Thursday, April 12, 2018

Builder of apartheid wall gets EU funding

I have been following Europe’s policy on Palestine for almost 20 years. Throughout that time, I cannot recall an official EU statement more obscene than the one issued after Israel killed nine people in Gaza last Friday.

Rather than condemn the killings, the EU merely claimed that they raise “serious questions about the proportionate use of force.”

Zoom in on those words: proportionate use of force.

The underlying message is that Israel may resort to violence against Palestinians living under siege and occupation. EU representatives would just prefer it if Israel doesn’t go too far.

The same kind of thinking can be discerned within Israel’s elite.

During the first month of the second intifada – which began in late September 2000 – Israeli troops fired an estimated one million bullets in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. Amos Malka, then head of intelligence in the Israeli military, is among those who have expressed misgivings about that massive display of force.

Malka’s misgivings related to tactics, rather than ethics. In a paper he subsequently wrote on his experiences with the military, Malka argued that Israel should be willing to use extreme violence on occasions. The paper reflects the standard Israeli view that acts of Palestinian resistance may be labeled collectively as “terrorism.”

“The terrorist or guerrilla organization must take into consideration that Israel can ‘go crazy’ and lash out far beyond its standard responses,” he wrote.

Since retiring from the army in 2002, Malka has taken a number of posts with Israel’s war industry.

For example, he chairs the board of TAT Technologies, a firm making air conditioning systems and other equipment for military aircraft and tanks. As the firm’s clients include the Israeli air force and leading weapons manufacturers from Israel and the US, there is a near certainty that its products have enabled attacks on Palestinians.

Always eager to help Israel’s arms industry, the EU is subsidizing TAT Technologies. The firm is taking part in an EU-funded research project on aircraft engines worth $3.5 million.


Brochures published by TAT Technologies say that it offers “cool solutions for hot problems.” That slogan is similarly tacky to the name of the aforementioned research project: DEVILS.

The clumsy marketing does not conceal how the EU is happy to take taxpayers’ money and hand it to corporate scoundrels.

Another beneficiary of EU grants is Nesher, Israel’s leading cement maker.

Nesher is deeply involved in building the infrastructure of Israel’s occupation. Its materials have been used for Israel’s settlement activities in the West Bank, including the light rail network in East Jerusalem.

About 15 years ago, Amnesty International stated that Nesher had probably supplied material, too, for Israel’s apartheid wall. The wall, which snakes through the West Bank, was ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004.

The Amnesty finding was based on an admission by Nesher’s then parent company, the Dublin-based CRH, that cement supplied by Nesher was “in all probability” being used to build the wall. Following a lengthy campaign by Palestine solidarity activists, CRH announced in 2016 that it had pulled out of the Israeli market.

Nesher’s role in the occupation has been well-documented. That makes it all the more inexcusable for the EU to approve the firm’s participation in a research project worth $8.5 million on the reuse of carbon dioxide.

The project in question is being presented as a contribution to the fight against climate change. Yet the idea that Nesher could be regarded as environmentally benign is simply farcical.

The construction of Israel’s apartheid wall has destroyed vast areas of land and thousands of trees. Located beside a vitally important groundwater basin, its construction advances Israeli efforts to steal natural resources from Palestinians.

Environmental damage can’t be magicked away. Wrapping a fake green ribbon around its activities doesn’t alter how the EU is embracing Israel’s war profiteers.

•First published by The Electronic Intifada, 11 April 2018.