Indy slams Israel’s ‘continuing’ arming of Burma, but omits fact there’s been no major sales since 2011

“Israel continues to arm Burma military amid ongoing violence against Rohingia Muslims” screamed the Indy headline accompanying a Sept. 6th article by Bethan McKernan.

The aim of the article was to tie Israel to what McKernan characterises as Burma’s (Myanmar’s) “intensified violence against the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority”, amidst reports of 400 Rohingya killed and over 100,000 displaced since August.  To help buttress the ‘Jews contributing to violence against Muslims’ narrative, McKernan included a ludicrous quote by a fringe Israeli leftist arguing that “weapons used against the Palestinians are being sold as ‘field-tested’ to some of the worst regimes on the planet”, such as Myanmar. 

However, beyond the hyperbole, the specific claims in the article don’t stand up to critical scrutiny.

The Indy claim that “More than 100 tanks, as well as boats and light weapons, have been sold to the Burmese government by Israeli arms companies” is extraordinarily misleading.  As blogger Elder of Ziyon recently demonstrated, based on data from Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), there’s been no major* recorded arms sales between the two countries since 2011.  

Also, Israel provides a minuscule proportion of Myanmar’s overall weapons imports, representing roughly 1% of all major arms to the country between 2010 and 2016. 

Moreover, though Myanmar gets most of its weapons from China and Russia, the Indy omitted the fact that Israel isn’t the only democracy to arm the country.  Over the past several years, Myanmar has purchased weapons from France, Germany, and India. 


‘0’ was added by UKMW to Israeli years (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016) that were blank.

To recap:

  • The Indy published a story focusing exclusively on Israeli arms sales to Myanmar.
  • The Indy contextualised the story in a manner bizarrely suggesting an anti-Muslim racist motive.
  • The Indy failed to note that these sales represent less than 1% of total international arms sales to Myanmar over the last six years.
  • The Indy failed to acknowledge that there haven’t been any major Israeli arms sales to Myanmar since 2011.

Once again, we see that Indy journalists won’t let mere facts deter them from framing a story in a manner imputing maximum Israeli malevolence.

(*As Elder notes in his post, there have been recent reports of some extremely modest purchases, such as a few patrol boats and some rifles, but nothing of the sort suggested in the article.  The chart by SIPRI notes that a ‘0’ indicates that the value of deliveries is less than $500,000.)

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16 replies »

  1. Bethan McKernan is probably the worst liar about Israel who is writing in English today. Worse than Robert Fisk or Gidon levy and Amira Hass.

    • McKernan writes from Beirut, centre of lies and conspiracy theories about Israel. Her weak grasp of the principles of journalism is evident in that her allegations are not backed by links. She makes vague bombastic statements but fails to provide proof.

  2. When you have a spate of terrorist attacks in your own streets a good way to deflect is to accuse Jews falsely of racism.