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Israel: America’s Ultimate Ally

The Ultimate Ally

The “realists” are wrong: America needs Israel now more than ever.

BY Ambassador MICHAEL OREN | Foreign Policy Magazine, MAY/JUNE 2011

What is the definition of an American ally? On an ideological level, an ally is a country that shares America’s values, reflects its founding spirit, and resonates with its people’s beliefs. Tactically, an ally stands with the United States through multiple conflicts and promotes its global vision. From its location at one strategic crossroads, an ally enhances American intelligence and defense capabilities, and provides ports and training for U.S. forces. Its army is formidable and unequivocally loyal to its democratic government. An ally helps secure America’s borders and assists in saving American lives on and off the battlefield. And an ally stimulates the U.S. economy through trade, technological innovation, and job creation.

Few countries fit this description, but Israel is certainly one of them. As U.S. President Barack Obama told a White House gathering, “The United States has no better friend in the world than Israel,” a statement reflecting the positions of Democrats and Republicans alike. The importance of the U.S.-Israel alliance has been upheld by successive American administrations and consistently endorsed by lawmakers and military leaders. It should be unimpeachable. But for some it is not.

Rather than viewing Israel as a vital American asset, an increasingly vocal group of foreign-policy analysts insists that support for the Jewish state, including more than $3 billion in annual military aid, is a liability. Advocates of this “realist” school claim that the United States derives little strategic benefit from its association with Israel. The alliance, they assert, arises mainly from lobbyists who place Israel’s interests before America’s, rather than from a clearheaded assessment of national needs. Realists regard the relationship one-dimensionally — America gives Israel aid and arms — and view it as the primary source of Muslim anger at the United States. American and Israeli policies toward the peace process, the realists say, are irreconcilable and incompatible with relations between true allies.

By definition, realists seek a foreign policy immune to public sentiment and special interest groups. In this rarefied view, the preferences of the majority of the American people are immaterial or, worse, self-defeating. This would certainly be the case with the U.S.-Israel alliance, which remains outstandingly popular among Americans. Indeed, a Gallup survey this February showed that two out of three Americans sympathize with Israel. Overall, since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — and in spite of Israel’s responses to the second intifada and rocket attacks from Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2008 — support for Israel in the United States has risen, not declined.

The surveys prove that most Americans do not accept the argument that U.S. support for Israel provokes Islamic radicals or do not especially care even if it does. In a Senate hearing last year, Gen. David Petraeus, then head of U.S. Central Command, testified that the Arab-Israeli conflict “challenges … our ability to advance our interests.” Critics of the U.S.-Israel relationship seized on the remark as evidence of the alliance’s prohibitive costs — an interpretation Petraeus strenuously rejected — but the incident wrought no change in popular opinion. In fact, a CNN survey taken later that week showed that eight out of 10 Americans still regarded Israel as an allied or friendly state.

That kind of popular foundation for the Israeli-American alliance is all the more important at a time of great upheaval in the Middle East. As Iran’s malign influence spreads and Turkey turns away from the West, Israel’s strategic value in the region, both to the United States and to pro-Western Arab governments, will surely increase. Following Hezbollah’s recent takeover of Lebanon and the political turmoil in Egypt, Jordan, and the Persian Gulf, Israel is the only Middle Eastern country that is certain to remain stable and unequivocally pro-American. In Israel alone, the United States will not have to choose between upholding its democratic principles and pursuing its vital interests.

And yet, for all their urgency, the close ties between the United States and Israel are hardly new. Their roots extend further than Israel’s creation 63 years ago — rather, they took hold with the Pilgrims’ arrival in North America.

THE FORBEARS WHO LANDED on Plymouth Rock in 1620 considered themselves the founders of a “New Israel.” Committed to studying Hebrew and bridging the Old and New Canaans — the Holy Land and America — they pledged to restore the Jews to their ancestral homeland. Far from peripheral, this “restorationist” movement flourished in colonial America and widely influenced the Founders: Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin wanted the likeness of Moses leading the children of Israel to serve as the Great Seal of the newly independent United States. John Adams wrote that he “really wish[ed] the Jews again in Judea an independent nation.” Abraham Lincoln similarly backed the “noble dream” of a re-created Jewish state, as did Woodrow Wilson, a descendant of Presbyterian ministers, who declared, “To think that I … should be able to help restore the Holy Land to its people.”

America’s commitment to the Zionist movement to create a Jewish state deeply influenced Harry S. Truman. A fervid Baptist and past member of the restorationist American Christian Palestine Committee, Truman made the United States the first nation to recognize Israel on May 14, 1948. None of the predictions of his realist advisors — that recognition would trigger an Arab oil embargo, Europe would fall to the Soviet Union, and Israel would turn communist — became a reality.

The spiritual attachment to the reborn Jewish state has continued to resonate in America, the nation with the highest frequency of church attendance in the industrialized world. Many Americans have also been drawn to the Zionist story of pioneering, hearing in it echoes of their own national narrative. Theodore Roosevelt, who fancied himself a frontiersman, urged that “the Jews be given control of Palestine” and that “a Zionist state around Jerusalem” be created. In a similar vein, Rev. John Haynes Holmes, on talking with Palestinian Jews in 1929, “could think of nothing but the early English settlers who came to the bleak shores of Massachusetts.… Here is the same heroism dedicated to the same ends.”

Israel emerged not only as a Jewish and pioneering state, but also as a democracy. In urging Truman to recognize Israel in 1948, White House counsel Clark Clifford argued that “in an area as unstable as the Middle East … it is important to the long-range security of our country … that a nation committed to the democratic system be established, one on which we can rely.” The fact that Israelis cherished the same values enshrined in the U.S. Constitution — free speech and assembly, respect for individual rights, an independent judiciary — created another layer of affinity with Americans. John F. Kennedy said Israel “carries the shield of democracy and honors the sword of freedom,” and Bill Clinton likened Israel to America, “an oasis of liberty, a home to the oppressed and persecuted.”

While grappling with the challenges posed by its large Arab minority and, since the Six-Day War, the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel has remained the Middle East’s only functional democracy. In a region in which some countries deem homosexuality a capital offense, Israel has hosted gay pride parades and provides shelter for Palestinian homosexuals. And in contrast to the Middle Eastern leaders who hold themselves above the law, a former Israeli president was recently convicted of sexual offenses, the verdict handed down by three judges — two women and an Arab. Withstanding pressures that have crushed many liberal societies, Israel is one of a handful of states that has never experienced interregna of nondemocratic rule.

Americans intrinsically value these facts — and that appreciation is reciprocated in Israel. As there are streets in the United States named for David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir, so, too, can one find Washington and Lincoln streets in Israel. Alone in the Middle East, Israel hosts memorials for Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. and two exact replicas of the Liberty Bell.

STILL, ACCEPTING THE DISPASSIONATE definition of America’s interests, can Israel realistically be considered an ally? Has it traditionally stood by the United States on issues of world importance and in periods of crisis? Is American support for Israel based on calculated estimates of national interests, or is it the product of pressure from richly funded lobbies?

Israel has always sided with the United States on major global issues. At the United Nations and in other international institutions, the two countries’ voting patterns are virtually identical, as are their policies on human rights and international law. Beginning with the Korean conflict and throughout the Cold War, Israel backed America’s military engagements, and it has maintained that support in the struggle with radical Islam. In times of danger, especially, Israel has responded to America’s needs. Acceding to Richard M. Nixon’s request to intervene to save Jordan from Syrian invasion in 1970, Israel mobilized its army, and in 1991, in spite of missile attacks from Iraq, Israel honored George H.W. Bush’s request not to retaliate.

Israel is not, of course, situated in some geographical backwater, but at the junction of paramount American interests. Its prominence on the eastern Mediterranean littoral, at the nexus of North Africa and Southwest Asia, has enabled the United States to minimize its military deployments in the area. In the Persian Gulf, by contrast, the absence of a dependable and sturdy ally like Israel has impelled the United States to commit hundreds of thousands of troops and trillions of dollars. Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig’s observation 30 years ago still resonates today: “Israel is the largest American aircraft carrier in the world that cannot be sunk, does not carry even one American soldier, and is located in a critical region for American national security.”

The strategic synergy between the United States and Israel melds into tactical realities. U.S. troops train with their Israel Defense Forces (IDF) counterparts in aerial combat and special operations. U.S. Navy ships routinely dock in Haifa, Air Force planes refuel at Israeli bases, and the Marines will soon use an Israeli laser to pinpoint targets. In addition to pre-positioning $800 million of arms and medical equipment in Israel, the United States guarantees by law its commitment to preserving Israel’s “qualitative military edge,” enabling the Jewish state to defend itself, by itself, against Middle Eastern adversaries. As Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro put it, “Israel is a vital ally and a cornerstone of our regional security commitments,” and, accordingly, the two countries have developed the world’s most advanced anti-ballistic missiles. Together with the X-band radar station in the Negev — manned by the first American troops deployed permanently on Israeli soil — these systems can protect friendly nations from Iranian rockets.

In the intelligence field, in particular, the cooperation between Israel and the United States is vast. According to Maj. Gen. George J. Keegan Jr., former head of U.S. Air Force intelligence, America’s military defense capability “owes more to the Israeli intelligence input than it does to any single source of intelligence,” the worth of which input, he estimated, exceeds “five CIAs.” Israeli and American intelligence agencies continuously exchange information, analyses, and operational experience in counterterrorism and counterproliferation. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and its Israeli counterpart also share technical know-how in defending ports and terminals from terrorist attacks, countering unconventional weapons and cyberthreats, and combating the drug trade. On the battlefield, Israeli armament protects Bradley and Stryker units from rocket-propelled grenades, while Israeli-made drones and reconnaissance devices surveil hostile territory. U.S. fighter aircraft and helicopters incorporate Israeli concepts and components, as do modern-class U.S. warships. The IDF has furnished U.S. forces with its expertise in the detection and neutralization of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the largest cause of American casualties.

Israel not only enhances America’s defenses — it also saves American lives. A kibbutz-based company in the Galilee has provided armor for more than 20,000 U.S. military vehicles. “Two days ago, my patrol was ambushed by insurgents using 7.62mm PKM Machineguns,” David C. Cox, a platoon sergeant in Iraq, wrote the manufacturers. “None of the rounds penetrated the armor of the vehicle, including one that would have impacted with my head.” Marine gunner Joshua Smith, whose Israeli-armored vehicle tripped an IED near Marja, Afghanistan, described how his unit “walked away smiling, laughing, and lived to fight another day.” Military medical experts from both countries also meet annually to discuss advances in combat care. One such breakthrough was a coagulating bandage, the brainchild of a Jerusalem start-up company, a million of which have been supplied to U.S. forces (and even applied by a Tucson SWAT team medic to stanch the life-threatening head wound of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords).

In return for its aid to Israel, the United States receives not only an armed but an innovative ally, enhancing America’s military edge. That contribution is real and requires no lobbyists to fabricate it. While organizations such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) press Israel’s case in government and in popular forums, they represent American citizens who view the alliance with Israel as a national American interest. By contrast, the lobbyists for the Arab states and their domestic oil industries represent foreign interests. The hundreds of millions of dollars they have spent on lobbying and public relations campaigns and donations to influential universities such as Harvard and Georgetown have vastly exceeded the budgets of Israel’s advocates in Washington.

Pro-Israel groups neither determine America’s course in the Middle East nor derail it. Responding to the realists’ charge that a so-called Israel Lobby exerts undue influence over American policies, White House Middle East special advisor Dennis Ross wrote in this magazine that “never in the time that I led the American negotiations on the Middle East peace process did we take a step because ‘the lobby’ wanted us to. Nor did we shy away from one because ‘the lobby’ opposed it.” A 30-year veteran of Middle East diplomacy, Ross concluded that pro-Israel groups “don’t distort U.S. policy or undermine American interests.”

Understandably, the most sober assessment of American interests is conducted by the U.S. military. The alliance with Israel, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen told Congress in March, “is of extraordinary value.” Israel, according to America’s highest-ranking officer, is “absolutely critical” to U.S. national security.

ISRAEL IS AMONG THE FEW COUNTRIES in the world — and the only Middle Eastern state — to consistently stand alongside the United States on strategic issues. But the U.S.-Israel relationship is far from one-dimensional. The two countries also cooperate in a broad range of nonmilitary fields — humanitarian, commercial, and scientific.

Close coordination with the United States enabled Israeli medical teams to arrive first on the scene in earthquake-devastated Haiti. They similarly assisted the victims of Turkish and Indonesian quakes and of famines in Somalia, Mauritania, and Kenya. Together with the U.S. Agency for International Development, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation has trained more than 200,000 people from Africa, South America, and Asia in fields as diverse as agrobusiness and ophthalmology. Since 1985, American and Israeli scientists have jointly consulted for developing countries on public health and women’s issues.

Israel also assists the American people by stimulating trade, spurring technological innovation, and creating jobs. Despite a population of just 7.7 million people, Israel is America’s 20th-largest customer in the world, surpassing Russia and Spain. Warren Buffett’s first foreign investment was a $4 billion stake in Iscar, an Israeli tool manufacturer. “I believe in the Israeli market and the Israeli economy,” Buffett explained. Between 2000 and 2009, direct U.S. investment in Israel totaled $77.2 billion, while Israelis invested $51.4 billion in the United States. More than 25 years ago, America’s very first free trade agreement was signed — with Israel.    

Google, Microsoft, IBM, Intel, AOL, and Motorola are just some of the high-tech companies with major research and development operations in Israel. In addition to providing software and hardware for most American computers and mobile phones, Israel also pioneered the USB flash drive, the ingestible microcamera, advances in drip irrigation, and the portable MRI. Through Better Place, the world’s first comprehensive electric-car system, Israel is poised to help Obama achieve his goal of placing 1 million electric vehicles on America’s roads by 2015. “It’s no exaggeration to say that the kind of innovation going on in Israel is critical to the future of the technology business,” observed Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates on a 2005 visit to Israel. After the United States and China, Israel is the most represented country on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

And at a time when American corporations are outsourcing to Asia, Israel is outsourcing to the United States: Tens of thousands of Americans are employed by Teva, the world’s leading generic-drug producer, and by dozens of Israeli high-tech, textile, and defense plants throughout the United States. The nearly 6,000 projects mounted by three U.S.-Israel foundations have generated myriad American jobs, as does the $3 billion in American military aid to Israel, $2.25 billion of which is spent in the United States.

IN SPITE OF THE OVERWHELMING ADVANTAGES of the U.S.-Israel alliance, the realists still insist that it stokes Muslim rage and renders Americans more vulnerable to terrorism. To substantiate their claim, the realists quote Osama bin Laden as well as the state-controlled Middle Eastern media. But bin Laden initially justified his attacks on America’s profligacy and only later, after his setbacks in Afghanistan, linked them to Israel. An influential Saudi Wahhabi book published online describes the United States as “the source of evil, moral corruption, oppression, despotism, and aggression … in the world” and makes no mention of Israel. Neither do recently published diplomatic papers from the Middle East or most of the demonstrations that have convulsed the region.

The official U.S. documents released by WikiLeaks show that Arab rulers are not preoccupied with Israel but with the perils posed by Iran. One report recounted Saudi King Abdullah urging the United States to “cut off the head of the snake” — Iran — and to attack the country’s nuclear facilities at once. Bahrain’s king warned that “the danger of letting [the Iranian nuclear program] go on is greater than the danger of stopping it.” The word “Israel” does not appear.

Middle Eastern populations, meanwhile, have shown that they, too, are less concerned with Israel than with urgent issues at home. When able to express themselves freely, they have preferred to focus on political rights and economic opportunity. Conspicuously absent from the protests that swept the region in 2011 were burning Israeli — or American — flags or any reference to the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Although emerging Arab governments might in the future — as in the past — seek to gain legitimacy by harnessing anti-Israeli sentiment, the claim that American support for the Jewish state axiomatically translates into anti-Americanism in the Middle East is no longer sustainable.

***

Israel is America’s staunchest ally in the Middle East, but even the warmest friendships are never disagreement-free. This was certainly the case with the Anglo-American relationship during World War II, modern history’s most celebrated alliance, but one that was riven by disputes over military planning and postwar arrangements.

The United States and Israel could not, therefore, realistically be expected to concur on all of the Middle East’s labyrinthine issues. Ronald Reagan, for example, condemned Israel’s attack on an Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, and Israel objected to his sale of advanced jets to Saudi Arabia.

The realists say that the gaps between Israeli and American policies on the peace process are unbridgeable. The United States, they maintain, is committed to creating a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Israel allegedly opposes these goals and thwarts them by building in those areas.

But historically, progress in the peace process has been directly related to the strengthening of America’s alliance with Israel. That bond convinced Arab rulers that they had no conventional military option against Israel and fortified Israelis to make the concessions necessary for peace. American security assurances — including guarantees of continued oil supplies from Sinai and the replacement of evacuated air bases — enabled Israel to withdraw from an area three times its size and to conclude the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt.

The realists ignore or dismiss this linkage, as they do Israel’s record of seeking peace. In the euphoric aftermath of the Six-Day War, Israeli leaders offered to create a West Bank Palestinian state, but Palestinian leaders rejected the plan. Israel in 2000 offered the Palestinians sovereignty over virtually the entire West Bank, all of Gaza, and part of Jerusalem, but the Palestinians refused the deal and instead killed more than 1,000 Israelis in terrorist attacks. In 2005, Israel provided the Palestinians with the chance to create a peaceful prototype in Gaza, but it quickly devolved into a launching pad for thousands of rockets. In spite of these traumas, a significant majority of Israelis — 66 percent, when recently asked by the Tel Aviv University Peace Index — still favor the two-state solution, testifying to their commitment to peace.

Settlements, meanwhile, have never been the impediment to peace. They did not preclude the signing of the Egyptian and Jordanian treaties or 16 years of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Israel uprooted all 21 settlements in Gaza and received war, not peace. Later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu froze West Bank construction for an unprecedented 10 months, but the Palestinians still refused to negotiate. Internal Palestinian documents published recently by Al Jazeera reveal that Palestinian negotiators in 2008 were willing to concede the bulk of the Israeli communities in the West Bank, as well as most of the Jewish neighborhoods built over the 1967 line in Jerusalem, as part of a peace arrangement. Israeli leaders were ready to sign; the Palestinians again walked away.

Blind to Israel’s record of peacemaking, the realists also overlook the broad confluence of American and Israeli policies toward the process. Both insist that there is no alternative to direct negotiation

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Demography

2024 artificially inflated Palestinian demography

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
March 25, 2024

Palestinian demographic numbers are highly-inflated, as documented by a study, which has audited the Palestinian data since 2004.  For example:

*500,000 Arabs, who have been away for over a year, are included in the census, contrary to international regulations. 325,000 were included in the 1997 census, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, and 400,000 in 2005, according to the Palestinian Election Commission. The number grows steadily due to births.

*350,000 East Jerusalem Arabs are doubly-counted – by Israel and by the Palestinian Authority. The number grows steadily due to births.

*Over 150,000 Arabs, who married Israeli Arabs are similarly doubly counted. The number expands steadily due to births.   

*A 413,000 net-emigration (since the 1997 first Palestinian census) is ignored by the Palestinian census, overlooking the annual net-emigration since 1950. A 23,445 net-emigration in 2022 and a 20,000 annual average in recent years have been documented by Israel’s Population and Migration Authority in all international passages.  

*A 32% artificial inflation of Palestinian births was documented by the World Bank (page 8, item 6) in a 2006 audit.

*The Judea & Samaria Arab fertility rate has been westernized: from 9 births per woman in the 1960s to 2.9 births in 2022 (In Jordan – similar to Judea & Samaria), reflecting the sweeping urbanization, a growing female enrollment in higher education, rising marriage age and the rising use of contraceptives.

*The number of deaths is under-reported for political and financial reasons.

*The aforementioned artificial inflation of 1.7 million documents a population of 1.55 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria, not the official 3.25 million. In 2024: a 69% Jewish majority in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel, benefitting from a tailwind of fertility and net-immigration, while Arab demography is westernized. In 1947 and 1897: a 39% and 9% Jewish minority.
No Arab demographic time bomb; but, a Jewish demographic momentum. More data in these articles and this short video.

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Iran

FBI Director Chris Wray defies the State Department on Iran

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel initiative”
June 17, 2024

FBI Director Chris Wray’s position on Islamic terrorism/Iran

FBI Director, Chris Wray reiterated – during his June 4, 2024 Senate testimony and April 11, 2024 House testimony – his warning of an October 7-like terrorism on the US soil:

“We have seen the threat from foreign terrorists rise to a whole another level after the October 7 [Hamas terrorism]….Increasingly concerning is the potential for a coordinated attack here in the [US] homeland, akin to the ISIS attack we saw at the Russia Concert Hall in March, 2024 [137 murdered, 180 wounded]…. Nations such as the PRC, Russia and Iran are becoming more aggressive and more capable than ever before.  These nations seek to undermine our core democratic, economic and scientific institutions….

“We are in an environment where the threats from international terrorism, domestic terrorism and state sponsored terrorism are all simultaneously elevated…. We are paying heightened attention to how the events abroad could directly affect and inspire people to commit violence here in the homeland….

“Our top concern stems from lone offenders inspired by the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, as they pose the most likely threat to Americans.  In recent years, there have been several events in the US that were purportedly motivated, at least in part, by the Israel-Hamas conflict….

Iran and its global proxies and partners, including Iraqi Shia militant groups, attack and plot against the US and our allies throughout the Middle East.  Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force has also provided support to terrorist organizations. And, Iran has supported Lebanese Hezbollah and other terrorist groups. Hezbollah has sent operatives to build terrorist infrastructure worldwide [including in Latin America all the way to the US-Mexico border]. The arrests of individuals in the US allegedly linked to Hezbollah’s main overseas terrorist arm, and their intelligence-collection and procurement efforts, demonstrate Hezbollah’s interest in long-term contingency planning activities here in the homeland….

“We continue to see the drug cartels [which intensely collaborate with Iran’s Ayatollahs and Hezbollah, that supply them predator unmanned aerial vehicles and tunnel construction equipment] push fentanyl and other dangerous drugs into every corner of the country, claiming countless American lives….

“Since October 7, we have seen a rogue gallery of foreign terrorist organizations call for attacks against Americans and our allies…. Our most immediate concern has been that [terrorists] will draw twisted inspiration from the events in the Middle East to carry out attacks here at home….”

The FBI Director Wray’s April 11 and June 4 testimonies followed his alarming testimonies on October 31, 2023 and on November 15, 2023, in the Senate and House Homeland Security Committees.

FBI Director Wray vs. Secretary of State Blinken

*FBI Director Chris Wray recognizes that the October 7, 2023 Hamas terrorism is relevant to the US homeland security, and that Israel’s war on Hamas supports the US’ war on Islamic terrorism. Unlike Director Wray, Secretary of State Blinken has assumed the role of an “honest broker,” ignoring the US-allied role of Israel and the US-enemy role of Hamas, a proxy of Iran’s Ayatollahs and a branch of the Moslem Brotherhood, the largest anti-US Sunni terrorist organization.

*FBI Director Wray considers Iran’s Ayatollahs and their Islamic terror proxies, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, as a clear and present threat to the US homeland security. He is aware of their intensified collaboration with the drug cartels in Mexico, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador and Brazil, as well as with Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and all other anti-US governments in Latin America, the US’ soft underbelly. In contrast, Secretary of State Blinken – true to his multilateralist UN-oriented worldview – has approached Iran’s Ayatollahs as a diplomatic challenge, opposing the options of regime change, and refraining from establishing a potent military threat hovering above the head of the Ayatollahs.

*FBI Director Wray realizes that Iran’s Ayatollahs are the chief epicenter of Hamas, Hezbollah and other components of the global anti-US Islamic terrorism, in addition to the Ayatollahs’ role as the main anti-US drug trafficker, money launderer and proliferator of advanced military systems. However, irrespective of the Ayatollahs’ rogue anti-US track record, Secretary Blinken refrains from defining Iran as a terrorist-state, viewing the Ayatollahs as partners in good-faith negotiations.

*FBI Director Chris Wray is aware that Iran’s Ayatollahs, and other anti-US Islamic terrorists, are driven by a 1,400-year-old fanatical and imperialistic ideology, which aims to bring the “infidel US” to submission. He is convinced that Islamic terrorism should be addressed by national security means, and not via gestures and concessions, which are perceived by terrorists as terror-inducing weakness. On the other hand, Secretary Blinken believes that Islamic terrorism is despair-driven, and therefore, should be addressed via substantial diplomatic and financial gestures, notwithstanding the fact that terrorists bite the hands that feed them (e.g., Iran’s Ayatollahs terrorize the US, which facilitated their rise to power; the Mujahideen’s terrorize the US, which helped them expel the Soviet military from Afghanistan; Libyan Islamic terrorists lynched US diplomats, notwithstanding the US-led NATO military offensive, which helped them topple Gadhafi; etc.).   

*Will the mounting threat of anti-US Islamic terrorism, and the volcanic Middle East reality, cause Secretary Blinken to reassess his position on Iran’s Ayatollahs, Hamas and other forms of Islamic terrorism, by avoiding rather than continuing to repeat critical mistakes, which have undermined the national security and homeland security of the US?

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Judea & Samaria

Secretary Blinken on settlements – vindicated by facts?

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
February 27, 2024

Secretary of State Antony Blinken represents conventional wisdom when claiming that “It’s been longstanding US policy… that new settlements are… inconsistent with international law.”

However, conventional wisdom is frequently demolished by the march of facts

For instance:

*According to Prof. Eugene Rostow, who was the co-author of the November 22, 1967 UN Security Council Resolution 242, served as Undersecretary of State and was the Dean of Yale University Law School: “Jews have the same right to settle in the West Bank as they have in Haifa.”

*According to UN Resolution 242, Israel is required to withdraw from territories, not the territories, nor from all the territories, but some of the territories, which included Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights.  Moreover, according to Prof. Rostow, “resolutions calling for withdrawal from all the territories were defeated in the Security Council and the General Assembly…. Israel was not to be forced back to the fragile and vulnerable [9-15 mile-wide] lines… but to secure and recognized boundaries, agreed to by the parties…. In making peace with Egypt in 1979, Israel withdrew from the entire Sinai… [which amounts to] more than 90% of the territories occupied in 1967….”

*Former President of the International Court of Justice, Judge Stephen M. Schwebel, stated: “Between Israel, acting defensively in 1948 and 1967 (according to Article 52 of the UN Charter), on the one hand, and her Arab neighbors, acting aggressively in 1948 and 1967, on the other, Israel has better title in the territory of what was [British Mandate] Palestine…. It follows that modifications of the 1949 armistice lines among those States within former Palestinian territory are lawful…. [The 1967] Israeli conquest of territory was defensive rather than aggressive… [as] indicated by Egypt’s prior closure of the Straits of Tiran, blockade of the Israeli port of Eilat, and the amassing of [Egyptian] troops in Sinai, coupled with its ejection of the UN Emergency Force…[and] Jordan’s initiated hostilities against Israel…. The 1948 Arab invasion of the nascent State of Israel further demonstrated that Egypt’s seizure of the Gaza Strip, and Jordan’s seizure and subsequent annexation of the West Bank and the old city of Jerusalem, were unlawful….” 

*The legal status of Judea and Samaria is embedded in the following 4 authoritative, binding, internationally-ratified documents, which recognize the area for what it has been: the cradle of Jewish history, culture, language, aspirations and religion.

(I) The November 2, 1917 Balfour Declaration, issued by Britain, calling for “the establishment in Palestine (a synonym to the Land of Israel) of a national home for the Jewish people….”
(II) The April 24, 1920 resolution, by the post-First World War San Remo Peace Conference of the Allied Powers Supreme Council, entrusted both sides of the Jordan River to the British Mandate for Palestine, for the reestablishment of the Jewish Commonwealth: “the Mandatory will be responsible for putting into effect the [Balfour] declaration originally made on November 2, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” It was one of over 20 Mandates (trusteeships) established following WW1, responsible for the boundaries of most Arab countries.
(III) The July 24, 1922 Mandate for Palestine was ratified by the Council of the League of Nations, entrusted Britain to establish a Jewish state in the entire area west of the Jordan River, as demonstrated by its 6th article: “[to] encourage… close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands….” The Mandate was dedicated exclusively to Jewish national rights, while guaranteeing the civic rights of all other religious and ethnic groups. On July 23, 1923, the Ottoman Empire signed the Treaty of Lausanne, which included the Mandate for Palestine.  
(IV) The October 24, 1945 Article 80 of the UN Charter incorporated the Mandate for Palestine into the UN Charter.  Accordingly, the UN or any other entity cannot transfer Jewish rights in Palestine – including immigration and settlement – to any other party. According to Article 80 of the UN Charter and the Mandate for Palestine, the 1967 war of self-defense returned Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria to its legal owner, the Jewish state.  Legally and geo-strategically the rules of “belligerent occupation” do not apply Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria, since they are not “foreign territory,” and Jordan did not have a legitimate title over the West Bank.  Moreover, the rules of “belligerent occupation” do not apply in view of the 1994 Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty. The 1950-67 Jordanian occupation of Judea and Samaria violated international law and was recognized only by Britain and Pakistan.

*The 1949 4th Geneva Convention prohibits the forced transfer of populations to areas previously occupied by a legitimate sovereign power. However, Israel has not forced Jews to settle in Judea and Samaria, and Jordan’s sovereignty there was never legal.

*The November 29, 1947 UN General Assembly Partition Resolution 181 was a recommendation, lacking legal stature, superseded by the Mandate for Palestine. The 1949 Armistice (non-peace) Agreements between Israel and its neighbors delineated “non-territorial boundaries.”   

*The term “Palestine” was a Greek and then a Roman attempt (following the 135 CE Jewish rebellion) to eradicate Jews and Judaism from human memory. It substituted “Israel, Judea and Samaria” with “Palaestina,” a derivative of the Philistines, an arch enemy of the Jewish people, whose origin was not in Arabia, but in the Greek Aegian islands.    

*The aforementioned march of facts demonstrates that Secretary Blinken’s conventional wisdom on the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria is based on gross misperceptions and misrepresentations, which fuels infidelity to law, undermining the pursuit of peace.

*More on the legality of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria in this article by George Mason University Law School Prof. Eugene Kontrovich.

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Jerusalem

United Jerusalem – a shared US-Israel legacy and interest

US departure from the recognition of a United Jerusalem as the exclusive capital of the Jewish State, and the site of the US Embassy to Israel, would be consistent with the track record of the State Department, which has been systematically wrong on Middle East issues, such as its opposition to the establishment of the Jewish State; stabbing the back of the pro-US Shah of Iran and Mubarak of Egypt, and pressuring the pro-US Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, while courting the anti-US Ayatollahs of Iran, Saddam Hussein, Arafat, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and the Houthis of Yemen; transforming Libya into a platform of global Islamic terrorism and civil wars; etc..

However, such departure would violate US law, defy a 3,000 year old reality – documented by a litany of archeological sites and a multitude of documents from Biblical time until today – spurn US history and geography, and undermine US national and homeland security.

United Jerusalem and the US law

Establishing a US Consulate General in Jerusalem – which would be a de facto US Embassy to the Palestinian Authority – would violate the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which became US law on November 8, 1995 with substantially more than a veto-override majority on Capitol Hill.

According to the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which enjoys massive support among the US population and, therefore, in both chambers of Congress:

“Jerusalem should remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected….

“Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the state of Israel; and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem….

“In 1990, Congress unanimously adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 106, which declares that Congress ‘strongly believes that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected….’

“In 1992, the United States Senate and House of Representatives unanimously adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 113… to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, and reaffirming Congressional sentiment that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city….

“In 1996, the state of Israel will celebrate the 3,000th anniversary of the Jewish presence in Jerusalem since King David’s entry….

“The term ‘United States Embassy’ means the offices of the United States diplomatic mission and the residence of the United States chief of mission.”

United Jerusalem and the legacy of the Founding Fathers

The US Early Pilgrims and Founding Fathers were inspired – in their unification of the 13 colonies – by King David’s unification of the 12 Jewish tribes into a united political entity, and establishing Jerusalem as the capital city, which did not belong to any of the tribes (hence, Washington, DC does not belong to any state). King David entered Jerusalem 3,000 years before modern day US presidents entered the White House and 2,755 years before the US gained its independence.

The impact of Jerusalem on the US founders of the Federalist Papers, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Federalist system and overall civic life is reflected by the existence, in the US, of 18 Jerusalems (4 in Maryland; 2 in Vermont, Georgia and New York; and 1 in Ohio, Michigan, Arkansas, North Carolina, Alabama, Utah, Rhode Island and Tennessee), 32 Salems (the original Biblical name of Jerusalem) and many Zions (a Biblical synonym for Jerusalem and the Land of Israel).  Moreover, in the US there are thousands of cities, towns, mountains, cliffs, deserts, national parks and streets bearing Biblical names.

The Jerusalem reality and US interests

Recognizing the Jerusalem reality and adherence to the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act – and the subsequent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the site of the US Embassy to Israel – bolstered the US posture of deterrence in defiance of Arab/Islamic pressure and threats.

Contrary to the doomsday assessments by the State Department and the “elite” US media – which have been wrong on most Middle East issues – the May 2018 implementation of the 1995 law did not intensify Palestinian, Arab and Islamic terrorism. State Department “wise men” were equally wrong when they warned that Israel’s 1967 reunification of Jerusalem would ignite a worldwide anti-Israel and anti-US Islamic volcanic eruption.

Adherence to the 1995 law distinguishes the US President, Congress and most Americans from the state of mind of rogue regimes and terror organizations, the anti-US UN, the vacillating Europe, and the cosmopolitan worldview of the State Department, which has systematically played-down the US’ unilateral, independent and (sometimes) defiant national security action.

On the other hand, US procrastination on the implementation of the 1995 law – by Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama – eroded the US posture of deterrence, since it was rightly perceived by the world as appeasement in the face of pressure and threats from Arab/Muslim regimes and terrorists.  As expected, it radicalized Arab expectations and demands, failed to advance the cause of Israel-Arab peace, fueled Islamic terrorism, and severely undermined US national and homeland security. For example, blowing up the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and murdering 224 persons in August 1998; blowing up the USS Cole destroyer in the port of Aden and murdering 17 US sailors in October 2000; the 9/11 Twin Towers massacre, etc.

Jerusalem and Israel’s defiance of US pressure

In 1949, President Truman followed Secretary of State Marshall’s policy, pressuring Israel to refrain from annexing West Jerusalem and to accept the internationalization of the ancient capital of the Jewish people.

in 1950, in defiance of brutal US and global pressure to internationalize Jerusalem, Prime Minister David Ben Gurion reacted constructively by proclaiming Jerusalem the capital of the Jewish State, relocating government agencies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and settling tens of thousands of Olim (Jewish immigrants to Israel) in Jerusalem. He upgraded the transportation infrastructure to Jerusalem, erected new Jewish neighborhoods along the 1949 cease fire lines in Jerusalem, and provided the city land reserves for long-term growth.

In 1953, Ben Gurion rebuffed President Eisenhower’s pressure – inspired by Secretary of State Dulles – to refrain from relocating Israel’s Foreign Ministry from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In 1967, President Johnson followed the advice of Secretary of State Rusk – who opposed Israel’s 1948 Declaration of Independence – highlighting the international status of Jerusalem, and warned Israel against the reunification of Jerusalem and construction in its eastern section. Prime Minister Levi Eshkol adopted Ben Gurion’s statesmanship, fended off the US pressure, reunited Jerusalem, built the first Jerusalem neighborhood beyond the 1949 ceasefire lines, Ramat Eshkol, in addition to the first wave of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria (West Bank), the Jordan Valley and the Golan Heights.

In 1970, President Nixon collaborated with Secretary of State Rogers, attempting to repartition Jerusalem, pressuring Israel to relinquish control of Jerusalem’s Holy Basin, and to stop Israel’s plans to construct additional neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem.  However, Prime Minister Golda Meir refused to rescind the reunification of Jerusalem, and proceeded to lay the foundation for additional Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the 1949 ceasefire lines: Gilo, Ramot Alon, French Hill and Neve’ Yaakov, currently home to 150,000 people.

In 1977-1992, Prime Ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir defied US and global pressure, expanding construction in Jerusalem, sending a clear message: “Jerusalem is the exclusive and non-negotiable capital of Israel!”

“[In 1978], at the very end of [Prime Minister Begin’s] successful Camp David talks with President Jimmy Carter and President Anwar Sadat, literally minutes before the signing ceremony, the American president had approached [Begin] with ‘Just one final formal item.’ Sadat, said the president, was asking that Begin put his signature to a simple letter committing him to place Jerusalem on the negotiating table of the final peace accord.  ‘I refused to accept the letter, let alone sign it,’ rumbled Begin. ‘If I forgot thee O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning,’ said [Begin] to the president of the United States of America, ‘and may my tongue cleave to my mouth’ (The Prime Ministers – An Intimate Portrait of Leaders of Israel, 2010)”

In 2021, Prime Minister Bennett should follow in the footsteps of Israel’s Founding Father, Ben Gurion, who stated: “Jerusalem is equal to the whole of the Land of Israel. Jerusalem is not just a central Jewish settlement. Jerusalem is an invaluable global historical symbol. The Jewish People and the entire world shall judge us in accordance with our steadfastness on Jerusalem (“We and Our Neighbors,” p. 175. 1929).”

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Jewish Holidays

Shavou’ot (Pentecost) guide for the perplexed, 2024

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
June 9, 2024

More on Jewish holidays: Smashwords, Amazon

1. Shavou’ot (June 11-12, 2024) and the Land of Israel

*Shavou’ot commemorates the receipt of the Torah (the Five Books of Moses). It is one of the three liberty-driven Jewish pilgrimages to Jerusalem:  Passover, Shavou’ot (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Tabernacles). It documents the critical linkage between Judaism, the Land of Israel and the Jewish people. These pilgrimages constitute central milestones in the formation of Jewish history and the 4,000-year-old Jewish roots in the Land of Israel.

*Shavou’ot is an historical, national, agricultural and a spiritual extension of Passover. Passover highlights the physical liberty from slavery in Egypt; Shavou’ot highlights spiritual liberty, embracing the values of the Five Books of Moses, the Ten Commandments and The Ethics of our Fathers (Pirkey Avot). Therefore, the eve of Shavou’ot is dedicated to an all-night study of Jewish values.

*Shavou’ot is also called the Holiday of the Harvest (Bikoorim in Hebrew), since it concludes the harvesting season, which starts during Passover.

*Shavou’ot commemorates the 40 years of the Exodus, which entailed tough challenges on the road to the Land of Israel, forging the state-of-mind of the Jewish people and the Jewish State. 

*Shavou’ot means “weeks” in Hebrew and its root is identical to the root of the Hebrew word for “vows” (שבע), which is the same word for “seven.” It documents the seven weeks between Passover (the Exodus) and Shavou’ot.

*Shavou’ot highlights the prerequisites for a secure Land of Israel: the willingness to sustain blood, sweat and tears; faith and principle-driven tenacity in the face of severe odds; the steeper the hurdle, the more critical is the mission; crises are opportunities in disguise.

2. Shavou’ot’s impact on the formation of the US

*The holiday of Shavou’ot commemorates the legacy of Moses, which had a significant impact on the Early Pilgrims and the Founding Fathers, and the formation of the US culture, civic life, the federal system (e.g., the Separation of Powers), the US Revolution, The Federalist Papers, the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. 

  • *The Liberty Bell and the Abolitionist Movement were inspired by the Biblical concept of Jubilee – the role model of Biblical liberty – which is a cardinal component of the Mosaic legacy. The essence of the Jubilee is engraved on the Liberty Bell: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land and unto all the inhabitants thereof (Leviticus 25:10).”
  • *The Liberty Bell was installed in Philadelphia in 1752, 50years following William Penn’s Charter of Privileges, and eventually inspiring the 50 States in the union. According to the Biblical Jubilee, all slaves must be released, and land must be returned to the original proprietors every 50 years. Shavou’ot is celebrated 50 days following Passover, and Pentecost – a derivative of the Greek word for 50 – is celebrated 50 days following Easter.  According to Judaism, there are 50 gates of wisdom, studied during the 50 days between Passover and Shavou’ot.
  • 3. The Scroll of Ruth (Honor thy mother in-law…)
  • Shavou’ot spotlights the Scroll of Ruth, the first of the five Biblical scrolls, which are studied during five Jewish holidays: Ruth (Shavou’ot), Song of Songs (Passover), Ecclesiastes (Sukkot/Tabernacles), Book of Lamentations (the Ninth day of Av), Esther (Purim).
  • *Ruth was a Moabite Princess, who joined the Jewish people, and became the great grandmother of King David. She was a role model of loyalty to her Jewish mother in-law. Ruth is exemplary of humility, gratitude, responsibility, reliability, faith, optimism and respect of fellow human beings. Ruth stuck by her mother-in-law, Naomi, during Naomi’s roughest time, when she lost her husband, Elimelech (a President of the Tribe of Judah), two sons and property.
  • *The stature of Ruth reflects the centrality of Biblical women: the four Matriarchs: Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel; Yocheved, Miriam and Tziporah, the mother, older sister and the wife of Moses; Deborah the Prophetess, Judge and military leader; Hannah, the mother of Samuel the Prophet; Queen Esther and Yael, who delivered the Jewish people from potential oblivion; etc.  
  • The Scroll of Ruth took place in the Judean Desert (in Judea and Samaria), the cradle of Jewish history, religion, culture, language and ethnicity.

4. The Ethics of the Fathers  (Pirkey Avot in Hebrew)

It is customary to study – from Passover through Shavou’ot – the six brief chapters of The Ethics of the Fathers, one of the 63 tractates of the Mishnah (the Oral Torah) – a compilation of common-sense values, ethical and moral teachings, which underline key inter-personal relationships. For example:

“Who is respected? He who respects other persons!”
“Who is a wise person? He who learns from all other persons!”
“Who is wealthy? He who is satisfied with his own share!”
“Who is a hero? He who controls his urge!”
“Talk sparsely and walk plenty;”
“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?”
“Don’t be consumed with the flask, but with its content.”
“Conditional love is tenuous; unconditional love is eternal.”
“Treat every person politely.”
“Jealousy, lust and the obsession with fame warp one’s mind.”

5. Jubilee/Constitution. Shavou’ot has seven names: The holiday of the Jubilee; the holiday of the harvest; the holiday of the giving of the Torah; Shavou’ot; the holiday of offerings; the Rally and the Assembly (Constitution).

More on Shavou’ot and additional Jewish holidays: Smashwords, Amazon

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