Veins of Repression: US and Israeli Counterinsurgency in the Americas

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


American Studies

First Advisor

Jacobson, Matthew


Veins of Repression: US and Israeli Counterinsurgency in the Americas explains how US and Israeli efforts to support Central American dictatorships reverberated throughout the Americas, leading to migration and police militarization. This dissertation chronicles the development of a global network of counterinsurgency tactics between Israel, the United States, and Central America throughout the second half of the 20th century to the present. I trace how individuals, states, and companies used public and private channels to transfer methods of repression that were used against Palestinians, Central Americans, and communities of color in US cities. At its heart is a story of how sectors of the Israeli security state were partners with their US counterparts in mapping mutual strategic interests with right-wing Central American forces. I start with an investigation of British collaboration with Zionist forces to conduct aerial bombardment during the post-WWI Mandate Period, which shaped future drones. From there, I explore agricultural surveillance and modernization projects during the late Cold War in Guatemala. In the early 1980s, Israeli agricultural advisors helped the Guatemalan military to construct model villages that facilitated a genocide. At the same time, Israel assisted the United States’ effort to arm the paramilitary Nicaraguan Contras. Israeli military and non-military institutions were a key instrument of US empire, capital, and police power. By revealing the cross-border circulation of drones, agricultural advisors, rifles, and policing training programs, this dissertation illustrates the extent to which Israeli and US security states formed militarization technologies that have impacted people across the Americas.

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