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Yoram Ettinger

Israel was transformed from a misperceived burden upon the US in 1948 to a unique force-multiplier for the US in 2020: bit.ly/2YAtM48 ... See MoreSee Less

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Yoram Ettinger

US international commitments, including President Trump's Deal of the Century, are characterized by open-endedness, non-specificity and non-automaticity: bit.ly/37PDd2r ... See MoreSee Less

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US-Israel Milestones (from liability to unique asset)

On March 28-30, 2020, the US-Israel air forces conducted a joint F-35 jet training exercise over southern Israel.  It took place while most US joint military maneuvers with allied forces were suspended due to the Covid19 pandemic.

The exercise highlighted the blossoming, mutually-beneficial US-Israel strategic cooperation, which is driven by mutual threats and challenges, such as Iran’s Ayatollahs, Turkey’s Erdogan, ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the need to maintain global technological edge, militarily and commercially.  These threats and challenges significantly transcend the Palestinian issue, which has played a minor role in shaping the Middle East.

While Israel benefits from the unprecedented, multiple capabilities of the US air force, the latter leverages the unique operational experience of the Israeli air force. The Israeli military, in general, and Israel’s air force, in particular, have emerged as the most cost-effective, battle-tested laboratory for the US defense industries (e.g., aircraft manufacturers) and armed forces (e.g., the US air force).

In fact, Israel’s air force battle experience and technological capabilities contributed to the development of the F-35, systematically enhancing its capabilities, by sharing with the US manufacturer operational, maintenance and repair lessons.  This flow of Israeli experience (related to the litany of US military systems employed by Israel) has spared the US defense industries many years of costly research and development, and has advanced US competitiveness in the global market, increasing US exports and expanding the US employment base.

Moreover, the unique combat experience of the Israeli pilots – who always fly within the range of enemies’ radar and missiles – has yielded more daring and innovative battle tactics, which are regularly shared with the US air force.

Israel’s role as a major force-multiplier for the US, is highlighted against the backdrop of European vacillation, the growing ineffectiveness of NATO (No Action Talk Only?) and the intensifying vulnerabilities of all pro-US Arab regimes.

However, Israel was not always perceived as a value-producing, strategic ally, as documented by the following milestones:

*In 1947/48 the State Department, Pentagon and the CIA, along with the NY Times and Washington Post, opposed the establishment of the Jewish State, misperceiving it a burden on US interests. Secretaries George Marshall (State) and James Forrestal (Defense) and the “Wise Men” of Foggy Bottom contended that supporting the establishment of a Jewish State would mean “buying a pig in a poke.” They alleged that a Jewish State would be pro-USSR, overwhelmed militarily by the Arabs, undermine US-Arab relations and jeopardize US access to Persian Gulf oil. They dismissed presidential advisor, Clark Clifford, who asserted that a Jewish State would be a loyal and effective strategic ally of the US.  In July 1950, following Israel’s victory in its War of Independence, the national security establishment rejected a recommendation by General Omar Bradley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to consider Israel a favored strategic partner in the vein of Turkey and Iran: “The Israeli army would be the most effective force south of Turkey, which could be utilized for delaying action [in case of a Soviet invasion]….”

*The assessment of Israel as a strategically non-viable entity was accentuated in 1954-1956, when the US and Britain conceived the Operation Alpha Israel-Arab peace plan, which was based on land sacrifice by Israel, while extending inducements to the Arabs. Accordingly, President Eisenhower, Secretary of State Dulles and Special Presidential Envoy Robert Anderson proposed an Israeli withdrawal from parts of the Negev, creating a territorial link between Egypt and Jordan, a resettlement in Israel of 75,000 Arab refugees, evasive and illusory US security guarantees and trade benefits to Israel, and the establishment of non-belligerence between Israel and Arab countries. The plan was rejected by both Israel and the Arabs.

*The June 1967 War transformed Israel into a most effective power-projecting US beachhead in the Middle East and beyond, extending the strategic hand of the US with no need for additional US troops on the ground. The resounding Israeli victory obliterated the military posture of then radical, pro-Soviet Egypt, aborting an Egyptian drive to become the effective pan-Arab leader (e.g., 70,000 Egyptian soldiers in Yemen, aiming to topple the pro-US Saudi regime), while toppling all pro-US Arab regimes. In 1967, the US was heavily dependent upon the importation of Persian Gulf oil, and the Israeli victory spared the US an economic calamity, while denying the USSR a game-changing regional and global geo-strategic bonus. The battle-tested-laboratory feature of Israel was emphasized by a team of 25 US military experts, who spent three months in Israel, studying Israel’s battle tactics and scrutinizing Soviet military systems captured by Israel.

*In September 1970, Israel’s posture of deterrence – through Israeli troops on the Golan Heights, at the trilateral border of Israel, Syria and Jordan – forced a rollback of a pro-Soviet Syrian invasion of pro-US and militarily inferior Jordan. The aim of the invasion – while the US was preoccupied with the war in Vietnam – was to topple the Hashemite regime in Amman and to activate an anti-US geo-strategic avalanche, consuming the pro-US regimes in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf region.

*Following the October 1973 War, 50 US military experts, headed by General Donn Starry, spent six months studying Israeli battle tactics and scrutinizing captured Soviet military systems. Their lessons upgraded US battle doctrines, tilted the global balance of power in favor of the US, bolstered the US defense of Europe during the Cold War, and improved the competitiveness of the US defense industries.

*The July 4, 1976 Entebbe Operation, spotlighted Israel as a role-model in combatting Islamic terrorism and the unique Israeli counter-terrorism experience, which has been systematically shared with the US special operations forces.

*The 1979 toppling of the Shah of Iran and the rise of Iran’s Ayatollahs, transformed Iran from “the US policeman in the Persian Gulf” to the lead enemy of the US. It has accentuated the role of Israel as the most reliable and effective US outpost in the Middle East and the globe. The 2003 rise of Erdogan to power in Turkey – which used to be a leading strategic ally of the US – further underlined Israel’s unique contributions to US national security.

*The June 7, 1981 Israeli destruction of Iraq’s nuclear reactor was brutally condemned by the US Administration, but it spared the US and the world the option of a nuclear confrontation in the 1991 First Gulf War. The destruction of the Iraqi nuclear reactor also snatched the pro-US Saudis from the jaws of the pro-Soviet Saddam Hussein. In March 2007, Israel destroyed the Syria-North Korea-Iran nuclear reactor, sparing humanity the trauma of a nuclearized civil war in Syria.

*The 1990 disintegration of the USSR transformed the globe from bipolar to multipolar with a proliferation of rogue regimes. While Israel assisted the US during the Cold War, its added-value has grown exponentially in the face of the post-USSR proliferation of rogue Islamic regimes.

*The 2010 eruption of the Arab Tsunami, which is still traumatizing every Arab regime, has stressed Israel’s position as the only stable democratic, militarily and technologically, effective Middle East entity, which shares with the US mutual threats, challenges and values dating back to 1620.

According to Admiral James Stavridis, former NATO Supreme Commander: “…. Our best military partner in the [Middle East], by far, is Israel…. The US would be well served to more fully develop its partnership with the Israel Defense Forces…. Having the US Special Operations Command constantly operating with Israeli commandos would be of enormous benefit to both forces…. It truly is a case of two nations that are unarguably stronger together…”



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The 400th Anniversary of the unique US-Israel Kinship- The Hebrew Language Embraced by US Intelligentsia

Cost of applying Israel law to Judea & Samaria (West Bank)

Mida, https://bit.ly/2D3IB6J

The suggestion that the application of the Israeli law to the Jordan Valley and parts of Judea and Samaria would severely undermine Israeli interests, jeopardize Israel’s peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt and Israel’s overall ties with Arab countries, is divorced from the Israeli track record and Middle East reality.

Israel’s track record

The resurgence of the Jewish State from the ashes of WW2 to global prominence, technologically, scientifically, medically, agriculturally, economically, diplomatically and militarily – despite systematic adverse global pressure and Arab wars and terrorism – has demonstrated that there are no free lunches for independent nations, especially in the Middle East.

For example, in 1948, Prime Minister Ben Gurion, Israel’s Founding Father, did not wait for a green light from the White House, in order to declare independence. He was aware that a declaration of independence would trigger a costly Arab military invasion. The CIA estimated that it could amount to “a second Holocaust.” However, Ben Gurion concluded that achieving a supreme goal was preconditioned upon the willingness to pay a supreme cost. Indeed, the war against the Arab invasion consumed 1% (6,000) of the Jewish population (600,000). Fending off the Arab invasion, Israel expanded its borders by 30%, and would not retreat to the suicidal 1947 lines, despite brutal global (including US) pressure. The pressure on Israel dissipated, but Israel’s buttressed borders were preserved.

In June 1967, Prime Minister Eshkol preempted a planned Egypt-Syria-Jordan joint offensive, in defiance of a strong red light from the White House (“Israel will not be alone unless it decides to go alone”), and despite prominent Israelis who preferred the venue of negotiation and mediation, and predicted a resounding Israeli defeat on the battlefield. Eshkol was aware that Israel’s existence, in the violently intolerant and unpredictable Middle East, required a firm posture of deterrence, which could entail heavy cost. In the aftermath of the war, Eshkol reunited Jerusalem and renewed Jewish presence beyond the 1949/1967 indefensible Green Line, in spite of a very heavy US and global pressure. While the pressure on Israel has subsided, the Jewish presence in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem has surged to 700,000.

In June 1981, Prime Minister Begin ordered the destruction of Iraq’s nuclear reactor, notwithstanding the menacing red light from the White House and the opposition by the Mossad, the IDF Intelligence and additional Israeli defense authorities.  The naysayers were certain that an Israeli attack had a very slim chance of success. They feared that this would trigger a global Islamic assault on Israel; it would produce a European boycott of Israel, would create an irreparable rift with the USA and would doom Israel, economically and diplomatically. Begin decided that sparing Israel a traumatic nuclear assault justified even a traumatic cost.  While the pessimistic assessments crashed on the rocks of reality, the Iraqi nuclear threat was terminated.

In December 1981, Begin applied Israeli law to the Golan Heights, disregarding the brutal US opposition, which included the suspension of a US-Israel strategic accord and the supply of advanced military systems.  While the heavy US sanctions were replaced by an unprecedented US-Israel strategic cooperation, the Golan Heights have become an integral part of the Jewish State.

The aforementioned Israeli Prime Ministers defied international pressure, and therefore were burdened with a short-term loss of global popularity. However, they earned long-term respect for their willingness to defy the odds at severe cost.  Thus, they bolstered Israel’s posture of deterrence, which has played a key role in enhancing Israel’s national security and Israel’s regional/global standing, including its unprecedented military and commercial cooperation with all pro-US Arab countries.

Middle East reality (Israel-Arab relations)

Conventional wisdom is that an Israeli application of its law to the Jordan Valley and parts of Judea and Samaria would threaten the Israel-Jordan and Israel-Egypt peace treaties, and could abort the burgeoning relations between Israel and all Arab Gulf States. Such a school of thought underestimates key Arab national security priorities, which have always transcended the Palestinian issue. It ignores the significant role played by Israel’s posture of deterrence in the national security strategy of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait.

For example, the 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty reflects Jordanian national security priorities, rather than a Jordanian reconciliation with the existence of an “infidel” Jewish State in the “abode of Islam.”

Just like all Arab regimes – and especially since the eruption of the still raging Arab Tsunami in 2010 – the pro-US regime in Amman is highly vulnerable, domestically and regionally.

Irrespective of its pro-Palestinian rhetoric, Jordan’s actions – since 1949 when it occupied Judea and Samaria, while prohibiting Palestinian political activity – have represented the overall Arab view of the Palestinians as a role model of intra-Arab subversion and terrorism.

Jordan’s Hashemite regime considers the proposed Palestinian state a clear and present lethal threat.  At the same time, it considers Israel’s posture of deterrence as its most effective line of defense against lethal threats, domestically (subversion by Palestinians, Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS and hostile southern Bedouin) and externally (Iran’s Ayatollahs, Iraq and Syria).

King Abdullah II is aware of the key role played by Israel’s posture of deterrence in forcing a retreat of the 1970 Syrian invasion of Jordan, when the US was unable to extend military help.

Jordan considers Israel a unique source of intelligence and counter-terrorism assistance. Israel supplies water to the 1.5 million refugees from Syria, provides Jordan with commercial access to the port of Haifa and price-discounted offshore natural gas. Moreover, Israel is the most effective lobby for Jordan in Washington, DC.  In addition, Israel has accorded Jordan a prominent inter-Islamic plum: the custodian of Jerusalem’s Moslem and Christian holy sites.

Is King Abdullah II expected to cut off his nose to spite his face?!

Saudi Arabia and the other Arab Gulf States, as well as Egypt, regard Israel as a most reliable and effective ally in the face of mutual threats, such as Iran’s Ayatollahs, the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, Turkey’s Erdogan and potential tectonic spillovers from Iraq and Syria.

This Saudi-Israel congruence of national security interests eclipses the role played by the Palestinian issue in Riyadh’s order of national priorities. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia appreciates the Israeli technological and potential scientific contribution to its effort to diversify their oil-dependent economy.

In fact, Riyadh considers the proposed Palestinian state a potential rogue regime, siding with its arch enemies. Hence, the effective Saudi opposition (contrary to its rhetoric) to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Thus, the national security concerns of the pro-US Arab countries is advanced by a reinforced Israeli posture of deterrence.  On the other hand, a hesitant, appeasing and retreating Israel, which sacrifices its independence of national security action on the altar of overseas green lights, whets the appetite of terrorists and rogue regimes, which threatens the national security of Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and all other pro-US Arab countries; thus, undermining vital US interests.

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The legacy of Moses and the Exodus in the Abolitionist anti-slavery movement

The 400th Anniversary of the unique US-Israel Kinship- The US Founding Fathers, Moses and the Bible

The 400th Anniversary of the unique US-Israel Kinship- Early pilgrims

The 400th Anniversary of the unique US-Israel Kinship- The Hebrew Language Embraced by US Intelligentsia