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October 23, 2016 / 21 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘potential’

Potential Flaws of the US-Israel Defense Package

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016
Israel’s apparent desire to conclude, as soon as possible, a generous, ten-year defense package MOU (memorandum of understanding) with the USA – in order to enhance short and medium-term economic and national security certainty – could result in severe long and short-term injuries to Israel’s ties with the USA and Israel’s national security.
Should Israel accept President Obama’s terms (as reported by the media), then the new 10-year-defense package could be dramatically different from the previous one, which was concluded in 2007.
The 2007 package was lower in scope – $3.1bn annually – but did not prohibit independent initiatives by the US Congress, which has demonstrated awesome muscle in determining domestic, as well as international relatons and national security policies. Also, the 2007 package included annual funding of Israel’s groundbreaking missile defense research, development (shared with the US government and defense industries) and US-Israel co-production. It expected Congress to increase the funding of US-Israel’s cost-effective missile defense projects, and allocated 25% of the package to Israeli game-changing defense research and development initiatives, which have been shared with the US.
Since 2007, there has been a dramatic surge in Israel’s contributions to the US in the areas of intelligence, research and development, training, operations, supporting pro-US Arab regimes, and extending the strategic hand of the US, while the US military-footprint and defense budget have been reduced drastically, and the US’ European allies are consumed with Islam-driven terrorism and potential anarchy on the home front.
On April 25, 2016, Congress demonstrated its inherent appreciation of Israel when 83 Senators signed a letter to President Obama, demanding a larger US-Israel defense package. An Israeli acquiescence to the exclusion of Congress as a key initiator of future US-Israel cooperation, would amount to a self-defeating downgrading of the co-equal, co-determining Congress, which has the power-of-the-purse, and is the most authentic representative of the American people, and therefore has been a systematic ally of Israel, while all US presidents since 1948 (with the exception of President George W. Bush) have pressured Israel economically, militarily and diplomatically.
Representing the pro-Israel sentiments of most Americans (71% according to the latest Gallup poll), Congress has, traditionally, counter-balanced the multilateral, Third World and UN-oriented, pro-Arab worldview of the Department of State bureaucracy, which opposed the establishment of Israel in 1948 and has been critical of Israel since then.
From a co-driver of the US-Israel high-speed train, Congress would be demoted to a backseat-driver, as if it were an Israeli Knesset or a European Parliament, which are overshadowed by the Executive. It would be a slap in the face of the Federal System, the US Constitution, the US constituency and its representatives in the US House and Senate.
Moreover, Congress played a central role in upgrading US-Israel strategic cooperation, jointly with – and in defiance of – US presidents, especially during global uncertainties, violence and intensified threats.  For example, in defiance of President Bush’s and Secretary of State Baker’s misreading of regional and global trends, coupled with their adversarial position on Israel, Congress was the key player/initiator of the unprecedented expansion of US-Israel defense cooperation following the collapse of the USSR (when Bush/Baker were oblivious to the rising threat of rogue regimes), before Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait (when Bush/Baker embraced Saddam Hussein and viciously criticized Israel), and before/following the First Gulf War (when the White House ignored Israel’s role as America’s most reliable, effective and unconditional strategic ally).
The assumption that the new defense package will prevent Israel from collaborating with Congress and submitting new initiatives and requests – as required by the increasingly stormy, unpredictable globe – for the next ten years, should be assessed against the realistic, worst case global and Middle East scenarios. Thus, as tectonic as has been the Arab Tsunami since 2010/11, it will probably be dwarfed by the intolerant violence around the corner, especially in (and from) the Middle East, which has been – since the seventh century – the most fragmented, unstable, unpredictable, volcanic, intolerant, violent, anti-Western region in the world, religiously, ideologically, politically and militarily.
The US and Israel cannot afford to base their strategic cooperation on a fixed, or linear, framework, ignoring global herky-jerky trends.  The US and Israel should not demote and exclude the co-equal Congress from the process of strategic cooperation, at a time of a potential European collapse, swift proliferation of Islam-driven terrorism, an emboldened regime of the Ayatollahs, and a possible toppling of pro-US regimes in the Middle East, which will further exacerbate threat-assessment and security requirements.
A rush to conclude an MOU before January 20, 2017, in order to spare the uncertainties surrounding the next president, and the expected delay of a few months or a year, in finalizing the defense package by the incoming president, would sacrifice long-term strategic interests on the altar of short-term strategic convenience. It would write off effective congressional muscle, and therefore the full potential of the American goodwill.
In addition, both presidential candidates are at least as pro-Israel as is President Obama, and would therefore support a defense package at least as generous as is currently proposed, receiving a thunderous support on Capitol Hill.
The supposed demand, by President Obama, to deny Congress the capability to upgrade/initiate future US-Israel strategic cooperation undermines the US Constitution, and may reflect an intention to constrain future enhancement of such cooperation, which has contributed, uniquely, to the US economy, national security and homeland security.
Finally, when it comes to US MOUs, guarantees and treaties, one should note their three critical and legitimate attributes: non-specificity and ambiguity, intended to facilitate partial-implementation; non-automaticity, enabling delay, suspension and non-implementation; and avoiding implementation if it harms US interests. For example, in 1957, President Eisenhower issued an Executive Agreement – in exchange for Israel’s full withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula – supposedly committing US troops on behalf of Israel should Egypt violate the ceasefire. However, in 1967, Egypt violated the ceasefire and established an anti-Israel Arab military front, but President Johnson contended that the agreement was non-binding.
US and Israeli policy-makers may benefit from Benjamin Franklin’s advice: “He that can have patience can have what he will.”
Yoram Ettinger

Into the Fray: What if the GOP Wins? – Potential Payoffs and Pitfalls for Israel

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Rejecting decades-old policy, the Republican Party approved on July 12 a [2016] platform that does not include a call for a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.—Forward, July 10, 2016

We believe the establishment of a Palestinian state on the West Bank would be destabilizing and harmful to the peace process. – 1980 Republican platform that brought Ronald Reagan to the White House.

We oppose the creation of an independent Palestinian state; its establishment is inimical to the security interests of Israel, Jordan, and the US. We will not support the creation of any Palestinian entity that could place Israel’s security in jeopardy. – 1988 Republican platform that brought George H. W. Bush to the White House.

These three excerpts spanning over a quarter-century relating to the GOPs attitude towards the establishment of a Palestinian state include two important lessons for Israel.

Breathtaking erosion

One of these lessons relates to the past; the other to the future.

Israel will ignore either at its peril—or at least, to its grave detriment.

With regard to the past, these excerpts underscore the breathtaking erosion that has taken place since the late 1980s in the GOPs opposition to Palestinian statehood—from utter rejection; to retraction of opposition (1996); to explicit—albeit conditioned—endorsement in 2002. It is only now that the GOP is setting aside its ill-considered support, and has thankfully begun to revert—albeit it still partially—to its former position.

What makes this spectacular erosion—from un-conditional rejection to conditional acceptance—even more remarkable is the fact that it took place over a period in which for the overwhelmingly greater proportion of time, the incumbent Israeli government was headed by Likud, which until mid-2009 (Netanyahu’s Bar-Ilan Speech) explicitly opposed the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Indeed, for the twenty-two years (between 1980 to 2002), Likud-led coalitions were in power for about double the time that Labor-led ones were. This is clearly a grave indictment of the Israeli “Right’s” inability to convincingly convey the validity of its political credo, and to undermine that of its ideological adversaries on the “Left”.

The need for soul-searching

The gravity of this indictment is further compounded by two factors that make it even more damning.

The first is that this dismal outcome emerged despite the highly favorably point of departure, which opponents of Palestinian statehood enjoyed. After all, no effort was required to win over the GOP to this “rejectionist” position, for it was a priori staunchly behind it to begin with. Yet despite this, the “Right” was unable to sustain this like-minded support, which by 2002, had for all intents and purposes, been totally eroded.

The second is that this erosion occurred despite the fact that the “Right’s” opposition to Palestinian statehood was completely validated by facts on the ground – i.e. by the bloody events that tragically arose from the fatally failed attempt to implement it.

So, sadly, the “Right” was not able to marshal the distinct dual advantage it had of a highly favorable point of departure and overwhelming empirical corroboration of its credo to sustain the GOP’s natural inclination to oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state.

This in itself is reason enough for intense soul-searching among “Right” wing activists, but it acquired even greater pertinence and urgency, precisely because of the encouraging signs that the GOP is reverting—at least, partially and cautiously—to its past position of opposition to Palestinian statehood.

For today, the challenges Israel may have to face in a post-two-state era could well be as dire—perhaps even most so—than those that the perilous two-state paradigm posed.

A word of warning

It is no secret that enthusiasm for the two-state concept is waning—even among ardent erstwhile adherents. Indeed, recently, some obsessive two-staters such as New York Times’s Tom Friedman (February 10, 2016), New York University’s Alon Ben Meir (Huffington Post, April 7, 2016), and recently the Jerusalem Post’s Gershon Baskin (July 20, 2016) have acknowledged that, (gasp!), the Palestinians may actually have contributed to the accelerated irrelevance of the two-state idea.

Thus, and without wishing in any way to diminish the sterling efforts of those who helped bring about the welcome change in the 2016 GOP platform, this was, to some extent, as Rafael Medoff points out (Algemeiner, July 20, 2016) a sober and clear-sighted response to the changing realities on the ground.

Of course, according to conventional wisdom in “Right-wing” circles, the changes in the GOP platform are a development that bodes well for Israel, as it signals growing awareness of the futility and dangers entailed in continued pursuit of the two-state chimera as the only route to a resolution of the conflict with the Palestinian-Arabs.

While this, of course, is undoubtedly true, a word of warning is called for.

With the passing to the two-state paradigm as a relevant policy option, new perils will immediately emerge. Planning on how they should be contended with is a pressing imperative for the Israeli “Right”—and one that, hopefully, it will display greater acumen and competence in contending with than it did in dealing with the two-state menace.

If not two-states, what?

With the growing prospect of the two-state option being abandoned, the question of what alternative paradigm Israel should adopt is becoming a question of increasing relevance.

It is also one which the Israeli “Right” has been appallingly remiss in addressing.

Indeed, for the better part of two decades, the “Right” limited itself to underscoring the myriad defects and dangers entailed in the two-state proposal, but largely refrained from articulating and advancing some cogent and comprehensive alternative prescription for its preferred vision of a permanent-status arrangement with the Palestinian-Arabs.

As a result, the “Right” found itself unable to respond effectively to the pointed and very pertinent question from adversarial two-state adherents: “So what’s your alternative?”

Failure to provide an adequate response to this question, eventually led to a drastic erosion of the Likud-led opposition to the two-state formula until its acceptance by Netanyahu in 2009.

But the recanting of support for the two-state formula by the GOP, and its waning attractiveness elsewhere, will create a dramatically different and challenging reality for both the reluctant Likud-like two-staters on the one hand, and for still die-hard two-state opponents, on the other.

For not only will it be increasingly less plausible to invoke “irresistible international pressure” for reluctant acceptance, under duress, of a two-state compliant policy; but it will also no longer be possible to confine oneself to criticism and rejection of the two-state formula.

To the contrary, with the declining dominance of the two-state concept, its opponents will be obligated to proactively produce and present a plausible and practical Zionist-compliant alternative…or suffer the consequences of its generally accepted default option: a multiethnic un-Jewish state-of-all-its-citizens.

Alternatives worse than two-state option?

As mentioned earlier, until lately, two-state opponents long eschewed presenting some persuasive, sustainable long-term blueprint for the outcome of the conflict with the Palestinian-Arabs.

In recent years, however, a spate of such alternative proposals has emerged. Sadly, not everything that is not a two-state compliant proposal is preferable to the perilous two-state principle itself.

And indeed, nearly all the major alternatives being advanced today by prominent figures on the “Right” are – notwithstanding the sincere goodwill of their authors—no less inimical to the long-term survival of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.

Thus while I bear none of them any personal rancor, I am firmly convinced that if these “alternatives” are advanced as tangible policy options to replace the two-state concept, the consequences for Israel and the Zionist ideal will be grave. Indeed, in broad brush strokes, these proffered “alternatives” to setting up a Palestinian state can be divided into three major categories. The first is that proposed by those who favor “managing—rather than resolving–the conflict”, which basically consists of “kicking the can down the road”. In effect, it calls for letting the problem fester, until some unspecified event(s) occur to—hopefully and inexplicably—facilitate resolution.

The other two—somewhat more proactive—suggestions can be divided into those that will, almost inevitably and demonstrably, lead to either: (a) the Lebanonization (and later Islamization) of Israel by incorporating the Palestinian-Arab residents of the territories across the pre-1967 lines, into the permanent enfranchised population of Israel; or (b) the Balkanization of Israel by trying to encapsulate the Palestinian-Arab population in disconnected autonomous enclaves in these areas.

None of these three categories can pave the way for Israel—as the nation-state of the Jews—to a sustainable long-term situation that is any less menacing than that entailed in the two-state scenario.

“What’s wrong with ‘The Right’…”

In a series of past articles, I have—with varying degrees of acerbity/exasperation—laid out in considerable detail, the manifest shortcomings of these alternative proposals, to which I urge readers to refer. See: What’s Wrong With The Right — Part I: As demented and disastrous as the two state “solution” is, most alternatives proffered by the Right would be no less calamitous.

What’s Wrong With The Right – Part II:The Right must realize that between the river and the sea, either exclusive Jewish or exclusive Arab sovereignty will eventually prevail.

Brain Dead On The Right?: The only thing more dangerous, delusional and disastrous than the Left’s proposal for a two-state solution, is the proposal now bandied about by the Right – for a one-state solution

To My Colleague Caroline, A Caveat:I strongly concur with Caroline B. Glick’s diagnosis of the fatal failings of the two-state formula, and disagree just as strongly with the prescription she offers to remedy them.

Sovereignty? Yes, But Look Before You Leap: Extending Jewish sovereignty over Judea-Samaria is imperative, but some proposals for this imperil Israel no less than the two-state folly. Islamizing Israel – When The Radical Left And Hard Right Concur:The almost unavoidable result of annexing the territories & enfranchising their Arab population would be to eventually create a Muslim-majority tyranny.

Annexing Area C: An Open Letter To Naftali Bennett:Between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea, there can — and eventually will — prevail either exclusively Jewish, or exclusively Arab, sovereignty.

Sovereignty? Yes, But Beware Of Annexing Area C: Partial annexation of Judea-Samaria will solve none of the problems Israel faces today, and exacerbate many

The most urgent & important issue today

In these articles I show why:

– “managing the conflict” is an exercise in futility—and self-delusion—that will only carry the country on a perilous downward spiral, with prevailing problems increasing in both scale and intensity;

– proposals that prescribe including the Palestinian Arabs in the permanent population of a post-two-state Israel would almost inevitably turn the country into a Muslim-majority tyranny within a few generations—even if the optimistic demographers are right and, initially, the Muslim population will comprise a 35-40% minority;

– proposals that advocate partial annexation and limited autonomy for the Palestinian Arabs, concentrated in disconnected mini-enclaves will result in wildly torturous and contorted borders, virtually impossible to demarcate and secure, thus emptying “sovereignty” in the annexed areas of any meaningful content.

None of these proposals offer a sustainable alternative paradigm to the two-state formula that can ensure Israel’s survival as a viable nation-state of the Jewish people.

The GOP’s new platform can indeed herald a great new opportunity for Israel, especially—but not necessarily, only—if it wins the November elections. But to reap the potential benefits that this entails, Israel must prepare. It must formulate a cogent, comprehensive paradigm to replace the two-state folly, which addresses both its geographic and demographic imperatives for survival—lest it promote a proposal that threatens to make it untenable geographically or demographically–or both.

It must be a proposal that ensures that Israel retains its vital geo-strategic assets in Judea-Samaria and drastically reduces the presence of the hostile Arab population resident there—preferably by non-coercive means such as economic inducements…which, by the way, is what brought the bulk of the Arab population here in the first place.

Initiating debate on this is a matter of paramount urgency and importance. I can only hope that this essay will help initiate it.

Dr. Martin Sherman

A Potential Chernobyl Next to Israel

Monday, July 11th, 2016

The Jordanian government recently announced its “determination” to reach an agreement with the U.S. regarding its nuclear program. For almost a decade, Jordanian King Abdullah II has been publicly seeking a nuclear program for Jordan. His ambition is to “turn Jordan into a regional hub for peaceful nuclear energy.”

This by itself could be a recipe for a regional apocalypse. Let’s consider why.

First of all, the so-called Jordanian nuclear program is like most “ambitious programs” championed by Jordan’s king, basically, a huge title, a glamorous concept, building, officials appointed and nothing else. There is no Jordanian nuclear research, no know-how and not even the slightest strategy. This may ring a bell, as it is reminiscent of when late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser had a “space program” that his media kept bleating about.

A U.S. Embassy in Amman cable, made public by WikiLeaks, talked about “Jordanians’ lack of understanding regarding environmental issues, seismology, and financial requirements.” The points raised in the cable, each and every one of them, are enough of a recipe for disaster under the inexperienced and usually over-self-evaluating Hashemite regime of Jordan.

The Jordanian government has argued for years that many other countries have nuclear technology and have not ended up in disasters; so “why not us?” To answer this question, let’s make a comparison. Jordan’s regime has received more than 60 F-16 fighter jets, similar to the very jets operated by the air forces of the U.S., the Netherlands, Belgium and many other NATO nations. Israel operates the same form of F-16s, calling them the “Netz.” Jordan has had eight F-16s crash in the last eight years alone, which amounts to a global record of over 13% of Jordan’s fleet. Why are those jets crashing? Why are the records of other F-16 operators not nearly as bad as Jordan’s? The F-16 saga shows that Jordan cannot operate, maintain or keep a state-of-the-art jet, so how could it be trusted with operating state-of-the-art nuclear plants? Could we afford the outcome of a nuclear disaster in our small country? Do our Israeli neighbors need that on their doorstep?

Nonetheless, Jordan’s regime has been doing what some Arab states have been doing for years — blaming all their failures on the “evil Zionist entity” and the “Jewish conspiracy.” In 2010, the king told American media that Israel was obstructing his nuclear program, added that Israel must accept that he will have it, and then described Israel as an “a state isolated like North Korea.” The king’s nuclear program chief, Khaled Touqan, told the Jordanian media that Israel’s then-President Shimon Peres was the one obstructing Jordan’s nuclear program and lobbying against it.

The king does not seem to realize his problem is not with Israel, but in fact with the big Western powers, including the U.S. A well-informed source told me years ago that Israel was not lobbying at all against Jordan’s nuclear program. In fact, it is those Western powers that don’t seem to be convinced Jordan could run a safe, effective or reliable program.

Another problem for the king’s nuclear bravado is money. In a recent report, Touqan admitted that Jordan did not have the financial capacity to build such a program and was seeking “a third partner” to finance it, and that’s for a project that extends to 2025.

Financing major state projects, like Jordan’s nuclear ambition, requires stability, and it is no secret that, sadly, our country is not stable now. In fact, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton confirmed this publicly in November 2015, stating that Jordan’s future was not clear and that “we need to know whether Jordan will remain stable” and “what will happen in Jordan” before returning to the peace process.

The risk here, with an unstable regime, is not only financial, it is also a security concern; if the world cannot tell who will rule Jordan next, or what could happen there, then the world cannot confirm who will have access to the radioactive materials in the proposed nuclear facilities. Let’s not forget that terrorists do not need a nuclear bomb, but just a dirty bomb in which they could use radioactive material as a component to leave long-lasting damage. We don’t want this for our country, and, we are confident, neither the U.S. nor Israel could tolerate the possibility of nuclear facilities falling into the wrong hands.

Let’s not forget, Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria was very stable when Israel reportedly destroyed his secret nuclear reactor, which was placed near Raqqa, the very city that is now considered ISIS’ capital. Imagine what could have happened if Israeli hadn’t destroyed it and it had fallen into ISIS’ hands; and think what could happen if Jordan’s proposed nuclear facilities fall into the wrong hands someday.

Even if Jordan’s regime was stable and the country was secure, could the regime be trusted with radioactive material?

In a recent scandal covered by The New York Times, Jordan’s government was caught red-handed stealing weapons provided by the U.S. to Syria’s moderate fighters to combat both Assad and ISIS. The Times’ investigation showed that those weapons were used by a senior Jordanian police officer to kill American counter-terrorism trainers last year.

Jordan’s regime is trying to blame the scandal on a few intelligence officers. Nonetheless, The New York Times’ report mentions that those weapons were handled by customs officers who work directly under the king’s executive order as per Jordan’s constitution and de facto practice. Also, in a country where the king controls everything, there is no way those officers could have pulled off such a plan without the regime’s involvement.

If the U.S. cannot trust Jordan’s regime with conventional weapons, it should not trust it with nuclear material that could be sold for huge amounts of money on the black market, with potential customers ranging from rogue states, such as Iran, to terrorist organizations.

Jordan’s government lacks the transparency and governance in general and seems to not have much nuclear knowledge. Even if the regime had the 100% best intentions, such a program could end up a new Chernobyl that would endanger Jordan, Israel and American interests.

Mudar Zahran

Police Foil Potential Stabbing Attack

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

Israeli Police report they foiled a potential terror attack today.

During a routine patrol in the “Triangle” region of Israel, in the town of Kafr Kassem, they noticed a suspicious man carrying a bag. The man told the police he had shirts in the bag, but when the police checked for themselves they found two knives.

The man (38), a resident of Shechem, admitted he was on his way to commit a terror attack in one of the cities in the Sharon region.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Creme De La Creme: How the IDF Picks its Most Elite Units

Monday, August 12th, 2013

After another round of nationwide enlistment, the time has come to find soldiers for the Israeli army’s most elite units. In order to be selected among the truly great, soldiers must pass intensive examinations – both mental and physical. We approached Major Danny Ben Dov, the man in charge of physical selections and unit placement for infantry and paratroopers, to learn what it takes to be listed among the best of the best.

elite7 You’ve heard about the units: the Yahalom combat engineers, Duvdevan – the unit responsible for conducting undercover operations against militants in urban areas and Oketz – the elite canine special forces unit. Behind these special units lies a complex placement process. Whether you want to curl up with a German Shepherd, maneuver an advanced UAV, or operate behind enemy lines – the path to achieving this goal is laden with potential pitfalls.


In recent months a new slew of soldiers has reached bases across the country in order to begin their basic training. However, before they could finish lacing up their military boots, practicing telling military time, and getting ready for their first shifts of guard duty, the IDF transfers a select few for special assignments reserved for the very best.

Most units open their doors to potential new recruits, however these young soldiers should take time to seriously consider the proposal, as beyond the acceptance are arduous physical and mental tests specifically designed to push the soldier to the limit.

For those looking to find the secret key to acceptance into these coveted units, the head of physical selections for IDF special units explains which features and attributes assist in weeding out the weak and singling out potential candidates.

“I am responsible for approving all units’ selections based on physical criteria in the IDF,” said Maj. Ben Dov. “Certain elite units have particular standards and requests for potential soldiers. They require special characteristics and have a very specific screening process for accepting soldiers into their units.”

However, contrary to what one might think – that all elite units have the same selection criteria – Maj. Ben Dov clarifies that not all unit classifications and soldier requirements are identical to one another.

“The placement of each soldier is chosen based on the nature of the unit itself and the type of combat soldier the unit is looking for,” explained Maj. Ben Dov. The process itself is intricate and includes discussions with the unit’s commanders as well.

“The commanders build their selection process by consulting with us, and then we go through the military’s professional instructions and general requirements,” said Maj. Ben Dov. “Part of the varying features we look for are determination and motivation.”

Though physical requirements come most immediately to mind when discussing elite combat units, Maj. Ben Dov maintains that physical strength is not the most significant part in the selection process.

“During the selection process, there are sprinting exercises, lifting exercises and other physical tests, but the main thing is not so much the physical part itself,” he said. “We are looking to see the person after the physical aspect, following these tests. There are all kinds of thinking exercises and lengthy discussions, allowing us to see the candidate’s abilities to think quickly and express him or herself clearly.”

Maj. Ben Dov summarized by explaining that throughout the entire selection process, it is imperative for one to be true to his or her personality traits. “It is important for potential examinees to come prepared both physically and mentally, but most important is to be your true self, because, through the various exercises, we eventually peel through the false stories and get to the true nature of the soldier.”

IDF Spokesperson's Office

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