Haaretz reported that Israeli military weapons exports declined by 13% in the past year. They were $6.5-billion in 2013, down from $7.5-billion in 2012. The overall reduction was worth $1-billion and reflected the second-lowest level since 2008. Weapons exports are one of Israel’s most valuable contributions to its GDP and overall ranked 6th among all nations.
The defense ministry indicated a major source of the reduction was the U.S. draw-down of its forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, increased competition among drone manufacturers, and general reductions in defense budgets. A rare “bright spot” is Africa, where Israeli weapons sales doubled. As I’ve reported here before, retired IDF officers have hired themselves out to some of the most brutal African dictators. Among the “expertise” they offer is guidance on which Israeli weapons systems to purchase. At times, they even offer dictators computer voting systems which seem to guarantee their return to power in sham elections (cf., Zimbabwe).
These Israeli military consultants ramp up overall Israeli arms exports to the continent, while dramatically increasing the lethality of African militaries and insurgent forces. Israel’s weapons contribute markedly to the rivers of blood coursing through Africa.
Ironically, when U.S. ambassador to the UN, Samantha Powers, offered Israel a golden opportunity to contribute to saving African lives during the Ebola epidemic, Defense Minister Bogie Yaalon demurred saying such a project was too dangerous. The foreign ministry, after reading criticism of this decision here and elsewhere, took up the slack and recruited three mobile hospital units for service in Sierra Leone.
Note Yossi Melman’s sardonic tweet on this subject:
— Yossi Melman (@yossi_melman) October 6, 2014
In fact, Yossi Melman lost his job as Haaretz’ longtime military correspondent because he crossed one of these crooked Israeli weapon suppliers. His editors weren’t willing to back him when the ex-general threatened to sue over Melman’s stories about the former’s venal activities in Africa.
One great disappointment of the Israeli arms industry has been the Iron Dome anti-missile system. There’s no better way to spotlight advanced weapons than showing them off in wartime conditions. Israel has had ample opportunity to do this with Iron Dome. Yet foreign militaries aren’t biting, as Reuters notes. The reporter notes several major reasons for the reluctance of potential purchasers to buy: the uniqueness of military conditions in which Iron Dome is used (shooting down primitive rockets), and Israel’s refusal to sell it to countries which don’t recognize it like the Arab states.
But he omits another important reason why buyers may be holding back. Major missile experts in Israel and the U.S. have argued that Iron Dome is not effective and has nowhere near the 90% success rate boasted by the IDF. Unfortunately, Dan Williams has neglected to include this salient negative in his report. In fact, he ballyhoos Iron Dome:
[Iron Dome is] an advanced new weapon system with a battle-proven success rate of 90 percent…
In terms of operational achievement, tested on the Gaza, Lebanese and Egyptian Sinai fronts, Iron Dome is unrivalled in the arms market…
Its effectiveness against Palestinian rocket fire demonstrated beyond doubt since 2011 –
There is, in fact, quite a great deal of doubt. He doesn’t even note that the 90% claim is based solely on the IDF and the company which produces Iron Dome.
One nation that is prime on Israel’s list as a potential customer is India’s new Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Given his past history as an extreme anti-Muslim nationalist, India is expected to have exceedingly close relations with Israel, which also has its own “Muslim problem,” if you will. If India hasn’t already ordered Iron Dome (one unnamed country has agreed to buy the system), it can be expected to in the future.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.