One is familiar with the “criminal underworld” of thieves, gangs, drug lords, the Italian Mafia, and other manifestations of organised crime.
More serious is the “criminal overworld” of corrupt politicians, corrupt bankers, corrupt lawyers — in other words the world’s elites. Historically, this is not a new phenomenon. In recent years however, it has become more pervasive and blatant in which privileged members of society fleece the public, evade taxation and lobby vigorously for even greater benefits.
America’s largest bank, JP Morgan Chase, was fined US$13 billion in October 2013 for residential mortgage bond frauds. The follows previous, albeit lesser, fines against HSBC for laundering Mexican drug monies and Barclays Bank for the LIBOR scandal. Banks, in particular, plead they are now “too big to fail, and too big to jail.” Through corporate structures in tax havens such as Bermuda, Google proudly and legally pays only 2 percent tax whilst billions of people around the world – most especially Africa — live in dire poverty.
As yet, politicians such as Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi, Britain’s Tony Blair or America’s George Bush are not held accountable for their crimes. Jacob Zuma makes a farce of South Africa’s judicial system, and his lawyers and bankers just line their pockets at public expense.
Much, much more serious however, is the merger of the “criminal overworld” with the “gangster state.” The Edward Snowden revelations regarding SWIFT and the Finance Tracking Program have prompted a crisis in United States-European Union political relations. Very significantly, the Der Spiegel report that broke the spy story was headlined “follow the money.”
Revelations of spying by the National Security Agency have also confirmed that, properly and internationally regulated, SWIFT offers a unique opportunity to redress crises in Africa resulting from war profiteering and money laundering.
Israel is a prime example of a gangster state, having been established on the theft of lands in Palestine, and ethnic cleansing of most of the indigenous Palestinian Arabs from their homelands to make room for Jewish colonial settlers from Europe and elsewhere. The Iraqi-born Israeli historian Avi Shlaim declares:
Israel has become a rogue state with an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders. A rogue state habitually violates international law, possesses weapons of mass destruction and practices terrorism – the use of violence against civilians for political purposes. Israel fulfils all of these criteria. Israel’s real aim is not peaceful coexistence with its Palestinian neighbours, but military domination.
A former US ambassador to Israel in May 2009 described his host country as having degenerated into “a promised land for organised crime.” He noted that in recent years there had been a “sharp increase in the reach and impact of organised crime networks.”
The Mizrahim (Arab Jews):
The Israeli “footprint” all over Africa has been, and continues to be, hugely destructive. I grew up in Tripoli, Libya until the age of seventeen, and left Libya in 1960. I remember the anti-Israel riots in response to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, and the Nakba. These riots also turned anti-Jewish. The Jewish community in Libya went back thousands of years, and about 20 percent of Tripoli’s population was then Jewish. Our immediate neighbours were Jewish, who understandably were terrified whenever there were riots.
Similar histories pertained in Iran, in Iraq, in Egypt, and also west across the Maghreb to Morocco. There are no Jews now in Libya. Subsequent research has revealed that much of the violence across North Africa and the Middle East during the 1940s and 1950s was deliberately instigated by Zionist operatives. The Israelis wanted cannon folder for the army, and Jewish Arabs were deliberately settled in dangerous war zones.
Although constituting more than 50% of Israel’s Jewish population, the Mizrahim remain an economic and social underclass. European Jews (the Ashkenazim) – numbering 20% of Israel’s population, and only 10% of the population between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea – make up Israel’s entire political, economic, legal, academic and even military leadership.
Given its highly militarised society, Israel is a mixture of military dictatorship, colonial occupation and apartheid that masquerades as a democracy. “National security” is the cloak by which generals and their business cronies — with the complicity of Israeli banks and politicians – make mega money from war profiteering.
The South African Connection:
The mining magnate Cecil Rhodes and the British High Commissioner, Lord Alfred Milner instigated the Anglo-Boer War (South African War) of 1899-1902. Their purpose was to secure gold and other natural resources in South Africa with cheap indigenous labour in circumstances akin to slavery, and to extend British domination over the entire African continent “from Cape to Cairo.”
British imperial power had developed the strategy of “divide and rule.” Milner was the main drafter of the 1917 Balfour Declaration offering “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
With the support of De Beers, the Israeli diamond cutting and polishing industry was established during the Second World War, and by 1975 accounted for almost 40 percent of Israel’s non-agricultural exports.
The diamond industry then became the foundation of Israel’s armaments industry. In turn, arms export sales in 2012 were US$7.5 billion which placed Israel in fourth place, surpassed only by the United States, Russia and France. Thus, Israeli arms exports exceed even those of Britain, Germany and China. An estimated 150 000 Israeli households depend economically on the arms industry.
Yotam Feldman’s award-winning documentary film, The Lab, chillingly focuses upon how the armaments industry markets export sales on Israel’s tried and proven success in dealing with Palestinians. One particularly arrogant character describes the industry as “turning blood into money.”
Prime Minister John Vorster visited Israel in 1976. In defiance of the 1977 UN arms embargo against apartheid South Africa, he and his successor PW Botha (1978-1989) established close Israeli-South African collaboration in developing nuclear and other weapons.
In the words of Noseweek editor, Martin Welz: “Israel had the brains, but no money. South Africa had the money, but no brains.” With money seemingly to burn to defend apartheid, the “securocrats” instead bankrupted the country. South Africa defaulted on its foreign debts in 1985 after Botha’s infamous “Rubicon Speech.”
Led by church leaders including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the late Dr Beyers Naude and Dr Allan Boesak, the nonviolent international banking sanctions campaign became the tipping point in South Africa’s relatively peaceful transition to constitutional democracy in 1994. It was focussed on New York banks because of the role of the US dollar as settlement currency in foreign exchange markets.
The Plunder of Africa’s Natural Resources:
With complicity of the British and French governments, Israel launched the Suez War in November 1956. In exchange, Britain and France provided Israel with technology to develop its nuclear weapons programme.
In retaliation for British collusion with Israel against Egypt, an angry American President Dwight Eisenhower launched a speculative attack against the pound sterling. The Bank of England lost US$450 million of its foreign exchange reserves. It was an early example of banking sanctions, and successfully forced the humiliating British and French withdrawal from Egypt.
The Suez war signalled the end of Britain’s dominance in the Middle East and the world, and replacement by the US. Within five years the French, British and Belgian colonial empires in Africa had also collapsed.
The Africa Progress Report 2013 released in Cape Town in May by the former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan focused upon Africa’s natural resources as a potential source of future economic prosperity. Natural resources, it notes, do not cause war, but weak government, under development and violent conflict are accentuated when foreign investors abuse their power by tax evasion and money laundering.
Although the Democratic Republic of Congo is a veritable treasure house of natural resources, it ranks last in the world in terms of the UN’s human development index. The report notes that the DRC lost US$1.4 billion through tax evasion in 2010-2012, and that this is double what the country spends on education and health for its 70 million people.Israeli nationals are especially prominent and notorious for such abuses.
- The Democratic Republic of Congo:
Uranium ore used by the US Manhattan Project to produce the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 was mined at the Shinkobwe mine in the Belgian Congo. The mine was owned by Union Minière du Haut Katanga (UMHK), which was notorious for the brutal economic exploitation that pertained during Belgium’s colonial administration.
After the Congo became independent in 1960, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), in collusion with American and South African diamond interests, orchestrated the assassination of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba plus the subsequent coup d’etat in 1965 which placed Joseph Mobutu in power until 1997.
The Congo was plundered during Mobutu’s kleptomaniac regime, but the tragic circumstances have deteriorated even further since the Kabilas (father and son) took over. The Congo is the world’s largest producer of cobalt, and a major producer of copper and diamonds. It also produces 70 percent of the world’s coltan.
A three-year investigation convened by the UN Security Council in 2000 found that sophisticated networks of high-level political, military and business persons in collaboration with various rebel groups were intentionally fuelling the conflict in order to retain control over the country’s natural resources. In a series of controversial reports, the investigation exposed the vicious cycle of resource-driven conflict and war.
There is a worldwide profit interest that the present plundering mechanism stays in place. There are an enormous number of people siphoning off Congo’s resources. It is all laid out in reports every one can read on the Internet. There are the Congolese government elite, all kinds of European and North American firms, a huge number of African firms, and especially the elites from neighbouring countries. It is a very vast and complex network profiting from the war and its exploitation.
Smuggling of natural resources sought by “first world” strategic industries has fuelled the war, hence the description as “Africa’s First World War.” The war has caused the deaths of an estimated ten million people. Israeli nationals, led by Dan Gertler, are now the largest foreign investors in the Congo. These investments are invariably held via front companies in tax haven jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands which, in turn, are notorious for money laundering and tax evasion operations.
Gertler provides “security” for President Joseph Kabila against lavish concessions to exploit the Congo’s natural resources, including the allocation at giveaway prices in 2011 of 25 percent of the shares of Gécamines, the successor company to UMHK, and other assets. The International Monetary Fund in 2013 suspended loans to the DRC pending satisfactory explanation of this and similar transactions.
Gertler is also closely connected with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and it was at his instruction that Union Bank of Israel in 1997 funded Laurant Kabila to wage war to take over the country. 
In seeming contradiction to Gertler’s support provided to the DRC government, the Israeli government also arms and funds Ugandan and Rwandan dictators, Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame. They have been “named and shamed” by the UN as the godfathers of “Africa’s First World War.”
The complicity of western (including Israeli) governments in both fuelling the war and protecting Museveni and Kagame has been heavily documented. Yet to date no action has been taken against them by the international community.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair proudly describes himself as one of Kagame’s advisors and friend. Huge amounts of British financial aid have been poured into Rwanda which, curiously, has become a member of the Commonwealth. The Rwandan government’s agenda is to annex North and South Kivu provinces and their mineral wealth into Rwanda. Blair also chairs the Middle East Quartet, and so provides Israel with diplomatic protection over Palestine.
The UN finally took the offensive in August 2013 with UN troops, including South African soldiers, against the M23 rebels that are backed by Rwanda. The New York Times in September 2013 published an in-depth analysis of Kagame under the title “The Global Elite’s Favorite Strongman.” Both the UN and US in October 2013 warned the Rwandan government against its continuing support for M23 and the use of child soldiers. The Rwandan government unconvincingly denies involvement.
Preliminary reports suggest that the UN has defeated the M23 rebels. If true, and if peace and stability can at last be achieved in the DRC as the heartland of the African continent and its natural wealth, then the hopes of economic development expressed by Annan in Africa Progress Report 2013 might at last become attainable.
The Simandou iron ore deposit in Guinea is reportedly so rich that the ore can be fed into blast furnaces with minimal processing. It has been described as the richest undeveloped iron ore deposit anywhere in the world. It is estimated to be worth about US$140 billion over the next 25 years, and thus could economically transform Guinea. The concession rights to develop Simandou were allocated to Rio Tinto in 1997.
Just two weeks before his death in 2008, the then dictator of Guinea, President Lansana Conté stripped Rio Tinto of its licence and, against payment of US$160 million, re-allocated it to the Israeli diamond magnate Beny Steinmetz. Steinmetz reportedly has no experience in iron ore mining. He is however, the richest billionaire in Israel. His political connections include former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, against whom numerous allegations of corruption have been “brushed under the carpet.”
Olmert resigned in 2009 because allegations included that, in supporting Steinmetz’s claim to Simandou, the Israeli General Israel Ziv had illegally signed a US$10 million contract to supply and train the Guinean army.
The Beny Steinmetz Group Resources (BSGR), which is headquartered in London, then sold a 51 percent stake in Simandou in 2010 to the Brazilian mining company, Vale for US$2.5 billion. The deal came under scrutiny in 2011, and began to unravel. The FBI began investigations when Guinean officials paid cash for expensive properties on Manhattan.
President Conté’s widow — believing that she had been tricked by Steinmetz and by 2012 now living in the US — then blew the whistle on the involvement of the Israeli secret service, the Shin Bet, and substantiated her story with detailed documentation.
In an attempt at damage control because of the role of Britain’s remaining colonies — such as the British Virgin Islands, as tax and money laundering havens — the British Prime Minister David Cameron in June 2013, ahead of the G8 meeting in Northern Ireland, wrote an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal declaring:
We must fight the scourge of tax evasion by promoting a new global standard for automatic information exchange between tax authorities. And we must tackle aggressive tax avoidance by encouraging better global reporting to tax authorities in both the developed and developing world; and by letting tax collectors and law enforcement find out who really owns and controls each company.
Second, we must lift the veil of secrecy that too often lets corrupt corporations and officials in some countries run rings around the law. The G-8 must move toward a global common standard for resource-extracting companies to report all payments to governments, and in turn for governments to report those revenues. This will encourage more investment in resource-rich countries and level the playing field for business.
As scandals recently associated with Barclays Bank, HSBC and other British banks have illustrated, the City of London’s reputation for corruption has degenerated to the point that it is sometimes referred to as the most corrupt square mile anywhere on the planet Earth. Cameron, just six months earlier, had vigorously supported British banks, saying:
Yes, some utterly terrible mistakes were made, and they need to be addressed properly so that they can never happen again. Those who think the answer is just to trash the banks would end up trashing Britain. I say recognise the enormous strength and potential of our financial sector, regulate it properly and get behind it. 
The reality however, is that both the British arms industry and its banking industry are virtually without regulation, and scream vociferously whenever regulation is suggested. As an example, when in 1998 I asked the British government to investigate whether BAE was laundering bribes to ANC politicians in connection with the arms deal, the eventual response I received was that it was not [then] illegal in English law to bribe foreigners, and therefore there was no crime to investigate. Britain remains notoriously lax in enforcing its corruption obligations.
At the request of the US Department of Justice, Swiss and French police in August 2013 raided Steinmetz’s offices in Switzerland and France. Israeli law is expected to protect Steinmetz from extradition to stand trial.
The son of former French President François Mitterand, several senior French government officials and Russian-born Arcadi Gaydamak were involved in conspiracies between 1993 and 1998 by numerous French, Israeli and Russian gangsters to take control of Angolan oil and diamonds in exchange for Russian weapons. The “Angolagate” scandal rocked the French government for several years.
Gaydamak had political ambitions in Israel to become Mayor of Jerusalem, and even Prime Minister. Both Israel and Russia refused to extradite him to France where he was eventually sentenced in absentia to a six year jail sentence for gunrunning. Extraordinarily, the Paris Court of Appeals in 2011 overturned the judgement. It ruled that irrespective of a UN arms embargo, it was not illegal in Angola to import weapons for use against Unita, and therefore dismissed the charges against Gaydamak and others of arms trafficking.
In 2012 Gaydamak sued his former business partner Lev Leviev in a London court for damages of US$1 billion after alleging Leviev had cheated him out of US$1 billion in earnings from Angolan diamonds. Gaydamak lost the case, but the judge was scathing in his judgement of the behaviour of both men.
Leviev boasts of having been the man who broke the De Beers diamond cartel. The New York Times reported in 2007:
Leviev saw an opportunity in 1989. De Beers had encountered anti-trust problems in the US. In South Africa, the apartheid government was losing political power. At the same time, the Soviet Union, whose leaders had a long and mutually profitable partnership with De Beers, was nearing collapse.
One of Leviev’s first moves in Russia was to set up a high-tech cutting and polishing plant. It provided jobs and, more important, showed the Russians how they could gain control of their own industry. In turn, the Russian government helped him to gain a foothold in Africa.
Leviev bought into the Catoca diamond mine in Angola, and soon established warm ties with the Angolan President José dos Santos. Dos Santos was fighting a civil war against Unita rebels, who were financed by the sale of smuggled ‘blood diamonds.’
Leviev laundered much of his newfound diamond wealth through Africa-Israel Investment Company (originally Africa-Palestine Investment Company established in 1934 by South African Zionists), which is now one of Israel’s main property companies. In turn, Africa-Israel subsidiaries are heavily involved in illegal construction of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Zufrim, Har Homa and Ma’ale Adumin.
The Mail and Guardian newspaper during April to July 2013 ran several exposés alleging how a front company for the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, rigged the Zimbabwe voters role to ensure victory for the ruling ZAPU-PF and President Robert Mugabe in the July elections.
The M&G also reported that Nikuv International Projects runs similar operations in Nigeria, Zambia, Ghana, Botswana, Angola and Lesotho. Nikuv denies that it is a front company for Mossad, and claims it was established by a group of professionals and specialises in population registration, birth and death registration; marriage/divorce registration; identity documents; immigration and citizenship; passports; and electoral systems.
Canada Africa Partnership, Global Witness, Human Rights Watch and other organisations have heavily documented corruption and human rights abuses associated with the Marange diamond fields which now finance the Mugabe dictatorship. The Marange diamond fields discovered in 2008 are reported to constitute perhaps as much as a quarter of the world’s diamond supply.
The deposits are believed to contain at least three billion carats, and over the next eighty years could be worth about US$800 billion. The extent of Israeli and Chinese beneficial ownership is obscured via a network of front companies incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, but Leviev and his brother Moshe are alleged to be the final beneficiaries.
The Kimberley Process (KP), which was intended to eliminate the trade in “blood diamonds,” has in recent years been gutted. When the US chaired the KP in 2012, Ambassador Gillian Milovanic assured the Israeli diamond industry that it would not be affected by any proposed changes in definitions of “conflict diamonds.”
Thus, the KP now closes its eyes to human rights violations by government forces, enabling Zimbabwe to export its diamonds via Dubai and India, and thereby protects the Israeli high-value cut and polished diamond trade from scrutiny and regulation. KP met in Kimberley in June 2013, and was chaired by South Africa represented by the Minister of Mineral Resources, Ms Susan Shabangu. A coalition of Cosatu and civil society organisations unsuccessfully lobbied to have Israel expelled. Their statement declared:
the definition of ‘conflict diamond’ currently applied within the KP extends only to ‘rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to fund violence against legitimate governments’. It thus excludes, for instance, billions of dollars worth of diamonds exported from Israel that are a major source of revenue for the Israeli military, which stands accused of war crimes.
Not only do Israeli diamond exports fund the ongoing crimes of the Israeli military regime against Palestinians, but industrial diamonds processed in Israel are also widely understood to be central to Israel’s production and export of military and security technologies. Most importantly, this includes pilotless ‘drone’ aircraft, of which Israel is the leading exporter to the US and the rest of the world. The extensive use by the US of drones in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen is widely seen as illegal because of ‘collateral damage’ inflicted on civilian populations.
A KP plenary meeting is scheduled to be held in Johannesburg at the Emperors Palace Convention Centre during 19 to 22 November 2013. This is the main decision-making gathering within KP, and is probably the last good opportunity both within the KP and with our government to highlight the double standard that funds human rights violations in Africa, and allows the trade in cut and polished blood diamonds to continue unchecked. China takes over as chair of the KP in 2014, and Angola is expected to follow in 2015.
e. South Sudan:
Israeli destabilisation of Sudan dates back to the 1960s when funds, weapons and training were first provided to the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army. The civil war resumed in 1983 after a period of relative peace after 1972, and finally resulted in secession of the South from the North in 2011. Israel also assisted the South when clashes between the two countries erupted earlier this year. In turn, the North supports Hamas in Gaza, and is also politically aligned with Iran.
About 80 percent of the oil reserves are in the South. The new country is thus of enormous economic and strategic interest to Israel should the matter of export shipment ports to be resolved. Politically motivated disruptions of shipments through Port Sudan are prompting consideration by the South of pipeline construction across Kenya to Lamu and Mombasa.
Credible analysis by Global Research in Canada speculates that the massacre at the Israeli-owned Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi in September 2013 was, in fact, a “false flag” operation to solidify Israeli influence in Kenya and beyond. The analysis argues that Israeli priorities in East Africa are to open a second military front against the Iranians and also to oust Chinese and Indian oil companies from South Sudan.
SWIFT Sanctions Against Israeli Banks — A Nonviolent Remedy:
Apartheid in Palestine-Israel is not only the leading moral issue of this age, but its world impact – including the plundering of African natural resources — remains the foremost threat to international peace and security. Given its stockpile of nuclear warheads and the disposition within the Netanyahu government to use them to “defend” the Zionist state, there is no way that the international community can dare challenge Israel militarily. A nonviolent initiative is therefore imperative.
The “Who Profits?” website maintained by the Women’s Coalition for Peace, documents war profiteering by Israeli and international corporations. Corruption, money laundering and human rights abuses are invariably interconnected. Such abuses are rampant in Israel, but are invariably buried or excused by considerations of “national security.” The website lists hundreds of companies involved in construction of the “apartheid wall” and settlements.
Its 2010 report entitled “Financing The Israeli Occupation” found that all Israeli banks are criminally complicit in the Occupation, and are in violation of international law. The report reveals that all Israeli banks are crucially involved in the financing of construction in the settlements and the sale of property, as well as in providing financial services to corporations that illegally operate in the settlements.
Military leaders and their business associates make enormous profits from the illegal occupation of Palestine. The banks are also the conduit by which Israeli nationals remit the proceeds of looting in Africa. The vote by the European parliament on 23 October 2013 to suspend the SWIFT agreement with the US on exchanges of banking information confirms the centrality of the SWIFT system in the international payments system. The vote reflects outrage in Europe over recent US spying revelations.
Accordingly, I recommend that SWIFT sanctions against Israeli banks offers an appropriate, effective and nonviolent remedy against both Israeli plundering of African resources as well as support for the liberation of the Palestinian people.
Money laundering is now considered a major international security issue. Recent money laundering and other scandals involving international banks also suggest that SWIFT will not want to be associated with war profiteering in collusion with Israeli banks. Moral pressure from international civil society, combined with a court application in Belgium, could produce a surprisingly rapid and peaceful resolution to the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Banking technology has advanced dramatically since the 1980s and is now reliant on computers. This makes Israel even more vulnerable to banking sanctions than was apartheid South Africa. The Society for Worldwide Inter-Bank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) authenticates financial payments between international banks and financial institutions around the globe.
Being domiciled in Belgium, SWIFT is also outside US jurisdiction. Every bank has a SWIFT code, the fifth and sixth letters of which identify the country of domicile. The Israel economy would quickly collapse without access to the international banking system. The letters IL identify Israeli banks. As illustrations:
Israel Discount Bank IDBLILIT
Bank Hapoalim POALILIT
Bank Ha Leumi LUMIILIT
Bank of Israel ISRAILIJ
Union Bank of Israel UNBKILIT
It would be a simple matter to re-programme SWIFT’s computer system to suspend inter-bank payments to and from Israeli banks. Unlike trade sanctions which hurt the workers, banking sanctions impact quickly and severely upon the financial and political elites who have the clout to effect political change. The intention is not to bring the Israeli economy to its knees but rather to bring the highly militarised Israeli government to its senses.
I also recommend passage by the General Assembly of a resolution calling upon SWIFT to suspend transactions to and from Israeli (IL) banks until the Israeli government:
1. Agrees to relinquish its nuclear weapons, and to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty,
2. Agrees to release immediately all Palestinian political prisoners,
3. Agrees to end its occupation of Gaza, the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and to dismantle the “apartheid wall,”
4. Recognizes the fundamental rights of Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality.
5. Acknowledges the right of return of Palestinian refugees.
In conclusion, I repeat Martin Luther King’s challenge in 1968 in connection with the Vietnam War, and conscientious objection to that war. He said:
Cowardice asks the question: is it safe? Expediency asks the question: is it politic?
Vanity asks the question: is it popular? Conscience asks the question: is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right. 
It is now time and right to liberate Palestine, Israel and Africa from the obscene profiteering of the Israeli war business.