Last week, Jeff Halper, the Israeli-American anthropologist, author, lecturer and political activist gave a talk discussing the implications of the Pegasus worldwide and NICE in Glasgow. He began this discussion with a very bold statement: ‘Israel over Palestine is a microcosm of the global north over the global south’
This statement should not be taken lightly. What Jeff goes on to unpack in this zoom reveals to us an important dimension to the Palestine-Israel issue that is often overlooked.
Palestine-Israel is one of the most researched ‘conflicts’ in the world, and those who usually get the platform to speak about this are those which can captivate- sharing raw content that catches the individual's eye. The Palestian voice is vital in this struggle for justice, and Palestinians sharing their personal stories are extremely important, and as Jeff repeats many times in his zoom, this should not be overlooked or diminished in his discussion. In fact, this is exactly why what Jeff goes on to uncover here is so vital. Though not as appealing, the dimension that Jeff exposes in his zoom is powerful and has a number of huge implications.
From this discussion, we are able to see from a different perspective, not only acknowledging the ignorance of governments on the occupation and the clear violation of human rights that is happening in the OPT, but in fact exposing the direct involvement of the international community, or as Jeff stresses, the entire global north, towards the Israeli Government's treatment of Palestinians in a way that is frightening, showing how internationally we are fuelling this Apartheid.
Jeff manages to both amplify this issue and its direct link to the international community while keeping at the heart of the discussion Palestine and the Palestinian people.
What do I need to know?
- With the electronic warfare discussed , Israel is able to directly control a population without having to use weaponry or the military all the time. Using algorithms and surveillance systems, the Israeli government is able to silence Palestinian voices on social media and control the population with preventive systems that can easily go unnoticed.
‘They want to passify us - they are trying to render us unable to resist ’.
- The policies enforced by the Israeli Government are a clear violation of human rights and against national law but they are sustained by security politics. Israel as a security state is able to get around this daylight Apartheid by declaring itself as in a ‘state of emergency’. By doing so, it is able to use its military, surveillance and policing systems to discipline its civilians, namely Palestinians, and pass this off as homeland security and counter terrorism. This is not a war that Israel is fighting, this is a well planned military operation. Jeff highlights this very clearly in his talk.
- What Jeff then goes on to explain is that Israel is not really defending itself, but that this is infact a development of military equipment for export - ‘Global Palestine’. Put short, there is an economic incentive in the Palestinian-Israeli ‘conflict’. Israel is able to make huge developments in their military and surveillance systems and technologies of repression at the expense of Palestinians, by treating them as surplus humanity and a testing ground to improve their technology. International companies are able to look at this from a capitalist perspective. International businesses and governments dont need to be inherently Zionist- but if they are capitilist (like most) and know they can make money, then they will invest. This shows the economic influence that perpetuates and fuels the injustice towards the palestinians. Israel is the second largest arms supplier to a number of powerful countries worldwide, as an export to countries all over the world, attracting global powers and fuelling capitalism.
What does this mean?
Essentially what Jeff uncovers is that there are, at the very least in this discussion, two elements to this oppression. Not only does the Israeli government and its clear violation of human rights towards the Palestininans need to be exposed, but also so do these companies selling these security software and systems. These companies are not innocent. Essentially what Jeff has done in this discussion is shown us that there is a direct link between these technological advancements and the two-fold oppression of Palestinians. These systems of surveillance are being used as technological warfare, participating in and enhancing oppressive systems both towards Palestinians and globally. These Israeli surveillance and technology companies are testing on Palestinians, sometimes at the expense of their lives. These companies are a product of the Israeli Occupation and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in their homes, managing to both directly perpetuate the oppression that Palestinians face, implementing these software in checkpoints for ‘security checks’ and tracking in Gaza, whilst also discouraging accountability on Israel, by providing global economic incentive to international governments by selling these systems of surveillance and intelligence worldwide.
To fully understand the solutions to this conflict, we must first detect the problems and the obstacles that we face, and educate ourselves around this. From this information, we can then go on to illuminate practical steps towards a solution. This first step is exactly what Jeff is doing in this discussion- uncovering a hidden obstacle. Tracking civilians, exploiting ‘surplus humanity’ for capital gain, suppressing palestinian voices digitally, this is not portrayed in the media. Exposing these hidden systems of oppression allows us to then come up with solutions. By showing us how the palestine-israeli conflict is connected globally, Jeff has been able to directly highlight how the international community has a certain responsibility and duty to stop and put pressure on these companies and on Israel.
What are things that we, as individuals, can now do to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians?
It is easy to feel hopeless in global issues that are happening around us. It is easy to believe that we are unable to help. But what Jeff does in this zoom is he allows us to unlock a direct way in which we can use our power as citizens of the global north to have impact in this conflict.
Don't detach yourself from what is going on. You have power. Don’t be silent.
- Educate yourself and your friends about this. Understand the impact you as an individual can have.
- Target military companies, Pegasus, and NICE surveillance in your Boycott Divest Sanction movement. The NICE ‘Safe City solutions’ that has been directly invested into and implemented in Glasgow are a product of the Israeli Occupation and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in their homes. Boycott NICE. Software like this is being developed at the expense of Palestinian lives.
- Encourage your government and MPs to expose this Apartheid. Hold Israel accountable.
- Amplify Palestinian voices. Share their stories on social media. Everytime a Palestinian posts on social media they are putting themselves and their family at risk. Share/like/comment on their posts to increase their reach before their content is censored.
Ultimately, Jeff Halper uncovers and leads us one step closer to exposing the inner workings of the occupation. Without knowledge we are without solution. As members of the international community, we have a duty to act on this new information. Take the relevant steps. The true solution is not reached until there is justice for Palestine.
3 August 2021