Paul Biggar: Google Buyout Won’t Fix Israel’s Spy-Run Tech Sector

Greg Stoker, ex-US Special Forces, explores the impact of the BDS campaign and the Gaza war on Israel’s economy. As international investments decline and Unit 8200’s tech pipeline dries up, Israel’s high-tech industry struggles to survive.

The BDS movement, which is a non-violent Palestinian-led campaign that promotes boycotts, divestments, and sanctions against Israel to pressure the nation to meet its obligations under international law, is having an undeniable effect nine months into the catastrophe in Gaza. The effect is significant enough to compel propagandists on the Israeli English network ILTV to characterize the BDS movement as a definite “Trend,” as even state media is struggling to obscure the bleak and deteriorating economic reality of Israel’s wartime economy.

Amir Yaron, chief of the Bank of Israel, said in May that the wars in the north and south would cost $67 billion from 2023 to 2025. That in itself is not a damning figure, but taken in conjunction with other economic realities, such as the closure of over 40,000 small businesses in Israel, the decline in tourism, and the lack of young tech workers, a complete recovery looks implausible.

Hence, the mainstream media’s two news cycles this week focused on Google’s potential acquisition of Wiz, an Israeli cyber tech company. The move has been lauded as a vote of confidence in the strength and resilience of the Israeli tech economy. It is not. It is simply a matter of having the right product at the right time and a once-in-a-lifetime $23 billion acquisition that will not even close this year and will not lessen the geopolitical backlash from the Gaza War.

The high-tech industry contributed 20% to Israel’s GDP, almost twice that of a more diversified economy like the United States. Therefore, a loss in confidence in the tech sector will disproportionately impact the economy. According to Uri Gabai, CEO of RISE Israel, a non-profit think tank, half of the total investment in research and development in Israel originates from abroad, highlighting potential consequences if Israel becomes undesirable or feared for investment.

These consequences, however, have already come to pass. Common wisdom holds that it is fiduciarily irresponsible to invest in a warzone. Intel recently halted plans for a $25 billion plant in Israel for “responsible capital management.” The simple fact is that Israel is no longer secure.

This trend is beginning to be reflected in the data. Several stories are merging – a global economic slowdown, a decrease in investments in the United States and Europe, and the instability in Israel, which began with proposed changes to the Supreme Court and was exacerbated by the events of October 7, 2023. Now, more people are morally unwilling to invest in the Israeli tech sector as a blanket stance. It is well known, after all, that military intelligence units like IDF Unit 8200 are pipelines to startups in the tech industry. It is becoming increasingly difficult to separate the war crimes in Gaza from seemingly innocuous business ventures in Tel Aviv.

Join us on State of Play as we discuss the current flagging state of the Israeli high-tech ecosystem with Paul Biggar, founder of Darklang and CircleCI and CEO of Tech for Palestine.

Greg Stoker is a former US Army Ranger with a human intelligence collection and analysis background. After serving four combat deployments in Afghanistan, he studied anthropology and International Relations at Columbia University. He is currently a military and geopolitical analyst and a social media “influencer,” though he hates the term.

MintPress News is a fiercely independent media company. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram.

Subscribe to MintCast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and SoundCloud.

Also, be sure to check out rapper Lowkey’s video interview/podcast series, The Watchdog.