Bollywood-style Israeli weapons video… something else to boycott!

Posted March 16, 2009

One part of the military machine that facilitated the massacre of Palestinian civilians in Gaza this January has released a new offensive product. Arms manufacturer Rafael not only dominates Israeli arms production with two other companies, they make also export missiles and other equipment for export.

And now, to boost sales of its rockets in India, Rafael produced the horrible Bollywood-inspired video below:

What better way to advertise advanced killing technology than with sari-bound women dancing around rockets and singing about “love and protection?” Some commentary I’ve seen has pointed out the obvious gender dynamic here: macho Israel, decked out in black leather like a Patrick Swayze wannabe, offering to “fulfill expectations… meet obligations” of a feminine India. Portraying an entire nation as masculine (and, the counterpart: portraying “weaker” subdued or dependent states as feminine) has long been part of the ideological arsenal of empire and colonialism. Regular readers of this and other antiwar blogs may have already seen the recent video of an American army officer accusing disobedient Iraqi police of behaving like “pussies.”

Along with the gender angle of this video, it also humanizes or even eroticizes weapons of war. What’s sexier than laser-guided explosives? Among the nearly $800 million worth of arms Rafael sells to various buyers are missiles and also radar and other protective technology. Here we see Fox News anchor Shep Smith describing Rafael’s “Trophy” anti-missile system, which it sells to the U.S. military.

Smith, who once struck another reporter with his car during an argument over a parking space, praises the new force-field type technology that, “may give us [sic] the upper hand against these crude killers.”

In the fantasy land of corporate news, a high-tech army described as “Zeuslike” in this article from around the time of the Iraq invasion does not have the upper hand – even though U.S. military technology is more than a decade ahead of every other country’s and is advancing so quickly that the rest of the world’s forces might never catch up. [headline of same article.]

Nor does the wildly “asymmetric” military balance of Israel and Hamas count as enough of an upper hand for Shep – despite the fact that the in January Israeli Defense Forces wiped out Palestinian civilians at a 16,500% ratio of Israeli deaths. (And body counts were a major objective: in the words of Israel’s bestselling paper just after the initial bombing, “the element of surprise increased the number of people who were killed.”

So, high-tech wanton force gets a pass. The attempts of people to expel invaders from their country using shoulder-fired rockets, however, amounts to “crude killing.”

The big, arrogant error of empires, though, has always been imagining that overwhelming technological force will win a war. For other examples of how this doesn’t work out, refer to what is called the “Vietnam War” by Americans. Or, to the original Star Wars trilogy, for that matter….

In closing, I’ll use the words of Ben M’Hidi in the classic anti-imperialist film The Battle of Algiers. After his capture by the occupying French army, the leader of the National Liberation Front (FLN)’s guerrilla operations is asked by an American journalist: “In your opinion, does the FLN still have some chance of defeating the French army?”

To which Ben M’Hidi replies: “The FLN has more of a chance of defeating the French army than the French have of changing the course of history.” (Watch the clip, which has embedding turned off, here.)