Profiting off war: A look into the world of Israeli arms dealing

Eilat Maoz writes (translated from Hebrew by Guy Eliav and edited by Ami Asher): A laboratory is a site where scientists conduct experiments under controlled conditions – a space where large-scale phenomena such as hurricanes are miniaturized and tiny objects such as microbes are magnified to observe complex processes and learn how to control them. A laboratory is where the world is divided into predictable phenomena and observable objects. Where knowledge is created and later disseminated, making the world better understandable and better organized, through the lens of the knowledge we have accumulated about it.

Yotam Feldman’s new film, “The Lab,” introduces us to the men who made the Occupied Palestinian Territories the largest and most advanced weapon-testing laboratory: arms dealers and developers, defense experts and industry leaders. Despite the urge to compare it to other Israeli documentaries which have recently exposed the secret lives of the people running the occupation (such as “The Law in These Parts” and “The Gatekeepers”), “The Lab” is above all a film about knowledge. Security knowledge created in the flexible zone between two dimensions separated by a very blurred line: the military and the market.

On the first plot level, “The Lab” follows Naomi Klein’s claim that the main reason for Israel’s economic prosperity at a time of political instability and global crisis lies not in its outstanding human capital that enables it to smoothly escape the negative economic repercussions, but rather the continuation of regional conflicts. In The Shock Doctrine, she shows that most of Israel’s economic growth can be attributed to the huge defense industry, which has become Israel’s main export industry, particularly following 9/11 (In 2012, Israel was ranked the world’s sixth largest arms exporter). She also claims that the West Bank and Gaza Strip are not only the world’s largest open-air prisons, but also the world’s largest test-labs, where “Palestinians are no longer just targets. They are guinea pigs.” [Continue reading…]

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