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Israel: a Gun Unto the Nations

idf tavor rifle

IDF soldier sporting Tavor semi-automatic rifle

Classical Zionism posited that the future State it envisioned would be a ‘light unto the nations.’  The vision behind this statement was that most of the nations of the world had made a mess of things.  War and hate was the only language they seemed to understand and anti-Semitism was for many, almost national policy.  Zionism’s vision was a people and State which would show the world the best that the human heart can offer.

That was then, this is now.  What does contemporary Israel offer? Targeted killing. The surveillance state.  Counter-terror and perpetual war.  Israel’s defense industries are ranked tenth in the world in their exports of weapons systems.  Not to mention Israel’s so-called “start-up nation,” which is little more than a massive technology incubator for the Israeli military/security apparatus.

Once Israel represented a dream of peace and humanity.  Today, Israel represents the arms makers of the world.  Instead of exporting Jewish values, it exports missiles and security systems and the product I’ll introduce below.

A few months ago, American Rifleman gave the Tavor self-loading semi-automatic rifle a Golden Bullseye as “rifle of the year.”  Here is how the article profiling the gun began:

When it comes to protecting its people, no nation is more resolute than Israel. With a land area about the size of New Jersey, and fewer than 8 million citizens, the country is relatively small and geographically vulnerable to the hostile adversaries that surround it. As evidence of its resolve, Israel is said to spend a greater percentage of its gross domestic product on national defense than any other nation.

…The rifle’s development began two decades ago when the Israelis—at the time relying primarily on the Galil and its variants alongside the M16 rifle and M4 carbine for infantry use—found themselves facing increasingly dynamic and demanding urban combat situations. Dismounting from vehicles and shooting on the move in and around buildings proved a need for a more agile, adaptable platform. In addition, better accuracy and easier transitioning from daytime to nighttime shooting were identified as areas that should be improved.

Now, PoliceOne, a website devoted to evaluating and selling weapons and other products to U.S. police departments has featured the Israeli rifle under the following screamingly inauspicious subtitle:

The Tavor is one of the most anticipated rifles since the end of the assault weapons ban

This is a promotional video produced by the Military Arms Channel that includes a tour of the IWI factory and a suitable hasbara subtext.  You may not be able to stomach the entire 18-minutes of this glorification of the weapons culture, Israel-style.  But I offer it as a documentary account of this contemporary version of the Zionist dream:

A headline in the IDF’s publication BaMaheneh boasts:

The Tavor Conquers America!

The article notes hyperbolically that:

It is the weapon most beloved by Americans.  So much so that demand outstrips supply.

Its manufacturer, Israel Weapons Industries, kvelled:

“We’ve even seen a picture of a man who tattooed the Tavor on his arm.”


Speaking of “innovative” new weapons systems, over the past week, Israel announced a new rocket called EXTRA, (video demonstration above) with extra-long range that could be used in a future war against Hezbollah in Lebanon.  At 100 miles, it is one of the longest-ranged rockets in the world.  Its warhead is designed to destroy underground bunkers (an implied reference to Hezbollah’s wide underground tunnel system in southern Lebanon which was used to devastating effect against the IDF during the 2006 War).  A number of foreign militaries have purchased the system, though none have yet been manufactured.

This is a direct response to the perceived threat from Hezbollah and meant for Israel’s next war in Lebanon.  My first response when I read this article was to think, is this what one of the most volatile region’s of the world needs?  A new rocket that can do even more damage that existing Israeli ones can?  Israel has been a key player in militarizing the region and now it wants to ratchet up the arms race.  Supposedly in order to fight its enemies, but additionally to bolster its economic bottom line by exporting these new weapons systems to foreign generals eager to buy the next military play-toy.

Herzl once famously said: “If you will it, it is no legend.”  This was the Zionist dream that the early pioneers sought to realize with their blood, sweat and tears.  But what are we offering to the world today?  Instead of a light unto the nations, the new classical Zionist motto should be: a gun unto the nations.

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{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Father DeWalt May 25, 2014, 5:40 AM

    “Once Israel represented a dream of peace and humanity”

    Really? When was that? Not since Isaiah 2:4.

  • Nonsense May 25, 2014, 1:07 PM

    ” But what are we offering to the world today?”

    What do you mean we ? aren’t you an American ? Don’t you reside in Seattle ?
    There is no Zionism without residing in Zion, and no. visiting doesn’t count. If you wish to be part of the tribe (The Zionist tribe) you should come and live in Israel.

    The same goes by the way to any Kahane supporter who resides in New-York and thinks that he’s a great Zionist. the only place to practice Zionism (progressive or other) is in Israel, without residing in Israel one can be a part of the Jewish tribe but can’t be a Zionist.

    • Richard Silverstein May 25, 2014, 4:14 PM

      @ Nonsense: Horse manure. Zionism is predicated on the principle that ALL Jews, including those in the Diaspora are connected to Israel and have a share in it. You can’t take that away from the Diaspora no matter how hard you try. You can try to denigrate the Diaspora (zilzul ha-galut) all you wish. But without the Diaspora, Zionism and Israel itself would not exist. Those are facts. Undeniable facts.

      I’m not part of any tribe. Settlers & Kahanists are part of their own pseudo-Judean tribe. Not me.

      You don’t get to write the Zionist rules, my friend. They’ve already been written & you don’t get to change them to suit your own convenience or ideology.

      • Nonsense May 25, 2014, 4:28 PM

        “. But without the Diaspora, Zionism and Israel itself would not exist. Those are facts. Undeniable facts.”

        History shows the exact contrary. Without the state of Israel Jews were defenseless people massacred all over from Europe to the Arab Lands and everywhere in between.
        We in Israel will do just fine without the rest of the world tribe members involvement in our lives.

        As for the Zionism, it always advocated the return of Jews to Israel as a means for Jews to be a majority in their own nation, and to be liberated from antisemitic discrimination, exclusion, and persecution that had historically occurred in the diaspora.

        Ironic that we discuss that in light of the latest massacre in Belgium, The Kansas City attack on Jewish identity and life and raising antisemitism all over the world.

        • Richard Silverstein May 25, 2014, 6:13 PM

          @ Nonsense: This is the sort of ridiculous circular arguments people just like you have argued here for years. You’re perhaps the 10th reader who’s made this same argument. So this is your last comment in this thread.

          First, Israeli policies have actually caused the deaths of many Jews outside Israel. So Israel isn’t protecting anyone. Not only that, but Ben Gurion didn’t save the life of a single European Jew during the Holocast. In fact, he said if he had a choice between saving some Jews who made aliyah with the rest dying; or saving all the Jews with none of them making aliyah, he’d prefer the former. So in fact, he was more than willing to see Jews die in the Holocaust if it didn’t advance Israel’s interests.

          You in Israel will destroy yourselve without the intervention of outsiders. I’m afraid we won’t, like Dr. Strangelove, allow you to go to your doom and take the rest of the world (or at least the region) with you.

          Israel doesn’t need anti-Semitism to provoke deaths of Jews. It does it quite well itself through its hatred of Arabs, Muslims and its war on the rest of the region.

          You’re done here. Remember that.

  • Father DeWalt May 25, 2014, 4:40 PM

    ” Today, Israel represents the arms makers of the world. Instead of exporting Jewish values, it exports missiles and security systems and the product I’ll introduce below.”

    I see nothing wrong with Israel developing advanced weaponry.

    Hasn’t the bee adapted to it’s environment and developed a stinger? Why not the Jew?

    • Elisabeth May 25, 2014, 5:28 PM

      Yuk! What a digusting comment!

      • Richard Silverstein May 25, 2014, 6:15 PM

        @ Elisabeth: Something doesn’t smell right about our good friar, ‘Father’ DeWalt.

    • Richard Silverstein May 25, 2014, 5:58 PM

      @ Father DeWalt: So you think “Jews” and “Israelis” are the same thing? And you think Israel, which purported to be a light unto the nations, should be an arms exporter to the nations instead. And you think Israel, whose leaders since the 1920s have advocated brutal force to suppress Arabs, is merely defending itself & developed those weapons out of a desperate need to prevent its annihilation? I have a bridge to sell you.

      • Father DeWalt May 25, 2014, 9:07 PM

        “Light unto the nations” was when polytheism held sway and Judaism offered the alternative of monotheism.

        Self defense is natural. Self reliance is laudable. Building your own defenses is both natural and laudable, and making a buck on it, like your neighbors at Boeing, is nothing to be ashamed of.

        “Israel, whose leaders since the 1920s have advocated brutal force to suppress Arabs..”
        What happened in the 1920’s that caused Zionist leaders to advocate such a policy?

        G-d decides what a Jew is, not me.

        • Richard Silverstein May 26, 2014, 3:18 AM

          @ Father DeWalt: I think you’re a fake. I don’t appreciate people using nicknames that clearly hide who or what they are. You’re moderated for showing bad faith & deception.

          Israel isn’t engaged in “self-defence.” It’s engaged in brutal domination of the region.

          As for what happened in the 1920s, both Palestinians and Jews engaged in acts of violence & brutality, some of which was due to policies Ben Gurion openly advocated of ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian population.

          You’re done in this thread. No more contributions here. And I’m invoking my 3 comments a day rule for you. Do not post more than 3 comments in any 24 hour period.

  • jg May 25, 2014, 7:27 PM

    Well put, Richard. Thank you for mentioning some inescapable truths.

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