In Toronto, Activists Take Over Office of Israeli-Canadian Tech Fund

By World BEYOND War, February 3, 2024

Toronto peace activists disrupted the Yonge and Eglinton business operations of Awz Ventures, an Israeli-Canadian venture capital firm that invests exclusively in Israeli security and intelligence start-ups. Dozens of people entered the office and filled it with recordings of the drones that operate at all hours in Gaza, Hebrew songs and prayers, and also paused to read the names of civilians killed by Israeli military technology. Through signs, chants, and exchanges with Awz executives who confronted the peace activists in the office, they highlighted Awz’ role in funding genocide and denounced the Canadian investors who are profiting from it — including former Prime Minister and current Awz partner and lead strategic advisor, Stephen Harper.

“It is despicable for Canadian funds like Awz to be profiting from the genocidal violence perpetrated by Israel on Gaza right now,” said Devon Matthews, a member of Toronto World BEYOND War. “Whether through the Canadian government’s role in exporting arms to Israel or companies like Awz funding the technology used to slaughter Palestinians, we are taking action to end Canadian complicity in Israel’s war crimes”.

For four months, the Israeli military has bombed entire civilian neighbourhoods and infrastructure in Gaza, decimating the healthcare system and killing over 26,000 people, almost half of them children. The nearly 2 million people forced into exodus face the prospect of death by sniper as they flee, by bombardment once they arrive at “safe zones”, or by starvation due to Israel’s blockade of food and fuel.

“The Jews Say No to Genocide Coalition has been showing up in solidarity with Palestinians to say we refuse to allow the siege on Gaza to be carried out in our name,” said Anna Lippman. “We are participating in this action at Awz to say that we refuse to have Jewish safety used as cover for investors to profit from genocide and occupation. Our offering today is prayers, songs, and poems from our many Jewish traditions that allow us to mourn and call for peace, healing, ancestral connection, and resilience.”

The indiscriminate devastation of Gaza is being wrought by the latest in high-tech weaponry, employing drones and AI, and aided by a surveillance system that Amnesty International reports was monitoring and controlling the movements of Palestinians within the Occupied Territories well before October 7th. The State of Israel may be losing the PR war, but defence tech CEOs and investors, including Awz, stand to win big from the calculated destruction of Gaza. A recent article published by Israeli magazine +972 reports that, “[a]mong those Israeli companies with the highest stock returns at the end of 2023 are start-ups advertising cutting-edge weaponry that is deployed by the army inside Gaza.”

“Senior former political elites are monitizing and profiting off of the death and destruction of Palestinian life and land,” said DS with Queers for Palestine and Toronto World BEYOND War. “Not only are these technologies being refined in Israel, but they are being deployed globally to be used on civilian populations. These technologies are being designed, funded and traded with the Canadian state to be deployed in police departments here as well to monitor and surveil us. Canadian finance and the Canadian government are funding technologies that are used to terrorize its citizens by police and then trade that knowledge, data and experience with other police departments globally.”

Awz Ventures Inc manages a $350 million USD portfolio that directly funds AI and surveillance technology used by the Israeli Ministry of Defence. Former Mossad agents and former CIA and MI5 Directors are monetizing this AI and surveillance technology that is being used to terrorize and occupy Palestinian people and lands. And former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is chair of the advisory board, is profiting off of this technology used by the Israeli state’s genocidal actions.

While Israel’s defence sector is one of the most secretive in the world, Awz is eager to showcase its portfolio to potential investors, including its “revolutionary partnership” with MAFAT, the Israeli Ministry of Defense’s Directorate of Defense Research and Development, that includes collaboration with state security agencies Mossad, Shin Bet, and elite intelligence units of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Centered around an early-stage technology fund known as Awz X-Seed, the partnership is spearheaded by Toronto-based Awz founder Yaron Ashkenazi and the head of MAFAT.

Shortly after October 7th, Ashkenazi, himself a former IDF paratrooper and Israel Security Agency officer, described his company as “providing Israel – and the world – with the technological tools to stop these evil terrorists in their tracks.” However, critics, such as author Anthony Loewenstein, “see it as a way to monetize the occupation.” Canadian securities records show CAD $112 million in investments in Awz, the majority from accredited investors in Canada, while the company’s website currently claims to manage $350 million in unspecified currency.

Awz’s Portfolio includes

  • Elsight, an Israeli drone connectivity solutions company with a multi-year public tender to ensure Israeli police, SWAT units, and border patrol have continuous and reliable service and communications with their drones.
  • Viisights, a video analytics company whose behavioral recognition software is currently in use in 12 Israeli cities, including Jerusalem. Viisights has also been selected for use outside of Israel, “helping address challenging urban situations, including Léon (the fourth largest city in Mexico), refugee camps in Greece, and others.”
  • Ultra Information Solutions, which markets technology that can “find and flag risks in real time by identifying suspicious people based on their online activity.”

This action was planned by a number of local groups, including Toronto World BEYOND War, Queers4Palestine, and Jews Say No to Genocide, which is a coalition of Independent Jewish Voices, If Not Now Toronto, United Jewish People’s Order, Morris Winchevsky Centre, Jewish Faculty Network, and Jewish members of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) and World BEYOND War.

One Response

  1. Thank you , Thank you- to all persons involved in the Peaceful Peace Activism demonstrated in Toronto ON Canada of Awz Ventures Inc., a local Canadian company which provides finance for AI and survellance technologies being used in the Nation State of Gaza and surrounding Palestine Territories.
    Genocide is the WORST of humanity’s crimes against one another- a de-human practice far beyond any notion of normal human behavior.

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