"Mention any trouble spot in the Third World over the past 10 years, and, inevitably, you will find smiling Israeli officers and shiny Israeli weapons on the news pages. The images have become familiar: the Uzi submachine gun or the Galil assault rifle, with Israeli officers named Uzi and Galil, or Golan, for good measure. We have seen them in South Africa, Iran, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Namibia, Taiwan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Chile, Bolivia, and many other places from Seoul to Tegucigalpa, from Walvis Bay to Guatemala City, from Taipei to Port-au-Prince, Israeli civilians and military men have been helping, in their words, in 'the defence of the West'." That's a quote from Israeli scholar Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi's 1988 book, The Israeli Connection: Whom Israel Arms & Why. Twenty years later, Uzi, Galil, Golan & Co are still at it - in Georgia:
"Georgian tanks and infantry, aided by Israeli military advisers, captured the capital of breakaway South Ossetia, Tskhinvali, early Friday, August 8, bringing the Georgian-Russian conflict over the province to a military climax... The Russians may just bear with the pro-US Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili's ambition to bring his country into NATO. But they draw a heavy line against his plans and those of Western oil companies, including Israeli firms, to route the oil routes from Azerbaijan and the gas lines from Turkmenistan, which transit Georgia, through Turkey instead of hooking them up to Russian pipelines carrying oil and gas out of the Caspian region... DEBKAfile discloses Israel's interest in the conflict from its exclusive military sources: Jerusalem owns a strong interest in Caspian oil and gas reaching the Turkish terminal port of Ceyhan, rather than the Russian network. Intense negotiations are afoot between Israel, Turkey, Georgia, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan for pipelines to reach Turkey and thence to Israel's oil terminal at Ashkelon and on to its Red Sea port of Eilat. From there, supertankers can carry the gas and oil to the far east through the Indian Ocean... Last year, the Georgian president commissioned from private Israeli security firms several hundred military advisers, estimated at up to 1,000, to train the Georgian armed forces in commando, air, sea, armored and artillery combat tactics. They also offer instruction on military intelligence and security for the central regime. Tbilisi also purchased weapons, intelligence and electronic warfare systems from Israel. These advisers were undoubtedly deeply involved in the Georgian army's preparations to conquer the South Ossetian capital Friday. In recent weeks, Moscow has repeatedly demanded that Jerusalem halt its military assistance to Georgia... Israel responded by saying that the only assistance rendered Tbilsi was 'defensive'." (Israel backs Georgia in Caspian oil pipeline battle with Russia, http://www.debka.com/, 8/8/08)
"The military cooperation between the countries developed swiftly. The fact that Georgia's defense minister, Davit Kezerashvili, is a former Israeli... contributed to this cooperation. His door was always open to the Israelis who came and offered his country arms systems made in Israel... Among the Israelis who took advantage of the opportunity... were former Minister Roni Milo and his brother Shlomo, former director-general of the Military Industries, Brigadier-General (Res) Gal Hirsch and Major-General (Res) Yisrael Ziv... Dov Pikulin, one of the owners of the Authentico company specializing in trips and journeys to the area, says... that 'the Israeli is the main investor in the Georgian economy. Everyone is there, directly or indirectly'. 'The Israelis should be proud of themselves for the Israeli training and education received by the Georgian soldiers', Georgian Minister Temur Yakobashvili said Saturday. Yakobashvili is a Jew and is fluent in Hebrew. 'We are now in a fight against the great Russia', he said, 'and our hope is to receive assistance from the White House, because Georgia cannot survive on its own... One of the Georgian parliament members did not settle Saturday for the call for American aid, urging Israel to help stop the Russian offensive as well..." (War in Georgia: the Israeli connection, http://www.ynetnews.com/, 10/8/08)
"To a reporter's question about Jews who have fled the fighting and come to Israel, [President Saakashvili] said: 'We have 2 Israeli cabinet ministers, one deals with war... and the other with negotiations.., and that is the Israeli involvement here: Both war and peace are in the hands of Israeli Jews'." (Georgia president denies Israel halted military aid due to war, http://www.haaretz.com/, 14/8/08)
And not a word anywhere in the Australian mainstream media about Uzi, Galil, Golan & Co.
Postscript, 16/8/08: Let me qualify that last sentence. The Australian's Cut & Paste (14/8/08) published an extract from The Electronic Intifada's Ali Abunimah on the "Tel Aviv-Tbilisi military axis" under the heading: "Don't blame Russia, blame the Jews, says Ali Abunimah of The Electronic Intifada." I have a number of observations to make about this disgusting little diversion. For starters, Abunimah is not blaming "the Jews." The Australian here promotes the erroneous Zionist party line that Israel is the state of all Jews, everywhere, and that therefore any criticism of Israel, its policies and behaviour can be construed as anti-Semitism. (Imagine The Australian, for example, publishing the above extract from Israel's ynetnews on the "Israeli connection" under the heading "Don't blame Russia, blame the Jews, says Arie Egozi of ynetnews.com.") Secondly, isn't it fascinating that, while open discussion of the Tel Aviv-Tbilisi military axis can be found in the Israeli media, as per the above examples, it appears out of bounds in the Australian media.
Postscript 2, 16/8/08: Qualification 2. The Sydney Morning Herald's chief correspondent Paul McGeough, in a feature article, Trigger happy and oil mad (16/8/08), has touched on the Israeli connection ever so gingerly: "Armed and trained militarily by the US and, intriguingly, by Israel, Georgia sent thousands of troops to help out in Iraq. So when he lit the fire at home, Saakashvili believed Washington and NATO would send firefighters as a favour returned." Intriguing, yes, but not, it seems, intriguing enough for McGeough to pursue the matter further. Later in his article, he referred to the Georgian president's "hairy-chested behaviour," despite Condi's insistence that he "not provoke Moscow with military action." We need to know just who cultivated the hair on Saakashvili's chest and taught him to play with matches, and how the Yanks really feel about their role in the conflagration.
Postscript 3, 18/8/08: Qualification 3. The Australian's Peter Wilson, in a feature article, Beginning of a Soviet reunion (16/8/08), made this fleeting reference: "Firefights and occasional attacks across the border had been building in recent weeks but Saakashvili was not merely responding to provocation from South Ossetia. Before his re-election in January he vowed to break the impasse and reclaim the disputed territory, and his confidence was lifted by the retraining and rearming of his military in recent years by the US and Israel."
For the paper's foreign editor Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan that's a bridge too far. The closest he gets is this: "Finally, when Washington gets as close to a government as it did to Saakashvili's in Georgia, and embraces it as a de facto ally, it assumes some responsibility for its military behaviour. At the very least Saakashvili exhibited very poor judgment in providing Putin with a pretext for invasion." (Strongman Putin on the blitz, 16/8/08)