pageok
pageok
pageok
Global Gun Prohibition Lobby: Ban Arms Sales to Israel

This summer, the United Nations review conference for the 2001 Programme of Action on Small Arms failed to reach an agreement for new global gun control rules. Although stymied on one front, the gun prohibition movement is moving forward elsewhere, pushing for a binding Arms Trade Treaty. The proposed treaty is currently being discussed at the United Nations by the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) of the General Assembly.

The leading NGO lobbying for the Arms Trade Treaty is Control Arms, an organization created and directed by IANSA, Amnesty International, and Oxfam. Earlier this month, Control Arms released a major new report, Arms without Borders, which makes the case for the Arms Trade Treaty.

The report offers examples of arms transfers which, according to Control Arms, would be stopped by a global Arms Trade Treaty. Among the examples cited is the sale of Apache AH-64 helicopters to Israel (page 12). Control Arms notes an incident in which an Apache helicopter shot an automobile in Tyre, and that, according to Human Rights Watch, there was no evidence of Hezbollah activity in the vicinity. In response, Prof. Gerald Steinberg of Bar-Ilan University states that the HRW/Control Arms claims "contradict clear evidence of heavy Hizbullah presence and use of vehicles for transporting missiles and armed personnel."

Page 25 of the Control Arms report states:

Helicopters, combat aircraft and air-to-surface missiles supplied to Israel primarily by the USA, but often incorporating components supplied by other countries, have been used in the Occupied Territories resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries, in apparent violation of international humanitarian law. According to Amnesty International, many of the 190 Palestinians killed in 2005 were 'killed unlawfully', including as a result of deliberate and reckless shooting, or attacks in densely populated residential areas. At the same time, Palestinian armed groups have used rockets, explosive belts and other bombs to kill and injure hundreds of Israelis.
Page 4 of the report includes a half-sentence criticizing Hezbollah for firing rockets at civilian targets in Israel. The Control Arms paper does not mention any problem about the international flow of arms to Syria. Iran is criticized for its arms sales to Sudan, but not for its supplying of arms to Hezbollah and to terrorist organizations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Control Arms paper presents, at best, a moral equivalence between Israel, Hezbollah, and Palestinian terrorists--all three of whom would, under the Arms Trade Treaty, theoretically be prevented from acquiring arms.

In future discussions of the Arms Trade Treaty, everyone should acknowledge that the Treaty is intended, according to its leading NGO sponsor, to create an arms embargo against Israel. A person who wants arms sales to Israel to remain legal under international law would be foolish to support the Arms Trade Treaty.

The General Assembly's First Committee meeting also covered other issues. Several delegates urged the First Committee to "stop the arms race in space," which is tantamount to asking for a ban on America's Strategic Defense Initiative.

UPDATE: Several commentators make the point that Israel has a robust domestic military industry, and therefore could survive an arms import embargo. The Control Arms folks are one step ahead; their paper emphasizes that the Arms Trade Treaty must include control of components as well as finished products. Control Arms is also very clear on requiring that the trade in dual-use materials (e.g., titanium which could be used for civilian products, or for arms) be banned, unless there are strong safeguards that the material will not be used for human rights violations (such as, in the view of Control Arms, Israel's current tactics in its wars against Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, al Aqsa, etc.).

The Control Arms report notes that Israel, like India, South Korea, and South Africa, among others, is an emerging arms exporter. The report offers no evidence that Israel has exported arms to any human rights violator. However, the report suggests that Israel and EU should both exert greater controls of the ultimate sale of Israeli or EU arms which are co-produced in India.

Mark Buehner (mail):
I am shocked, SHOCKED, that an NGO under UN auspices is attempting to railroad Israel via international law. Next thing you are going to tell me they have an issue with our 2nd Amendment.
10.17.2006 7:34pm
Daedalus (mail):
Unfortunately IANSA, and the UN wannabes will not be satisfied until Israel is totally disarmed and when it is run over.....well, that was just the people expressing their will, so we will take no action. The US is equally in their sights - the thought of free people being armed to them is more repugnant than words can describe. The thought of a world government run by the UN is what is repugnant to me.....
10.17.2006 8:05pm
NPR Listener:
Since we're supposed to hate guns and Israel, what's the problem?
10.17.2006 8:22pm
tsotha:
The funny thing is it probably wouldn't have any effect on the power balance. Israel has a well developed arms industry that could probably replace lost capability pretty easily, e.g. helicopters could be replaced with more persistent, cheaper armed UAVs.

But I guess the Europeans would feel better.
10.17.2006 8:47pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Suppose the treaty is written. Who signs? Is this intended to be a UN diktat to every member, or a multilateral treaty among independent states?
10.17.2006 9:56pm
PoohPoohBear:
You mean a Zionist cabal doesn't run the world? Damn, who knew?
10.17.2006 10:00pm
Chris Smith:
I, for one, cannot wait until the UN courageously bans all guns.
Surely all of the bad actors in the world will feel the feng shui of the global harmony, and join in for a rousing round of kum-bah-yah, as we get our utopia on.
10.17.2006 10:17pm
therut:
No the fools at the UN and the gun controllers will be the first lined up aganist the wall and shot. Some poeple never learn and the lessons of history have to be taught to the ignorant over and over. What a shame. The only way their stupid utopia could occur will be when firearms and weapons are around and no one chooses to use them to harm others. Not when they think they can oppress a free people into giving up their arms. They have the whole concept back-asswards as usual.
10.17.2006 10:45pm
The General:
Sorry therut, those people will never learn. they're too busy making everyone miserable for the "common good."
10.17.2006 11:41pm
Waldensian (mail):
The UN has about as much chance of (a) affecting our helicopter sales to Israel as it does (b) getting my 1942 Mosin Nagant out of my hands. Which is to say, not much of a chance.

The toothless, ridiculous UN isn't even a paper tiger. More of a paper gerbil. Puhleeze.

The NRA's recent targeting of the (admittedly outrageous) UN is, no doubt, good for fundraising. But it ain't exactly well-grounded in reality. It's more like carefully calculated paranoia.

But enough talk. I have to go load my magazines against a likely pre-dawn raid by blue helmets in black helicopters. "From my cold dead fingers!!!" Etc.
10.18.2006 12:18am
Tra la la (mail):
dammit, waldensian, i was loving the fulmination.

ignore him, everyone else! carry on!!!!
10.18.2006 12:52am
neurodoc:
When "credit" is being handed out for initiatives like this one with its notable anti-Israel bias, shouldn't Amnesty International and Oxfam get their fair share? (I thought Oxfam was about relieving hunger in the world. That I suppose was too narrow and limiting a mission for them to stick with.)
10.18.2006 2:04am
Friedrich Foresight (mail):
"Gun control", "international agreements" and "Israel"... methinks someone concocted this headline just to yank the chains of as many Volokh Conspirators as possible. Throw in something about Dartmouth Trustee elections and you'd have a clean sweep, excepting the elusive Michelle Boardman.
10.18.2006 2:34am
AST (mail):
I remember a History Channel type program about how Israel had to build its own arms industry from scratch in order to establish itself. I wonder if the treaty will also inhibit the rest of the world from buying arms from Israel. They make pretty good weapons.
10.18.2006 2:44am
JT Wenting (mail):
"The funny thing is it probably wouldn't have any effect on the power balance. Israel has a well developed arms industry that could probably replace lost capability pretty easily, e.g. helicopters could be replaced with more persistent, cheaper armed UAVs. "

It will have a chilling effect, and in the end destroy Israel.
Once the completed systems are banned from sale to Israel, Israel will indeed start to purchase and build components.
The next logical step will be to ban the sale of those components and raw materials as well as being obviously weapons components and therefore falling under a weapons ban.
In the end the sale of things like Bauxite ore to Israel will be branded a warcrime and get you arrested and hauled off to the the Hague courts to be tried for crimes against humanity.
And once they're done with Israel the US is next, don't for a moment doubt it (of course that will be harder as the US has a decent amount of natural resources, but some strategic minerals are still mostly imported).
10.18.2006 2:57am
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
So when will the UN impose such a ban on Palestinians and Lebanese Hezbollah?
10.18.2006 5:03am
davod (mail):
AST:

There is a move to stop the Swiss from buying Israeli weapons Controversy Mounts over Israeli Arms Deal
10.18.2006 5:49am
davod (mail):
AST:

There is a move to stop the Swiss from buying Israeli weapons Controversy Mounts over Israeli Arms Deal
10.18.2006 5:52am
drewsil (mail):
Even if this treaty passes it sounds like it will quickly become irrelevant. Even worse it may actually create an increase in the sale of arms used in violating human rights, by creating a large underground market.
10.18.2006 6:05am
rosignol (mail):
I wonder if the treaty will also inhibit the rest of the world from buying arms from Israel. They make pretty good weapons.

Yeah, the glail and uzi are pretty nice. I don't think there's much of an export market for the merkava, tho.

What weapons (aside from firearms) does Israel export?
10.18.2006 8:31am
Jeek:
I have to go load my magazines against a likely pre-dawn raid by blue helmets in black helicopters. "From my cold dead fingers!!!" Etc.

Should the Senate ratify such a treaty, it becomes US law, and then US authorities would enforce it, n'est-ce pas?

The report offers no evidence that Israel has exported arms to any human rights violator.

One could certainly argue that these are examples:
- Sale of Israeli arms to the PRC (1990s to the present)
- Sale of Israeli arms to Iran and South Africa (1980s)
- Sale of Israeli arms to Argentina and Chile (1970s)
10.18.2006 9:37am
rosignol (mail):
Should the Senate ratify such a treaty, it becomes US law, and then US authorities would enforce it, n'est-ce pas?


As a practical matter, the technicalities are irrelevant, as the US would not join such a treaty, and UN General Assembly resolutions are not worth the paper they're printed on.

It is interesting that anyone thinks this thing has a chance of going anywhere.
10.18.2006 10:06am
Jeek:
I don't think it has a chance of going anywhere, I was just pointing out that the toothlessness of the UN is not the real issue. The real issue is, of course, how Congress views gun rights.
10.18.2006 10:28am
rosignol (mail):
The current Congress views voting for gun control as a sure-fire way to rile up the gun voters and lose elections.

The incumbents remember '94, and have clued in the newbies. As an issue, gun control is dead in the US until there's a Dem in the White House and they're in control of at least one branch of Congress.
10.18.2006 12:45pm
Waldensian (mail):

I don't think it has a chance of going anywhere, I was just pointing out that the toothlessness of the UN is not the real issue. The real issue is, of course, how Congress views gun rights.

I agree completely, although I would note that the state legislatures are at least as important as Congress, since the right to keep and bear arms has not been "incorporated." The states clearly remain free to ban private firearm ownership completely, although many would have to amend their constitutions and/or statutes to do so.

In any event, the undeniable primacy of US politics means that the NRA's ridiculous paranoid rantings about the "dangers" posed by the UN are, well, nothing but ridiculous paranoid rantings.

Honestly, I think gun-rights proponents have more to fear from the Dartmouth Trustees. They're at least as relevant to the US gun control debate as is the UN.
10.18.2006 6:00pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
What is really funny about this is that 5/6 of the unnatural deaths in the West Bank and Gaza are due to one Palestinian killing another. If people really want to save Palestinian lives, they need to disarm the Palestinians.
10.19.2006 2:43am
markm (mail):
There have been dozens of attempts to calm conflicts with arms embargoes in the last hundred years. Not one of them worked. Not one of them had any chance of removing the arms from both sides - and every time there was a clear moral difference between the sides, it was the more ruthless and murderous side that gained the advantage.

People of enough prominence to reach high positions in the UN can hardly be ignorant of this history. Incompetence is no longer an excuse - continuing to try to impose one-sided embargoes is actual malice.

Not that this should be any surprise. The question is, why do we tolerate this corrupt organization on our soil?
10.19.2006 6:02pm
rosignol (mail):
Oh, that's easy.

Best to keep them in a place where it's easy to keep an eye on them.
10.20.2006 12:32pm