Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Israel gets a kick(back) out of conflict

Israel's image as "an isolated, besieged country" is good for its weapons and homeland security exports.
2012 did not turn out to be Israel's finest year, diplomatically: from being called out for its war-mongering against Iran to its defeat (however symbolic) at the United Nations General Assembly's vote on Palestine's bid for statehood. But that didn't stop its homeland security industry from coming out ahead in the global market.

As Shimon Peres put it during the International Homeland Security Conference held in Tel Aviv on the eve of Israel's November attack on the Gaza Strip, "When it comes to science there are no borders."

Peres was speaking at an event intended to showcase Israel's latest homeland security wares to the world, so "science" was his shrewd euphemism for security and surveillance technology - the kind of technology that not only helps to break down political borders but personal ones, too.

Israel is in the process of developing its national biometric database, which political economist Shir Hever described to me as, "One of the harshest biometric surveillance systems in the world", and civil liberties groups have described as creating dangerous infringements on individual privacy.

No serious competitor

As Peres intimidated in his speech, in spite of the noted trend away from support for Israel in diplomatic halls, most countries continue to flock to the Jewish state for the latest in surveillance technology.

"No other country has emerged as a serious competitor to Israel's homeland security trade," Hever argues.

Indeed, Hever goes further, asserting that, with the exception of Turkey, Israel's unpopular status has actually bolstered its homeland security industry: "In fact, Israel's image as an isolated, besieged country is good for its weapons and homeland security exports. Israel can claim that despite having fewer allies and more enemies, Israel remains secure thanks to its technology."

Continuing on in his speech in November, Peres stated: "We have relations with countries that don't recognise us, but they want to co-operate with us for security. What is called 'security' in the past was armies. Today it is security organisations, whether governmental or non-governmental."

The Homeland Security Conference attracted representatives from countries around the world, inviting them to browse the new products exhibited by Israel's leading security companies. Countries in attendance included the very same ones that planned to vote in favour of Palestinian statehood - against Israel's wishes - at the UNGA later that month.  

Thus, for all the significance that UNGA's vote implied about Israel's waxing isolation, the vote hardly affected the Zionist State's hopes to share a sizeable portion of the growing global demand for homeland security products - worth $190bn today and estimated to grow to a stunning $330bn by 2020. Continue Reading

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