We at the Racism and Technology Center stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people. We condemn the violence enacted against the innocent people in Palestine and Israel, and mourn alongside all who are dead, injured and still missing. Palestinian communities are being subjected to unlawful collective punishment in Gaza and the West Bank, including the ongoing bombings and the blockade of water, food and energy. We call for an end to the blockade and an immediate ceasefire.
As a European organisation working on the intersection of anti-racism and technology, we feel obligated to speak out about how the two interact very concretely in this war: the Israeli military and government creates, tests and uses tools of oppression and domination that surveil, segregate and kill the Palestinian populations, facilitated by the EU and other Western states. Although the immediate focus must lie on ending the siege and a ceasefire, we firmly believe that an anti-racist perspective on technology means we must denounce, scrutinise, and highlight these practices. We strongly condemn the development, use and supply of these technologies by and to the Israeli state, including the private companies and the governments who actively enable the deaths and destructions that have been, and are still, occurring in Palestine.
The ongoing documentation by various civil society organisations, researchers and journalists has demonstrated the complicity of the West, including public and private actors who enable the ongoing systems of apartheid and occupation in Palestine. These are some examples:
- Amnesty International’s Automated Apartheid report has examined the scale and breadth of Israel’s use of surveillance, including facial recognition technology, as a tool with which Israel enforces and maintains its system of oppression and domination over Palestinians. Corporate actors that provide surveillance technology to the Israeli authorities include TKH Security, which is domiciled in the Netherlands.
- The No Tech For Apartheid movement of tech workers have raised alarm over Project Nimbus, a USD $122 billion (approx. €113bn) contract with Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services, providing cloud technology to the Israeli government and military. This technology allows for further surveillance of, and unlawful data collection on Palestinians, and facilitates the expansion of Israel’s illegal settlements on Palestinian land. By conducting business with the Israeli government, companies such as Amazon and Google are actively enabling a system of apartheid against Palestinians.
- Frontex, the EU’s Border and Coast Guard Agency, signed two contracts (worth €100 million) for the supply of unmanned drones with Airbus and two Israeli arms companies as part of their border control measures. These drones and border surveillance technologies are used over the Mediterranean to identify boats with migrants that are trying to reach Europe, as part of the heightened militarisation of the Mediterranean which started many years ago.
- Antony Loewenstein’s recently published book shows the tools and technologies Israel uses to repress Palestinians are sold to over 130 countries. Palestine and its population are used as a testbed for the various repression and surveillance tech, from spyware to facial recognition tools, which are marketed globally, enabling and fueling many brutal conflicts globally. The current occupation relates to the broader Israeli defence tech industry.
We strongly encourage other digital rights organisations to take these intersections with their work on democratic and just technologies seriously. The creation and use of oppressive technologies and the violence that unfolds under colonialism is not unique to the war in Gaza and the West Bank, so any discussion on tech resistance needs to acknowledge that the many tools of oppression and domination are created, tested and trialed by the Israeli apartheid state.
Currently, the devastation, violence and death in the genocide being committed against Palestinians in Gaza is not only condoned but explicitly supported by the Dutch government, as well as the European Union. The open letter by the Dutch Scholars for Palestine points out that the Dutch Justice and Security minister Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius has claimed that providing historical context to the current round of confrontations is “morally reprehensible”. Prime Minister Rutte called it “disrespectful” to take Israel’s announcements that it is cutting off food and water from Gaza at face value. Echoing the UK and France, Dutch far-right leaders have called for the deportations of those demonstrating their support for the Palestinians.
We condemn the hypocrisy and double standards of the EU governments on freedom of expression, the right to association and peaceful assembly, that threaten those who speak and show up for Palestine.
We stand in full solidarity behind the Palestinian people’s cause of liberation and right to self-determination in the face of settler colonialism. We call for an immediate ceasefire and affirm the Palestinians call for an end to the Israeli occupation and the apartheid regime.