Gaza is a weapons lab for the arms industry w/Antony Loewenstein | The Chris Hedges Report

Gaza is a weapons lab for the arms industry w/Antony Loewenstein | The Chris Hedges Report

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The Palestinians are human laboratory rats to the  Israeli military intelligence services and arms   and technology industries. Israel's drones,  surveillance technology including spyware,   facial recognition software and biometric  gathering infrastructure, along with smart fences,   experimental bombs, and AI-controlled machine  guns are all tried out on the captive population   in Gaza, often with lethal results. These  weapons and technologies are then certified   as "battle-tested" and sold around the world. Israel is the tenth largest arms dealer on the   planet and sells its technology and  weapons to an estimated 130 nations,   including military dictatorships in Asia and  Latin America. Israeli weapons sales totaled $12.5   billion last year. Its close relationship with  these military internal security surveillance,   intelligence gathering, and law enforcement  agencies explains the fulsome support Israel's   allies give to its genocidal campaign in Gaza. When Colombian president, Gustavo Petro refused  

to condemn the October 7 attack by Palestinian  resistance groups as a terrorist attack and said,   "Terrorism is killing innocent children  in Palestine," Israel immediately halted   all sales of defense and security  equipment to Columbia. This global   cabal dedicated to permanent war and keeping  its populations monitored and controlled has   hundreds of billions of dollars a year in sales. These technologies are cementing into place a   supernational, corporate totalitarianism, a world  where populations are enslaved in ways that past   totalitarian regimes could only imagine. It  is not a far cry from Gaza to the camps and  

detention centers set up for migrants fleeing to  Europe from Africa and the Middle East. It is not   a far cry from the carpet bombing in Gaza to the  endless wars in the Middle East and the global   south. It is not a far cry from the anti-terrorism  laws used to criminalize dissent in Israel to the   anti-terrorism laws introduced in Europe and the  US. Joining me to discuss this use of Palestinians   as human Guinea pigs for the Israeli weapons and  technology industry is Antony Loewenstein, author   of The Palestine Laboratory: How Israel Exports  the Technology of Occupation Around the World.  So your book, which is a great read, lays out the  rise of this arms industry, which originally was   a state industry and then privatized. One of  the points you made at the end of the book,   which is very fascinating, is how much  of the apparatus to keep the Palestinians   under control is essentially now handed over to  private firms. I want to quote Elliott Abrams,  

who I've interviewed, "The role of Israel is to  serve as a model, an example in military might,   in innovation, in encouraging child birth."  This is one of the themes of your book that much   of Israel's support and power derives from its  connection to this global arms network. So let's   lay out some of the innovations that Israel has  pioneered. We can begin with Pegasus and drones.   They're at the forefront of some of the most  advanced technologies and weapon systems that   are used to control subject populations. In some ways, the genesis of the book   was partly due to some of the reporting  around Pegasus a few years ago. Listeners  

or viewers will be aware that Pegasus is  a spyware tool that is made by NSO Group,   which is an Israeli company and it was started  to be used about 15 or so years ago by a range   of countries. And in fact, the country that it  was first mostly used in was Mexico as various   governments there were desperate to fight a  failed drug war, and of course it only made   the violence worse. But what's interesting  back then and also now is Mexico remains,   Chris, to this day, the world's biggest and  most obsessive user of Pegasus. Obsessed.  Whether it's the right-wing government or  nominally left-wing government, Pegasus is   now in dozens of countries; I don't even know how  many, I think about 70, 80 or 90. In some ways,   the reason I partly wrote the book was to say that  the media was obsessed with Pegasus. Pegasus is an  

important investigation; It's a tool that is put  on phones of activists and human rights workers   in countless countries. And it breaches  human rights. Obviously, that's terrible.  But the problem was that it was too often framed  as this rogue Israeli company doing terrible   things. As I show in the book, as you know, it's  not that; It's essentially an arm of the state   as Lockheed Martin and Raytheon are arms of the  US government. Now, Lockheed Martin is a private  

company. It has a board, sure, and it makes  profits or not. But essentially it's an arm of   the state. Right? It's used by the government  in various foreign policy agendas or goals.  Pegasus is exactly the same. I started looking  at that issue about saying that now probably,   Israel is number one or two in the world for  spyware and Pegasus and NSO Group in some ways   are a smokescreen. Because there are so many  other companies that are doing exactly the  

same thing. So if NSO Group goes bust tomorrow  --And it's in a bit of financial trouble at the   moment -- It's not going to make any difference.  There are so many other companies doing exactly   the same thing using that whole allure of being  able to spy on pretty much anybody, which is why   to this day no country wants to regulate this,  nno country. They're all obsessed with it.   That's been the fundamental problem at the moment. Explain how Pegasus works. And we should note that   it was used also on Jamal Khashoggi's fiance,  Jamal, who I knew being the Saudi journalist   who was dismembered in the Saudi embassy and a  consulate in Turkey. But explain how it works.  Pegasus is a silent tool. It can be installed on  your iPhone or Android. It doesn't matter what  

phone you have. Years ago, a lot of us used to  get random text messages. You'd click on the link,   you'd forget about it, and you'd move on. That  was the way it used to work. So country X or   intelligence agency Y would have this tool,  let's say, in India, in some other country.   They would then send a message to this phone of  an activist or human rights worker or a lawyer,   that person would click on a link, their phone  would be infected, and they wouldn't know. 

There's no way to know yourself without it being  forensically checked. These days it doesn't even   require a text message. All it requires is someone  knowing your number. That's it. And it can access   all your information. It can even access your  phone and microphone when the phone is off. So it   can be used as a weapon against you. As I show in  the book, I interviewed huge amounts of people in   Mexico and India and elsewhere. These are people  often lawyers who are challenging the state.  In Mexico, I interviewed a woman whose husband was  murdered by, almost certainly, Narcos. Then after  

his death, her phone was being surveilled by the  Mexican state. It's never entirely clear even to   this day why in her case it was surveilled. But  it shows that there is this utter obsession with   various intelligence services to get access to  all this personal information. It's important   to note that one thing that really was clear in  researching this particular tool is that Pegasus   and tools like this have become -- And it was  said to be in The New York Times a few years ago,   and I questioned some of this in the book but two  journalists wrote --The most powerful weapon in   the world since the invention of the nuclear bomb. Now, I would question that because nuclear bombs   clearly can cause carnage, to put it mildly.  Pegasus doesn't directly kill anybody per se,   but what it does is it means that privacy is  close to dead. At the moment there is this massive  

proliferation of these tools. Israel of course --  This is the key point -- Uses Pegasus and other   tools as a key foreign policy agenda. I show  in the book Netanyahu and Mossad, over the last   decade, would go to countries where Israel had no  close relations: Rwanda and India when Modi comes   in. And others; Saudi, UAE. They hold Pegasus  up as a diplomatic carrot saying, we will sell   you this amazing tool which you can surveil your  own citizens, whatever you want. But in return we   would like you to vote in a certain way in the  UN or buy certain weapons. That's how it works.  

I show a timeline when Netanyahu goes to Hungary  to visit Orban or Modi in India, and 6-12 months   later, Pegasus is in use. This is not accidental.  This is a key part of Israeli foreign policy now.  Let's talk about the drone program. They  pioneered drones. As I remember from the book,   India is maybe their largest drone customer.  These drones are used against migrants fleeing   towards Europe, particularly Greece  as well as the US-Mexico border.  I have some interesting declassified documents  from the '80s where Israel was using drones in   its war in Lebanon. When Israel invaded Lebanon  in 1982, it was before the digital era, but Israel  

was using drones. In this amazing document that  I have in the book from the CIA they're shocked   and amazed how incredible -- That's their words --  These drones are, how effective they are, and they   wonder -- Back in the '80s -- How Israel will be a  global pioneer of drones. Fast forward to the last   decade or so, and as I show in the book, I have  spent a lot of time in Gaza as a reporter in the   last 15 or so years that there is a proliferation  of testing of drones, particularly around Gaza. 

I'm putting aside what's happened since October  7, although it's happening since then too. But in   the last 15 years huge amounts of drones  are being tested above Gaza, some armed,   some not, used in the various Israeli invasions,  incursions, or whatever you want to call it in   Gaza. Those drones are then called "battle-tested"  and then they're sold to huge amounts of nations   around the world. The part that shocked me the  most was the use by the EU. The EU is buying   Israeli drones. They're unarmed, yes. And viewers  will be aware that in the last 10 or so years,   there's been a huge influx of migrants coming  from Africa and the Middle East, after 2015 when   the Europeans said they didn't want to repeat  that huge influx of people coming. Of course,  

if you're Ukrainian and white, they'll welcome you  in. And I have no problem with Ukrainians being   welcomed in. But clearly if you're black  or brown, it's not going to be the same.  So EU created this kind of fortress. Europe and  Israeli drones are part of that. So Frontex,   which is the European border force, uses  Israeli drones 24/7 in the Mediterranean,   circling the Mediterranean, sending back  images, real-time images to Frontex,   which is based in Warsaw, in Poland of what's  happening. And the EU has made a clear decision   to let people drown. That is obvious. They  barely issue rescue boats. They criminalize  

people who are trying to rescue migrants. So Israeli drones are a key part of that   infrastructure and eye in the sky essentially.  And Israeli drones have appear, as you say,   in India and various other countries. And now  in the last years, Israel remains one of the key   drone makers of the world, and indeed increasingly  it is Turkey. Turkey makes a cheaper version of   what Israel has been developing and therefore  Turkish drones are now also appearing in many   nations around the world in many conflicts. Let's talk about who Israel sells to. It's   easier to tick off the list of who they don't  sell to. I covered the conflicts in Guatemala  

and El Salvador in the 1980s. Israel was supplying  weapons including napalm to the Salvadorans and   the Guatemalans. They were of course one of the  most fervent supporters of the apartheid regime   in South Africa. They worked with Pinochet's  Chile. The Rwandan genocide was perpetrated   with Israeli weapons. They will just provide  military equipment to the most heinous regimes,   including the latest ethnic cleansing in  Nagorno-Karabakh. So talk about there's just  

no... Except for, I think you mentioned three  countries, Iran, North Korea, and I don't know   who the other one was. I think I say Syria.  Maybe Syria As far as we're aware. 

Right. As far as we're aware. [inaudible 00:14:31] As far as we're   aware. Of course, it's interesting to note though,  of course before 1979 and the Islamic Revolution,   Israel and Iran were incredibly close. I mean  the fact that Iran was run by a dictator was  

no impediment, of course, to selling weapons.  And in fact, they were really worried that the   rise of the Islamic Revolution would impede  their sales, which clearly it did. Look,   as you say, this was really... On the one hand  probably I shouldn't have been that surprised.  I mean, it's important to note America remains  the world's biggest arms dealer. 45%, 45% of   the world's arms comes from America. So they are  leaders by far. And as you say, Israel is 10th.   One of the things that shouldn't have shocked  me, but I guess did was Myanmar in the last years   obviously has been committing a genocide against  its Rohingya population. Many of them have been  

killed, many have been kicked out into Bangladesh.  Even after the UN found that Myanmar was   committing genocide, Israel was still selling  surveillance and weapons to the Myanmar regime.  As you say, it's hard to list. There's so many of  them. I think it's also worth saying that India...   And India is actually a really big focus of  the book because India is now the world's   biggest country population wise, the world's  biggest self-described democracy. Although I  

would very much question that. A key ally of  the US and certainly my country, Australia and   most western nations, because it's not China. India is building a Hindu fundamental estate   under Modi, a proudly chauvinist nation where  particularly Muslims are discriminated against   openly. There's pogroms against Muslims. Now,  India and Israel didn't really have a great   relationship before Modi came in. There was  a relationship in decades past. Modi comes   in 2014 as Prime Minister and there's a love  affair between Netanyahu and Modi. There's this  

image that some viewers may have seen of the  two of them kind of stepping into the beach,   getting their feet wet, talking about  how much they love each other, who knows.  No audio was recorded. But this relationship  is central I think to.... In some ways actually   why I wrote the book, that there is a growing  global ethno-nationalist surge. India being   the most obvious example of nations that proudly  discriminate against non-majority populations. So   in India it's against Hindus, against Muslims.  In Israel, of course it's Jews against anyone   who's not Jewish. And I say this as someone  who's Jewish myself, that the whole alliance  

between Israel and India reminds me very much  as I say in the book of Israel and South Africa.  Nations that proudly discriminate against  non so-called acceptable populations and   therefore inspiring others. Israel has become the  inspiration to so many countries and far right and   rightists around the world, putting aside liberal  Zionists who over the years have had a love for   Israel. I'm putting them aside for a minute.  I'm talking about nations, India, Hungary,   various other nations, not just selling weapons  but selling the idea of getting away with it.  That's something I talk about a lot in the book  that the idea that Israel is able to get away   with it, each being occupation, endless  colonization, brutalizing Palestinians,   selling weapons to God knows who and God knows  where, I think really goes to the heart of why   I think Israel is, to me is a danger, not  just to Palestinians, which is bad enough,   but a model. I say finally, Chris, in the book  that you often go to far right rallies, and I go   there for work just to be clear, for work purposes  in the US, Australia and elsewhere, the Israeli   flag is a constant presence. It's not unusual. And these are not groups that traditionally like  

Jews. I mean they don't. I quote in the book  Richard Spencer, that sort of hideous alt-right   leader in America who said a few years ago, I'm a  white Zionist. He doesn't like Jewish people, but   he loves the idea of creating, for him and many  like him a Christian ethno-nationalist state. And   you've written a lot really incredibly  important work on Christian theocracy in the US   and its potential growth and rise in domination. Israel is a touchpoint as you would well know for   many of these groups. Not all, but many. And it's  not because lobbyist groups like Jews. Many of   them do not. But they like what Israel is doing to  Palestinians to unbelievably dominate and control  

them and proudly a Jewish chauvinist. They're  Jewish supremacists. That's what they want to   create for Christians in America or for example,  Hindus in India. And that to me is the danger.  This is from your book according to Netanyahu,  Jewish writer Peter Baynard explained, "The   future belong not to liberalism as Obama defined  it, tolerance, equal rights and the rule of law,   but to authoritarian capitalism, governments that  combined aggressive and often racist nationalism   with economic and technological might. The  future, Netanyahu implied would produce leaders  

who resembled not Obama but him." I think it fits  in with what you said and unfortunately I fear,   I don't know what you think that he's right. I fear that too because it's worth saying that   Obama wasn't exactly a big believer in- No, he wasn't.  ... democracy and human rights either.  But putting that issue aside, no,   I fear that that is correct. And Netanyahu, I  suspect as a leader possibly hasn't got a long  

life left as leader of Israel. It's obviously  unclear because so many Israelis, even many who   supported him are understandably incredibly angry  with him after what happened on October 7th. So   he may not last long as a leader himself, but I  think his general analysis, I fear is correct,   absolutely, that there is this sense of country  after country, after country becoming enamored,   not just with technological repression either from  Israel or the US or others, but this idea somehow   that you can maintain that domination forever. Now, obviously, October 7th, as I touch on in   the book or imply, although the book came out  before October 7th, is arguably a delusion that   if you believe as a nation that you can repress  people through tech forever, it's a lie that will   not work. And from Gaza is a key example of that.  Even though Gaza was the key laboratory of Israel,   they spent billions and billions in building walls  and drones and surveillance. Hamas was able to  

breach that remarkably relatively easily. I mean,  it's obviously took years of planning to do so,   but I fear the lesson will not be learned. And Gideon Levy, who's a good friend of mine,   he amazing Israeli journalist in Israel has said  that he fears that even now the lessons are not   being learned by Israel and other leaders. What  he means by that is that the lesson that Israel   is taking from October 7 and frankly the US  took from 9/11 was the wrong one. It was that   we need to invade and bomb and dominate even  more, which I think is born out of insecurity,   not strength, but nonetheless, that's I fear  the lesson that Israel is taking, not so much   that we need to maybe talk to Palestinians or  negotiate with Palestinians. Those Israelis,   some are saying that, but it's a tiny minority. And yet in your book you talk about Sri Lanka.  

You can explain what happened. They destroyed the  Tamil Tigers and the Israelis were full partners   in that project. And that fascinated me because  I wondered if that wasn't the playbook for Gaza.  Looking just exactly a bit of background, 2009  was the end of the Sri Lankan civil war. It'd   been going for decades between the majority.  Sinhalese population and the Tamil Tigers   who were I guess resistance movement for more  Tamil rights and a Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka   for years. Actually Israel had been supporting  the Sri Lankan government in selling planes,   fighter jets and other forms of technology  weapons. 2009 happens and as some viewers  

remember, the Sri Lankan government was able to  target the Tamils in a smaller, and smaller, and   smaller part of the northern part of Sri Lanka. Probably 40,000 Tamils were killed. We really   don't know the exact number. There's never  been any real accountability for that. I   do look at what's happening in Gaza and I have  thought of quite a lot actually about Sri Lanka   since October 7 because in some ways the Israeli  plan, and I don't think there's one united plan,   there is to some degree a discussion, although  within think very narrow bounds within the   Israeli political and military establishment. But I think the plan seems to be Northern Gaza   is obliterated. It's apocalyptic. I think if  Israel, I think it's probably very lucky there  

will be a resumption of some kind of fighting in  Gaza. I don't know when, but soon. If the plan   is to decimate the southern part of Gaza, and  I have, as I'm sure you do, Chris Palestinian   friends in Gaza who are sheltering in refugee  camps in their own country now in southern   part of Gaza really struggling. Their homes have  been destroyed. They have no connection to Hamas.  I mean, these are civilians living in Gaza. If  essentially Gaza's infrastructure is completely   obliterated that leaves only really a handful of  options. Permanent tent cities in Gaza, or which   of course as some viewers will be well aware,  the dream of many on the Israeli political elite.   And also let's be clear, many in the Israeli  public based on public opinion polls kicking   the Palestinians out. Egypt, Jordan Lebanon. Though so far, Egypt, despite bringing  

dictatorship, has not acquiesced to that.  They have not opened the borders enough to   allow really that many Palestinians into the  Sinai that could change. I mean, the Egyptian   economy is on its knees. Will they accept lots  of money and bribes? I very much hope not,   but we don't know. But I do fear the plan, as you  say in Gaza, is not dissimilar to what Sri Lanka  

did in the northern part of that country. And the  outcome in Sri Lanka finally has been that the war   is kind of over, but Tamils are still regarded  as second class citizens in their own country.  Let's talk about the Alpha Gun  Girls. It's a little sidelight,   but something just disgusting, I didn't know  existed until you wrote it, until I read it.  Yes. Well, there is a side industry, I  guess you could call it, of Israeli women,   Jewish women who are... Often they've been  in the military. They have fetishized or  

sexualized the Israeli military. So you have  these groups of women who are scantily clad,   often holding guns, often posing in photo shoots  as if they're kind of in war in Gaza or somewhere   else as an idea and a way to show two things.  One, the IDF is female friendly. You can be a   incredibly sexy woman and still be in the IDF  and kill Palestinians. That's the implication.  

And secondly, that Israeli women are cool. I mean, that's the message they're trying   to send. I don't know if it's particularly  effective, but that's the message they're   trying to send. And for years, I've been following  this story that there's been a real push by the   IDF Israeli army to show how gender friendly they  are, how in fact gay friendly they are, how trans   friendly they are, by how vegan friendly they are. I mean, we sort of laugh in a way by saying this,  

but I have a big section in the book talking  about this is such a key part of Israeli   messaging. So-called Hasbara. But I'm not entirely  convinced it's massively successful. I mean,   people can argue that either way, but a lot  of Israel's social media in the last 10 or   so years has focused on this issue. We give  vegan meals to soldiers who want it. We are   trans friendly, we are women friendly, we are  gay friendly. You can wave the rainbow flag.  In fact, some viewers will see about two weeks  after the Israeli invasion of Gaza, there was   this Israeli soldier in Gaza. The background was  apocalyptic. Holding the rainbow flag, and this  

image kind of went viral. I did a story about.  Essentially saying, and the message was very   clear, you see, we want to liberate Palestinians  in Gaza who are gay to just be themselves.  Now, the mocking that this got justifiably was  clear as if people were saying, "Right, so you've   decimated Gaza and it's apocalyptic." But gee,  you can be a gay Palestinian and some may have  

freedom in Gaza. I mean the cognitive dissidence  to actually believe that. And that ties into these   girls. You're talking about this finally that  these women over the last years are traveling   around Israel and the world promoting an image  of Israel as liberal, but also militaristic.   Pro-feminist, but also gun friendly. And that's  why a lot of pro-gun groups in the US and mostly   men, let's be honest, are into these kinds of  sexualization of Israeli gun-wielding women. 

We should note that one of the uses of  Pegasus or the spyware was to entrap gay   Palestinian men as you write in the book  and essentially turn them into informants.  Indeed. There's a big part of 8200, which is the  equivalent of the US's NSA. Which in its whole   [inaudible 00:28:02] is to monitor Palestinians  24/7 across the occupied territory. So one thing   they do is to try to find, so-called weak spots.  A man who's married to a woman who might be gay,   a man who might be having an affair with  a woman. In other words, someone who is,  

in inverted commas, doing something  unconventional. I use that term loosely.  When they get that information, they will  then try to turn that person into a spy.   We don't really know how many Palestinians  are collaborators. There's not really an...  

Some are. It's a tiny minority, but some are.  In Gaza too, by the way. And often in fact,   as I say in the book, because there's been a  siege on Gaza for close to 20 years, enforced   by Israel and Egypt to get out of Gaza sometimes. I've spoken to Palestinians who have been offered   this but refused it to get out of Gaza.  On the Israeli side, they've been told,  

"You can leave to go to study overseas or go  to hospital in Israel or elsewhere. You have   to spy for us for Israel." And that's how they  blackmail people because they gather information   from this 24/7 global surveillance network. And  it's interesting just finally that when October   7 shows that not just the Israeli intelligence  failed, it was an arrogance and a hubris, but also   the American intelligence failed. It's interesting  to note, since speaking to various sources I have,   and there's been some decent reporting in the  last six weeks that the US, apparently after 9/11   basically, although is spying on Israel a lot, I  talk in the book that there's apparently about 3   to 400 NSA employees in the US whose everyday  job is to spy on Israel. That's their job.  So they're an ally, but also America doesn't  entirely trust them. And I'm sure that works  

both ways, but America was not particularly,  inverted commas, helping Israel to detect   so-called terrorist threats. And one thing,  I just wanted to add this finally if I could,   that I'm the co-editor and co-founder of  a group called Declassified Australia,   which is a news-gathering organization. We did a  story a few weeks ago that showed that Pine Gap,   which is a key US intelligence gathering  center in the center of my country,   Australia, which is used as a key intelligence  gathering venue to use the US used in Iraq and   Afghanistan to target so-called terrorists, but  kill huge amounts of civilians is being used   by the US since October 7 to give intelligence  to Israel in its so-called targeting of Hamas. 

Now, the reason that's relevant apart from the  fact that you have a massive US intelligence   base in the center of Australia, which  is being expanded in the frankly crazy   US expansion in my part of the world,  apparently target China and Australia,   sadly is a key ally in that madness to  have a US and Australian spy base in   the center of Australia being used to funnel  information to Israel. How they're using that   information, of course, is not entirely clear. It makes legal culpability very clear on the US   side and the Australian side as it was when the  US was targeting, so-called terrorists in Iraq,   Afghanistan, and Syria or elsewhere. I say  so-called because huge amounts of civilians were  

killed. That global US intelligence infrastructure  is being used as is the F-35A. F-35A is a weapon   that the Israel is using over Gaza. The global  supply chain involves many countries. And I'll   declassify Australia. We also had a story showing  that a key part of when the door is being opened  

at the bottom of the F-35 to drop weapons on Gaza,  that part is made here in Melbourne, Australia.  So you have a global supply chain of  companies that are directly complicit in   what Israel is doing, which seems like at the ICC  is listening, "Hello, there's a lot to be done."  Let's talk about privatization. You talk  about the neoliberalism that transformed   Israel which was a socialist state, major state  owned enterprises were sold off, privatized,   especially in the 1990s. Israel has very high  income inequality. Poverty rate 23% in Israel,   36% for the Arab population. And you write, "Many  Palestinians are unaware at how the occupation  

has been privatized because it makes no difference  if a state officer or private individual harasses   or humiliates them." You go on to write, "Many  checkpoints through which Palestinians are forced   to travel to access their schools, workplaces, or  Israel, if they are fortunate enough to get one of   the few work permits handed out by the Jewish  state, use facial recognition technology and   biometric details to document their every move."  But these are private companies. So explain that   what's happened to how essentially private  for-profit firms are managing the occupation?  It's worth saying obviously that Israel  was a self-described socialist country,   but socialist country for Jews. I  mean, that's obvious to say that.  Well, yes. That's right. And clearly, I mean as some   older viewers will be aware, it's amazing to think  now that so much of the global left was enamored   with Israel for the first really 20 years of its  existence. Anyway, that was a bit of blindness   that we can talk about some other time. But  anyway, look, Netanyahu was a key factor in this,  

that yes, Israel had a quasi-socialist  background. In the last 20 or so years,   there's been a shift, not just neoliberal policies  within Israel itself, but also outsourcing the   occupation. And in some ways it goes along  with the massive expansion of settlements.  You now have roughly three quarters of a million  Jewish settlers living in occupied territory,   the West Bank and East Jerusalem. And a lot of  the guards or security officers that are working   on both settler checkpoints but also Israeli  checkpoints are run by private companies. I lived   in East Jerusalem between 2016 and 2020 and been  visiting there for close to 20 years. So I spent   a lot of time looking into these kinds of issues.  And it's worth saying that, as I say in the book,  

yes, it's been outsourced and the accountability  was zero. Even if an Israeli soldier commits an   abuse, let alone if a private interest does. It's important also to say that, yes,   a lot of these companies are Israeli, but many of  them in fact that are doing this, are also foreign   and international. And that's relevant because  some viewers will remember the last years the UN   had tried for years to release this list of global  companies and Israeli companies that were directly   complicit in the occupation, and therefore  they should be boycotted essentially. And they   released a list a number of years ago. It caused  a big scandal in some circles. About 20 or so of   those companies then removed themselves from being  involved in managing the occupation, so to speak. 

But there are still, I think around 100 companies,  Israeli and foreign that are directly involved   day-to-day in so-called managing the occupation.  That to me is not just illegal and immoral,   but also right for a kind of boycott campaign,  which I suspect will increase in the coming years   after what we've seen the last six weeks. Can you talk about AnyVision? I think it's   changed its name to Oosto and then Unit 8200. So AnyVision which you said has changed its   name is a facial recognition company, an  Israeli company that was testing this at   Israeli checkpoints. So what that means is that  when Palestinians want to, say, move around the  

West Bank, if they want to potentially go from the  West Bank into Israel proper, they have to have   their details checked, their irises often checked  now, and they were gathering all this information.  We don't exactly know where that information  was going, but clearly it was going into Israel,   a massive database that they were using to  gather personal data on pretty much every   single Palestinian, the occupied territories.  Those tools are then marketed globally. They   have appeared in huge amounts of infrastructure  from airports to other places around the world.  

And when those companies promote it, whether  AnyVision uses the term, battle tested,   I'm not sure, but they are saying it's been tested  in Palestine successfully. So-called successfully.  And that does tie into Unit 8200, which is,  as I said, Israel's NSA. It is the body that   is gathering intelligence on Israeli and on  Palestinians. And increasingly I should say,  

there is a lot of evidence that increasingly  the occupation is coming home, that a lot of   Israeli Jews who for years believe that this was  just happening to Palestinians down the road,   are increasingly being surveilled themselves.  And I'm not just talking about since October 7,   although particularly since then, that there is a  move within Israel increasingly at criminalizing   dissent entirely, whether it's by Arabs or Jews. But Unit 8200 has become this kind of quite   infamous funnel of people who work in the military  for years developing all these tools and methods   to surveil Palestinians, which they then take  to the private sector to develop various forms   of repression which they can then sell around  the world. And by maintaining those close ties,  

that's how it goes to my point earlier on,  the NSO Group was essentially an arm of the   state. Many of these companies, these surveillance  companies, repressive tools, biometric companies   operating in the occupied territories or  in Gaza are then used by Israel as a key   selling point to make new friends, so to speak. It's a transactional friendship, transactional   relationship. And it's why as I really think,  I think there's more and more that the Israeli   armed industry really is an insurance  policy. It's an insurance policy because,   yes, there are some countries that oppose  what Israel's doing. Not many, not enough,  

but even the countries that publicly do oppose  what Israeli is doing, many of them are still   buying Israeli repressive technology. I  mean, Mexico is one example amongst many.  So often I think words matter. Sure, what a  government or prime minister or president says,   it's not irrelevant. Yeah, sure. But what matters  more is what you are doing, what you are buying,   what you are deploying yourself in your own  country. So when you have 130, 140 nations in  

the world that have bought some form in the last  decades of Israeli defense technology, drones,   missiles, spyware, whatever it may be, that's what  matters. I think Israel believes probably with   justification, those nations, at least for now,  are unlikely to turn on Israel while they're so   reliant on those tools of repression. Let's talk about Blue Wolf or   the Wolf Pack database. So this is basically a system   that has been developed in the last five or so  years that every Israeli soldier operating in   the occupied territories has. The aim is to get  personal information and data on every single   Palestinian man, woman, and child. It's entered  into a massive database. And that is then used   to potentially discriminate against those people.  What does that mean practically? Person X wants  

to go from the West Bank to Israel to work  to get medical care. A Palestinian does not   know what information has been collected  on them. There's obviously no consent.  As I say in the book, there's testimony given by  soldiers usually anonymously, Israeli soldiers,   where it's almost like a game. How many  Palestinian personal details can we get on our  

mission tonight when we're serving in the occupied  territories? And it goes without saying, but there   is no transparency in this process. Zero. So  Palestinians living in Hebron or Nablus or   somewhere else, don't really know what information  is being gathered, but we do know that it's   impacting their freedom of movement from place to  place within the West Bank and also potentially   further afield into Israel or overseas. Israel innovates all sorts of forms of crowd   control. You write Sea of Tears, a drone that  dropped tear gas canisters over a broad area,   skunk water, the skunk water drone, a form  of liquid emitted from a water cannon that   left a foul smell on clothes and body for a long  time. They were used on Great March of Return,   which was a nonviolent, largely nonviolent  protest movement in Gaza where they went   up to the border. Many of them, of course, were  shot. But talk about some of the forms of crowd   control that have been pioneered by Israel,  but that we have seen in places like Ferguson. 

Yeah. Well, this is something I talk about in the  book, right, Chris, that there is a sense that,   again, Israel is using the West Bank, particularly  East Jerusalem and Gaza as a testing ground. So   some of those examples then explain what they  basically are. So the Great March of Return,   as you said, was Palestinians trying to march  for their freedom and for the right to return   essentially to Israel to where ancestors used  to live. And the Sea of Tears was a drone that   was dropping essentially a tear gas on people.  Didn't kill them, but it certainly caused huge   damage. And literally while the March of Return  was happening and while that drone, the Sea of  

Tears was being used, I document this in the book,  other countries were wanting to buy it because   it was being tested, so to speak, in real time. The connection between the US and Israel is key   here. And I say this pretty much soon after 9/11,  there was a massive attempt by both the American   Israeli... Firstly the pro-Israel lobby in the  US, the Anti-Defamation League particularly,   but other groups as well to have sort of  information sharing. So huge amounts of   police forces went between Israel and the  US and vice versa training, so to speak,   in tools of so-called people management. They're  examples of police officers that have these quotes   in the book going to Israel after 9/11, being  inspired by what Israel is doing to Palestinians. 

I mean, let's be clear, as I say in the book,  American police don't need Israeli training to   be repressive against Blacks and minorities.  Obviously I'm not arguing that. But what I   am saying is that they're getting new tools of  repression to the point where just quite recently   you had major Israeli border security individuals  on the US-Mexico border. Looking at how the US,   inverted commas, maintains its border. And  it's worth saying, you mentioned this before,   I didn't fully give an answer to  that, that on the US-Mexico border,   there is a key part of that infrastructure,  which was started by Obama, deepened by Trump,   and continued by Biden now of Israeli  surveillance. There's massive Albert surveillance   towers all across the US-Mexico border. And Elbit is Israel's biggest defense company. And  

the reason the US initially was interested in this  kind of technology was because it had been tested   and tried in Palestine. Inverted commas, it works.  So you have all these massive surveillance towers,   which the aim is to both surveil potential  migrants crossing the border, but also   importantly Native Americans who live on their  ancestral territory. And I have quotes in the book   of saying they can't live securely in their own  territory because of these surveillance towers.  So again, it's worth saying that there is this  ideological alignment between many in the US who   view Israel as almost on the frontline, I hate  to use the term, the Wild West of crowd control,   crowd management, crushing any kind of  resistance to overwhelming force. And they  

take those examples back to the US and vice versa.  It's like a feedback loop. It goes both ways. So   as you say in Ferguson, I touch on this in the  book, that there was a lot of evidence that some,   we don't know exactly, that particularly police  in Ferguson had directly gone to Israel. That's   not necessarily the case. But some of the training  that police forces in the US had used, including   in Ferguson, had partly come from Israel. Talk about Frontex and how this Israeli technology  

is used to break into encrypted messaging  apps, especially on refugee mobile phones.  Yeah, Frontex is the EU's border, so-called  security force. And there was a real trauma   inside Frontex, not that I feel sorry for  them, but trauma after the 2015 refugee surge,   mostly from Syria and elsewhere. Let's not let  that happen again. So now you have a situation   where huge amounts of migrants are still trying  to come from mostly Africa and the Middle East,   escaping walls or conflicts or climate crisis  disasters and their phones, which are their   smartphones, which essentially are a vital way  of knowing how to get there. People have maps   on their phone, personal details, photos, are  often taken from people at EU border crossings. 

Information is taken off them. We don't  know exactly what information is taken off,   but presumably my sense and for my reporting  is that probably contacts in European nations   and attempt to try to break up what they  would call people smuggling networks,   what I would say is humanitarian paths to a  better life. And Israeli technology is part   of that. I think it's important to say that, as  I said before, those Israeli drones that are part   of that infrastructure as well, but also the  EU, which is Israel's biggest trading partner.  It's worth saying that. So when you have  all these European nations in the last  

years expressing now and then concern about  the occupation, concern about settlements,   just this week, just this week, one of the  heads of the EU said, and I'm paraphrasing,   in time of war, it's just outrageous that Israel  would spend huge amounts of money on building more   settlements because the Israel has released its  latest budget and there's huge amounts of money   for settlements. I responded on Twitter and what  are you going to do about it? Because history   suggests nothing. They'll do nothing about it. I mean, apart from the fact that I'm a German   citizen and an Australian citizen, obviously  in Germany, this issue is toxic, that Germany   is using its own historical calamity, disgusting  actions during the Holocaust, including much of my   family were killed in the Holocaust. Using that to  support Israel's historical absolution to somehow   say that to be madly pro-Israel is to atone for  our own sins during the 12 years of Nazi Germany.   And that has a practical impact because Israel  is not just selling lots of weapons to Germany. 

Germans are also selling huge amounts of  technology to Israel. Since October 7,   there's been a tenfold increase in weapons  that Germany is selling to Israel, to assist   in its horrific war in Gaza. This is what it  practically means. So EU support for Israel,   and I have a quote in the book, there was a...  Gideon Levy, the journalist I mentioned before   from Haaretz went to a meeting with Netanyahu  a number of years ago and he looks at a map,   Netanyahu, and says, "The whole world's basically  in support of Israel." There's a few nations in   Europe, I think he pointed to Belgium that kind of  give us a bit of trouble, but overall we're fine.  Meaning that, yes, occasionally the Belgium  authorities express concern about settlements,   which Israel doesn't really care about, but  ultimately the EU has made a decision that   they will not challenge Israel, even though EU  infrastructure, Chris, is being destroyed in the   West Bank constantly. And I wonder how and when  that will change because it hasn't changed yet. 

I want to close your last chapter. You quoted  an Israeli human rights lawyer "Because of   surveillance tech, a country can avoid massacring  protestors now. Today, we're able to identify and   stop surveillance of the next Nelson Mandela  before he even knows he's Nelson Mandela." What   you describe in the book is the formation of a  really frightening, dystopian, Orwellian world   that extends far beyond Israeli borders. But  that, of course Israel is integral to creating.  I certainly don't suggest that Israel is not able  to commit massacres. And obviously, we've seen   that since October 7. I guess what that quote,  that was from Eitay Mack who is a really great  

Israeli human rights lawyer. He spent a lot of  time trying to uncover the Israeli arms industry.   So in a lot of his work is in my book. Essentially  what he's saying, and the book also shows this,   is that the technology of surveillance is so  sophisticated now that nations... And I have  

quotes from people in Togo, for example, and  various other nations across the globe that   are run by, often US-backed or Israeli-backed  dictatorships that back in the so-called bad old   days, obviously there are repressive regimes that  were able to surveil people through various forms.  Of course, that's existed forever. But the  difference now is that we are so, frankly,   overly reliant on phones and the internet that  all this technology is monitored 24/7. It doesn't   mean every information is always captured. I  mean, the US issue after 9/11 was they were  

getting so much information, they couldn't  process it. Israel has a similar problem as   we saw on October 7, but as you say, Israel to  me is becoming and really has been for years,   one of the global inspirations for repressive  tech. Long before 9/11 and long after 9/11.  And the danger of that is, is clear, is that  it becomes a model for repression. As I said,   Israel shows countries how to do it. You can also  repress your people if you buy this technology,   this spyware, this drone, whatever it may be.  Now, yes, the technology is not perfect that  

of course don't say that, but that's what  I'm saying. But it can create a global,   almost architecture of control that is close  to unbeatable and the impact of that at a   time where democracy is frankly in decline. I mean, you could argue that even so-called   self-described democracies aren't democracies  anyway, but nations that claim to be democratic   are increasingly moving, I would say, more and  more to an Israeli style model. I'm not just   talking about an occupation, particularly. I'm  talking about language. I was also talking about   surveillance. As I say in the book, the whole US  rhetoric after 9/11, the so-called war on terror,  

that was the Israeli playbook. It wasn't exactly  the same, but it was remarkably inspired by what   Israel had been doing in Lebanon in  the '80s and onwards. Hugely similar.  Similar rhetoric about, so-called terrorism,  collateral murder, or they call it collateral   damage, but I would call collateral murder.  Something that a mutual friend Julian Assange,  

a fellow Australian, a great huge hero of mine,  I've known Jillian since 2006, right at the   beginning of Wiki Leaks, that what people like him  and many others have been saying for years, this   is the threat, the idea of a complete architecture  of global surveillance, which is close to   unbeatable. Israel is a global leader in that. I think alerting people to that is the first step.   The next step is obviously how to challenge that.  I think a lot of the global response to October 7,   both the attack by Hamas, but also the insane,  overwhelming, brutal war crimes that Israel is   committing in Gaza, I think is bringing out  a civil society action that I have not seen   on this issue certainly in my lifetime. I have  Palestinian-Israeli friends, and I'm talking  

about mostly globally, not so much in Palestine,  Israel itself. And that to me is a sign of hope,   including fellow Jews and many Palestinians. And  that to me is the only sort of sliver of hope in   what is a really, really dark time. Great. That was Anthony Loewenstein,  

author of The Palestine Laboratory: How Israel  Exports the Technology of Occupation Around the   World. I want to thank the Real News Network  and its production team, Cameron Granadino,   Adam Coley, David Hebden, and Kayla Rivara.  You can find me at

2023-12-10 08:14

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