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October 28, 2016 / 26 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Pentagon’

Analysis: Obama $38 Billion MOU Designed to Shackle Congress, Fight Not Over

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

Late Wednesday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement regarding the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the US, saying: “In a short while, in Washington DC, a historic agreement will be signed between the United States and Israel. This agreement will ensure an unprecedented level of security assistance to Israel over the coming decade. This is the largest military assistance package that the United States has ever given to any country.”

A few lines down, Netanyahu wrote: “I would like to thank President Obama and his administration for this historic agreement,” and, “I also thank our many, many friends in the American Congress and among the American people for their great support, which crosses party lines and embraces the length and breadth of the United States.”

There, in the cross-section between the President and Congress, is where the drama over the US aid package to Israel will be taking place in the coming months. It also explains why the PM has embraced a deal that is, clearly, a step back in terms of Israel’s ambitions for US military aid.

According to Ha’aretz, citing senior defense ministry officials, as recently as last July US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and then Defense Minster Moshe Ya’alon have reached an agreement in principle on a $45 billion aid package over ten years. Why is Israel now willing to settle for $7 billion less? Ha’aretz, typically, blames the cut on Netanyahu’s refusal to toe the line on the Iran nuclear deal, and his insolent battle against the President in Congress over it. But that doesn’t explain why Sec. Carter was offering the larger amount months after Netanyahu’s March 3, 2015 speech in Congress.

Like all deals, the $38 billion MOU must still be confirmed in the Senate, first by the Appropriations Committee and then by the full Senate. One key member of the committee is Senator Lindsey Graham (R – SC), who earlier this week told the Washington Post: “The Israeli prime minister told me the administration is refusing to sign the MOU until I agree to change my appropriation markup back to $3.1 billion. I said, ‘Tell the administration to go [expletive] themselves.’”

The 10-year aid package reaching its conclusion in 2017 was set at “only” $31 billion, but, in addition, Congress has been awarding Israel additional funds: $729 million in 2014 to help with the acquisition gaps caused by the Gaza War, as well as to help the development of the Iron Dome system. In 2015 Congress gave Israel $620 million in addition to the aid package, and this year the estimates are around $600 million. So that the aid Israel currently receives from the US is pretty close to the MOU’s $38 Billion. Israel will only benefit from an additional $100 million annually. For a country boasting a $300 billion annual GDP, this is the definition of chump change.

Why, then, did Netanyahu agree to an MOU that compels Israel to pay back whatever amount Congress adds in military aid, which would include an attempt by, say, Senator Lindsey Graham, to tack on an extra $7 billion to the proposed package?

“I’m offended that the administration would try to take over the appropriations process. If they don’t like what I’m doing, they can veto the bill,” Graham told the Post. “We can’t have the executive branch dictating what the legislative branch will do for a decade based on an agreement we are not a party to.”

The MOU awards the Israeli missile defense development effort $500 million per year, more than the $487 million Congress gave it in 2016, but less than the Senate appropriations bill for 2017, which gives Israel $600 million. By the way, Obama asked for only $145.8 million in the budget. So, should the MOU go through the Senate, Israel would lose $600 million right off the bat. And Israel signed a letter, as part of the MOU, that any amount tacked on to the aid package in later years, Israel would be obligated to give back.

A White House official said this is better for Israel, since “the fact that under our offer Israel can count on the administration’s commitment to provide a substantial level of missiledefense assistance for a 10-year period is substantively different from the missile- defense support it has received in previous years.” There’s some truth to it — rather than go lobbying every year for that money, Israel is guaranteed a moderately lower sum, it’s already in the bank.

“You know the White House pressured them into writing that letter,” Graham said. “It is a level of antagonism against Israel that I can’t understand.”

Graham is irate because the MOU was a White House attempt to neutralize the Republican Congress’s ability to forge an independent relationship with the Jewish State. They can continue to invite Bibi to talk to them against the next president, if they so wish, but they can’t give him a penny. Vindictive? Probably. But also understandable. This President spent much of his two terms in office fighting Congress over foreign policy. He’d like to leave his successor a cleaner slate, at least when it comes to dealing with Israel.

The MOU is also better for the Pentagon, which, together with the White House, can keep all the money going to Israel inside one, manageable package. Should the need arise for additional funds, Israel would have to go to the President, not Congress, and when Israel asks for something, Israel also has to give something. Also, in six years, according to the MOU, Israel will lose the right to spend any of the aid package on its own military industrial complex — all the money must stay in the US. Of course, by then Israeli manufacturers would follow Elbit and Rafael and forge partnerships with US corporations, but the jobs in Israel would be lost.

“I’m not pleased with a provision in the MOU which prohibits Israel from using American defense assistance on Israeli defense suppliers,” Senator Graham wrote on his website. “Israel’s homegrown defense technology is some of the best in the world.” He added, “Under our old agreement Israel was allowed to develop cutting-edge military technology and was required to share this technology with the United States. I’m proud to say that many of these advancements helped protect the lives of American service members in uniform. I do not believe this new provision will serve the interests of the United States or Israel. I do fear it will be Americans wearing the uniform of our nation who will pay the price for this short-sighted change in policy.”

So, it’s obvious why the MOU represents a good deal for the Administration. But why was Netanyahu “duped” into signing the MOU? There are two possible explanations, and they both have to do with the coming lame duck session of Congress. Since last summer, there have been persistent rumors in Jerusalem and Washington that, once the November 8 election is over, the Obama Administration would spend its last breath on squeezing a 2-state deal out of Israel. To do that, the rumors went, Obama would join the majority in the UN Security Council to pass resolutions that push Israel against the wall. It would be ugly, it would be painful, there would be no support for the move from either the Democrats nor the Republicans, but it won’t matter. It would be a move that can’t be stopped by Congress, and Israel would, at last, bow to the pressure.

Did Netanyahu sign the MOU in return for an Obama promise to leave him alone between Nov. 9 and January 17? Perhaps. Of course, the above nightmare scenario is not something we would expect from any US president, except for the fact that President Obama has been so capricious and unpredictable about his bizarre “Arab Spring” campaign, that if anyone would dream up something like that it would be him.

The other point has to do with the conversation Netanyahu had with Senator Graham earlier this week, in which, we understand, Graham did most of the talking, and only part of it was taken up by expletives. The Senator from South Carolina, with Bibi’s blessing, can bury the MOU. He has at his disposal several parliamentary means of delaying it until after the start of the new year. It won’t be simple, and there are members on the Democratic side of the Appropriations Committee who are decidedly not friendly to Israel (Senator Patrick Leahy, Dem – Vt comes to mind) who would attack Graham viciously. But if Graham can drag this deal long enough, he could get it tossed and rewritten by the next Administration.


Samaria Activist Yossi Dagan Asked By Brooklynites To Talk About Israeli Resiliency and Terror on 9/11

Monday, September 12th, 2016

Samaria Regional Council Chairman Yossi Dagan spent Sunday evening after a day of “9/11″ ceremonies explaining Israeli survival skills and resiliency to a gathering of more than 70 residents in the upscale Basil’s restaurant in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Many of those who attended had their own history of trauma, with the violence of the recent 25th anniversary of the August 19, 1991 riots in Crown Heights more than just a passing memory.

The event, a memorial evening of solidarity, was appropriately dubbed “Resiliency In The Face Of Terror.”

The evening began with a moment of silence to honor the thousands of innocent victims who died as a result of the Al Qaeda terrorist attack on 9/11, and a short prayer in memory of the 3,000 victims by Rabbi Mendy Margolin.

Dagan arrived after having first paid his respects to the fallen at the site of the attack in Manhattan; the hijackers had also carried out simultaneous attacks at the Pentagon and — foiled by passengers in their attempt to reach the White House — crashing a fourth plane in a field in Pennsylvania.

“On this day I was humbled to visit Ground Zero to share my sympathy for the families and solidarity with the American people,” Dagan said. “Coming from Shomron (Samaria) and representing a community that suffers from terrorism I understand how difficult this is.”

Rabbi Yaacov Behrman introduced Dagan, saying, “We Americans can learn a lot from how Israelis persevere despite the threat of terror, and how they continue to live meaningful productive lives even after experiencing many horrific attacks.”

Clara Perez, general manager of Basil, told JewishPress.com that the restaurant made a special order of wine from Shomron in honor of the event. ” #BDS — ‘Buy Davka Shomron’,” she declared.

Dagan told the gathering that he came to the United States to participate in a series of events aimed at confronting the BDS movement on Capitol Hill in Washington DC.

“More than 35 members of Congress attended our conference against BDS and a Shomron Wine Tasting evening in the Capitol Building,” Dagan said.

“The Shomron (Samaria in Hebrew) is at the forefront of the battle for standing up to the haters of Israel. I was moved by the very warm reception of the Jewish community in New York who showed their support for Shomron, the heartland of Israel.”

Dagan said he also visited The Ohel – the resting place of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory – in order to pray for the safety and security for the people living in Shomron.

Hana Levi Julian

Report: IAF Trained with Pakistani, UAE Air Forces

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

Israel Air Force pilots last week trained for the first time with pilots from the Pakistani and United Arab Emirates air forces, as part of the “Red Flag” exercises in Nevada, Israel’s Channel 2 News reported Thursday. The teams from the two countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel nevertheless trained and cooperated with the Israeli team during the exercises. The Red Flag exercises also included pilots from the US and Spain and featured dozens of attack sorties, dogfights, bombings, and long-range flight midair refueling.

The report noted that the fact that the Pakistani and UAE teams did not object to flying alongside their Israeli counterparts suggests that they were more interested in studying and exercising than in politics. The lists of participating teams is composed solely by the Pentagon, and participating countries cannot modify it — but they can refuse to participate.

Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III addresses Airmen at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. / US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brett Clashman

Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III addresses Airmen at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. / US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brett Clashman

A senior IAF official told Chanel 2 News that “the Americans are excellent pilots, it’s clear they know how to fly and fight.” He said the Americans downed Israeli planes in dogfights, “but we downed them, too.” Each sortie involved many dozens of fighter planes, as well as refueling and intelligence support aircraft, and took place in day and night-time conditions, testing the teams’ ability to work together.

But the official noted that “this is not just about flying together, but about preparing for the mission ahead of time. You see right away who’s good and who’s not. There’s no place to hide. Everything stands out. We got better all the time, and the real deal was to learn from our mistakes.”

The exercise included IAF F-16I “Sufa” (Heb: Storm) aircraft, and for the first time Boeing 707 refueling aircraft. “It’s the nearest exercise to real warfare you can have,” the official said, “dealing with enemy planes, anti-aircraft missile threats—including the S300 systems Iran has—and cyber attacks on our aircraft. We still need to explore our performance, but the pilots are saying it was good.”

Next year, Israel will host the “Blue Flag” exercises, with the air forces of the US, France and Poland.


If You See Muslims Celebrating this 9/11, It’s to Commemorate Abraham’s Sacrifice of… Ishmael

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

The quirky lunar calendar, which Jewish tradition mixes with solar calendar adjustments, but Islam just lets run wild, is a cause of special concern for Muslims this year, especially Muslims living in America. The most maligned religious group in recent US history, American Muslims are terrified that their heavily armed neighbors might take the wrong way the fact that celebrations of Eid al-Adha — Festival of the Sacrifice, could fall on September 11 this year, on the “date which will live in infamy,” replacing in most Americans’ consciousness December 7, 1941, the original date that will live in infamy, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Alas, it is quite possible that the 15th anniversary of the al-Qaeda attacks on New York’s Trade Towers and on the Pentagon will feature festive Muslims, please keep your guns holstered.

As Jews we have our own issues with Eid al-Adha, which is a deceptive attempt to replace the story of Abraham’s binding of Isaac, which follows the story of the expulsion of the maidservant Hagar and her son Ishmael to the desert, with a revision which places Ishmael, father of the Arabs, on that altar on the Temple Mount. A culture with little regard for historic truth, or truth altogether, Islam simply fixed all those inconvenient stories in the Torah with its own “improved” version.

So that this year, Muslims will be celebrating on September 11 — and 12, depending on local lunar sightings, two lies: the first one ancient, about how Abraham actually designated his son Ishmael to be the chosen one; the other new, that the attacks on 9/11 were an aberration of Islamic tradition, and certainly had nothing to do with the xenophobic Saudi school of Wahhabism, even though most of those men on the four hijacked planes 15 years ago were Saudis.

According to the original version of the story (delivered circa 1248 BCE) God commands Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham binds Isaac on an altar, raises his machete, and the angel of God stops him at the last minute, saying “Now I know you fear God,” at which point Abraham sees a ram caught in some bushes and sacrifices it. The Torah relates that the binding took place at “The Place,” which Abraham then names “God will Watch,” which later books of the Jewish Bible identify as the hill upon which Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem.

Islam, which, unlike Christianity, does not recognize the sanctity of the Jewish Bible and the five books of Moses, attempts to revise two historical problems, in a medieval world that was well versed in Jewish and Christian scripture: the story of Sara commanding Abraham to expel her maidservant Hagar and her boy Ishmael to the desert, and God compelling Abraham to obey her; and the story of Isaac’s binding, Abraham’s and Isaac’s ultimate sacrifice which seals the Jewish nations’ second covenant with God.

Here’s how Islamic tradition worked its magic:

God instructed Abraham to bring Hagar, his Arab wife, and Ishmael to Arabia from the land of Canaan. As Abraham was preparing for his journey back to Canaan, Hagar asked him, “Did God order you to leave us here, or are you leaving us here to die?” Abraham nodded, afraid that he would be too sad and that he would disobey God. Hagar said, “Then God will not waste us; you can go.” Although Abraham had left a large quantity of food and water with Hagar and Ishmael (in the Torah version they only get one bottle of water), the supplies quickly ran out, and within a few days the two began to feel the pangs of hunger and dehydration.

Hagar ran up and down between two hills, al-Safa and Al-Marwah, seven times, in her desperate quest for water. Exhausted, she finally collapsed beside her baby Ishmael (the Torah says he was a grown man, and already plotting to murder—or sodomize—Isaac) and prayed to God for deliverance. Miraculously, a spring of water gushed forth from the earth at the feet of “baby Ishmael.” Other accounts have the angel Gabriel striking the earth and causing the spring to flow in abundance. With this water supply, known as the Zamzam Well (lifted directly from Biblical Miriam), they traded water with passing nomads for food and supplies.

That took care of the embarrassing story about Abraham’s Arab son being kicked out to the desert.

Next comes Abraham’s command from God to sacrifice his dearest possession, his son. The son is not named in the Quran, but most modern Muslims believe it to be “Ismail.” Upon hearing God’s command, Abraham prepared to submit to the will of God. During this preparation, Satan tempted Abraham and his family by trying to dissuade them from carrying out God’s commandment, and Abraham drove Satan away by throwing pebbles at him (a typical Quranic plagiarism of a Jewish medrash). In commemoration of their rejection of Satan, stones are thrown at symbolic pillars during the Stoning of the Devil at the Hajj rites.

When Abraham attempted to cut his son’s throat, he was astonished to see that his son was unharmed and instead he found a dead ram which was already slaughtered. The Torah story of the binding is retold almost intact by the Quran, except for the later name switch, from Isaac to Ishmael.

And so, while the Muslims celebrate this 9/11 (the prudent ones will probably push it off to the 12th, why look for trouble), and while most Americans recall with pain the first foreign attack on mainland USA since 1812, Jews will mourn both the losses of 9/11 and the bastardizing of our sacred tradition by semi-literate nomads with no respect for the truth.


Pentagon Official Says F-35 ‘Failing to Deliver’

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

Dr. J. Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s senior advisor to the Secretary of Defense on operational and live fire tests and evaluations of weapon systems, has written to Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein, and the Pentagon’s acquisitions chief Frank Kendall that he is unhappy with the progress of the most expensive fighter plane ever produced on planet Earth, the Lockheed Martin F-35 — whose delivery to the Israel Air Force is scheduled to start in September.

Gilmore’s Aug. 9 memo, published Wednesday by Bloomberg News, suggests “the program is actually not on a path toward success but instead on a path toward failing to deliver” the F-35’s much touted, 21st century near-sci-fi capabilities, “for which the Department is paying almost $400 billion by the scheduled end” of the plane’s development in 2018.

Gilmore cautioned that “achieving full combat capability with the Joint Strike Fighter is at substantial risk.” He says that despite promises to the contrary by the manufacturer, “most of the limitations” that plagued the F-35’s software, data fusion, electronic warfare and, the most crucial aspect of a fighter aircraft — weapons employment, appear to persist.

Gilmore warned that Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program “is running out of time and money to complete the planned flight testing and implement the required fixes and modifications,” observing that “flight testing is making progress but has fallen far behind the planned rate.” He pointed out that the F-35’s most sophisticated software capabilities “are just being added,” and that the system is, to put it mildly, full of bugs, which “continue to be discovered at a substantial rate.”

The US Air Force and the US Dept. of Defense both released statements saying Gilmore’s concerns were nothing new, and the F-35’s issues are being dealt with.

David Israel

Analysis: At Last, Potential Buyer for Iron Dome System: the Pentagon

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

One of the problems with Iron Dome, the short-distance anti-missile system developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Raytheon and battle tested successfully in two Gaza wars was that, despite its stellar reputation and the great interest in it by high profile visitors to international weapons shows, no country so far has actually purchased the system. Israeli newspapers have reported on state visitors who expressed an interest in the system: NATO, South Korea, the US, Azerbijan, and India. But in the end all these interested buyers ended up going for something else.

The reason must be that Iron Dome was tailor-made to fit the bizarre, even grotesque relationship between Israel and Hamas. The system functions as a means of perpetuating an intolerable reality whereby an entity much weaker militarily than its neighbor nevertheless deigns to shoot hundreds, even thousands of rockets into its neighbor’s civilian centers without fear of annihilation. The Iron Dome does nothing to discourage the firing of rockets, it only works to keep the casualties to a minimum. Where else on the planet would such a relationship exist between two bordering countries?

But now, Defense News reports, the Pentagon wants to purchase a modified version of the Iron Dome’s Tamir interceptors for the US Army, to defend against a variety of threats, including rockets, artillery, mortars, and even cruise missiles and UAVs.

According to Defense News, the Israeli-designed Tamir interceptor has already been adapted for launch from a US Multi-Missile Launcher (MML), and last April, at the Army’s missile range in New Mexico, the MML-launched Tamir scored its first intercept on US soil against a target drone.

It turns out that the Iron Dome, too, much like most US military aid package components, is generating mostly American jobs, as half of the funds for the development program are already going to Raytheon, which operates many facilities in the US.

Yosi Druker, head of Rafael’s Air Superiority Systems division told Defense News that the Tamir would be modified to meet US standards, and would be produced entirely in the US. It would be “100 percent Raytheon,” he said, adding, “The minute that the US decides to procure Iron Dome, we will transfer all the knowledge and production file to Raytheon.”

Mind you, that purchase is yet to be made, and, judging by the Iron Dome’s track record so far, the deal could still go south. Still, Druker is hoping the low cost and excellent performance record of the Iron Dome should give it an advantage over the competition. “It’s clear that according to price and capability and maturity of the system, Iron Dome has advantages,” he said.

But John Patterson, a public relations director for Raytheon Missile Systems who spoke to Defense News, declined to comment on the chances of the system to sell to the Pentagon, and only stated that Raytheon has “an excellent working relationship with Rafael.”

Incidentally, if no other state in the world envisions a situation where they would be facing an absurd battle theater such as the one Israel has faced with Hamas since 2006, could it be that Israel is doing something wrong?


Bill Letting 9/11 Victims Sue Saudi Arabia Passes Senate

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

The Senate on Tuesday approved by a voice vote the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act allowing families of Sept. 11 victims to sue the Saudi government—disregarding a veto threat by the White House. In his recent visit to the Kingdom, President Obama suffered unprecedented humiliation from Saudi officials, presumably hinting at what would come next should he expose them to a torrent of 9/11 litigation. The Saudis have also threatened to move billions of dollars out of the US economy, so there won’t be any assets to freeze when they lose in court.

Sponsored by Senators John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the bill recognizes the right of victims’ families to sue in US court for the role that Saudi government personnel played in the 2001 attacks on New York, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania. Cornyn said that the United States “will combat terrorism with every tool we have available, and that the victims of terrorist attacks in our country should have every means at their disposal to seek justice.”

The Obama administration is yet to declassify and release US intelligence on Saudi involvement in the attacks, despite repeated pleas from victims’ families.

Irish investigative journalists Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan were contacted by an unnamed counter-terrorism official in 2011 and told there are 80,000 9/11-related documents being kept secret by the FBI, which may not all concern the Saudi family, but many suspect that reclassifying them would expose the truth about the conspiracy, namely that it was driven by elements in the Saudi royal family.

Senate Democrats went against the wishes of the Obama administration, which warned the bill could expose Americans overseas to legal risks.

Schumer had no doubt the Senate had the 67 votes needed to override a presidential veto. “We don’t think their arguments stand up,” he told reporters at a news conference after the vote.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, warned that the legislation, if passed, would alienate Saudi Arabia and undermine the US’ longstanding relationship with a critical ally in the Middle East. Of course, once said ally starts attacking your civilian population, you may need to re-think the relationship.

New Jersey resident Terry Strada, whose husband, Tom, died in the attacks, was in Washington with her daughter Caitlin to await the vote’s results. She told CNN, “We’ve waited long enough. We’ve waited 15 years. We shouldn’t have to wait any longer. It’s good policy to hold accountable any nation that aids in a terror attack on U.S. soil and that aids in the death of US citizens.”

David Israel

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/bill-letting-911-victims-sue-saudi-arabia-passes-senate/2016/05/17/

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