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