“Historically, whenever there was a US embargo [on a certain country], Israel filled the gap.”
– Itay Mack, a Jerusalem-based human rights lawyer and activist who fights for greater transparency in Israel’s military exports
Israel has been bad news for the Myanmar people as military-to-military cooperation between the governments has been maintained in all these 60+ years.
Mossad trained Myanmar military intelligence officers, who in turn typically torture student activists, monks, ethnic minority community leaders – all those we would today call ‘human rights defenders’. In the 1970s and 80s hundreds of young officers were trained in Israel under the pretext of agricultural developments.
In fact, Israel’s ‘development policies’ – and expansion of illegal settlements – are a source of inspiration for the Myanmar military leadership to use as part of the counter-insurgency, so called, operations in the Shan states of Eastern Myanmar.
I knew two people who helped facilitate these ties, in addition to General Ne Win’s personal ties with Israeli Defence Force general Moshe Daran. One was the late Robert Nathan, who served as the youngest economic adviser to US President Franklin Roosevelt, and the other was Nathan’s staff member and junior colleague the late Louis Walinsky, who was the resident economic adviser to the Burmese national government for five years during Prime Minister U Nu’s parliamentary government in the late 1950s.
After Nu was deposed in a coup d’etat in 1962, both Walinsky and Nathan remained staunchly supportive of democratic opposition movements that sprang up (and have sadly come and gone). They were deeply disturbed by the very dark side of the armed forces under Ne Win (who was the number one general from February 1949 to the early 1990s, way beyond the years that he was officially commander in chief of the armed forces.
In exchange for Israel’s training and arms, which were used against Myanmar’s oppressed ethnic communities irrespective of their religious identities (Karens, Shan, Mons and Rakhine are predominantly Buddhists, Kachins are overwhelmingly Christians, Rohingyas are predominantly Muslims), Israel instructs the Myanmar leadership on how to vote on resolutions on Israel at the United Nations, and who to be friends with in UN circles.
After Thein Sein’s government – a quasi-reformist, military controlled government – assumed the formal reins of power in 2010, I learned that there was a team of Israeli advisers who handled Thein Sein’s public relations. They were in residence in Naypyidaw, and the Myanmar government is said to have paid this PR team millions.
As the genocide continued to unfold in Myanmar, with human conditions for Rohingyas progressively worsening, Israel continued to roll out the red carpet for Myanmar Commander in Chief Min Aung Hlaing, who came to Israel on an arms shopping spree. He was accompanied by my old mate General Mya Tun Oo, Chief of the General Staff. Min Aung Hlaing’s Facebook page was then an open source of information on the kind of arms and support Myanmar Armed Forces was receiving.
Last but not least, the Israel and Myanmar education ministries signed an official memorandum of understanding with the intent of sanitising both countries’ textbooks – and beyond – of any information about the atrocity crimes both countries have been committing for decades against targeted groups.
I would love to sit down and debate with this retired IDF military intelligence colonel, who tries to paint Rohingyas – the genocide victims – in a different light. But then what really is the point of debating a hard core racist?
I am glad the term terrorism was not in vogue in pre-World War II Germany. Otherwise SS Chief and chicken farmer Himmler, and the PhD philosopher, the Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment Dr Joseph Goebbels, would have painted all the Jews of Nazi-occupied Europe, using such loathsome terminology.
It is utterly disgusting that a country built on the gut-wrenching tales of Jewish persecution – and on the ashes of 5 million murdered Jews of Europe – should side with the genocidal regime, on the grounds of its institutionalised genocidal racism against Muslims, ‘the Arabs’ – because Israel will NOT recognise the Arab residents of the Palestines by their self-identity, the Palestinians.
The human race does not inspire hope or confidence: we are worse than dogs. Despite the insulting human (or American) saying that it’s a “dog eat dog” world – I notice that dogs do NOT eat other fellow dogs. They may fight nastily. But eating fellow dogs, definitely not!
Whereas humans in fact do: we even cook the organs of captured dead enemies and eat them – ritualistically or otherwise.
I know it’s depressing. Bring on the global warming, fast and furious. What a suicidal, stupid species we are!
Israel is not the only country in the world where the oppressed turn oppressive and nasty themselves. Plenty around the world, such as my own so-called Buddhist society and people, once colonised and semi-enslaved by the Brits, today are genocidal nations – it’s not just the generals and Suu Kyi and top monks that are guilty, an overwhelming majority of the Myanmar public, including the oppressed Christian and other minorities, cheer on the genocide. Settler colonies – much of the Americas – were built on genocides. Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, etc. The nastiness of human organisation is the norm, not the exception.
This is the world we live in. This world has always been this way.
Sad but true.