The Electronic Intifada / February 18, 2021
Let us never forget the miracles performed by the Donald Trump Dating Agency.
For a little while in 2020, we could stop worrying about a deadly virus and celebrate the peace agreements between Israel and countries with which it had never been at war. By arranging those accords, Trump could seek a second presidential term posing as part-Cupid part-Gandhi.
That election didn’t go as well as he would have hoped. But the beautiful love story that Trump scripted has now endured beyond Valentine’s Day.
Next week it will continue with a weapons fair in the United Arab Emirates.
Underscoring its devotion to Middle Eastern tranquillity, Israel will have its own pavilion at the International Defense Exhibition in Abu Dhabi for the first time. After having their temperatures checked, visitors to the fair will be able to marvel at arms tested on Palestinians, no doubt sanitized with great care.
At an occasion so historic, it would be only fitting to remember those who have previously helped Israel turn oppression into opportunity.
The European Union is a club formed following the horrors of World War II.
To banish such horrors, the EU has found innovative ways of supporting international peace. Among them is being generous to Israel’s weapons firms.
Two such firms – Elbit Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries – have received a combined total of $15 million from Horizon 2020, the EU’s scientific research program.
Imaginations run riot
Approving these grants necessitated that Brussels officials let their imaginations run riot.
To avoid giving the impression that they were rewarding crimes against humanity, the officials imagined that the past two decades did not happen. The ways Israel’s weapons firms profited from a series of attacks on Gaza and from the use of surveillance equipment in the West Bank were erased from history.
Weapons dealers are not Israel’s top recipients of EU science grants. The top recipients are universities.
Once again, that offers proof of how Brussels officials can invent a new reality.
In that new reality, Israel’s universities are dedicated solely to the production of knowledge. Their roles in enabling state violence are magicked away.
The Weizmann Institute of Science gobbled up more than $244 million from Horizon 2020, making it Israel’s number one beneficiary.
That institute’s website informs us about its “mission of advancing science for the benefit of humanity.”
In keeping with that mission, the institute runs courses for young people on the cusp of joining Israel’s military.
The kids taking part may go on to kill and maim Palestinians. But at least they will know how to define quantum mechanics.
It would be similarly churlish to complain about how the Weizmann Institute is teaming up with Israel’s weapons firms on various projects. Because these firms build satellites as well as drones, they can be categorized as “high-flying collaborators,” according to the institute.
Tel Aviv University is the number two Israeli beneficiary of Horizon 2020, netting almost $197 million.
Its ever-so-clever students can strike up a warm rapport with weapons makers. That has been emphasized by how Elbit Systems has sponsored “coffee chats” on campus.
Of course, Elbit’s activities are not confined to sipping cappuccinos. Elbit and the university’s engineering department have set up what they call a “unique entrepreneurship program” so that they can “boost the next generation of technological leaders.”
Such buzzwords are bound to impress EU officials administering science grants.
They wouldn’t dream of spoiling all that by asking tough questions about what Elbit’s current generation of technological leaders are up to.
Elbit has recently developed an app designed to make obliterating a Palestinian as easy as ordering a pizza. That’s what the EU likes to call innovation.
Hebrew University of Jerusalem is Israel’s number three beneficiary from Horizon 2020, pocketing a cool $193 million.
The lavishing of Hebrew University can be seen as a triumph for creative thinking. To justify it, the EU has disregarded how the university is active in occupied East Jerusalem.
The same kind of creativity can be discerned in how the EU acts oblivious to how Hebrew University trains military spies.
Overall, Israeli firms and institutions received more than $1.45 billion from the EU under Horizon 2020.
Preparations for its successor program – Horizon Europe – are now underway. And Israeli representatives have been called in for “exploratory talks” about participating.
The informal conversations – “coffee chats” if you will – are a sign that the EU wants to keep on nurturing Israel’s innovators.
For Brussels officials, the future looks so bright that they have to wear blinkers.
David Cronin is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada; his books include Balfour’s Shadow: A Century of British Support for Zionism and Israel and Europe’s Alliance with Israel: Aiding the Occupation