Digital Imperialism from Tel Aviv to Texas

Army Software Factory at Austin Community College

What is Israel, and what is its geopolitical function? First and foremost Israel serves as a forward operating base for American imperialism, a military and ideological bulwark for maintaining US domination over Southwest Asia. But Israel is also increasingly a hub for military and surveillance technology with strengthening research and financial connections to the United States. 

– Israel’s Geopolitical Role –

Joe Biden has said repeatedly, “Were there not an Israel, we would have to invent one.” In contrast to dangerously mistaken analysis that suggests Israel “takes advantage” of the United States, or somehow directs American foreign policy, Biden understands quite clearly Israel’s worth as a strategic asset.

As two settler societies founded upon the robbery and murder of indigenous people the United States and Israel are joined at the hip. Due to its isolation in the region Israel is fully reliant upon American military, financial, and diplomatic support. Israel is compelled both by its nature and by dependence to act as a loyal agent of US imperialism.

Whenever a country in the Middle East or North Africa attempts to free itself from American control of its natural resources and finances Israel stands by as a ready launchpad for American forces. Israel is also trusted to act autonomously, operating against Syrian, Iranian, or even Colombian targets deemed insufficiently obedient to American corporations and their “international institutions” such as the IMF and World Bank.

To cope with Palestinians’ fierce struggle against colonization, Israeli society is fully devoted to war and repression. All Jewish citizens of Israel are required to join the Israeli military (with exemptions for orthodox Yeshiva students) and soldiers are omnipresent throughout schools, malls, parks, and city streets. It is not surprising, then, that Israel boasts an exceptionally advanced and well-resourced weapons and military technology industry.

– Student Becomes Teacher –

Israel’s status as a world leader in weaponry and brutality has driven a deep integration between American and Israeli repressive institutions. The New York Police Department has opened branch offices in Israel and receives training from Israeli forces, as did the police chief who led the brutal assault against the Ferguson uprising. Israeli malware is used to spy on activists and journalists worldwide.

The United States seeks to benefit in all areas from Israel’s expertise in reactionary violence and colonial repression, and imitating Israel’s military “startup” culture is the next frontier. When Israel proudly labels itself a “startup nation”, it refers to its myriad high-tech munitions, surveillance and spyware companies that export their products all over the world. Rather than operating under direct military supervision these “startups” are lean, self-directed, and raise money from venture capital firms looking to recoup their investments when army contracts are eventually signed.

Companies that originated in Israel’s infamous Unit 8200 cybersecurity division

– Army Futures Command, or the Future of Neoliberal Procurement –

This seemingly “fast” and “flexible” model is, in the eyes of other capitalist states, a compelling alternative to traditional “top-down” military procurement. With America fighting more colonial police actions than genuine peer conflicts, the defense industry has abandoned mass production of basic armaments in favor of low-volume, high-tech “wonderweapons”. This is a highly profitable arrangement for the industry, even if the products don’t always work as advertised.

Palantir stands with israel

No less enamored of the “startup” cult is the CIA, who have a little-known investment arm called In-Q-Tel that provides funding to companies like Palantir. Palantir, founded by fascist billionaire Peter Thiel, aims to be a private partner in surveillance and intelligence analysis.

Another concrete manifestation of this “high-tech turn” is the US Army Futures Command, an Austin, Texas based project that aims to recruit software talent from private industry and train officers in engineering and “agile” project management. Despite substantial funding the Army Future Commands Center has flown largely under the radar. 

The University of Texas’ board of regents has set aside tens of millions of dollars to support the project. This collaboration was enthusiastically sought by Varun Rai, an Associate Dean of UT’s LBJ School, on the basis that students would benefit from “technological research activity” that the Army will conduct.

Army Software Factory at Austin Community College

Austin Community College has also launched a partnership at its “Software Factory” where it will “upskill hidden tech talent within the military.” ACC’s own faculty will train soldiers in “agile software development, product management, and design.” The center claims to have  a “startup-esque culture” that emphasizes teamwork over chain of command. The marketing pitch leads many in the media to ignore a key fact: the Army Future Commands Center is designing technology to extort, maim, and murder.

Texas A&M University is also fully committed to the project, opening the $200 million Bush Combat Development Complex in 2021. With a full-time staff of 45 employees, plus contributions of 22 A&M faculty members, the BCDC provides facilities and assistance for companies like Raytheon to test high-energy LASER weapons.

Most students are likely unaware their tuition is funding weapons of imperialist terror. It is unacceptable that our supposed educational institutions willingly act as a conduit for imperialism and colonialism. In doing so they serve to further collaboration between Israeli repression of Palestinians and American repression of the whole world.

– Informing Our Strategy –

Because Israel is an arm of US imperialism and utterly dependent upon its financial and military backing, antifascists and revolutionaries in North America have a unique role to play in the liberation of Palestine. We are obligated to think seriously and creatively about the strategies needed to win.

While educational outreach and building popular support are important we must remember that the pillars supporting Israel’s colonial project are primarily material, not ideological. Weaponry and funding do not come from media coverage and voter sentiment but from investment funds and factories.

In your city, or a city near you, there will be defense contractors, weapons manufacturers, AIPAC offices, weapons shipments and technology companies with Israeli ownership or partnerships. These are the concrete, physical nodes that transform capital into bombs falling on Palestinian hospitals and churches. They can be identified, exposed, and disrupted, often more directly and with greater efficacy than the “political” servants of capital.

– Human Resistance Breaks Digital Chains –

While profit and capitalist ideology have led Israel and America to place their faith in high-tech toys, we know that the masses make history. Their delusions of superiority have been shattered by the rebirth of rebellion, occurring right under their noses but catching them utterly off-guard and unprepared.

All of their cell phone spyware, surveillance satellites, and “artificially intelligent” missile shields cannot elevate the IDF above concentration camp guards of the past. They will flee or fall like any other cruel jailer in the face of humanity’s struggle for liberation.

Organizations everywhere should direct activism and protest not just at their state capitols – buildings that are empty even when at maximum capacity – but identify the specific centers of imperialist collaborationTell the University of Texas, Texas A&M University, and Austin Community College to end their partnerships with the Army Futures Command, and to divest from all Israeli companies!

Army Futures Command Center

210 West 7th Street
Austin, TX
(512) 664-9060

ACC Rio Grande:

1212 Rio Grande St,
Austin TX
(512) 223-3000

LBJ School of Public Policy

2300 Red River St, Unit 3
Austin, TX
(512) 461-3200 

Bush Combat Development Complex
Research Integration Center
Texas A&M Rellis Campus, Building 8700
Bryan, TX
(979) 317-1316

Unite against imperialism and fascism! Victory to Palestine!

CenTex ARA
Central Texas Anti-Racist Action