Israel has been one of the world’s largest arms exporters and has spent millions of dollars on developing state-of-the-art weapons.Armies and police around the world are interested in the latest Israeli weapons and their military tactics, which have been refined by fighting in the occupied territories.
With unique access, Witness follows private Israeli arms dealers in their day-to-day work; making deals, attending arms fairs, shipping weapons, and inspecting armed forces overseas.
This film reveals how the Israeli arms industry is making vast profits worldwide, and partly thanks to their activities in the occupied territories.
By Yotam Feldman
“The Lab” is a cinematic investigation into the lure of Israeli weapons in the international arms trade. Why are countries all over the world lining up to buy Israeli arms? And how did such a small country become one of the biggest military exporters in the world? Israeli salesmen and executives in huge arms corporations seem eager to promote their products and pride themselves on their booming business. Profits have never been better — sales are doubling every year, and the potential seems unlimited.
But the product they are selling is unique. Rather than rifles, rockets or bombs, the Israeli companies sell their experience. The long-running conflict with the Palestinians has created a unique and unrivalled laboratory for testing technologies and ideas relating to “asymmetric warfare” — a conflict between a state and civil or irregular resistance. In this manner the Israeli conflict with the Palestinians may be seen as a national asset — rather than a burden.
Following the 9/11 attacks, the Afghanistan war and the second Iraq war, countries all over the world have become increasingly interested in the way the Israeli army controls civilian populations, how it fights in urban areas, and how it deals with terror and guerrilla tactics.
Moreover, Israel had become a leading exporter of theory for this “asymmetric warfare”. Israel has created a science out of targeted killings and of close combat fighting. In fact, Israel’s produced some of the world’s leading advisors and lecturers specialising in armed combat.
Despite the general openness of salesmen and executives within the arms corporations, an unknown truth seems to underlie the public facade. Certain questions are treated with discretion and suspicion, and instances where cameras dive too far provoke immediate actions, limiting the filmmakers’ access. But what is the big secret?
Two private businessmen, Amos Golan and Leo Glaser, allowed us to accompany them in their dealings. The first is a producer of a gun model specialised for urban fighting, widely sold to European and Latin American countries. The second is an advisor and training expert, specialised in asymmetric fighting against drug traffickers in Brazilian favelas.
As we accompanied them in their day-to-day work, less obvious truths were exposed.
While making the film, I witnessed the relationship between a network of military generals, politicians and private business; the use of current military operations as a promotional device for private business; the brutal employment of the Israeli experience, and the blurred lines between what is legitimate and forbidden in this line of business.
The agents I spoke to were honest about their dealings, their personal understandings of what’s good versus bad, and why they take pride in the business of global weapons proliferation.
The effects of Israeli theory and technology on other countries can hardly be overestimated.
Forces choosing to employ Israeli-cultivated military techniques ultimately begin to alter their political and social circumstances. Therefore, countries all over the world are increasingly “Palestinizing” (or “Israelizing”) their conditions. Both sides — seller and buyer — become partners in the development of a form of future war between the state and civil resistance groups.
The Lab can be seen from Wednesday, May 7 at the following times GMT: Wednesday: 2000; Thursday: 1200; Friday: 0100; Saturday: 0600.
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