Security Israel / Combat 2012 – ‘Combat proven’ arms and greenwashing policies

Today sees the start of the annual military exhibition and fair Security Israel – International Homeland Security Exhibition  in Tel Aviv. It is combined with the Combat – International Exhibition for Operational Units. The exhibitions, which are fully sponsored bu the Israeli government, counted almost 10,000 visitors and over 100 exhibitors in 2011. This year some 150 exhibitors are expected, as well as delegations from over 30 countries.

Exhibitors are mainly Israeli companies, which will undoubtedly recommend a lot of their military and security equipment as ‘combat proven’, since it has been used in recent Israeli wars or the suppression of Palestinians. “Combat proven’ is one of the highest recommendations military equipment can get and the Israeli equipment is much in demand. The security industry is one of the fastest growing economic sectors in Israel and internationally Israel is at the forefront of developing new equipment and technologies.

While non-Israeli companies are also present at the Security Israel arms fair, its main goal is to boost export sales of Israel-made arms and security technologies. At first sight this may seem to be less controversial as arms going the other way around. However, foreign purchases provide the Israeli defence and security industry with money and legitimacy, which in turn furthers its position and political influence. Moreover, the strong relationship between the defence and security industry and the Israeli armed forces mean that foreign imports of Israeli military and security equipment contribute directly to the strengthening of the military-industrial complex and its combined efforts to develop ever more enhanced equipment to suppress the Palestinians, and to sell to controversial costumers all over the world.

As Maj.-Gen. (retired) Giora Eiland of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) noted , the fact that a large number of retired Israeli army officers seek employment in the defense industry means “new lessons from the field can quickly be incorporated into the development of new defense systems”.

Back at the Security Israel and Combat exhibitions, foreign visitors are also encouraged to take part in guided tours “in surroundings which allow the participants to see and to understand the security problems that Israel faces and will include the presentation of the systems and technologies used by the security forces”. Destinations are for example the Gaza Strip and the separation barrier. Participants do not have to worry because “the tour is protected and will not pass through dangerous areas.” Next to this, visitors can also participate in “a series of counter-terror exercises demonstrating various scenarios and the operational activities designed to deal with acts of terror and their prevention.”

With this, the exhibitions also help in creating ‘understanding’ for the way the state of Israel operates against the Palestinians. Of course, showing the Palestinian side of these operations is not part of the tours. Arms and security equipment sales apparently do not thrive on directly showing the consequences of violence and human rights violations.

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