I was asked by a visiting Brit what was in the news in Israel and I mentioned that it had been reported that PM Netanyahu had decided to supply Ukraine with weapons in apparent retaliation for Russian Pres. Putin’s decision to supply the S300 defensive missiles to Iran and that this was being criticized by Putin. This person was quite upset that Israel was getting involved in Ukraine, what right had Israel to get involved there. Apparently she was not aware that a war was going on and that Russian forces (barely disguised and using heavy weapons not available to the local Eastern Ukrainians) had in fact invaded the sovereign country of Ukraine (much like Hitler did in Czechoslovakia in 1939 to help the Sudeten Germans).
There was no concern expressed that Russia was supplying arms to Iran, that has threatened many times to wipe Israel off the map. I was then told that Israel should not be supplying weapons at all. I understood that this was a typical liberal-leftist attitude that weapons are bad and cause wars and so Israel should not be doing that. When I pointed out that many other countries supply weapons around the world, for cash, and that the UK is among the top weapons suppliers, she replied “Yes, but I’m not proud of it.”
I find it hard to credit this ridiculous and ineffectual response. A large portion of the British economy comes from arms sales to friends and allies around the world, and if these weapons were not sold, not only would other countries (France, USA) sell them instead, but thousands of Brits would be out of work and the British economy would be hard hit. Net result would be that her taxes would go up and Britain would give up a major role of influence in the world. One must be at least a little realistic, the world is a tough place, the Islamic State is expanding all over the Middle East and Africa, there are wars in many places. Not to have a thriving arms industry (with countries wanting to defend themselves) would be catastrophic.
I wanted to see where Israel stood in relation to other countries in terms of selling arms, so I looked it up. Before I reveal the result it reminded me of the criticism of Israel that a former Black American colleague of mine gave many years ago in relation to then-apartheid S. Africa. he criticized Israel for supplying arms to S. Africa. I pointed out to him, and then supplied him with actual figures, that Britain, France and the USA were much larger suppliers of arms to S. Africa then, and in fact France had essentially built the whole S. African navy. Also, I asked him where he thought S. Africa, that was not an oil producer, go all its oil. He was surprised to know that it came from the Arab countries (Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait) thru shipments that were illegal under UN sanctions. So its easy to have preconceived notions and to criticize Israel.
In fact, in the first web-site I looked up Israel was not among the ten top weapons suppliers in the world. The USA was first followed closely by Russia, then China, and then further down were Britain, France, Sweden and so on. The second web-site that listed the top 20 arms supplying countries, had Israel at no. ten. Which country was above Israel, in fact it was Ukraine. Of course, Israel has every right to supply Ukraine with weapons and earn foreign currency just as other countries do, in a very competitive market. IN fact Israel sells arms to Brazil, S. Korea, India, China and a host of other countries. Certainly Ukraine needs weapons to defend itself against Russian aggression. What many people don’t know is that Israel was the first to develop the use of drones in warfare, has many patents in the area and sells drones to many countries, including the USA. And these drones are used to scope out the enemies positions, thus saving the defenders lives. A worthy weapon indeed, and I’m proud of it.