Korean coalition calls for BDS, cancellation of fighter jet sale to Israel

South Koreans in Seoul rally against Israel’s massacres in Gaza, January 2009.

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A coalition of groups in South Korea issued an English-language statement today calling on their government to cancel a planned sale of the Korean Aerospace Industries’ T-50 fighter jet to Israel. They also protest the apparent strengthening of military ties between the Republic of Korea and the State of Israel, and uphold the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (the full statement by the organizations is below).

South Korea’s sale of the T-50 comes as Israel’s war and occupation industry becomes further entrenched with the economies of other states.

The Neged Neshek website reported yesterday that India will be using the Israel Aerospace Industries’ Heron drone against persecuted populations living under its control.

And despite a 42-year ban of weapon sales to Israel, the French Defense Ministry this month also decided to purchase the Heron drone from Israel Aerospace Industries, as the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

[UPDATE: after this blog post was published, Jimmy Johnson, who is highly knowledgeable of the global arms industry, sent me this correction of the above pararaph: “The Haaretz article cited doesn’t talk about a 42-year arms ban. But of a long discarded arms ban started 42 years ago. France has sold Israel arms for years now, though it is a very minor supplier. Also, Anshel Pfeffer gets the date wrong. The ban began in 1967, 44 years ago, not 42.”]

It’s not only France and India purchasing Israel’s “field-proven” deathly machines. The Electronic Intifada reported earlier this month that Finland is going ahead with a controversial agreement with Israeli arms companies “deeply involved in Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land,” purchasing drones from Israel “in a deal worth more than 17 million euros.”

Meanwhile, according to The Jerusalem Post, “Germany will provide Israel with its sixth Dolphin-class nuclear-capable submarine and will subsidize the deal with a total of 135 million euros, German magazine Der Spiegel reported overnight Sunday.”

Popular protest of Israel’s brutal oppression of the Palestinian people, and its attacks on its neighbors and international solidarity activists peacefully challenging Israel’s blockade, is growing by the day. But instead of upholding and ensuring respect of international law, states are rewarding Israel by investing in and entrenching its occupation industry.

This gives greater urgency to a call made by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) this month for a military embargo against Israel. And interventions like the statement by the coalition of Korean organizations, backed by numbers in the streets, mean that day will come sooner rather than later.

The full statement from the coalition of Korean organizations follows:

The Republic of Korea (ROK) Government must stop T-50 (the super sonic advanced trainer Jet) export plan to Israel immediately!

According to the daily newspaper report, in 20th July, Hagai Toplanski, the Operation Commander of the IAF (Israel Air Force) will visit Korea. His visit is in order to finalize the purchase of the T-50, which was produced and developed by KIA (Korean Aerospace Industries).

It is our firm belief that the sale of T-50s to Israel directly contributes to and helps maintain the brutal military occupation that Palestinians having been living under. Therefore, we demand the ROK Government and the corresponding enterprises do not go ahead with the agreement.

In 2002, Israel and South Korea signed a Memorandum of Understanding, regarding future cooperation in weapons dealings. KAI which develops and produces the T-50, Lockheed Martin of the United States (co-developer of this plane), and IAI (Israel Aerospace Industries), a government-managed aircraft and weapons manufacturer, made a promise which gives preference to the T-50 over other aircrafts to be the next Israeli Air Force Trainer.

After this, the sale of the T-50 to Israel has become a great desire of the ROK Government and the corresponding enterprises. The results of this sale could be that of a great honour to Korea and its munitions industry as it would certainly upgrade its position as an International Arms Exporter and it would certainly experience the subsequent economic benefits.

Presently the Government of Israel, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, is strongly pushing its politics of aggression, territorial expansion and non-compliance with International Law. In such a situation, we are afraid that the behaviour of ROK Government will result not in honour but in disappointment from the international community.

We are also afraid that this agreement and the sale of the T-50 signals increased cooperation between Munitions Industries of ROK and Israel. The T-50 is already equipped with electronic devices made by Elbit Systems, and if the initial order of T-50s is expanded, this will bring even greater benefit to Israel.

For years, the Palestine people have resisted the Illegal Israeli occupation and Violations of Human-Rights. They have called for the International Community to join their campaign of boycotting Israel. The campaign has seen great success and numerous numbers of conscientious citizens, social associations, enterprises, and governments have answered this call. In light of such a situation, we strongly condemn the ROK’s decision to sell the T-50 to Israel as both foolish and morally bankrupt.

According to another source, with the cooperation of IAI, there is another plan to convert the T-50 into a light fighter-bomber which would include more superior radar and weapon systems. When actually Israel buys the T-50, it is not difficult to imagine what it will be used for. We will see such a situation develop in which a fighter-bomber which is produced by Korean companies is used in the military operations of Israel, and will become a tool for murdering Palestinians and the citizens of neighboring countries.

We cannot to accept such an awful future, and therefore we cannot support the current deal regarding the sale of the T-50.

Many will not remember it, but in December of 1981, Foreign minister of the ROK Government declared, at the UN Palestine solidarity week, We want to express our fully support and solidarity to the Palestinians ideals and legitimate struggles towards self-determination’ and Israel must evacuates from all Arab territory which it occupied by military means in 1967, including Jerusalem’.

Nowadays the ROK Government is proud of Korea’s good standing in the International Community, but they have to recognize that this position greatly originated from their statements for world peace and justice, just like the above declaration for Palestine.

We demand once again that the ROK Government and the corresponding enterprises must abandon their dream to sell the super sonic advanced trainer to Israel. And they must change their diplomatic behavior to provide the roots for peace to the Middle East society.

July 20th, 2011

Undersigned organizations:

All Together

Catholic Humanrights Committee

Democratic Legal Studies Association

Imagination for International Solidarity

Imagine Peace

KOREA Christian Network for Peace of Palestine

National Council of Korea YMCAS KOREA Center for Life-Peace

New Progressive Party (South Korea)

Palestine Peace Solidarity @ Seoul, S.Korea

People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy


Sarangbang: Group for Human Righs

Wepon Zero

Without War





Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada.