NYC Taxpayers Spending Millions on Cyber Center with Controversial Ties to Israeli Intelligence

Early last week, the city of New York launched — with little media scrutiny — one of two new massive cybersecurity centers that will be run by private Israeli firms with close ties to Israel’s government, the so-called “Mega Group” tied to the Jeffrey Epstein scandal and prominent pro-Israel lobby organizations operating in the United States. The centers were first announced in 2018 as was the identity of the firms who would run them: Israel-based Jerusalem Venture Partners and SOSA.

As MintPress has reported on several occasions, all three of these entities have a history of aggressively spying on the U.S. federal government and/or blackmailing top American politicians, raising concerns regarding why these companies were chosen to run the new centers in the heart of Manhattan. The news also comes as Israeli cybersecurity companies tied to Israeli military intelligence Unit 8200 were revealed to have access to the U.S. government’s most classified systems and simulating the cancellation of the upcoming 2020 presidential election.

The new cybersecurity centers are part of a new New York City public-private partnership called “CyberNYC” that is valued at over $100 million and officially aims to “spur the creation of 10,000 cybersecurity jobs and make New York City a global leader in cyber innovation.” CyberNYC is an initiative of New York City’s Economic Development Corporation.

However, the companies that will be responsible for creating those cybersecurity jobs will benefit foreign companies, namely Israeli and most of the jobs to be created will go to foreigners as well, as media reports on the partnership have quietly noted. Those reports also stated that, while the stated purpose of the centers is to create new jobs, the Israeli firms chosen to run them — Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) and SOSA — view it as an opportunity to provide Israeli cybersecurity companies with a foothold into the American market and to see Israeli cybersecurity products adopted by both small and medium-sized American businesses, not just large corporations and government agencies.

For example, the founder of JVP and former Knesset member, Erel Margalit, told the Jerusalem Post that “the center we are setting up [in New York] will assist Israeli hi-tech companies in collaborating with customers and companies in the US and around the world.” More recently, ahead of the opening of the cybersecurity center that Margalit’s firm will manage, he told the Times of Israel that “New York is about something else, it’s about the drama of taking investors from Israel and Spain or Paris and other places and taking them to the next business level.” In other words, the companies set to benefit from these new centers will be foreign and mainly Israeli, as JVP invests the vast majority of its funds in Israeli start-ups.

Given that Wilson Lin, the head of CyberNYC, explained the reason behind the initiative as the fact that “there are not enough well-trained people in cyber security to fill the jobs that are required for a safer, more thriving commercial sector,” the statements of JVP’s founder strongly suggests that those “well-trained people” will not be Americans in New York, but will be brought in from abroad, namely Israel’s cybersecurity sector.

Of the companies chosen by CyberNYC to run its new cybersecurity centers, both have clear and demonstrable ties to Israel’s government and military intelligence as well as controversial groups of pro-Israel donors with considerable political clout in the United States.

For instance, Jerusalem Venture Partners was founded by Erel Margalit in 1993, with funding from the Yozma Program, an Israeli government program to “incentivize venture capital investment” in Israel. Since then, it has been a driving force in the development of Israel’s hi-tech sector and regularly collaborates with the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry and the EISP (Entrepreneurship and Innovation Support Program) alumni organization of Unit 8200. Today, it is the second largest venture capital fund in Israel.

JVP was also the sole venture capital fund chosen to partner with Israel’s government and military to establish the public-private “cyber hub” in Beersheba. This “hub” not only houses the IDF’s technology campus, but also the Israel National Cyber Directorate, which reports directly to Israel’s Prime Minister, as well as a high-tech corporate park that mostly houses tech companies with ties to Israel’s military intelligence apparatus. The area has been cited in several media reports as a visible indicator of the public-private merger between Israeli technology companies, many of them started by Unit 8200 alumni, and the Israeli government and its intelligence services.

In addition to JVP’s close ties to Israel’s government and its key role in the merging of Israel’s private cybersecurity sector with Israeli military intelligence, JVP also has close ties to the Bronfman family through its Chief Operating Officer and general partner, Fiona Darmon. Prior to working with JVP, Darmon worked for Claridge Israel, the investment arm of the Bronfman family that was founded by Charles Bronfman in 1987.

Charles Bronfman was a one-time business partner of Mossad agent Robert Maxwell, father of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell, and co-founded the “Mega Group”, a group of pro-Israel oligarchs with clear and direct ties to organized crime, alongside Leslie Wexner, the main financier of Jeffrey Epstein’s operation that involved the sex trafficking of minors on behalf of Israeli military intelligence. …

https://www.mintpressnews.com/cybernyc-taxpayers-millions-cyber-center-israel-ties-intelligence/264984/

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