In June of this year, the story of how Dubai Ports World was helping crush opposition to Israeli shipping company Zim in a small Canadian town caught the interest of many progressives around the world. Lest anyone think this was an isolated incident, Canadian media recently highlighted yet another saga of the Canada-UAE-Israel partnership.

This time around, former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper takes center stage as head of the advisory board of Toronto-based AWZ Ventures. According to a CBC article, “AWZ Ventures funds Israeli surveillance technology systems, including facial recognition and crowd detection systems and services that provide comprehensive information about individuals in real time.”

Media attention is now that AWZ Ventures is facilitating the sale of this “technology to the United Arab Emirates – a country with a troubling human rights record.” (No mention of Israel’s “troubling human rights record”, mind you.)

Again, as with Zim’s story, the finer details are bizarre. AWZ Ventures not only has former Mossad, CIA and MI5 figures on its advisory board, but it is also opening a branch in the United Arab Emirates. And at the head of this new branch will be the former Canadian diplomat and representative to the Palestinian Authority, Katherine Verrier-Fréchette.

The new company, aptly dubbed AWZ Horizons, will also help promote the sale of this Israeli technology “to other countries in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia and countries in North Africa”. This smooth transition from Canadian diplomatic envoy to high-level cybersecurity merchant speaks volumes about the “neutrality” of Canadian foreign policy.

AWZ Ventures in itself is an interesting study. Alongside notable international figures, Richard Fadden, former director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, works for the company. And former Tory Minister Stockwell Day is also said to be involved.

Fadden, one of the few who was quoted by the Canadian media, said: “A lot of this technology is useful in the fight against terrorism and that was my main interest,” he said. “Some of the technologies that have been developed help to develop an idea of ​​what is going on, on the one hand on social networks, so that you can accumulate information …”

In July of this year, AWZ Ventures also entered into a formal partnership with Israel’s Defense Ministry and its Defense Research and Development Directorate (MAFAT) and launched Awz X-Seed. The objective of this new spin-off will be to invest in companies in the “pre-seed” and “creation” phase in Israel, developing innovative security technologies. According to Stephen Harper at the time: “Together, Awz and MAFAT will uniquely assess and develop early stage technologies, creating a model that is second to none anywhere.

It was also noted that the “portfolio companies will benefit more from the business development offices of Awz Ventures in Canada, the United States and the United Arab Emirates, which will help the companies to expand their global customer base.”

So, to sum up, a Canada-based company with an advisory board headed by a former Canadian prime minister and full of former spies, is marketing Israeli cybersecurity and surveillance technology to dictatorial Arab regimes. And even in partnership with the Israeli government to help develop more of the same.

The harmful use of these technologies has been well documented in recent years, the most notable case being a possible link in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Journalists and human rights activists, including Amnesty International, have reportedly been targeted by repressive governments using these Israeli surveillance tools.

However, the media parameters that focus solely on selling these Israeli technologies to despotic regimes are flawed. The Israeli government’s “troubling human rights record” is also relevant, and the fact that its security and defense innovations are field-tested on Palestinians and Arabs is well known. And the abuse and torture inflicted by Israel on Palestinian prisoners is also well known, as evidenced by the recent treatment of the Gilboa 6 after being recaptured.

As Expo Dubai 2020 is finally underway, with an Israeli pavilion run by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, we need to be clear on who is fueling and funding this unholy alliance of Israeli apartheid and reactionary Arab regimes. Western governments and capitalist interests are fully complicit in these violations of Palestinian and Arab human rights.

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