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44.4aziNagit laZiONWKW , INTERVIEW Arming the Occupation Tracking Israel’s Weapons Back to Texas INTERVIEW BY STEFAN WRAY he Texas Observer spoke with Rania Masri TJordan Green of the Institute for Southern Studies during the Austin stop of their Peace Through Justice Road Tour. Masri, an environmental scientist and human rights activist, is the director of the Institute’s Economic and Environmental Justice Program. Green, a journalist, has been associated with the group since 1997. The latest issue of the Institute’s magazine, Southern Exposure, focuses on the defense industry in the South. Green’s article “Arming the Occupation” details how the South accounts for 66 percent of U.S. military support to Israel. Texas in particular has a long and close relationship with Israel; total exports from all Texas industries in 2000 topped $490,000,000. In their May tour, the two, along with Director Chris Kromm, visited Atlanta, Fort Worth, Dallas, Austin, and Asheville, North Carolina. The Institute for Southern Studies is based in Durham, North Carolina. Texas Observer: What has changed in U.S. weapons development since George W Bush ascended to the presidency and since September 11? Jordan Green: The attacks of September 11 provided the perfect pretext to accelerate programs of militarization, which were clearly part of Clinton’s foreign policy. The effects are more intensified, violent, and brutal under Bush. But I don’t see that it would have necessarily been different under a Gore Administration. The new military budget that Bush proposed was something along the lines of a 33-percent increase. I think we can expect it to go through. Rania Masri: If we combine North Korea, Iraq, and Iran’s military budgets, it totals 12 billion dollars. Just the increase that “W” and Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld want is 48 billion dollars. So, the military increase is greater than the military budgets of the three nations that make up the alleged “Axis of Evil,” and it is greater that what any single country in the world spends on its military budget. TO: Why did you organize the Peace Through Justice Road Tour? JG: We started investigating the military-economic ties in the South immediately after September 11, because we knew that there was going to be a huge militarization of our society, and we found out that Texas, particularly in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, is the arsenal hotspot of the country. Also we’ve come out with some research on the South’s military armament ties to Israel, which turned out to be pretty interesting. RM: Sixty-six percent of all the weapons that we as taxpayers give to Israel are produced in the South, and 97 percent of those are produced in Fort Worth, Texas. So, approximately 58 percent of all the weapons that we as a nation give to Israel are from Fort Worth, Texas. Whether we like it or not, we as American taxpayers are literally funding the 54-year-old apartheid in Israel and the 35year-old apartheid in the Occupied Territories. We have to get the South to realize that not only is mil itarization drastically affecting us domestically, but it is also directly leading to death and destruction overseas. We have a responsibility to change our involvement from one that is negative and destructive to one that is positive and empowering. TO: How did the South come to be responsible for so much of the nation’s weapons development and manufacturing? JG: It’s been disproportionately represented since World War II, because of the economic stimulus program to get the South out of the Great Depression. Last year,Texas won nearly 28 billion dollars in Department of Defense contracts. This compares to about one billion dollars for New York. The defense armaments industry is clustered in the South in three key southern states:Texas, Florida, andVirginia.While this industry is rising slightly in other regions, it is rising quite dramatically in the South. TO: If you exclude the 1.3 billion-dollar award that Fort Worthbased Lockheed Martin Aerospace received last year to produce 52 F16s for Israel, is Texas still the top recipient of defense contracts in the South? JG: Absolutely. The Joint Strike Fighter contract, which is the largest defense contract in history, was won by Lockheed Martin last October.That will primarily go to their plant west of Fort Worth.The total contract is 200 billion dollars to build the next generation of fighter jets for NATO, and basically the United States’ array of allies. \(Currently we sell the F-16 and 10 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5124/02