So, it's Israel's 60th birthday.....
It seems to be fashionable this time for lots of people to wonder in print and aloud whether the country can survive...or if it should.
Especially in view of a very well funded effort to rewrite history and to delegitimize the US/Israel relationship. To hear some of these people, Israel is at the heart of the problems we have with the Muslim world, and things would be just fine if we became more 'balanced'...or translated, became more pro-Arab and curtailed our support for those pushy, stubborn Jews.
To hear others, Israel can't survive unless it pushes itself into an indefensible enclave and makes even more real estate in the Middle East Jew free, and perhaps not even then. They've forgotten that Israel has beaten much greater odds in the past. Nor do they see the grim irony in encouraging a retreat to borders 'for peace' that would make the destruction of the country and its people far more likely.
But let's take an objective look. So what? What difference does what happens to Israel make to us here in America? Why should we care? Why is what happens to Israel important to the US? If Israel somehow ceased to exist, would it matter?
Very legitimate questions, especially as many people are unaware of the real answers.
To get there, let's put aside any of those slooshy considerations of fairness, justice, religion or humanitarian principles...and go for the cold, hard, self-serving realpolitik reasons why what happens to Israel is important to the US.
First, history shows that the Jews are the early warning signal of history for the West, and the atrocities visited on them first get visited on the non-Jewish world later. Hitler is one example, Islamic terrorism and jihad is another.
The tactics used to bomb New York, London, Mumbai, Bali and Madrid were perfected in Israel. So was the disinformation and propaganda to rationalize such actions, now used against the US and Europe as well as Israel. What happened in Israel was and is a precursor as to what we can expect here. Israel was merely a front for jihad, not the cause of it.
Second, Israel is one of the most important and reliable allies the US has, and one of the few allies we have with a significant military and intel quotient. Israel's destruction would considerably weaken the US, especially in the Middle East and cost us strategically. Here are a few examples of how that has worked to our advantage:
* Israel singlehandedly pushed the Soviets out of the Middle East during the Cold War and provided America a first hand look at the latest Soviet weapons and technology...without the cost of a single American soldier.
* Israel saved literally thousands of American lives by taking out Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor at Osirak. If not for that, the casualty lists from the first Gulf War would have been very different.
* Israel, with a first class intelligence service in the Mossad and native Arabic and Farsi speakers has contributed immeasurably to US intel by adding to its access in the region and by adding the dimension of `humint'-human intelligence - on the ground. General George Keagan, former head of U.S. Air Force Intelligence, once stated in Congress that "Israel is worth five CIAs," based on the value of intelligence passed to our country. As our only truly reliable ally and strategic asset in the cradle of Islamofascism, it provides a bulwark and window on America's enemies in the region...like Iran. And Israel effectively secures NATO’s southeastern flank.
* Israel, as one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world is a major partner of the US in weapons technology in numerous joint projects like the Arrow missile. Israeli technology provided an important edge to the USA in both Desert Storm and the first Gulf War. And the US has access to the fruits of some of the most sophisticated technological installations in the world at Tel-Aviv University and the Technion, Israel's MIT. For instance, the Green Pine radar system utilized in both the US missile defense shield and the proposed missile defense bases in Europe was developed in Israel.
* Israeli troops, with their knowledge of warfare in the Middle East saved US lives by drawing on their experiences in Jenin and elsewhere to teach American soldiers how to fight in the urban battlegrounds of the Middle East, like Falujah. They have also developed unique technology specially adapted to conditions in the Middle East for recon and warfare..all of which have been made available to the US for the asking.
* Israel is the only country we have - with the possible exception of Australia - that makes itself and its facilities available to the United States in any contingency. Israel is America’s base in the region and the defender of America’s interests in that area of the world.
* Israel’s government supports the foreign policy objectives of the United States. In the UN, Israel votes with the United States over 90% of the time. The Arabs and other Moslem countries, recipients of American aid that collectively dwarfs what the US gives Israel, almost always vote against the United States.
* And what about that aid? Israel receives $1.8 billion in military aid and $1.2 billion in economic aid from the US yearly. Almost all of the military aid is spent in the United States, making Israel one of the major customers of the U.S. defense industry. Almost all of the economic assistance goes for debt repayment to the United States, incurred from military purchases dating back many years.Unlike our troops and bases stationed in Korea, Japan, Germany, and other places, not a single American serviceperson needs to be stationed in Israel. Considering that the cost of one serviceperson per year — including backup and infrastructure — is about $200,000, and the minimum contingent is around 25,000 troops, the cost savings to the United States in cold hard dollars alone is on the order of $5 billion a year.
And that's without factoring in the value of the intel, technology and strategic benefits the US receives from our alliance with Israel.
Based on this, a good case could be made that aid to Israel, certainly the military portion, should be part of the United States defense budget and hardly considered `foreign aid' at all.
* Third, Israel is an important trading partner of the US and a leader in biotechnology, agriculture, solar, medical technology, computer science, irrigation technology, synthetic energy, and a number of other fields. And the 'value added' component to that trade far outweighs the actual dollar value. Many American corporations like Intel and Hewlett Packard have facilities there to take advantage of the talent coming out of TAU and the Technion. The cell phone and cell communications technology, for example, were perfected in Israel.
Fourth, if Israel disappeared, America's problems with the Muslim world wouldn't change one iota and in fact would get much worse.
A casual examination of history shows the fallacy of abandoning a loyal, powerful ally to appease an enemy, especially during wartime. Nor would it improve relations between the US and the Arab world . The proof of that is to examine the US relationship with the Arab World before we became one of Israel's main allies..after the `67 Six-Day War. That's because real alliances come from shared values..something we don't have in common with a large chunk of the Islamic world.
Getting rid of what the Muslims world refers to as the Little Satan would just weaken the Big Satan, America and deprive us of one of our strongest and most valuable allies. And a victory over the hated Jews would only embolden America's enemies.
Take Israel out of the equation and the Saudis would still be exporting jihad to the West, Iran and its allies would still be a threat to the US and jihadis would still target America and Americans. And like Israel, it would be simply because of who we are, not because of anything we've done.
So yes, ordinary Americans should DEFINITELY care what happens to Israel. From a strictly pragmatic, self-interested point of view if nothing else...because it's been a good relationship for both parties.
And wishing our ally a happy 60th is certainly a good and proper thing to do.