December 13, 2018

Is It OK for Israel to Sell Spy Software to Dictators?

“Israel has always prided itself on being, as the Book of Isaiah says, “a light unto the nations” — an exemplar of “righteousness” to inspire Jews and gentiles alike and bring salvation to mankind. That is why the menorah is the symbol not only of Hanukkah, which Jews are now celebrating, but also of the state of Israel. But Israel’s light is dimmed when veterans of its famed armed forces, whose mission is to defend the Jewish state’s freedom, misuse their expertise to aid oppression in other countries.

Saudi dissident Omar Abdulaziz, who lives in Canada, has filed a lawsuit against an Israeli technology company called the NSO Group accusing it of providing the Saudi government with the surveillance software to spy on him and his friends — including Jamal Khashoggi. The program, known as Pegasus, not only allows the monitoring of all communications from a phone — all texts, all emails, all phone calls — but can also hijack a mobile phone’s microphone and camera to turn it into a surveillance device.

The information gathered on Khashoggi may have motivated his murder by alerting the Saudi authorities that he was stirring up electronic dissent within the kingdom, while denouncing Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman in vituperative terms as a “pac-man” who devoured all in his path. “The hacking of my phone played a major role in what happened to Jamal, I am really sorry to say,” Abdulaziz told CNN. “The guilt is killing me.””

Read more

JJ Best Of The Web

"Like many Western analyses of the Middle East, they reduce Iraq’s complex internal conflicts to catchall explainers of ‘sectarianism’ and ‘tribalism’ – presuming that some groups of people are intrinsically primed for antagonism."

" he's a loser in the precise sense that his singular accomplishment in American public life has been to lose a Senate race to the stupendously unpopular Republican Ted Cruz."

"While applauding the social impetus, Israelis are divided in opinions on an American-based initiative and question its grammatical integrity."

A look at the networks that churn out nonstop, formulaic Christmas movies; the actors who star in all of them; and the fans who can't stop watching.

"The Department of Homeland Security wants to use credit scores to determine immigration cases. That sets a dangerous precedent."

"Traffic. Congestion. Pollution. Hours-long commutes. What if you could leave it all behind and trade it in for an environmentally friendly and energy-efficient personal copter—all without a pilot’s license?"

"“But Qutb saw something else. The dancers in front of him were tragic lost souls. They believed they were free, but in reality they were trapped by their own selfish and greedy desires.”"

Cliches can be used as a political tool. "Prefabricated language helps everybody from prime ministers to CEOs disguise what they really want to say."

"Santa is nothing but stress for families who don’t believe in him. Trying to keep other kids from finding out the truth can cause a holiday-season-long headache."

"Umami is hard to describe in words. In the New Yorker, Hannah Goldfield defines it as “that deep, dark, meaty intensity that distinguishes seared beef, soy sauce, ripe tomato, Parmesan cheese, anchovies, and mushrooms..."

"The designer babies have thus been called the “future-we-should-not-want” for each new reproductive technology or intervention. But the babies never came and are nowhere close. I am not surprised."

"Thousands of secular Israelis became newly observant and joined Haredi communities in the 1970s and ’80s. Now, their children and grandchildren are searching for a place of their own."