Israeli hands in the American ‘fear industry’

Ramzy Baroud

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There are about 70 massive walls erected all across the world with the single aim of separating countries and communities from each other. It is all done under the pretext of 'security', with the real intention often quite the opposite. Several of these walls are built or are in the process of being constructed by Israel over illegally-occupied Palestinian land.

Israel's expertise has grown vastly in the field of wall construction, knowledge that is currently being exported to the United States and other countries. In fact, Israel has fashioned an entire security sector based on its fifty years of illegal military occupation of Palestine. Throughout the years, it has perfected the art of collective punishment, confining millions behind walls, trenches and military checkpoints.

With an entire population held behind various ‘security’ contraptions, and with wars being launched on a whim, millions of Palestinians have also become subjects for the testing of new Israeli weaponry.

Ironically, Israel’s massive security apparatus has not brought the Israeli public a sense of security, nor was it intended to do so. Worse, Israel’s wars and walls only accentuated a growing collective sense of isolation, and further fomented the Israeli popular sentiment that the “world is against us.” However, it also wrought massive financial returns, which are now successfully branded and marketed all across the world.

Considering that Americans are submerged by their own feeling of insecurity and, at times, panic – thanks to opportunistic politicians and fear-filled media - the US market is becoming a natural home for Israel’s security technologies. Billions of dollars have been generated by Israel in both private and public sectors as a result, especially since the terror attacks of Sep. 11, 2001.

While the media had then sold the idea that America’s so-called ‘war on terror’ is a global extension of Israel’s own war, Israeli manufactures moved in, cashing in on the American fears. In other words, the ‘fear industry’ is now becoming most profitable in the US, amid a faltering economy and dwindling salaries.

Policing Americans

Indeed, Israeli footprints are becoming more apparent in the US security apparatus. The harm in this goes beyond politics to infringing upon the rights of ordinary Americans.

US Senate Bill S.720 should have been a wake-up call. The Bill, drafted by the Israel lobby group, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), as part of its "2017 Lobbying Agenda" is set to punish any individual or company that boycotts Israel for its violation of Palestinian human rights.

Still, protests are largely muted. The mainstream US media is yet to take US lawmakers to task, as hundreds of those elected representatives have already endorsed the deplorable initiative.

The infiltration of the US government is not new. It is only becoming more emboldened due to the absence of enough critical voices that have the ability to create a semblance of balance or a serious debate on the issue.

For years, ordinary US citizens have been far-removed from the entire discussion on Israel and Palestine. The subject felt alien, marred by Hollywood propaganda, religious misconceptions and the lack of any understanding of history.

But in recent years, Israel has become an integral part of American life, even if most people do not spot the Israeli influence.

"In the aftermath of 9/11, Israel seized on its decades-long experience as an occupying force to brand itself as a world leader in counter-terrorism," reported Alice Speri in the Intercept.

The successful branding has earned Israeli security firms billions of dollars. The massive payouts are the result of the exploitation of the American fear of terrorism, while presenting Israel as a successful model combatting terror.

In the last two decades, hundreds of top federal agents and thousands of police officers have, thus far, received training in Israel or through seminars and workshops organized on Israel’s behalf.

Groups like AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs are, to varying degrees, involved in turning the US police force into militarized units similar to the structure of the Israeli police.

As an occupying power, Israel has blurred the lines between the police and the army. In areas like East Jerusalem in occupied Palestinian, both apparatus behave in a similar manner. They ‘shoot to kill’ on the slightest ‘provocation’ or suspicion. Most times, for no reason at all.

Alex Vitale, an author and a Brooklyn College professor of sociology, described the nature of the regular trips made by federal agents and police officers to Israel: "A lot of the policing that folks are observing and being talked to about on these trips is policing that happens in a non-democratic context."

This ‘non-democratic context’ involves the policing, humiliating and often deliberate murdering of occupied Palestinians. Yet, instead of pressuring Israel to end its illegal and military occupation of the Palestinians, the US government is bringing Israeli 'expertise' to its own cities.

Indeed, the US military-like police phenomenon has made local cops look more like "an occupying force" than individuals sworn to protect the public.

Israel is exporting its occupation tactics to the US, with Israeli military contractors opening subsidiaries across the country, promoting their surveillance technologies, walls, border monitoring equipment and violent tactics.

Walling off Mexicans

An Israeli company, Elta North America (a subsidiary of the Israel Aerospace Industry), was the only foreign company to be awarded a massive sum to produce a prototype for the wall that the US intends to build along the US-Mexico border.

This wall was one of the main pledges made by Trump during his campaign for the White House, with Israel being the first country to rush to support Trump's divisive words.

"President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel's southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea," tweeted Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, at the time.

Although his support of Trump angered Mexico and many Americans, Netanyahu knew of the lucrative investments in the years ahead only too well. Indeed, US border security has been a major source of revenue for Israeli companies.

One such generous contract was the one granted by the Obama Administration to the Israeli company, Elbit Systems. Valued at $145-million, the company provided surveillance equipment and built towers along the Arizona/Sonora US-Mexico border.

Elbit also reportedly cashed in handsomely from Boeing in 2006 for its part in the "DHS' Strategic Border Initiative."

Magal Security System, the Israeli firm that has helped the Israeli military in tightening the siege on Gaza, is actively involved in the burgeoning US security industry, and was reportedly one of the first companies to pitch building the wall to cut off Mexico from the US.

Israel's illegal tactics are now the model through which the US plans to police its cities, monitor its borders and define its relationship with its neighbors.

But the fact is that Israeli walls are not meant for defense, but rather to annex Palestinian and Arab land, while feeding its own national phobias of ‘threats’ lurking all around.

While the US’ imprudent and violent response to the 9/11 attacks has contributed to existing American fears of the rest of the world, Trump's isolationist policies pave the perfect ground for further Israeli infiltration of American government and society.

The evidence of all of this can now be found in major US cities, its various borders, and the surveillance system that has the potential to monitor every US citizen.

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His forthcoming book is ‘The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story’ (Pluto Press, London). Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and is a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California Santa Barbara. His website is www.ramzybaroud.net.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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