Israel is one of the few countries that has had violence constantly forced upon it. It has had to fight three major wars for its existence, in 1947-49, in 1967, and in 1973. It has fought smaller wars, too: the Sinai Campaign in 1956, the three recent wars in Gaza — in 2008-2009, 2012, and 2014 — against Hamas, as well as an endless campaign against Arab terrorists inside Israel and the territories. Israel must, unfortunately, make use of the weapons it buys. It thus tests them out on the battlefield. If Israel successfully uses British weapons, and the Israelis have a long history of successfully using their weapons — then other potential buyers on the world market will find them more appealing. If the British defense industry can no longer supply Israel, it will not have that battlefield testing of its weapons, that real-life advertisement for their efficacy.
Will a British embargo really hurt Israel? Licences issued to UK defense contractors exporting to Israel in 2017 included those for targeting equipment, small arms ammunition, missiles, weapon sights and sniper rifles. In 2016, the UK issued licences for anti-armour ammunition, gun mountings, components for air-to-air missiles, targeting equipment, components for assault rifles, components for grenade-launchers and anti-riot shields. None of these, with the possible exception of the “components for air-to-air missiles” and “missiles,” are major items. None of them seem to be the kind of thing that Israel could not find from another supplier. Unlike, say, Israel’s own Iron Dome technology, or now its “steel dome” anti-tunnel technology that has been developed with the Americans, there is nothing the British can offer that is unique to them.
There is another aspect to consider. Corbyn may not care, but many in the security services of the United Kingdom certainly do care, about what Israel can offer, not just in weapons systems of its own, but in its intelligence capability. Israel has for years faced an extraordinary threat from Muslim terrorists. Now much of the world faces the same kind, if not the same level, of threat. Israel has during that time developed intelligence networks, both human and technological, that are unrivaled, and of obvious interest to other governments. One government that has collaborated with Israel, receiving information about Iran and such allied terrorist threats as Hezbollah, is Saudi Arabia. Last year, Great Britain was the European nation that suffered the most attacks by Muslim terrorists. It needs whatever help other countries can give. Israel has the expertise — again, both human and technological — that could help detect and foil such threats. Its knowledge is not limited to terrorists in the Middle East. The European nations ought to be solidifying their security ties to Israel, for their own benefit. None of them has had the experience of terrorism that Israel has endured for decades, nor do they have the expertise its agents have developed. There are many acts of Israeli derring-do, of eliminating terrorists in Damascus, or in hotels in the Gulf, or in the capitals of Europe.There have been the assassinations of four Iranian nuclear scientists right in the middle of Tehran, that set back their nuclear program for a long time.