As long as states are buying and selling military products from Israel, they are not only implicitly approving Israel’s settler-colonialist state and financing its military industry but also adopting its repressive measures.
Following a recent civil society campaign, the European Union ended its contract with Israel’s drones provided by Elbit Systems to control migrants seeking refuge, but pressure continues to push the EU to rescind two further Frontex contracts with Elbit Systems. During Obama’s presidency in 2014, Elbit Systems received $145 million to install a “virtual wall” of 24/7 surveillance towers in the US border zone of southern Arizona, including on indigenous Tohono O’odham Nation land. Even though Biden is defunding the physical wall built during Trump’s mandate there are no signs that Biden will cancel the so-called ‘smart’ wall that Elbit’s technologies were involved in building.
We see a similar and even stronger collusion between Israel and many far-right regimes: India’s Narendra Modi, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán and Duque’s Colombia have all supported Israel’s policies. (In the US case, Trump was the most open in his unrestrained support for the far-right in Israel, but in many respects was continuing a long history of US-Israeli relations that facilitated the emergence of Israel’s military industry). Not only is the far right impressed by the efficiency of Israel’s military and security apparatus in repressing opposition and resistance, they are also ideologically aligned and building strong military relations. And these regimes’ importing of Israel’s framework of security hits marginalised groups the hardest.
Close economic ties go hand in hand with sharing military know-how, including military training with Israel, social mobilisation repression techniques, dissent control strategies, intimidation of human rights defenders, strategies for judicial and extrajudicial mechanisms of torture and disappearance.
Israeli technology and methodology impacts hardest on communities in the Global South. Currently India buys 50% of Israeli weapons exports. The Modi government also recently amended India’s citizenship law, expediting it for non-Muslims from neighbouring countries, closely mirroring Israel’s ‘law of return’. Abrogation of Kashmir’s special status paves the way for Israel-style settlements in the valley. The Indian consul-general to New York City, Sandeep Chakravorty, in 2019 even cited Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank as an example of what India is hoping to achieve in Kashmir. There are strong ideological affinities between Zionism and Hindu nationalism (Hindutva). Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Hindutva’s ideological father, said he was inspired by Nazi Germany and the Zionist movement in advocating for India to become a Hindu ethnocratic state that treated Muslims “like negroes” in the United States of his time.
Colombia, for example has received Mossad support for decades, and relations between Israeli mercenaries and far-right paramilitary groups have been proven in court. A Bilateral Working group on Political – Military Dialogue has been established between the Colombian and the Israeli government, which the Colombian Ministry of Defence says,“ is not only to exchange knowledge and technology, but also intelligence information and doctrines”. Israeli army instructors have provided training in counter-terrorism and combat techniques to soldiers of the Special Forces Division of the Colombian Army. Many Israeli companies operate in Colombia including Elbit Systems, IAI and NSO Group – Elbit has been involved in leading workshops at seminars of the Colombian army.
Brazil is moving ahead to “Israelize” its policies, adopting more of its practices. For example, when the former Minister of Defence of Israel says that there “are no innocent people in Gaza” this has an echo in the favelas in Brazil where every assassinated black person is labelled a ‘drug trafficker’ by the Brazilian government and where streets are ever more militarised and surveiled. Gizele Martins, activist and community communicator from one of Rio de Janeiro’s largest favelas says that , “The central objective that Israel and other allied governments like the one in Brazil pursue is the control over the impoverished population in order to gain land, to colonize their lives, to dominate the land and the culture. I see this project advancing rapidly here in Rio de Janeiro. To achieve this plan, the world’s elites work together, and Israel and its weapons and practices are very useful for these governments”.
Similarly, in August 2016, the president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, announced that he would establish a military agreement with the government of Israel: “I am sending a very important agreement to the National Congress fundamental for the growth of the Honduran nation, an agreement with the State of Israel; This will give rise to the strengthening of our Armed Forces, which is something we never had”. The agreement included the provision of equipment as well as training by Elbit’s cybersecurity specialists. Their trainers arrived at a time of intense repression of Honduran social movements by the government in response to protests against the lack of transparency of the last presidential elections.