Above: BDS campaigners in Dublin back in March 2016. Courtesty of the IPSC.
With little fanfare, in May 2015 the ESB signed a contract with a start-up called Driivz to provide an “enhanced charge point management system” for electronic vehicles, basically the software that links EV chargers nationwide. Everyone loves eCars, they’re going to save the planet apparently, so what’s the problem you ask? Kevin Squires, National Coordinator of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, fills us in.
Well, Driivz is an Israeli company, based in Tel Aviv, and in accepting their bid, your money – the ESB is 95% still publicly owned, for now – is flowing into the Israeli economy.
Any money that goes into the Israeli economy will, in the form of taxes, help that state to maintain the occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people whose land it has been colonising for decades.
Beyond that, one of Driivz’s website openly boasts of one of its executive’s previous experience in building relationships with Israeli arms manufacturers – a by-word for occupation profiteers – Israel Aerospace Industries and Elbit.
Elbit, for example, is Israel’s largest drone manufacturer and provides around 85% of all combat and surveillance drones to the Israeli military.
Defence for Children International in Palestine noted in a report that “Israeli forces directly targeted and unlawfully killed children with drone-fired missiles” during the attack on Gaza in the summer of 2014. At least 164 children were killed in drone strikes over 51 days.
By using Driivz, and not one of the alternative seven bidders for EV contract, the ESB is thumbing its nose at the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign which aims to compel Israel to end its occupation and obey international law so that Palestinians can enjoy freedom, justice and equality in their homeland.
For anyone with a conscience, this would be shameful enough, but the ESB has doubled down, and is now courting another Israeli start-up run by some very dodgy people, with more of your money.
The ESB is spearheading a new project called Free Electrons, which they call “an exciting new global initiative … to recruit energy start-ups to help drive the next generation of ideas in clean energy.”
Last week, at a ceremony in Trinity College Dublin, Free Electron awarded a cash prize of €22,000 to Aperio Systems, an Israel-based start-up which specialises in anti-hacking technology.
A quick look at those behind Aperio reveals that several of its main players, including its CEO Yevgeni Nogin, previously spent time as ‘intelligence officers’ (ie spies) in the Israeli military.
Its chief investor Doron Bergerbest-Eilon is a former Director of the Security and Protection Division of the Shin Bet, best described as ‘Mossad in Palestine’, which is responsible for all manner of torture and political assassinations carried out against Palestinians.
The CV of Vice-President Michael Shalyt, who accepted the award at the TCD ceremony, notes proudly his involvement with the notorious Israeli Military Intelligence Unit 8200.
In September 2014, 43 reserve members of 8200 issued an open letter stating their refusal to continue military service because the spying their unit engages in “is used for political persecution and to create divisions within Palestinian society by recruiting collaborators and driving parts of Palestinian society against itself [and] allows for the continued control over millions of people through thorough and intrusive supervision and invasion of most areas of life.”
Above: Micheal Shyalt is the long haired guy in both of these pics (screengrabbed from LinkedIn).
As one of the refuseniks told The Guardian: “All Palestinians are exposed to non-stop monitoring without any legal protection … The notion of rights for Palestinians does not exist at all … Any information that might enable extortion of an individual is considered relevant information. Whether said individual is of a certain sexual orientation, cheating on his wife, or in need of treatment in Israel or the West Bank – he is a target for blackmail.”
Aperio and Driivz are now in the running for an even larger cash prize of €160,000 in the final round of the Free Electron competition in September.
Dr. Ronit Lentin, chair of Academics for Palestine, said: “That the ESB is willing violate the Palestinian BDS call by doling out our money to Israeli companies is bad enough and shows contempt for Irish public opinion.
“That it is willing to overlook that these companies are run by people who are proud to have aided in Israel’s racist, apartheid system of torture, murder and colonisation against the Palestinian people should shock everyone. It’s a scandal.
“But the irony of Ireland’s state-owned electricity provider engaging in such cooperation while Israel has reduced the supply of electricity to the illegally besieged Gaza Strip to a few hours every day is an absolute outrage.”
Critics have pointed out that Israel aims to hide the occupation and colonisation of Palestine behind a veneer of progressivism, which has led to the suffix ‘washing’ being appended to illustrate this eliding of oppression; ‘pinkwashing’, ‘greenwashing’, ‘veganwashing’ and so on are now common descriptors of such propaganda efforts.
In this light, the ESB’s embrace of Israeli start-ups can only be seen as ‘techwashing’, a process that has been underway in Ireland for several years now, and has seen a great deal of interaction between players in both countries’ start-up economies.
A recent example is lauded Dublin-based start-up GirlCrew – which has heroically found a way to monetize meetups – who gladly accepted an Israeli state-funded all expenses paid trip to Tel Aviv after winning the StartTLV competition in 2016. StartTLV is brainchild of the Ireland Israel Business Network, which lists both the Irish and Israeli states as ‘partners’.
Indeed, this collaboration has the full backing of the Irish government, ever eager to cravenly prostrate themselves before the altar of investment – so much so that the Bank of Ireland was spotted providing whiskey tasting sessions to start-ups while touting for business in Tel Aviv on an IDA-sponsored junket last year.
More of your tax euros at work folks – just remember to ignore the occupation.