Friday, January 28, 2022

  • Friday, January 28, 2022
  • Elder of Ziyon

The New York Times Magazine is publishing a long report on NSO and spyware this weekend. it shows how the FBI had shown interest in the tool and how the CIA paid for NSO to sell the spyware to Djibouti. 

The major issues with NSO Pegasus is that the spyware can and has been used for human rights abuses. It has also been used by governments to crack terrorism and drug rings. 

The article shows that Israel made some decisions on who Pegasus can be exported to based on diplomatic considerations. From Panama to Mexico to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, although there was rarely an explicit quid pro quo, Israel reaped major benefits from allowing potential allies to use the tool. The article even says that Saudi Arabia opening its airspace to Israeli planes last year was a response to NSO renewing its license with the monarchy. 

Every country makes decisions based primarily its own best interests, above human rights issues. That is the way it has always been and the way it will always be.

 Cyberweapons, like all weapons, are tools than can be used for good or ill. Pegasus has helped nations do great things - and horrible things. 

Who makes the decision as to where to draw the line? When critics of Israel like Human Rights Watch spend time and effort to only go after Israel's diplomatic use of NSO, and ignores the fact that every nation does the exact same thing with their own assets, it is showing that human rights isn't its main focus. One can argue with Israel's decisions - and one can be sure that those arguments already were hashed out inside Israel itself. 

The one who uses the tool is the one who has the responsibility for how it is used. Mexico can use Pegasus against drug cartels and against critics of the government, to blame Israel for Mexico's decision is simply another manifestation of antisemitism. One can argue that Israel should make different choices, but where are HRW's tweets against Mexico without mentioning Israel for how they use spyware? There aren't any. 

NSO is in talks to be sold to a US company. Does anyone think that the US wouldn't use the tool as a means of diplomacy the way every other tool and weapon is today? Every nation weighs the costs and benefits of these decisions. 

More nations are at peace with Israel today because of Pegasus  - even though they haven't the greatest human rights records. Is a state of war better than peace because a tool can be misused? Every nation has to make their own decisions as to what is best for their own people. That should be obvious. 

Only when Israel uses tools like this for diplomatic reasons does it become a "human rights" issue. And when Israel is singled out for doing what everyone else does, that is antisemitism.

(h/t Yoel)

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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