In a move that has sparked national and international criticism, Finland has finalized a €317 million deal with Israel for the David’s Sling air defense system, despite growing outrage over Israel's military actions in the Gaza strip and other palestinian territories. This agreement, involving the transfer of sophisticated military technology, raises questions about the ethical implications of international arms deals in the context of human rights controversies.
The signing event, held at Israel's Defense Ministry, was attended by key Israeli and Finnish officials, including Israel’s Defense Ministry Director General Eyal Zamir and Finland’s Ambassador to Israel Nina Nordström. The presence of top executives from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the manufacturer of David’s Sling, underscores the deal's importance in Israel's defense export strategies.
David’s Sling, operational in Israel since 2017, is designed to intercept a range of airborne threats. Its integration into Finland’s defense system is said to enhance the country's capability to counter various aerial attacks, including those from ballistic and cruise missiles, aircraft, and drones. The system however failed to shoot down missiles fired from Syria two years ago and the only real life success has been in shooting down primitive home made rockets of Islamic Jihad in the ongoing conflict.
David's Slings only real world success has been against primitive, unguided Islamic Jihad rockets
However, this arms deal comes at a time when Israel faces severe international criticism for its bombardment of civilians and military operations in Gaza. Reports of civilian casualties, with over 11,000 Palestinians reportedly killed in the last month alone, one third of them children, have led to accusations of human rights violations and ethnic cleansing. These allegations position the arms deal as a potential contributor to the resources of an army currently engaged in widely condemned actions.
Finland's decision to proceed with the deal, despite Israel's contentious military conduct, has raised ethical questions about the responsibilities of nations in international arms trade. Critics argue that such agreements implicitly endorse the military practices of the supplier nation, in this case, Israel, whose actions in Palestinian territories have been a subject of global concern.
The Finnish Ministry of Defence, while acknowledging the complexities of the situation, has stated that the political tensions in Israel have not influenced their decision. This stance, however, does not alleviate the apprehensions of those who view the deal as indirectly supporting an ongoing conflict marked by severe humanitarian concerns.
Critical commentators complain of being censored by YLE
The news of the deal being closed in this situation, sparked a flurry of comments on YLE’s news pages. A significant portion of these comments reflect criticism not only of the deal itself but also of YLE's moderation policies, with accusations of censoring critical views on Israel's human rights record.
- Sa-rah expressed frustration over the perceived censorship, stating, "It's useless to open comments if the moderators are going to delete all the messages criticising the deal and Israel's record on human rights." This comment suggests a concern about the lack of open discourse on the issue.
- Melanie Hall from YLE, responding to Sa-rah, acknowledged the sensitivity of the topic and the challenges in moderation. She noted that while many comments breached the guidelines, the moderation team strives to be objective, balancing freedom of speech with their established guidelines.
- Sillihai echoed Sa-rah’s sentiment, stating they were also censored in the same thread. Sillihai criticised the Finnish state for financing Israel, drawing parallels to criticisms of deals with Russia during its invasion of Ukraine. They highlighted the importance of freedom of speech in a democracy and urged YLE to reconsider its stance on political-based censorship.
- Antti_Toinenmies expressed disapproval of Israel’s military actions but noted the inherent complexities of the military industry. They posed a rhetorical question about the ethics of purchasing arms, suggesting that the source of the arms might be less significant than the act of buying them itself.
- Sillihai, in another comment, expanded on Antti_Toinenmies’s point, highlighting the challenges of adhering to principles in the messy realm of global politics. They suggested that maintaining a consistent ethical stance often leads to hypocrisy, as principles are selectively applied.
Critics of Isreal’s actions have noticed not only being censored or shadow banned on big tech platforms, but also national main stream media in Finland where comment sections are often swamped with fanatic pro-Isreal comments.