Israel is a settler-colonial state.
Maintaining its status as the “Jewish state” in a land whose population is mostly non-Jewish requires a regime of complete and utter brutality.
It requires the denial of basic human rights to the Palestinian people. First among those rights to be denied is the right to life, as seen in recent events in Gaza.
Israel has killed more than 130 Palestinians in Gaza since 30 March, when the Great March of Return began. More than 100 of those deaths occurred during the protests, and 15 of those were children.
Thousands more were injured – very deliberately – by Israeli army snipers aiming to maim and incapacitate.
The goal of the demonstrations illustrates the denial of another basic human right by Israel: the right of refugees to return to their homes after a war. For more than 70 years now, Israel has denied this right to millions of Palestinian refugees.
And it does so using an explicitly racist justification – that those refugees are not Jewish.
Meanwhile, anyone in the world with so much as a Jewish grandparent can “return” to that same land – even if (as is mostly the case) they or their ancestors have never lived in Palestine.
This is the brutal reality of a “Jewish state” in Palestine. Israeli leaders know this, and the more frank among their supporters admit as much.
One of the more explicit of these was Haifa University demographer Arnon Soffer, once a key advisor to the late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
In a notorious 2004 interview with the Jerusalem Post, Soffer predicted that when 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza ,“it’s going to be a human catastrophe… if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day”.
These truths mean that it’s fundamentally difficult for Israel to maintain international support. And so it has resorted to various marketing and PR techniques, in an increasingly desperate manner.
One of these is the selling of Israel as a “high tech innovator”. There is an entire organisation devoted to it: Israel21c. Its website puts out puff pieces promoting Israel as a wonderful land of technological marvels and green innovation.
As well as the standard shady influence peddling tactics beloved of PR firms around the world (former New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren’s final piece from Israel was basically a rewrite of one of their press releases), Israel21c has used more explicitly deceptive methods.
As I reported in 2014, the group aimed to infiltrate its propaganda into social media using paid operatives – on the condition that they kept their links to Israel21c a secret.
This method of “tech-washing” is morally bankrupt at the most fundamental level.
Even if it were the case that Israel is the source of all the most wonderful technology in the world, it would in no way justify its decades of military occupation, institutionalised racism and slaughter of unarmed protesters, including children.
But as it turns out, Israel’s claims to be a tech innovator are often baseless, even on their own terms.
One of the Israeli arms industry’s most frequent boasts is that its weapons are “field tested” – in other words they have used Palestinians as guinea pigs.
But much of the very foundation of Israeli high technology was actually acquired from France and the United States – in some cases it was stolen.
A 1983 report by the US Government Accountability Office details the extent to which Israeli arms firms relied on foreign assistance to establish themselves.
“Israel’s technological exports are heavily dependent on foreign components”, it read (on page 43). “Israeli officials estimate that during 1981-1982, most of their exports contained an import component of about 36 per cent. In Israel’s fastest growing industry, the electronics field, about 35 per cent of the technical expertise is acquired from the United States in licensed production or technology transfer. Almost every Israeli arms production effort includes a US input.”
A secret 1979 CIA document profiling Israel’s intelligence agencies (which was “declassified” by the Iranian students who took over the US embassy in Tehran after the Islamic revolution) showed American high-tech firms were a priority target for Israeli spy agencies.
Priority number two (after spying on Arab states) was listed as collecting “information on secret US policy… concerning Israel”. The third top priority was “collection of scientific intelligence in the US and other developed countries”. Such spying was apparently considered a higher priority intelligence target than even the USSR.
Probably the most high-profile case of Israeli spying on the US was Jonathan Pollard – the US Naval Intelligence officer who turned traitor and sold top-level US secrets to Israel, apartheid South Africa and even the USSR.
He was caught in 1985 and received a life sentence but was released by former President Obama in 2015.
Pollard worked for LAKAM, the so-called “Bureau of Scientific Relations” which stole high-tech intelligence from government and industry sources around the world. LAKAM was wound up after Pollard was exposed, but its work no doubt passed on to other agencies.
According to journalists Alexander and Leslie Cockburn, Israel also stole blueprints for a fighter-jet engine from a French firm after de Gaulle embargoed any further military supplies to Israel in reaction to the 1967 war.
Innovative methods indeed.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.