Israel is arming Ukraine’s neo-Nazi fighters

Doesn't this make Israel anti-semitic?


A shocking new report in the Electronic Intifada reveals that Ukrainian neo-Nazis are using Israeli weapons to fight Russia. Journalist Max Blumenthal discusses the SS-wearing Azov Battalion, a neo-Nazi militia that uses Hitlerian symbols and is embedded in the National Guard of Ukraine, which also receives support from the US and Canada.

Story Transcript

BEN NORTON: Western media outlets have finally begun reporting on the neo-Nazi threat that is growing inside Ukraine, which is a close Western ally against Russia. Well, one of the most scandalous reports now shows that another key U.S. ally, Israel, is in fact arming some of these neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine who have carried out attacks on ethnic or religious minority groups, including the Roma, and also Jews inside Ukraine. Journalist Asa Winstanley wrote about this for the website The Electronic Intifada in an article titled “Israel Is Arming Neo-Nazis in Ukraine.” Asa Winstanley’s report reveals that the neo-Nazi militia the Azov Battalion, which is part of the Ukrainian National Guard, posted online propaganda, including video showing it using Israeli Tavor rifles.

As I said, the Azov Battalion, which began as a neo-Nazi militia, is now incorporated into the Ukrainian National Guard and is fighting pro-Russian separatists. And in Asa Winstanley’s report, he also quotes a letter from the Israeli Defense Ministry that it wrote in response to a lawyer who had requested an end to Israeli military aid to Ukraine, citing the reports of Nazis attacking Ukrainian Jews, and also Roma in Ukraine.

Joining us to discuss this is Max Blumenthal. Max is an award-winning journalist and the editor and founder of the website The Grayzone Project, where he has reported extensively on the neo-Nazis in Ukraine. Max previously here at The Real News reported on how the United States has directly armed Nazis in Ukraine by arming the Azov battalion, and in fact, the Azov battalion has posted photos on its website showing it meeting with American military officials. So today we’re going to talk about how Israel, which claims to defend international Jewry, is in fact arming Nazis in Ukraine. Thanks for joining us, Max.

MAX BLUMENTHAL: Great to be on.

BEN NORTON: So can you just respond to this shocking report from Asa Winstanley that Israel, which, again, claims to speak on behalf of international Jewry, is arming anti-Semitic, violent neo-Nazis in Ukraine?

MAX BLUMENTHAL: Yeah. It would be shocking to those who didn’t know Israel’s history. This actually didn’t shock me at all, especially given the fact that U.S. Congress has enacted a prohibition on selling arms to the Azov Battalion this year thanks to the efforts of representative Ro Khanna. I’ll explain why a little bit later. But just to summarize this really excellent report by Asa Winstanley, which is really authoritative in explaining the origins and ideology of Azov and the danger they present to Ukraine and to Europe as a whole.

The Defense Ministry of Israel has confirmed several shipments of arms and tenders for weapons sales to Ukraine, to the Ukrainian military. The Azov Battalion has posted photos of its soldiers on its own YouTube channel and social media channels with the Tavor rifle. And the Tavor rifle is one of the most distinctive weapons in the Israeli arsenal. It is the standard issue rifle for Israeli soldiers, and it was recently used in some of the atrocities committed on the border of Gaza. And it replaced the Uzi, which is another really distinctive Israeli weapon. So there’s no mistake here. This is clearly an Israeli weapon, and it reflects what was seen in the Israeli Defense Ministry documents which were turned up by Israeli human rights lawyers and were obtained by Asa and the Electronic Intifada. And basically, the Israeli Defense Ministry has refused to deny shipping weapons to the Azov Battalion.

The reason that they have kind of some plausible deniability about directing weapons to neo-Nazis is that the Azov Battalion has been incorporated into Ukraine’s National Guard through the Interior Ministry, which is run by an ultra-right nationalist named Arsen Avakov. So Israel is basically just sending weapons to the Ukrainian military, which is now filled with hardcore neo-Nazi ideologues. But there’s no disputing the truth of the headline to Asa Winstanley’s article. Israel is arming neo-Nazis in Ukraine. The self-proclaimed Jewish state is literally arming neo-Nazis. And that should shock everyone, but at the same time it’s not shocking given Israel’s history, which I can kind of briefly explain.

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