The Haaretz newspaper has shed light on Israel’s “shameful role” in Myanmar’s state-sponsored genocidal campaign against Rohingya Muslims, citing Tel Aviv’s arms sales to the Southeast Asian as well as the regime’s attempts to forge closer relations with the country’s officials.
An opinion piece written by journalist Charles Dunst and published by the Israeli daily on Wednesday criticized Israel’s “passive” stance on Myanmar’s crimes against the Rohingya population, who are denied citizenship and are rendered stateless.
Israel’s “equanimity gave Myanmar the tools and space to carry out atrocities against the Rohingya,” it said.
The article also referred to Israel’s position on the appearance of Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on Tuesday over genocide allegations.
In a tweet last week, Israel’s Ambassador to Myanmar Ronen Gilor wished Suu Kyi “encouragement for a good decision and good luck” in the trial.
Later, however, he deleted his tweet, with Israel’s Foreign Ministry saying it had been written “in error.”
The ministry also surprisingly condemned “the atrocities that took place in the Rakhine region against the Rohingya.”
“But this new Israeli statement is still too passive. Most glaringly, it fails to note who committed these ‘atrocities,’” read the article.
It also noted that although Israel’s criticism of Myanmar is “a step in the right direction,” it still “lets the country’s criminal actors off the hook.”
“Gilor’s support of Suu Kyi remains more reflective of Israel’s general Myanmar policy: a largely unconditional backing,” according to the article.
Israel, it added, gave “a green light to Israeli weapons manufacturers to arm Myanmar’s military through the fall of 2017, even after accusations of anti-Rohingya violence surfaced, and both the European Union and the United States placed Myanmar under an arms embargo and sanctions.”
“After a late 2017 High Court challenge, Israel claimed to have stopped selling advanced weaponry to Myanmar’s military. But public relations dust-ups — Myanmar’s Israeli envoy later said Israel was still selling his country weapons; Burmese officials were in June 2019 spotted at a Tel Aviv weapons expo — have undermined Israel’s position and credibility,” the article read.
Back in August, a United Nations report charged that Israel was among the seven arms exporters to Myanmar’s military at a time when it should have known that the weapons “would be used in the commission of serious crimes under international law.”
According to the report, Israel Aerospace Industries “delivered two attack frigates to the Tatmadaw navy” in April 2017 and TAR Ideal Concepts Ltd., another Israeli company, “posted photographs on its website of its personnel training the Tatmadaw Special Operations Taskforce” in October 2016.
“There is some realist merit to Israel, indeed isolated in its own backyard, extending its diplomatic arms as far as possible. But tolerating and enabling Myanmar’s genocide is an obvious step too far,” the Haaretz article read.