Aug 20 2013
In the past decade, Israel has surged up the ranks of the world’s leading arms dealers. This past year Israel saw a record $7.5 billion in military exports, up from $5.8 billion in 2011. Israel’s own figures – which include covert trade – place it fourth worldwide, just behind the United States, Russia, and France.
Though the trade is booming, it is rightfully coming under scrutiny. A new documentary, The Lab, combines interviews from arms dealers and developers, defense experts, and industry leaders to shed light on Israel’s largest export and obstacle to peace.
The documentary argues that Israelis have made massive profits from its controlled lab environments – the West Bank and Gaza – in which Israeli military leaders can test new weapons and military strategies on over 4 million Palestinian guinea pigs.
Yotam Feldman, director of The Lab and a former journalist with Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, is not alone in his assessment.
Jeff Halper, who is writing a book about Israel’s contributions to the growing homeland security market, said: “The occupied territories are crucial as a laboratory not just in terms of Israel’s internal security, but because they have allowed Israel to become pivotal to the global homeland security industry.
“Other states need Israel’s expertise, and that ensures its place at the table with the big players. It gives Israel international influence way out of keeping with its size. In turn, the hegemonic states exert no real pressure on Israel to give up the occupied territories because of their mutually reinforcing interests.”
The film highlights the sort of military innovations on which Israel has capitalized, such as armed drones that are now the backbone of American extra-judicial executions in the Middle East and futuristic guns that can shoot around corners, used by Angelina Jolie in the film Wanted.