The military operations in Gaza and Bethlehem last May signalled once more that the Israeli security establishment (the military-industrial complex encompassing also the private security sector) has no interest in the so called â€œpeace process.â€ In Israel it is not only the non-Zionist left that does not believe in Annapolis; neither does the army, though for very different reasons. While other layers of the Israeli society regard the Occupation as a burden, for the security establishment the Occupation represents its most valuable asset. The Occupation not only justifies access to massive amounts of public money and the central role of the army in the state’s affairs, recently it has also become profitable through the outsourcing of checkpoints to private security companies and, as the dynamics of globalisation further impact on the conflict, new forms of exploitation are to be expected.
Since its economic well-being and grip on politics depend on the Occupation, the security establishment does not contemplate the possibility of finding a political solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Instead, the army and its aggregates hope to manage the crisis indefinitely. The bottom line of the â€œcrisis managementâ€ approach, as opposed to a true â€œpeace process,â€ is that the conflict has no solution and, even if it had one, it is not desirable. The long-term welfare of the security establishment rests upon its ability to manage the Occupation endlessly while keeping it within certain boundaries that make it tolerable for the Israeli society. These boundaries are clear: whatever happens in the West Bank and Gaza -from house demolitions to the shelling of whole neighbourhoods- must not have any significant impact inside Israel. The illusion of normality is a sacred good.
Among other tasks, the security establishment has taken as its mission to manage the Occupation and to steer it away from two unwanted poles: the threat of new Intifadas and, the most dreadful of all, the threat of peace. Of these hazards, peace clearly is the number one in the list, since the security establishment and the wide support it enjoys have survived the turmoil of previous Intifadas. For the security establishment there is too much at stake to let the Occupation come to an end. In the context of the â€œWar on Terrorâ€ the West Bank and Gaza have gained an extraordinary new value. The Occupied Territories have become the world’s laboratory to develop cutting edge population control techniques, innovative contra-insurgency tactics and a whole new arsenal of weapons devised for unconventional wars waged against civilians. In addition, the West Bank and Gaza have also provided a training field in Israel’s backyard to develop a military and security elite. Since the US-led â€œWar on Terrorâ€ started, the expertise developed through the Occupation has turned into a coveted top export.
The Occupation has become the case-study for wars like Iraq where the main military target are pockets of armed resistance operating amidst large civilian populations. On a wider basis, there is a flow of know-how and â€œsecurity solutionsâ€ pouring out of the Occupation that can be easily marketed in the booming security business. The Occupation might be an uncomfortable liability in international political forums, but in the competitive security business it provides Israeli contractors with the best PR they could possibly have.
As the boundaries between the military and civilian sphere blur and the â€œWar on Terrorâ€ increasingly turns into a war on civil rights and liberties, it is worth asking how long it will take for surveillance software developed to control Palestinians to be commercially used in airports, office buildings and supermarkets in the United States. In the same vein, I wonder how long it will take for anti-riot gear tested in Bil’in and carrying an Israeli patent to be used against demonstrators elsewhere in the world.
Activists have been oblivious to the fact that the devices and techniques developed to oppress four million disenfranchised Palestinians could eventually be adopted by other governments and turned against their own populations. Through the merger of globalisation with the â€œWar on Terrorâ€ this cannot be ruled out any more. Regardless of the reasons, what has been rehearsed in the Occupation is the ultimate police state. Furthermore, it has proved that the ultimate police state works. Even if the chances of such a police state being forced upon another people are not high, it should be of sufficient concern to realise that, as a direct outcome of the Occupation, the tools and know-how to do so are already available and for sale.
Oriol Poveda is a freelance journalist and a documentary filmmaker.