, military related imports from Israel into Britain have included the purchase of 38,000 rounds of cluster shells, 155mm cargo ammunition and the SIMON don-breaching grenade purchased from Rafael. All this has fuelled the growing collaboration between European arms manufacturers and the hugely successful Israeli arms industry.

In addition, Israel has massive stocks of nuclear weapons, whose existence their government refuses to confirm ordering, but which were revealed by Mordechai Vanunu in 1986, a revelation for which he paid dearly with “8 years” incarceration. This nuclear arsenal has never been subjected to international inspection.

Please raise this matter with the DTI as a matter of urgency in view of the devastating, vastly disproportionate assault launched by Israel on Lebanon, which resulted in so many civilian deaths and which has been almost universally condemned by the rest of the world, with the shameful exception of American and Britain.

I hope you will press the DTI to put an immediate stop to all such exports and imports. The Middle East is a tinderbox and we have no business to be supplying the matches to set it alight.

Very Best Wishes

Barbara Green

From Heather Sela
Tuesday, September 5, 2006

I presume, Ms. Green, that in the interest of fairness, you have also written to the presidents of Syria and Iran demanding that they cease to supply long range missiles to the terrorist organisations active in the "tinder box" called the middle east including Hizballah, Hamas, The Islamic Jihad and others.

I presume that in fact you are actually aware that the recent war in Lebanon was in fact instigated by the Hizballah on the morning of July 12th 2006 when they crossed the U.N. recognised international border between Lebanon and Israel, kidnapped two Israeli reserve soldiers from the Israeli side of the border, killed several others and then proceeded to launch Katyusha rockets at Israeli towns. All that before Israel fired even one retaliatory shot.

I presume that although, admittedly, it is extremely difficult to comprehend from the reports on the BBC and CNN that there are actually any civilians living in Israel, you did not deliberately intend in your letter to ignore the fact that there were Israeli civilian casualties in this war too.

I presume too that you are familiar with the words of Martin Luther King Jr. from 1967 - " There is no such thing as an anti-zionist, only an anti-semite".

And by the way , the Israeli made tanks are called Merkava (not Merleava) which means chariot.

From Duncan Watson
Tuesday, September 5, 2006

It really is a crass display of ignorance when it is assumed that decrying the arms trade with Israel is synonymous with anti-Semitism. Ms Green does not live in Iran or Syria presumably. However, the elected government in her country is responsible for selling arms to a country that has killed civilians in the name of war. It is thus perfectly natural that she should write to her MP but not to the Syrian or Iranian government.

One can consistently maintain that Hizbullah's actions are immoral as well as those of Israel. To voice one?s concern about the behaviour of the Israeli armed forces is not to sign up as a terrorist sympathiser. That reasoning to the contrary is fallacious ought to be obvious to all who have witnessed George W Bush's less than persuasive ?'ou are either with us or against us?'line of argument.

Posted by Rev Tony Buglass
Tuesday, September 5, 2006

I don't think Heather is suggesting that Barbara Green is antisemitic, just that she is reacting to what comes across as a one-sided attack on the arms trade with Israel. She does make a few questionable assertions - for example, I believe Sharon's visit to the Al-Aqsa mosque was by invitation, and was then seized upon by extremists to fuel disturbance. And while it has been known (despite their secrecy)for decades that Israel has a nuclear arsenal (and a viable delivery system, the Jericho missile) exactly what constitutes "massive stocks of nuclear weapons"? As many as we have?

The truth of the matter is that the international arms trade is a murky tangle, involving both explicit and implicit technology. An Apache helicopter is a dedicated attack helicopter (but did Israel buy them from Westland, or from Boeing?), but the Britten-Norman Islander was designed as a civilian transport and developed into a maritime search and patrol rescue aircraft by the addition of suitable radar - the same radar can be used for military surveillance. The fact of the matter is that British companies would be unable to develop aircraft or weapons systems for our own defence unless they were able to export them and thus reduce the unit costs to the point at which the MOD can afford them. Yes, we can be selective in our choice of customers, but that only works up to a point.

The ideal is that we wouldn't need to support an arms trade at all, but could spend those billions on socially positive stuff like those anti-cancer drugs the NHS says it can't afford, or on alleviating the grinding poverty all over the world. To quote the Lindisfarne song "Change got to come - roll on that day!" In the meantime, we live in a world in which we have to defend ourselves, and that means an arms trade. Shouting about one particular aspect of it isn't really going to change anything.