Israel’s Butterfly Assassin
Only in Israel could someone take a beautiful natural specimen, the butterfly, and turn it into a lethal agent on behalf of the State. Channel 2 News reports (Hebrew) that renowned Israeli weapons designer, Dubi Benyamini has designed a mechanical butterfly that can be used to infiltrate a target like a home, car or any outside location in order to kill a victim targeted for assassination by Israeli intelligence or the IDF. You might call it a “butterfly drone” (Channel 2 calls it the “butterfly of death” though the inventor calls it more prosaically, the “X-wing”) and add it to the arsenal of death possessed by Israel and the U.S. and used in counter-terror attacks in the Middle East. Of course, the drone can also photograph and video any subject it “sees” and can be used for “close-in” surveillance of subjects. It can be powered by solar energy absorbed in its wings in the course of flight. I suppose if you were a weapons designer you might find it a thing of beauty. But certainly, dark beauty.
The irony: Benyamini has, since the age of 9 (he’s 70 now) had a deep love for butterflies. In fact, he’s know as Israel’s “Mr. Butterfly,” and has written learned tomes on the subject. He’s traveled around the world searching out and naming scores of new butterfly species. The lilting classical music accompanying this news report and the inventor’s proud smile indicate his loving attention to the subject of his hobby and his newly developed weapon. It’s downright eerie to know that this same lovely flying contraption might wreak death on Israel’s enemies.
After enumerating the non-lethal qualities of the drone, the reporter asks whether the drone can “kill.” The inventor answers with a proud smile: “By invitation. Whatever you ask of it, it will do.” With that, the contraption circles around its “father’s” head and all break out into peal of delighted laughter as the classical music plays on.
So why would a man abuse a species he loves so well to turn it into a killing machine? How does he create such a schizoid division between the subjects of his hobby and use of their principles to kill? A question the reporter notes he asked Binyamini, who would not or could not provide an answer.
Frankly, if given the choice between a lepidopterist like Nabokov, who incorporated his knowledge in masterworks of literature; or Benyamini, who yokes his hobby to weapons design, I’d prefer the former.
51 thoughts on “Israel’s Butterfly Assassin – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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What utter lunacy. I thought it was insane when Mossad dripped poison into Khaled Meshal’s ear. This goes way beyond that. What is it with the Israeli obsession with ever more ways of dealing death? What a morally impoverished country.
If you were surrounded by murderers who don’t hesitate to
slit the throat of a three month baby as it happened a few
month ago at the settlement of Itamar, you too would try
to find ways to protect your children. But obviously, you and possibly your children are not yet threatened by such assassins. I hope you never will.
Mary and those she loves are also threatened by ‘assassins’ though they wear Israeli military uniforms or the “uniforms” of militant settlers. I also believe Mary has been severely assaulted & maimed by settlers so making assumptions about others have faced is a dicey proposition Solly. Have you ever been stoned & sent to hospital from such a settler attack? Didn’t think so. Ever sit in a house in Gaza under IDF barrage? Didn’t think so.
What utter beauty….to quote Dubi, talking of butterflies….”Such a beautiful thing, so vulnerable and how he’s able to survive. Everybody preys him,everybody persues him and despite all of the threats he still survives and stays with us here”
Israel’s obsession is with survival and to the means to ensure it.
When asked what his butterfly could be used for, Dubi said the following…”To fly in enclosed spaces,the terminal in Ben Gurion airport for example ( and to provide real time visual images ) ,to follow a suspect”
When asked if the butterfly could have lethal capabilities,Dubi answered “whatever I am asked to do…”.
“What a morally impoverished country…”whatever Israel might be accused of,being morally impoverished is not one of them.
Why this constant desire to misrepresent Israel and everything that she stands for.
I see. So bombing Lebanon & Gaza to smithereens somehow furthered Israel’s survival? Actually, it brought Israel just that much closer to eventual self-destruction because the longer the hostilities the less likely can be viable in the long term.
Israel is indeed not only morally impoverished, but deeply so & this new weapon is but one example. As for the way I presented the story you conveniently omit the fact that Channel 2 itself called it the “Butterfly of Death,” thus emphasizing the weapons capability of the new design. Further, you omit the part of the story which sketches Benyamini’s professional background as Israel’s top aviation weapons designer. Do you think he made this as a play toy? Of course it has less lethal capabilities just as conventional drones do. But he’s a weapons designer & this is capable of being used as a weapon & he clearly said he would be more than willing for it to be used to kill people. You mistranslated a few things as well. The reporter didn’t ask about “lethal capabilities.” He asked directly whether it could be used “to kill,” to which Benyamini answered: “By invitation. It will do whatever is asked of it.” That’s a more accurate translation than the vaguer one you offered.
“Hu ya_chol gam la_arog”…… He can also kill?.
“Le fe ha_az_mana,ma shu_me_vak_shim ani o_say”
By invitation,whatever is requested. I do.
……a more exact translation….the “drone” as yet cannot kill.
2) “Butterfly of Death”…..T.V. hype.
3) No it is not a toy, but as Anyn said below”but if Israel could find a way to kill people more accurately without demolishing the whole house, then maybe it’s a good thing”.
That does not necessarily constitute approval of extra judicial assassination.
4) Israel is slowly being maneuvered into a position where
it is under attack but she cannot use the means at her
command to defend herself.What are you supposed to
do when a large group of people approach a border
fence as in the case of Majdal Shams in the Golan today.
5) Israel needs to develop new lethal and non lethal
weapons so that she may,should she so choose, react
proportionately to any and every provocation or threat.
6) “Actually, it brought Israel just that much closer to eventual self-destruction because the longer the hostilities the less likely can be viable in the long term”.
Yes Richard,there is truth in what you say. Israel’s most
important challenge is on the PR front.Israel cannot appear to be heavy handed just as she cannot appear to be weak.
What nonsense. The news report clearly states the weapon can kill. The inventor says it can “by invitation.” Meaning it can. Yr claim that it cannot yet do so is simply unsupported by anything in the transcript.
I’ve featured a 10 minute video of these dangerous creatures creeping stealthily across the Golan border & committing all manner of mayhem: kissing their cousins, crying on their shoulders, waving flags. A terrible danger to the existence of the State & it was quite right in shooting them down mercilessly. I’d urge the U.S. to do the same the next time Mexicans storm the border in the same way: mow them down as they constitute a grave mortal threat to the State.
That’s not at all what I said. Don’t bastardize my meaning with yr own lame interpretations.
Richard, Daniels remarks are accurate.
No they’re not. No way.
“What are you supposed to
do when a large group of people approach a border
fence as in the case of Majdal Shams in the Golan today”
Maybe getting out of the Golan would be a good place to start.
yes they are. the report does not say the the weapon can kill. it insinuates that a future version might. the inventor sujests it’s possible to develop such versions if such functionality would be asked for.
their are two options here, I’d like to think it’s that you missunderstand what is said, becoase the second option is you lying outright to your readers.
“I’d urge the U.S. to do the same the next time Mexicans storm the border”
that analogy would be correct is the US and Mexico would be in an official state of war. and.. well.. they are not.
You say “insinuate” & the other commenter said that such a meaning was “an exact translation.” ‘Insinuate’ may do less violence to the truth, but his language is deliberately vague. YOu don’t know precisely what he meant. He might’ve meant that all he has to do is go back into his lab & fit an explosive device into his model for it to be prepared for an assassination mission. “By invitation” can mean many different things. You know it, & claiming otherwise is an act of rhetorical bad faith.
Don’t be coy, my friend. Accusing me of lying is grounds for losing yr comment privileges. Even the claim that I might be lying puts you on notice. Watch yr step.
Insane? No. Monstrous? Yes.
Very likely (but who knows) this butterfly drone will destroy itself (as well as a person) so that the AGENCY OF DEATH will be more nearly secret, something Israeli assassins failed to do with various assassination attempts. Also, whether or not detectable, it will be able to cross borders (as larger drones can) without stolen or forged passports, further reducing the chances for detection.
In changing the technology of warfare, USA and Israel have changed the legal presumptions on un-claimed assassinations. The presumption will now be that such things are American (done with presidential OK and at presidential direction) or Israeli (ditto).
I hope some other folks learn how to do this nastiness so that, faced with the possibility of “butterflies” flying into the windows of the White House, USA’s presidents will, instead, try to make peace with justice.
BTW, those who wonder why AIPAC is so successful (with all the power that a blackmailer might hope to employ), Israel’s nukes and drones and butterflies provide a new way of accounting for her influence.
This sort of power, even if not directed at EU country-targets, might motivate EU to face the error of their silence as to Israeli lawlessness.
Right… morally impoverished. It is a shame that that is all you get out of this report…. well, more like Richards recounting of this report.
No problem for you to ignore and sweepingly dismiss all the technological advancements made by Israel in the fields of medicine, computers, telophony, agriculture… and the list goes on.
But for you Israel is obsessed with dealing with death and nothing else.
THAT is utter lunacy.
I don’t know if you understand Hebrew, but during the report this man was shown more to be involved with butterflies and flight than with creating instruments of death.
The genius of his invention is it’s ability to fly in closed areas like train stations or the airport for closed camera security (live video of a situation) and then, if need be, track and pursue a suspected terrorist or criminal.
This spin added by Channel 2 to introduce this report- which I felt was cheap and bit low… was done more to get people to stay tuned and watch than an actual reflection of Binyamini’s talents- was twisted a step further from the truth by Richard making him into an assasin.
it’s very clear by the report that this guy did NOT initinally invent this drone as a tool for assasination. Richard added to that spin, making him a darker character.
I think both Channel 2 AND Richard missed the positive aspects of this invention.
And so does the hasbara…
I didn’t say “nothing else.” You did. If Israeli poets and peace activists were treated with the respect, honors, & riches accorded to Dubi Benyamini I’d feel a lot more comfortable crowing about Israel’s achievements.
No, actually the reporter who asked whether the weapon could kill the target it was pursuing brought up the issue. Once again, I only reported what the reporter raised as a question.
Except that the title of the report notes that it’s an “butterfly of death.” The darkness of his character is in the title & questions chosen by Channel 2.
I concede that I miss the positive aspects of an invention that can murder its target if so desired.
“And so does the hasbara…”
As you despise “snark” so do I. The FACT that Israel has many accomplishments in these fields cannot be diluted by your innuendo that it is only “propoganda”.
I meant for this comment to be a response to Mary, who’s comment about israel’s being, in her very myopic view a ” morally impoverished country”, obessessed, in her thinking only about “improving ways of death”.
” No, actually the reporter who asked whether the weapon could kill the target it was pursuing brought up the issue. Once again, I only reported what the reporter raised as a question.”
I beg to differ, sir. The reporter asked a question about the potential of the invention’s capability. YOU called him an assasin. YOU chose to include “Assaisn” in your title. That phrase was never used… he hasn’t planned or carried out a murder. And whether that was his intent in creating this fascinating invention- which seems very unlikely was never addressed.
The only murder here is your attempted character assasination of Binyamini.
For that last statement, I apologize at the “snarkiness” of the comment, Richard.
After I posted it, I realized though “clever”, not appropriate in a dialogue, especially when I discussed the issue of “snark” above. Hit the button too fast before proofing.
Israel’s contribution to technological advancements doesn’t have anything to do with morality. Apart from that, according to the 2009 Global Innovation Index, Israel has been pretty average among the developed countries of the world, with many developed nations faring better.
Kind of funny coming from a country who spend more than 40% of the whole world weapon expense and 8 times more than the next country in the list.
@ free man
“Kind of funny coming from a country …”
Your first comment on this blog was accusing Richard of talking of internment camps in Israel, and not about Guantanamo. You haven’t changed. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t think Richard is representing ‘a country’ but talking for himself, and a lot of others, hopefully.
Are YOU representing ‘a country’ when you comment ?
For one, I agree with DY. All of us represent our own views. I think free man meant to draw attention to the fact that the search for new instruments of death is not exclusive to Israel (probably in response to the opening sentence). That being said, it has nothing to do with the post which was not, to my understanding, an attack on Israel or its society.
When I see something I dislike, I usually criticize those instances that are closer to me. If I don’t like arm dealers, I don’t go and blog on Russians or American arm dealers, but attack those coming from my country and selling to fishy organizations.
BTW, I don’t remember what I wrote here and when, I wonder how do you ?
Yes, I remember your first comment on this blog because I answered you, and I remember thinking ‘what a strange pen name for a propagandist’. But then there have been an ‘objective’, a ‘moderate’ etc around, all Hasbaradim….
As I answered on your Guantamano-comment: if you prefer to discuss American foreign politics, football or whatever, why don’t you find a blog dealing with your interests ?
You prefer criticizing those instances closer to you ?
Here’s to you:
At least 6 people have been killed on the Syrian/Israeli border too, that is the Israli-claimed border: nobody else recognize the annexation of the Golan.
You could also listen to this young girl:
@ DY what utter nonsense.
The purple line – or the 1967 ceasefire line in the Golan Hights – is the agreed upon border between Israel and Syria signed on May 31 1974 as part of the Agreement on Disengagement which ended the 1973 War.
Syria itself recognize is as the de facto border, the Internationale community does as well and actually supervises the agreement.
enough with your propaganda.
Whoa, this is not just propaganda but out & out lies. Syria certainly does not in any way, shape or form recognize the ceasefire line as any sort of border. I warn you that comment rules not just ask for, but demand factuality & precision in making such claims as you have. You will not get away here with such nonsense & if you try it again your privileges will be restricted.
You forget we have bullshit meters here that detect dreck like this miles away. Not to mention that this is WAY off topic & you’ve been warned repeatedly to post comments that are on topic.
What are you talking about ?
go find out what the UNDOF is, why it was created, and what do they observer.
if you want to learn something, please use Wikipedia, The Knesset site, the UNDOF site.
all are withing a google distance away.
Now I’m going to accuse you of lying because you have not & cannot present any evidence that Syria accepts the ceasefire line as a de facto or any type of border. Even yr 2nd comment on the subject restates yr bogus claim w/o any evidence.
You’ve richly deserved moderation & noe earned it.
“If you want to lears something, use wikipedia and the Knesset site”.
Wow, we have a real intellectual among us. Wikipedia and the Knesset site….
It’s common knowledge – outside Israel at least – that the annexation by the State of Israel of the Golan Heights is illegal (United Nations Security Council, resolution 497 – 1981), and thus what the Israelis consider the Israeli-Syrian border is within Syria according to international law.
And besides, Mr. Silverstein,
the person who introduced the Golan subject and to whom i replied was Deir Yassin, a comment above mine.
@ DY, the cease fire line is the acceptable line separating Israel and Syria, according to the agreement that was signed in May 1974.
No Syrian can enter the area west of the cease fire line (de facto border) without permission. as simple as that.
would the Golan height remain in Israel hands ? maybe yes maybe not. thats up for negotiations.
do people can make justice for themselves ? not even according to the International law you love referring to.
Who gives a flying fig what you do & why you do it?! Start your own blog & blog away about Israeli arms dealers for all I care. As for me, I blog about the subject I’ve chosen which isn’t U.S. arms dealers. You forget that there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of times more bloggers & journalists writing such stories here, so it’s less imperative for me to do so & even redundant. So pls. stop raising issues which you feel represent my hypocrisy when you & other hasbarists are the only ones who feel this way. It’s really a snooze for the rest of us & persuades no one & in fact is counter productive for whatever arguments you wish to advance.
You almost got me there…
Sure you care, that is why you ask for comments here.
Off topic & a non sequitur. Don’t waste our time with digressions.
Not sure if this was designed as a killing weapon or not (it appears as an option, not the aim of the machine), but if Israel could find a way to kill people more accurately without demolishing the whole house, then maybe it’s a good thing.
Not that killing without trial is highly moral, but better killing one person without trial than killing a person and everyone around him without trial.
Wow, you’ve outlined total moral impoverishment and a zero sum game. You approve extra judicial assassination just as long as the right target is killed even if there’s no due process & international law is violated serially. That’s impressive thinking. No wonder Israel is in the trouble it is.
What is the difference between the butterfly and the hummingbird ?
or the insect ?
From the days of Leonardo DE Vinci, human tried to imitate nature principals for their own usage. This is not any different.
You are really opportunistic Richard.
All I did was report on a story from your own media. I think the problem you have is with Channel 2 which produced the story. Why don’t you take it up with them. Or perhaps tell them to arrange it so that their stories can only be read inside Israel & not outside. Or perhaps they should broadcast in a language no one else in the universe besides Israelis can understand. That would keep you safe in that protective media cocoon.
Are you oblivious to your own actions and statements ?
since you don’t have the time to check anything allow me to quote your original spin: ” Only in Israel could someone take a beautiful natural specimen, the butterfly, and turn it into a lethal agent on behalf of the State”
you don’t miss an opportunity to smear Israel, even if in the US someone is developing a very similar product.
News is news, your’e interpretation is what i have a problem with.
Honestly, I think you’re stretching.
> Only in Israel could someone take a beautiful natural specimen, the butterfly, and turn it into a lethal agent on behalf of the State.
I’m going to assume you meant that as a compliment to the technical abilities or imagination of the Israeli engineers, since I can’t believe you’d claim that no other country in the world would do something so “cynical” (China, Russia, USA, UK, etc.).
Also, incidentally, he says in the film that the flight technique is based on a dragonfly, not a butterfly (although, for all I know, the two use similar mechanisms). Assuming you find dragonflies to be less beautiful, does that makes it OK in your eyes?
> I suppose if you were a weapons designer you might find it a thing of beauty.
I find it to be elegant, regardless of its uses and regardless of who created it. This team designed and built a remote controlled micro-ornithopter. That’s an impressive achievement, which could be used to do many things, among them targeted attacks.
> …the reporter asks whether the drone can “kill.” The inventor answers with a proud smile: “By invitation. Whatever you ask of it, it will do.” With that, the contraption circles around its “father’s” head and all break out into peal of delighted laughter as the classical music plays on.
Oh, yes, those evil Israelis, laughing about killing. The only problem with that is that the film is edited at that point. They laugh because the device gets very close to him, and there doesn’t seem to be any connection to the question about killing, which was presumably at another point during the interview.
Again, your problem isn’t with me but with the original report & you should take up w. Channel 2 how it presented the story. I merely reported what they did. And they certainly emphasized the lethality of the weapon.
I have many problems with ch.2 in general and with their news outlet in particular, but in this case my problem is with you.
They published a fluff report on something (and as someone else pointed out, the majority of the piece was about actual butterflies). You were the one who “merely reported what they did” by saying things like “only in Israel could someone do this” (I hope you realize how ridiculous that claim sounds), by referring mainly to its weaponizing potential and by making it look like these people are crass.
This guy has worked for the IAI for decades and the story lists his background on jet fighters, and as you can see from his reaction, he has no basic problem if this device will be used to kill, regardless of whether or not you call it a “butterfly”. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this was used as a weapon (just like other UAVs can now carry missiles) and I think that is to be expected, based on the circumstances, so I’m not sure if your issue is with the name, with weapons in general or only with Israel having weapons.
So, if you want an answer to your actual question about how he can do this, here’s one possible answer – he doesn’t see it as contradicting. He likes butterflies. He would also like his people to live. And he considers aerial power to be an important factor in ensuring that result. There’s no schism for him, because the fact that he refers to the device as a “butterfly” does not seem wrong to him.
Is that answer correct? I have no idea, as I don’t know the man, but it’s certainly a likely answer.
I take issue with this statement. The people will live with or without these inventions. The question is: is it legal, moral and at all justifiable for a state to kill people based on perceived threat, without due process?
He likes butterflies … But if a butterfly turned to him and told him: “We don’t like the way you, humans, treat us and the environment. We are going to rebel.” What would his reaction be: oppress and kill butterflies because they threaten human existence? or try change human attitude and policies towards the environment?
> I take issue with this statement
Well, to take a page from Richard’s book, your issue isn’t with me. I was simply paraphrasing one imaginary version of Benyamini. It may not apply to him, but it certainly applies to many others.
> The people will live with or without these inventions.
Can you prove that? Are you suggesting that Israel never was in a state of danger of having its citizens die? Or are you perhaps suggesting that if Israel did not have weapons today then its citizens would be perfectly safe? That is a legitimate claim, but one which not many countries would stake their own security on. I know I wouldn’t.
> The question is: is it legal, moral and at all justifiable for a state to kill people based on perceived threat, without due process?
A perfectly valid question, and one which has nothing to do specifically with Israel, nor with the technical details of this machine. I didn’t see anything like that in Richard’s post. For what it’s worth, my imaginary D.B. from above would tell you that it is justifiable in cases where the threat isn’t just perceived, but quite real.
> He likes butterflies … But if a butterfly turned to him and told him: “We don’t like the way you, humans, treat us and the environment. We are going to rebel.”
In the case of my imaginary D.B. He would probably go with your latter option. But if he would perceive the butterflies to say “we don’t like you and we’re going to kill you” (and then actually proceed to do it), he would take the former, for his own security.
Of course, this imaginary D.B. has already been stretched too thin and you could just as easily imagine a D.B. who’s an Arab-hating racist, who also happens to like butterflies.
What if Dubi’s invention rebelled against him because it didn’t want to be used to kill other human beings? That would be fitting wouldn’t it? Too bad killing machines don’t have the capability of moral thought (at least not quite yet).
> Too bad killing machines don’t have the capability of moral thought
That would certainly be an interesting topic for a science fiction book (and was probably already covered, although nothing particular springs to mind at the moment. Asimov’s 0th law of robotics sort-of applies, but it is basically an extension of the other three laws, which are not moral laws, but more safety laws. Data on Star Trek also comes to mind, but in neither case were the machines specifically designed to kill).
Of course, you would have to decide which moral code to give this machine, as your moral code isn’t the same as that of other people or other cultures.
P.S. As a programmer, if one of my programs started doing things I didn’t tell it to do, I would be quite unhappy, but that’s mainly because non-AI computers aren’t supposed to deviate from their instructions.
Yes, you would be unhappy, but if you were attempting to create a machine that had all of the moral faculties & nuances of thought that human beings do, you might actually be proud of the machine’s independent thinking. Though such independence could end badly as in the first science fiction story ever created, the Golem myth.
I was referring to the Jewish people. States, civilizations, armies, wars, etc. come and go, but the people remain. In the history of the Jewish people it wasn’t the warriors but the men of learning and faith who helped us survive. What happened to the Maccabees, the Zealots, the Bar Kochbians? They were all either killed or committed suicide almost took with them to the grave vast numbers of the Jewish people. But people like Yohanan ben Zakai saw us through the hard times and gave rise to a unique tradition of humanism and universalism.
The first thing he should do is fire up his time machine and send the killer butterly back to 2010 to kill those dastardly Japanese researchers who got there first.
Who emphasized the lethality of the drone? Benyamini or the Japanese?
Well, it seems like this guy Dubi is a genius, an enthusiastic inventor. This sort of people are truly proud of their creations and may not care much about whether their invetions can be used to kill or harm others. He is proud that his butterfly will do anything it is commanded to do, without any scruples. However, when these butterflies will start killing people, let’s hope that Dubi will have the same moral courage to protest this as the atomic bomb inventors had when they saw the consequences of their lethal creation.
I find this invention disgusting. Like the dove, the butterfly should be used to represent something peaceful, beautiful and good and not used to inspire the creation of an evil killing gadget.
Nothing is sacred anymore. Israelis have surrounded themselves with paranoia and the trappings of of killing and death.