Friday, May 28, 2010

DTN News: Israel Sold Billions In Arms To Apartheid South Africa

DTN News: Israel Sold Billions In Arms To Apartheid South Africa
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - May 29, 2010: In April 1976, Nazi sympathizer and South African Prime Minister John Voster visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem to lay a wreath to the victims of the German Reich he once saluted. They must have turned over in their graves. The real purpose behind Voster’s trip to Israel was to seal the deep partnership between it and the apartheid regime. The pact violated international law and illegally provided the white minority government with weaponry and technology to help Voster’s government keep its powerful grip on oppressing the black majority. To this cause, Israel sold some $10 billion in arms to South Africa over a period of two decades. This unholy marriage helped Israel became a major arms manufacturer and exporter, funding its high-tech economy on South African blood money. It supplied Pretoria with cutting-edge weapons and military high-tech when most of the world was turning its back on the apartheid regime. These painful facts come from a book released on May 25 by Pantheon: The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa by Sasha Polakow-Suransky, an editor at Foreign Affairs magazine, a Rhodes Scholar and an American Jew whose parents immigrated to the United States from South Africa. Polakow-Suransky unearthed more than 7,000 pages of “heretofore secret documents from the bowels of South Africa’s Defense Ministry, Foreign Ministry, and Armscor, the state defense contractor, including the secret 1975 cooperation agreement signed by defense ministers Shimon Peres and P.W. Botha.” The review by Glenn Frankel Israel’s Most Illicit Affair came from Australia’s Frankel teaches journalism at Stanford University and was Southern Africa, Jerusalem and London bureau chief for the Washington Post and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. Though this illicit affair was thrilling in some strange way to both parties, Frankel claims, it has obviously and will continue to seriously damage both nations’ reputations, hanging “like a toxic cloud” over them. Israel already has a wretched reputation for 43 years of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and what appears to be an effort at extinction of the people it landed amongst as innocent refugees, dropping in from England, Europe and later Russia. Yet the facts speak for themselves. Israel attempted to block the release of the South African documents, but the post-apartheid South African government turned its back on the protests. In all fairness, Polakow-Suransky writes that the African National Congress “is far less concerned with keeping old secrets than with protecting its own accumulated dirty laundry after 15 years in power.” What is the old saying? Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Yet aphorisms don’t let apartheid, a nationalized South Africa or Israel off the hook. It was Israel’s founding father, Ben Gurion, who condemned apartheid and attempted to ally his government with the new black-governed nations of sub-Saharan Africa, emerging from colonial rule in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Yet as the balance of forces changed post the 1967 Six-Day War, and Israel took control of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza, Ben-Gurion’s next generation of leaders of the Labor Party, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Moshe Dayan, were already morphing Israel into “a mini super power” and had no qualms about helping South Africa to reach keep its racist goals. The 1973 Yom Kippur War sealed a shift in thought. Egypt framed the war as a Zionist invasion of the African continent. More than 20 African states cut diplomatic tie with Israel. Yet South Africa continued to supply Israel with spare parts for its Mirage jet fighters. At the same time, South Africa’s sizeable Jewish community, encouraged by its rulers, heaped money and support on the Zionist state. The two countries were on their way, as Polakow-Suransky notes, to being “brothers in arms,” an unholy brotherhood at that. And so, a synergy of self-interest grew, apartheid money aiding the oft called “peaceful” Israel become a major arms dealer as Pretoria amassed its literally “cutting edge” arms and technology. Yet, hypocritically, for two decades Israel went on publicly denouncing the apartheid regime while profiting enormously from it, propping up the white minority, helping to sustain racial supremacy. Is it any wonder Israel finds it so easy to slaughter its Palestinian neighbors? In fact, as Peres and Botha signed their security pact in April 1975, Israel sold tanks, fighter aircraft, and long-range missiles to Pretoria, and offered up nuclear warheads to boot. Israel as middleman bought arms, as well, from countries that nominally would not do business with Pretoria. And Israel passed them on to the racists. This went on even after the UN Security Council passed a mandatory arms embargo against South Africa in November 1977. Menachem Being’s right-wing Likud came to power that year, and the unholy ties grew even stronger. There were others who helped cement the marriage: Yitzah Unna, a skilled tough Israeli diplomat who became counsel general in Johannesburg in 1969 and later was bumped up to ambassador. He learned to speak Afrikaans, became buddies with the former Nazi sympathizer heading South Africa’s bureau of state and security, launching a number of deals bringing the two countries closer together. Then with Binyamin Telem, Israel’s former Navy commander, who handled Amscor defense contracts, the two managed to twist their consciences into seeing themselves as anti-racists. Telem insisted on equal pay for blacks as whites as they were training military men to quell anti-apartheid rioters. Nauseating! Still darker, South Africa delivered Israel a 500-ton stockpile of uranium for its nuclear program. As thanks, Israel sold South Africa 30 grams of tritium, a radioactive material that increases the explosive power of thermonuclear weapons. The level of Israel-South African barbarism was characterized in September 1979 by a double blast over the South Atlantic. Analysts believed it came from an Israeli nuclear bomb test, in partnership with South Africa. The details remain classified to this day, but the point is clear: these were desperate and violent regimes which would do anything to hold their racist states together. There is a more to tell, but I leave you in the able hands of reviewer Glenn Frankel and, if you would, in the hands of author Sasha Polakow-Suransky. It’s morning in America as I write from 6 to 8 a.m., clearing my conscience to report on this while not taking too much from the totality of Frankel’s amazing review. Read it all and most of all read the book. These are outstanding men reporting. I am a mere messenger here of these darker passages in our world’s history. Today, I’ll be on a 6 a.m. plane to the Midwest to visit my 86-year old, WW 11, D-Day veteran, Army Air Force navigator father-in-law, who flew in paratroopers to stop his generation’s Nazis. I always feel I owe this man so much, in addition to giving me the hand of his beautiful daughter. My mother-in-law, by the way, was a “Rosy the Riveter” throughout the war. Today she keeps us all together. I wish that blessing on a fractured world that continues to sadden me beyond the periphery of the woods I love to walk. Have a good Memorial Day weekend. Try to remember what it’s about. More than fireworks, barbecues, and family get-togethers, it’s about honoring the living and the Gone who gave their lives that we might have a better one. And that ain’t easy, though it’s worth giving our best to find that difficult path.
Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer and life-long resident of New York City. Reach him at His new book, “State Of Shock: Poems from 9/11 on” is available at, Amazon or
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