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A kind of unofficial indictment against the State of Israel

The Palestine Laboratory: How Israel Exports the Technology of Occupation around the World
Forfatter: Antony Loewenstein
Forlag: Verso, (USA)
Palestine / Israel has cultivated close relations with 'Papa Doc' in Haiti, Nicolae Ceaușescu in Romania, Pinochet in Chile, and the Hutu regime in Rwanda. And when Israel's largest arms fair, the ISDEF Biennale was held, it attracted more than 12 international visitors from over 000 different countries' military, police and security services.




(THIS ARTICLE IS MACHINE TRANSLATED by Google from Norwegian)

Despite its modest size, Israel is among the world's 10 largest arms producers and exporters. As Israels largest arms fair, The ISDEF Biennale, last run in Tel Aviv in March 2022, it attracted more than 12 international visitors from over 000 different countries' military, police and security services. Flanked by highly decorated Israeli decoration officers, salespeople from start-ups and established companies, which Elbit and AnyVision, present a huge selection of new Israeli armor and technology. Here, interested buyers could find drones, mines, bombs, grenades, handguns, tear gas and everything within AI-supported security and anti-terror tech, including biometric software for automatic registration and recognition of individuals' faces, fingerprints, handprints, irises, body shape and pose.

That Israel is a vanguard in international military and police technology is not surprising: it is for historical reasons that the Jewish state's raison d'être consists in maintaining 'security' by any means imaginable. But what for Israel are means of self-preservation and freedom are at the same time means of destruction and oppression elsewhere. Not only in Palestine, but in many countries around the world.

Drones, mines, bombs, grenades, handguns, tear gas and everything within AI-supported security and anti-terror tech...

According to journalist Antony Loewenstein, author of the book The Palestine Laboratory: How Israel Exports the Technology of Occupation around the World, it is a violent feedback loop where Palestine used as a kind of human laboratory for the development of weapons and technology, which are then sold to countries such as Bahrain, Belarus, the Philippines, Uganda, Morocco, Nigeria and other countries that frequently appear on the black lists of NGOs and human rights organisations. In Loewenstein's words: "Israel has developed a arms industry world-class with equipment conveniently tested on occupied Palestinians and then marketed as 'battle-proven'.''

Trading with brutal regimes

I The Palestine Laboratory Loewenstein explains how Israel, the Middle East's 'only democracy', seems to have no problem selling weapons and technology to repressive regimes around the world. On the contrary. Since the 1960s, Israel has been directly or indirectly involved in a number of the bloodiest conflicts around the world. Loewenstein describes how it has emerged that the Israeli intelligence service Mossad in collaboration with the CIA, developed close relations with a number of dictatorial regimes as part of an anti-communist Cold War agenda to promote the two countries' global trade interests.

For example, Israel entered into a close but until recently secret collaboration with the Iranian Shah in the 1960s, where Israel offered to train the Iranian police and supply the theocracy with weapons in return for favorable oil prices. During the same period, Mossad worked undercover to secure trade agreements with General Suhartu's rule in Indonesia, knowing that between 1965 and 1966 this had led to the killing of up to half a million people, one of the bloodiest genocides of the twentieth century.

Since the 1960s, Israel has been directly or indirectly involved in a number of the bloodiest conflicts around the world.

Israel has also cultivated close relations with 'Papa Doc' in Haiti, Nicolae Ceaușescu in Romania, Pinochet in Chile, as well as the brutal Somoza family in Nicaragua, which Israel supplied armor until the fall of the regime in 1979. But Israel's support for and trade with brutal regimes was not only a Cold War phenomenon. According to Loewenstein, recently uncovered sources indicate that the Israeli state continued its arms export to the Hutu regime i Rwanda even after April 1994, when the massacres of the Tutsi population assumed the character of genocide and up to a million people were killed in just 100 days. Finally, there are Israel's close connections to Myanmar, who in 2018 was accused of genocide by the UN, but who was nevertheless invited to Israel's arms fair in 2019.

According to Loewenstein, however, the problem is not only that Israel condones or facilitates other countries' censorship, state violence, elimination of political opponents, persecution of minorities and ethnic cleansing. Israel, as Loewenstein formulates it following Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch Organisation, among others, is itself an illegal occupying power and an apartheid state. The manual for oppressing the Palestinians, according to Loewenstein, Israel derived from its close collaboration with the apartheid regime in South Africa before Nelson Mandela, whom Loewenstein quotes from a speech in 1993, shortly before the fall of the regime the following year: "The people of South Africa will never forget Israel's support for the apartheid regime".

Two decades of journalistic work

Book XI was published in May 2023, that is, six months earlier Hamas' spectacular attack on Israel on 7 October. This is not an op-ed written in affect over Israel's military offensive in Gaza, which is estimated by local Palestinian authorities to have cost more than 34 lives, approximately 000 percent of them women and children, and has driven up to 70 percent of the population to flee . An offensive so violent that in December 85 South Africa brought Israel to the International Court of Justice in The Hague with an accusation of the ultimate injustice: genocide.

Based on two decades of journalistic work in the region, Loewenstein has written a kind of unofficial indictment against the State of Israel, in which he lists a number of the potential crimes that precede the ongoing so-called 'war against Hamas'. The list is long, and goes back to the controversial political movement, Zionism, which since the end of the nineteenth century worked for the establishment of a sovereign Jewish nation-state. As a political ideology and historical movement, it has Zionism been
subject of discussion and has become a central element of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Some political commentators, such as Weekendavisen's editor-in-chief Martin Krasnik, has argued that criticism of Zionism is necessarily an expression of anti-Semitism.

Growing up in a 'liberal Zionist' family

Loewenstein doesn't buy that premise. In the book, Loewenstein describes how, throughout his upbringing in a 'liberal Zionist' family in Melbourne, Australia, he experienced constant parades against any criticism of Israel. His grandparents, who had survived the Holocaust, came to Australia as refugees and saw Israel's existence as a sovereign and indivisible Jewish state as a necessity for the survival and security of the Jewish people. Any reference to Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories and the expansion of illegal settlements was dismissed in the Loewenstein family with reference to the threat of annihilation from the surrounding Arab countries. For the Loewenstein family, as for many others in the Jewish diaspora, the dominant story about the state of Israel was based on fear: «Jews were constantly under attack and Israel was the answer. Regardless of what suffering the Palestinians had to endure for the safety of the Jews."

The history of Israel as a constantly threatened victim nation is a "perverse lesson from the holocaust"

Zionism was a kind faustpagt with the West, where every step towards the goal came to drag a trail of infernal destruction behind it: "The birth of the State of Israel in 1948 was a miracle for many Jews around the world but a disaster for the
Palestinian population.”
The disaster was the so-called nakba, where between 1947 and 1949 pro-Israeli settlers wiped 531 villages off the map, drove up to 750.000 Palestinians from their homes and killed more than 15 people.
The history of Israel as a constantly threatened victim nation is a "perverse lesson from the holocaust"
For Loewenstein, criticizing Zionism is not just criticizing an abstract desire for a Jewish state, but a critique of a disastrous political project inseparable from the Western imperialism and settler colonialism that enabled and financed it. For Loewenstein, who settled in East Jerusalem between 2016 and 2020 to cover the conflicts in the region, the story of Israel as a constantly threatened victim nation is a "perverse lesson from the Holocaust". The State of Israel was from the beginning, according to Loewenstein, a political project that was less about ensuring the survival of Jews than about ensuring the global hegemony of the West: a continuation of the , lonial#e project under the guise of a solution to the so-called Jewish question.

Dominique Routhier
Dominique Routhier
Routhier is a regular critic of Ny Tid.

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