Letter to Financial Times

Gillian Tett’s “The open-source war”, (Life & Arts, July 23) yields fascinating insights into the “tech-savvy” Ukrainian digital war against Russia’s brutal, top-down invasion. Tech engineer, Roman Perimov, chillingly declares, “I am confident we will win the war. Israel is the model,” echoing similar pronouncements by Volodymyr Zelenskyy (website of The President of Ukraine, 5th April, 2022). This relies on a false analogy; Israel is the perpetrator of siege, invasion and attack, not their victim.

How can Israel be the model, an occupying power, wielding unimaginable, asymmetrical force against unarmed civilians with apparent impunity? Israeli arms suppliers like UK-based Instro-Elbit boast that their tech kit is “battle-tested” on Palestinians. Facial recognition/racial profiling software entrenches the relentless military occupation of the West Bank, targeting 100,000 Palestinians forced to cross checkpoints every day. 

Perhaps an exercise in joining the dots between articles published in your own paper might help. Ban Ki-moon: “US should back a new approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”, (29 June, 2021) writes “the conflict is between a powerful state which controls all aspects of life and people who are under occupation.” Mehul Srivastava’s “How Israel used NSO spyware as diplomatic calling card” (July 2021) references NSO’s Pegasus software in “a role that has come into focus after this weekend’s revelation by a consortium of newspapers that it had been traced to the cell phones of 37 journalists, lawyers and political activists.” Israel’s spyware infected the phone of Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz and was used against Thailand’s pro-democracy movement. As Srivastava observes, the sale of lethal software to other oppressive regimes is “the holy cow of Israel’s economy.”