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Israel to Sign Guns for Refugees Deal With African States

israeli african refugees

Heard of arms for hostages? How ’bout arms for refugees? (David Sheen)

Writing this blog as long as I have, I’ve seen some pretty low blows from the Israeli government.  But this one ranks right up there.  Those of you old enough remember Ronald Reagan’s arms for hostages deal with the Iranians–now, Israel proposes an arms for refugees exchange.  And it stinks to high heaven.

Ynet reports that the government is close to inking a deal with three African states (who are likely Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Uganda) who will take “tens of thousands” of ‘undesirable’ African refugees from Israel in return to Israeli weapons and training.  Isn’t that neat and tidy!?  Israel gets rids of what MK Miri Regev called a “cancer in its midst” and contributes to the rising tide of mayhem and violence in countries like South Sudan and Eritrea, already beset by instability and civil war.

There was a time back in the 1960s when Israel actually offered aid that was constructive to newly independent African states.  Of course, this aid wasn’t done for purely altruistic reasons.  Israel also wanted to cozy up to these states because they insulated it from the charge that Israel was oppressing similar types of states in the Middle East.  Africa also offered a rich field for Israel’s intelligence operations and satisfied some of its need for raw materials for its military-industrial complex.

This story should be linked to another important one reported yesterday.  The Israeli government revealed there are 7,000 registered arms merchants plying Israeli weapons to precisely these sorts of unstable states, making Israel the sixth largest arms merchant in the world.  What the government refused to do in response to a court case, was reveal the names of these merchants of death.  It claimed that doing so would endanger them and expose them to potential terrorist attacks.

While this possibility is remote, it’s much more likely that these arms dealers would be exposed to the shame and obloquy of the world community.  And they should have to face such exposure.  Israel and the nations where they ply their trade have the right to know who these people are.  While the U.S. goes after the Victor Bout’s of the world, it does little or nothing to reduce the proliferation of Israel’s stable of sophisticated, lethal weaponry.  These 7,000 go scott free because Israel is an ally, which Russia isn’t.

H/t David Sheen.

{ 18 comments… add one }
  • jg July 16, 2013, 12:56 AM

    This is awful – this is what countries/states do through history in “trade-offs” ??
    who benefits, and for what purposes?
    Tomorrow, I read more carefully; I was just talking about the Eritrean refugees this p.m.
    what will become of the “refugees”, once they are “exported” to these places? I fear their lives may be at risk, and they may face worse situations than they did, possibly, than on their way to Israel.
    how can this be legal? one cannot trade PEOPLE for arms/training – CAN THEY?!!!
    THERE HAS TO BE SOME iNTERNATIONAL LAW VIOLATIONS HERE – unless the “refugees” are being returned to their native lands, and these countries are accepting the bribes.
    I am sure it will be presented as something else…
    what is in it for Israel, apart from ridding it’s borders of unwanted refugees?
    this really is sickening to me

  • Strelnikov July 16, 2013, 1:02 AM

    They need to give up calling it Israel and just dub it Sleazeland. The question to be answered is, how many refugees are worth one Galil rifle?

  • Nicy nice July 16, 2013, 1:37 AM

    Such a great deal –
    we get rid of two cancers in our country –
    1. we give away firearms and weapon
    2. we give away thieves and border-stealers and heavy- weight on our society
    all on one package –
    this is a great deal, Israel has no interest what so ever on hosting those immigrants.
    if one is so kin to help them – he can be humble enough to ask them in into his house and country.

    • Richard Silverstein July 16, 2013, 1:54 AM

      @Nicy nice: And there’s no racism in Israel, is there??

    • Davey July 17, 2013, 11:06 AM

      I think we know who the thieves and “border-stealers” are. After this deportation, they will still be there.

  • Nimrod July 16, 2013, 2:44 AM

    If Israel is such a racist country, than why did they “seek refuge” in it in the first place?

    • Richard Silverstein July 16, 2013, 7:29 PM

      @Nimrod: It is a country in which they believed they would find more hope for their future than in their native countries. Plus, I’m not sure they understood the level of hate that Israelis would direct at them.

      • Nimrod July 16, 2013, 10:22 PM

        @Richard: If I broke into your home, hoping to get a better life conditions and demanded rights I wasn’t entitled to – wouldn’t you want me out also?
        And by the way – even Israeli organizations with views similar to yours don’t call them “refugees” anymore, but use the term “asylum seekers”.

        • Richard Silverstein July 17, 2013, 12:17 PM

          A country and a home are two entirely different things. There are international covenants governing how a nation must treat refugees & Israel violates every one of them. Which isn’t surprising because Israel entirely disdains international law, except when it benefits Israel’s interests, then it embraces it wholeheartedly. But international law isn’t a cut & paste system. In order for it to to work you can’t pick & choose which aspects you respect & which you ignore.

          • Davey July 17, 2013, 8:09 PM

            @nimrod They are refugees.

            @Richard — Israel exposed the hollowness of the UN through the ’56 campaign, ’67 war etc. Israel exposes the hollowness of international law by picking and choosing what to honor. Israel’s mission seems to be to abuse and empty of any meaning every institution of collective civilization. Maybe that should be the country’s slogan: “No matter how decent it is, we can make it sh*t!” e.g. human rights, laws of war, international law, Maritime law,…etc. etc. Of course, Israel can do this only to the extent that it is costless and there are no consequences.

      • Fred July 17, 2013, 4:12 AM

        One might wonder why for 6 years they keep coming to this horrible place and not stop for refuge in Ejypt or more welcoming countries like Jordan or Syria. Even in less technological countries I think that the news of “the level of hate that Israelis would direct at them” is probably not knowen only to few.

        • Richard Silverstein July 17, 2013, 12:18 PM

          @Fred: You wonder why they don’t stop at Egypt? A country which murdered Sudanese refugees in cold blood?

  • Ron July 16, 2013, 3:55 AM

    1. Most of them are not refugees (look at the definition of a refugee), the came to Israel to work. The same way the US deports Israelis who illegally come to work in the US so can Israel.
    2. What % of the weapons sold in the world are done by Israel? In 2011 the US was responsible for more them 75% of the deals. Israel’s part in selling weapons is very small.
    3. I hope you will publish my comment because you continuously discard them.


    • Richard Silverstein July 16, 2013, 7:31 PM

      @Ron: They are “refugees” according to every legal definition of the word. Some who Israel forcibly returned have been detained on their arrival, which equals persecution.

      As for Israel’s role in arms dealing, considering how small Israel is it’s quite an achievement to be the 6th largest arms exporter in the world. But it was a nice try to try to divert attention to the U.S.

  • Elad R July 16, 2013, 10:43 AM

    I fail to understand why do you refer to the African
    immigrants as refugees. According to Article 31 of the UN Refugee
    Convention a Refugee, ” refugees unlawfully in the country of
    refugee 1. The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on
    account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming
    directly from a territory where their life or freedom was
    threatened in the sense of article 1″
    http://www.unhcr.org/3b66c2aa10.pdf Those immigrants / employment
    seekers do not come DIRECTLY from a territory where their life or
    freedom is threatened in the sense of article 1, they come from
    Egypt. According to the convention they need to apply for a refugee
    status in Egypt and then the UN will resettle them. Without
    applying to a refugee status in Egypt, they do not enjoy the
    protection of the international law as outlined in the refugee
    convention and do not enjoy the Status of a refugee. It has nothing
    to do with racism.

  • Oren July 16, 2013, 1:14 PM


    Us wepanary is killing people all over the world! Open your eyes Mr S.

    • Andy July 17, 2013, 10:46 AM

      Being “a light unto the nations” means not sinking to the level of others.

      • Davey July 17, 2013, 11:08 AM


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