Yossi Melman: I became Number 1 Public Enemy in Azerbaijan

Yossi Melman
Yossi Melman

Photo: Berlin Film Festival

Prominent Israeli writer and journalist Yossi Melman published an article in Maariv newspaper in August about the visit of Israeli Aeronautics Defense Systems (ADS) company delegation to Azerbaijan, aimed at signing a contract on supply of Orbiter 1K “kamikaze” drones.

Yossi Melman’s article informed that Azerbaijan asked Israeli engineers to demonstrate the operation of the drones by attacking Armenian position in Artsakh. They planned to record the operation and show the video on Azerbaijani television. According to the article, the two Israeli operators categorically refused to make the assault, meanwhile, ADS management agreed to Azerbaijan’s conditions. The company’s management blamed Israeli operators for possible cancelling of the important contract, but operators refused anyway. Then the management had to activate the equipment on their own. The article tells that one of the operators left his job after the incident and the second operator is going to do the same. 

After the article, Ministry of Defense of Israel started investigation and last week it became known that ADS lost export license.

Mediamax contacted Yossi Melman and asked him a couple of questions.

- Israeli media reported that ADS lost the export license and can't provide “kamikaze” drones to Azerbaijan any more. Do you think this development was the outcome of your article?

- It was a result of the complaint that was submitted to the Ministry of Defense of Israel, and I was just the first to report about the complaint. And I can not exclude that without my article, this case would not become known.

So, the Ministry had to investigate the case and they have reached a conclusion that the complaint that I was referring to in my article was correct.

- Do you think there could be other developments related to Israeli arms supplies to Azerbaijan?

- I don’t think so. Israel and Azerbaijan have strategic relations. Azerbaijan is an important market for Israeli arms exports. So I think this will not affect Israel’s relations with Azerbaijan.

And the Defense Ministry didn’t suspended ADS’s general export license. Suspension is related to only this particular product (Orbiter 1k). So ADS can continue selling other products to Azerbaijan.

- Azerbaijan extensively used the Israeli made drones against Armenians during the April War in 2016. How was this fact perceived by the society and elites in Israel?

- It’s not an important topic for people in Israel. Israeli defense industry enjoys support of the population, and it’s not a serious ethical and moral question for the Israeli society. Defense industry is one of the strongest in Israel and defense establishment if one of the most powerful sectors in the elites. Some journalists, intellectuals and opposition members of the parliament are raising the moral questions, but they remain at the margins of the Israeli society. And this is the case not only for Armenia and Azerbaijan, but also for other parts of the world, where Israel sells arms.

- Have you experienced any form of pressure from Azerbaijan after your article was published?

- Well, I became Number 1 public enemy in Azerbaijan. There were some terrible, nasty media reports about me in Azerbaijan.

Yossi Melman and Benjamin Netanyahu Yossi Melman and Benjamin Netanyahu

Photo: Yossi Melman’s Twitter account

The called me “an agent of Armenian lobby”, “weak journalist”, “corrupt journalist”, etc. I know that I have very little chances to start a legal process in Azerbaijan against those media outlets, but I will probably sue them outside Azerbaijan. I just want to teach them a lesson. And I will never ever travel to Azerbaijan - I have been there twice, last time - with the Israeli Prime Minister about 7 months ago.

Ara Tadevosyan talked to Yossi Melman


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