These days we mark 50 years of the Israeli occupation of 67’. Organizations and movements have chosen to commemorate this milestone by different acts of resistance, and the Israeli state chooses to mark the date with the ISDEF arms expo, putting the Israeli military industries on display with the special seal of approval: “battle proven”. Workers from the military industries, public servants, and police and military representatives from all over the world are invited. The biggest security companies in Israel will display their goods there to an audience of representatives from countries such as Indonesia, Morocco, Central African Republic, Congo and Sri Lanka.
Feminist ideology and militarism stand in opposition to one another; one espouses equality, freedom of expression, self-definition, peace, and personal security. The other is a chauvinistic, violent enterprise that perpetuates male power and maintains its interests through violations of human rights, oppression, exploitation, and occupation. At Coalition of Women for Peace, our resistance against the military industries is a tool in resisting the Occupation through those who profit from it the most.
At CWP, we chose to place the spotlight on the security industry and the tight connection between its development and growth and the continuation of the occupation and oppression of Palestinians in the ‘67 territories and against activists within Israel fighting against occupation, oppression, and discrimination. This is Israel’s biggest arms expo, and resisting it is resisting militarism, the arms trade, and war and occupation profiteering.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Israel is the world’s sixth biggest arms exporter, and the biggest in relation to its GDP. Research conducted by our “Hamushim” project shows that human right are abused and war crimes are committed using Israeli arms and technologies not only between the river and the sea, but that Israel exports ideologies and methodologies of oppression abroad, and markets control of civilian populations. Black Lives Matter activists in the US and social activists in Colombia and Brazil protest the military combat training given to the police forces in their countries, led by Israeli companies and law enforcement agencies, arguing that they teach oppression of civilians. While Israel tries to
hide its actions, activists led by lawyer Eitay Mack try to reveal the trail Israel leaves all of the world and petition the High Court of Justice against Israel’s arms deals with oppressive regimes.
The notion that weapons contribute to a sense of security is widespread in Israel society, but it isn’t true. The Gun Free Kitchen Tables campaign, which the Coalition is part of, shows that the weapons placed in the hands of Israelis increase violence in civil society, and especially violence against women. The violence prevailing throughout Palestinian society within the ‘48 borders is tied deeply to lack of gun controls, with guns used for homicides and many violent acts without the state making any serious attempts to eradicate this phenomenon. According to the Minister of Public Security, these weapons come mainly from the military. Many times, the weapons end up back on the market even after they were confiscated by the police. The lack of gun control kills us, Palestinians, Jews, and citizens like us around the world. From a Palestinian point of view, it is clear that one of the main reasons to maintaining the occupation is that the Palestinian civilian is a test subject in a military arms and technology lab. How could one ever give up such a fortune?
As Palestinians, it is very important that we join the resistance and speak out about the effects the military industries have on our security. We have to voice our notion of security, a very different perspective from the discourses of opposition which usually appeal to the Israeli mainstream public. For example, it is not enough to talk anti-corruption regarding the revolving doors between high positions in the military or government and private companies in the arms trade – it is also important to add the perspective of ongoing Israeli profits from experience gained in techniques of occupation and oppression.
It is not enough only for the Jewish public to be made sensitive to Israel’s involvement in arms exports to dictatorships and human rights violators. We must also make the public open its eyes and understand the tight link between the arms export to oppressive states and why these arms are so popular in that market: the fact they already did “good work” in the West Bank, Easy Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
Reem Amer is co-coordinator of Coalition of Women for Peace
This article was originally featured in “Local Call”.