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  • Security Industry: links between Israel and the Netherlands

    The Israeli security industry is comprised of a state-owned Military-Industrial Complex and hundreds of privately owned companies, the so-called ‘homeland security industries’. The security industry is estimated to generate revenues totalling billions of dollars annually. European countries sustain through economic relations with the Israeli security industry an export economy directly profiting from military occupation. The economy of the occupation constitutes one of the major obstacles for a peaceful and just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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    Contents (Security Industry: links between Israel and the Netherlands?)

    Introduction
    I. Civil society campaigns
    II. Elbit, the security industry and the pensionfunds
    III. Selling drones, selling the ‘Israeli experience’
    IV. Israel and the FP7 European Security Research Programme
    V. Israel’s security industry and the Netherlands: linked, or not?
    Conclusions

    Introduction (Security Industry: links between Israel and the Netherlands?)

    The Israeli security industry is comprised of a state-owned Military-Industrial Complex and hundreds of privately owned companies, the so-called ‘homeland security industries’. The security industry is estimated to generate revenues totalling billions of dollars annually. European countries sustain through economic relations with the Israeli security industry an export economy directly profiting from military occupation. The economy of the occupation constitutes one of the major obstacles for a peaceful and just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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    Civil society campaigns (Security Industry: links between Israel and the Netherlands?)

    In the past few years, the anti-Israel movement has grown from marginal into a serious and visible issue for the country. The anti-Israel tide rose right after Operation Cast Lead, according to Haaretz, as the world watched Israel pound Gaza with bombs on live television. The paper continued: “No public-relations machine in the world could explain the deaths of hundreds of children, the destruction of neighbourhoods and the grinding poverty afflicting a people under curfew for years.” In 2010, both the cultural and the economic boycott gained momentum. In this first section, there is an overview of current civil society campaigns with a focus on links to the Netherlands. While far from complete, the intention is to get an idea of what is going on, and to determine if and where research into companies with links to the Netherlands had already been established by others elsewhere. This overview is based on – limited – internet research only.

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    Elbit, the security industry and the pension funds (Security Industry: links between Israel and the Netherlands?)

    In the case of Israel, it is almost impossible to draw a line between the military-industrial complex and the homeland security industry, in the sense that equipment developed by the military industry and tested in the real-war circumstances of the occupation are later marketed for civilian use. The history and present marketing of drones, as related in the next chapter of this report, is a good example of such a development. There are, however, big differences between the arms industry and the homeland security industry as well. Taking Neve Gordon’s recent paper “The Political Economy of Israel’s Homeland Security” as a point of departure, this chapter explores the field. The large military electronics corporation Elbit Systems serves as an example, including the recent divestments from the company.

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    Selling drones, selling the Israeli experience (Security Industry: links between Israel and the Netherlands?)

    Israel’s homeland security industry is not just a conglomerate of industries – both state companies as well as privatised business – it entails, as Neve Gordon argues, the “Israeli experience.” This idea helps explain the success story of Israel’s homeland security industry in the global market. Neve Gordon concludes that there is an economic motivation to produce and reproduce the so-called security related experiences and to diversify them. He claims that “the Israeli experience is perceived as extremely valuable and attractive because it manages to connect between a hyper-militaristic existence, a neoliberal economic agenda, and democracy.” With the Unmanned Armed Vehicles (UAVs or drones) as an example, this section sketches out the road from military to civilian use of homeland security products – including in the Netherlands.

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    Israel and the FP7 European Security Research Programme (Security Industry: links between Israel and the Netherlands?)

    To get access to the European markets and to sell the “Israeli experience” as described in Chapters I, II and III, the programme of EU grants provides a great opportunity. The Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development, also called Framework Programmes or abbreviated FP, are funding programmes created by the European Union in order to support and encourage research in the European Research Area (ERA). The specific objectives and actions vary between funding periods.117 This chapter introduces the so-called Framework Programme FP7, aimed at Security Research, and discusses some of the arguments against Israel benefiting from this programme. It also gives an overview of the contacts the Programme provides between the Israeli homeland security industry and Dutch partners in some of the projects, and details of the content of one of those projects.

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    Israel’s security industry and the Netherlands: linked, or not? (Security Industry: links between Israel and the Netherlands?)

    The original assignment for this research was to make an overview of the links between the Israeli homeland security industry and the Netherlands. This last chapter of the report describes the part of the investigation focussed on finding Israeli companies, institutions or state services with links to the Netherlands – or the other way round. Because we had no indications or leads, the search was one of the metaphorical needles in the haystack. The chapter starts with a short resume of the research trajectory; for a detailed description we refer to our Intermediate Reports, added as an appendix.

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    Conclusions (Security Industry: links between Israel and the Netherlands?)

    The conclusions are designed to follow the separate fields of this report. One section wraps up the research in specific companies and their Israeli-Dutch connections in relation to the OPT (Chapters I, II and IV). From a different perspective, the next section evaluates the ‘Israeli experience’ and the Netherlands in more general terms, with the drones as an example (Chapter III). The last section of this chapter summarises some ideas on the European perspective, focusing on the role of Dutch companies and institutions in this area (Chapter IV).

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