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December 19, 2014 / 27 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘U.S.-Israel relations’

Arrow 3 and US-Israel Defense Cooperation

Monday, March 4th, 2013

The cheering and the hugs exchanged by Israeli and American teams last week at Palmahim Air Force base, south of Tel Aviv, marked a historical turn of events.

For the first time ever, a successful test launch had been carried out of the Arrow 3 missile defense system, designed to stop Iranian long-range ballistic missiles – even those carrying nuclear warheads – in space.

The product of Israeli-American cooperation, and years of research and development led by the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), together with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Missile Defense Agency, the successful test represented a leap forward in missile defense technology, and a key development in the ongoing Israeli-Iranian arms race.

Travelling at twice the speed of a tank shell, the Arrow 3 interceptor is carried into space by a missile, which then falls away. The interceptor is actually a space vehicle that carries out several swift maneuvers as it locks on to its target. It then lunges directly at the incoming projectile, for a head-on collision.

At speeds of up to 4000 meters (13,123 feet) per second, the interceptor relies only on its self-generated kinetic energy to destroy the hostile missile, and does not require its own explosives to get the job done.

The successful trial underscores the fact that despite significant political differences that exist between Jerusalem and Washington, defense cooperation between the two countries is today at an unprecedented level.

The first batch of four Arrow 3 batteries is expected to come into service between 2014 and 2016. Four additional upgraded batteries, carrying more interceptors, could be built later.

Israeli and American companies are working together to get the Arrow 3 operational. The technological breakthroughs that allowed for the Arrow 3 to be tested have been led by IAI, but collaboration with Boeing has been significant.

Iran is amassing hundreds of missiles capable of striking Israel, while taking steps forward in its nuclear program. As the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv has recently noted, Iran has Shihab 3 missiles that put all of Israel in range, as well as the Ghadr-1, which is an upgraded version of the Shihab 3.

Tehran is also developing the Sajjil-2, a two-stage solid fuel missile that can strike targets 2,000 kilometers away. Any of these missiles can be fitted to carry unconventional warheads.

To cope with this ballistic missile challenge, as well as the threat posed by Syrian scuds, some of which have reached Hezbollah, Israel has the Arrow 2 missile defense system in place, which shoots down incoming projectiles in the upper atmosphere.

Once it becomes operational, the Arrow 3 will form another layer of defense over millions of Israelis, thereby giving the Israel Air Force two to three shots at intercepting incoming missile.

“We are in arms race. We hope to be one step ahead, technologically,” said defense source well acquainted with the Arrow 3 program.

As part of the race to protect its civilians, Israel has set up the Iron Dome rocket protection system, which intercepted over 90 percent of rockets from Gaza during last year’s conflict with Hamas .

Other projects under development include the David’s Sling system, designed to stop intermediate rockets and missiles, which are a part of Hezbollah’s arsenal of more than 60,000 rockets.

Despite the progress being made in this field, Israel can never rely solely on defense for its national security. In an unstable region filled with radical non-state actors, collapsing states, and an Iran marching towards nuclear weapons capabilities, defense can only form one part of the plan to keep Israel safe.

The other part involves devastating offensive capabilities, designed to surprise adversaries and throw them off balance, bringing any conflict to a swift conclusion.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute, under the title, “U.S. Helping Israel’s Defense.”

Yes, Jonathan Pollard Again

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Whatever you think about Jonathan Pollard, there are some basic facts of the case that cannot be ignored. Chief among them are:

  1. Jonathan Pollard has served longer for the crime he was sentenced for than anyone else convicted of like crimes.
  2. The United States of America made – and broke – a plea bargain agreement they made with Jonathan Pollard.
  3. Jonathan Pollard has no interest in remaining in America. Were he to be freed, he would come to Israel, never to return or hurt the United States.

And one last point – what Jonathan Pollard gave to Israel should have been given to Israel under agreements made between the U.S. and Israel.

With all of that, I’ll say one more thing. I don’t want Obama to come to Israel. We don’t need his pressure, we don’t need the traffic headaches, and we honestly don’t need his opinions. But if he is to come, let him at least, at very least, bring Jonathan home to Israel.

What Jonathan Pollard did – almost THIRTY YEARS AGO – was wrong. The US was wrong and perhaps Israel was wrong – but it has been Jonathan Pollard who has paid the price, far and above what should have been demanded. It is time, past time, to end this farce.

Obama, don’t come…or at least have the decency to bring Jonathan Pollard home.

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Netanyahu: Sanctions Alone Won’t Stop Iran

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a meeting of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors that sanctions alone will not stop Iran, as evidence by North Korea’s continued nuclear program, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Only if sanctions are backed by “credible military threat” will there be a chance that Iran will peacefully halt its nuclear program, Netanyahu said.

U.S. President Barack Obama has repeatedly stated that “all options are on the table” when it comes to stopping Iran, though he has indicated that U.S. has a different time table than Israel when it comes to resorting to the use of force.

Furthermore, various statements by administration officials, Obama’s refusal to set publicly set a red line for when the U.S. might use force, and the nomination of Chuck Hagel who in the past opposed applying sanctions against Iran, have left room to doubt whether Obama is indeed ready to use military force against Iran if necessary.

Bar Refaeli’s Vulgar Super Bowl Ad

Monday, February 11th, 2013

I don’t want to come across as a prude and less so do I want to judge. So how do I say this delicately?

For those of us who always hoped that Israel would stand for just a little bit more than some of the values of the rest of the world, GoDaddy.com’s Super Bowl ad with Bar Refaeli was a disappointment.

For many decades in the United States we have fought a rearguard action to sustain the dignity of women, especially in how they are portrayed in the media and in advertising. I dedicated an entire book to this theme entitled, Hating Women. In it I demonstrated the gradual evolution of, say, the female recording industry which had once focused primarily, as it should, on a woman’s voice and musical talent, but later came to focus, with artists like Madonna and Britney Spears, on salaciousness and sex.

This battle has been mostly lost. It is now a given that a woman who does not show a lot of leg and a lot more cleavage will probably never reach the highest echelons of musical stardom, although the careers of superstars like Adele, who does not flaunt her body and Susan Boyle, who does not fit the stereotype, still gives us some hope. Surely, Beyoncé’s amazing performance at the Super Bowl demonstrates that seductiveness is essential to female musical entertainment. One cannot separate her sexiness from the high-energy rendition which impressed millions. To attempt to criticize that would now be seen as retrograde and primitive.

And yet our culture still believes there are things that cross a line. The classic example is another Super Bowl incident, this time in 2004, when Janet Jackson had her famous wardrobe malfunction with Justin Timberlake. Showing a breast on TV was something that deeply upset most Americans because their children were watching.

Fast forward now to the GoDaddy.com commercial with Bar Refaeli. GoDaddy has been the worst offender in the exploitation and degradation of women via Super Bowl advertisements for a number of years now. Many of their ads straddle the line of soft porn which they then invite you to see a lot more of if you go online. What the connection between a woman’s body and online storage might be is something that many of us might will find mystifying.

But the Bar Refaeli commercial transcended even that. Here was a woman having  a tongue-to-tongue kiss with a man on a program that is watched by millions of children. I know my children were watching and I felt uncomfortable. It was my seven-year-old’s birthday. He was watching the Super Bowl with my four-year-old and with our other children. Every year they wait for our family’s Super Bowl party. Was this what they had to see? It’s a football game, for heaven’s sake. If you watch the uncensored version, which was available on the Internet, it’s much worse. They might say it’s just a kiss. But if it were just that GoDaddy would not have wasted millions of dollars airing it. It was meant to shock, and it achieved its intent.

Why did it have to be Israel’s supermodel in the ad?

I get it. We are all susceptible to the vagaries of celebrity, and at times we may allow ourselves to be compromised in its pursuit. This is especially true, I can imagine, when something like this probably involves a very large payday as well. That’s why I say I don’t want to judge. But surely, one’s image can also benefit from wholesomeness. As one of the world’s most beautiful women – with the exception of my wife (now can I buy that case of Johnnie Walker Blue Label, honey?) – Refaeli could have won over tens of millions of viewers, especially Moms, who would have equated her image with feminine dignity and self-esteem.

To be sure, Bar Refaeli was controversial long before the GoDaddy ad because she did not serve in the Israeli Defense Forces. Fair enough. There are many religious Jewish girls who don’t serve in the IDF either. But they do enlist in national service. Refaeli’s explanation, however, was something that, as a father of a young woman who is currently serving in the Israel Defense Forces for two years, I found equally disappointing. She is quoted as saying, “I don’t regret not enlisting, because it paid off big time. That’s just the way it is, celebrities have other needs.”

AIPAC’s Silence on Chuck Hagel

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Anyone who watched Chuck Hagel’s lamentable performance before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week had to conclude that the man is inadequate at best, woeful at worst, as the choice for the next Secretary of Defense.

Here was a nominee who did not even know the Obama Administration’s position on Iranian nukes (he said it was containment but was quickly corrected and told it was prevention). At a time when the United States faces formidable national security threats from so many parts of the globe, it’s pretty obvious that a muddled, befuddled, and at times incoherent candidate for Secretary of Defense is a calamity in the making.

Then there is Hagel’s disastrous history of predictions, like the comment in his 2008 book, America: Our Next Chapter, where he wrote, “America’s refusal to recognize Iran’s status as a legitimate power does not decrease Iran’s influence, but rather increases it.” This was just one year before the government of Iran began to mow down its own citizens in the streets of Tehran in order to protect that “legitimacy.”

Or Hagel’s opposition to the Iraq surge, predicting, in January 2007, that it would be “the most dangerous foreign policy blunder . . . since Vietnam,” an utterly erroneous prognostication that he was correctly hammered on by John McCain at the hearings.

Or Hagel’s 1998 meeting with the elder Assad in Syria, where he said, “Peace comes through dealing with people. Peace doesn’t come at the end of a bayonet or the end of a gun.” Tell that to the sixty thousand dead who have been slaughtered by the dictator’s son.

Add to the fact that Hagel has an irrational dislike of homosexuals, voted against Iran sanctions, and believes America should be talking to terrorist organizations and Obama’s nomination becomes downright mystifying.

But what’s even more confusing is how quickly so many Jewish groups – especially AIPAC – have caved on Hagel. The same man who said that Israel didn’t need to “keep Palestinians caged up like animals,” and famously spoke of “the Jewish lobby’s” intimidation of lawmakers on Capitol Hill has been handed a get-out-of-political-purgatory-free card by many who claim to be Israel’s foremost defenders.

Senator Chuck Schumer was skeptical about Hagel but then changed his mind after a 90 minute West Wing meeting. “Based on several key assurances provided by Senator Hagel,” Schumer said, “I am currently prepared to vote for his confirmation. I encourage my Senate colleagues who have shared my previous concerns to also support him.”

Impressive. An hour-and-a-half conversation undid a twelve-year voting record, which included, as recently as 2008, a vote against an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps a terrorist organization. Schumer is often referred to as the most influential Jewish member of the Senate. But then how could verbal assurances alone have turned him around when he is surely aware of the Jewish teaching that it is not what a man says but what he does that matters?

The Daily Beast reported that AIPAC – whose annual Policy Conference in DC I have attended for 20 years as a huge fan and supporter – has chosen to sit the Hagel nomination out, desiring as they do a positive relationship with the Pentagon and believing that President Obama has enough votes to get him confirmed.

On the surface that seems a wise choice. Why make enemies, especially if they’re going to be in powerful positions?

But what comes to mind is the famous teaching of Hillel, “If not now, when?” If you don’t use your political influence to oppose the nomination of someone who said, “I’m a United States senator. I’m not an Israeli senator,” with its regrettable allusion to charges of Jewish dual loyalties, and who opposed sanctions against Iran, and who called for direct negotiations with Hezbollah and Hamas, then when will you speak up?

Indeed, demonstrating a complete absence of political will to oppose a man like Hagel has its own risks.

What are brave United States lawmakers like freshman Senator Ted Cruz of Texas to make of AIPAC’s surrender? Are they to feel that they are the ones charged with protecting Israel while organizations who stated purpose it is to do just that sit on the sidelines?

UN Plan for ‘Palestine’: the Palestinian View

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Intentionally or unwittingly, by allowing the Palestinian Authority’s recent end-run around authoritative international law, the U.N. General Assembly set the stage for Israel’s incremental dismemberment.

The same must be said about the world organization’s now ritualistic condemnations of Jewish settlements in Jerusalem. What must Israel’s leaders be thinking?

For a start, they should be thinking about doctrinal continuity in all of the seemingly discrete Palestinian factions. From Arafat to Abbas to Mashaal, nothing fundamental has changed concerning goals within the Palestinian Authority, or in any of its sister terrorist organizations. In the still-prevailing Palestinian view, both formal and informal, Israel remains the unquestionably necessary focus of eradication. Literally. At the same time, among the Palestinians, there have been some very real transformations in the relative power of theology and politics.

Today, there is a vastly more influential religious core to such goals than was true in the old days, when even Marxists were permitted a prominent place in the pantheon of Palestinian terror infrastructures. Now, too, the fiery language of terror is usually more finessed and intermittent, and the operational tactics more subtle and cleverly disguised. Not even the always-unreciprocated policy of Israeli territorial surrenders is new. Several years back, when Prime Minister Sharon’s “disengagement” first created the intersecting conditions that subsequently led to Operations Cast Lead and Pillar of Defense, the Israeli hope was for some sort of enemy largesse. Instead, it became just another delusionary expression of a recurrently self-destructive national history.

Speaking of history, Mahmoud Abbas was originally part of a small fanatical group that first founded Fatah in 1959. He was always a loyal follower of Yaser Arafat, pretended to study in Moscow, and even penned a so-called doctoral thesis that celebrated Holocaust denial as a proper academic genre. Now generally called a “moderate” by the Israeli and the Jewish Left, and also by President Obama, his unhidden life goal remains the total destruction of Israel.

When Abbas agrees, periodically, to halt the “armed struggle,” it is always for a strictly limited period, and always as a patently tactical expedient. For the “moderate” Abbas, the mass murder of Jewish women and children does need to be controlled, not because it is wrong, but because it slows down the obligatory and utterly sanctified metamorphosis of Israel into “Palestine.”

For Abbas, incessant genocide against Jews is not morally objectionable; it is merely inconvenient.

Abbas has listened approvingly to endless Friday sermons in the mosques that recall the following Koranic verse: “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Prophet, and strive to make mischief in the land, is only this – that they should be murdered or crucified, or their hands and feet should be cut off on opposing sides, or they should be imprisoned.” As to those Muslims who allegedly collaborate with America or Israel, they are murtaddun (apostates), whose lives are “free prey.” In this respect, according to recent verdicts issued by The Shari’ah Court of the United Kingdom, “There is no difference between a man and a woman…. It is permissible to shed the blood of a woman who is a heretic (“harbiyya”) even if her fighting is limited to singing….”

This is just a “snapshot” of the Palestinian movement, now endowed by the U.N. with a legitimizing architecture of statehood. With such endowment, the Palestinians under both Abbas and Mashaal will continue to enhance their particular version of national self-determination, a version that is intrinsically linked to mass murder of “infidels.” In principle, perhaps, the purely political objective could conceivably have had some identifiable merit under international law, but not, however, when it is consciously constructed on a rising mountain of Jewish corpses.

By their intentional targeting of Jewish infants and children, by the placement of rocket launchers next to their own infants and children, all Palestinian terror groups are identifiably unique in their wantonness. Refusing to consider any Jew, anywhere, as worthy of protection from indiscriminate violence, these groups currently hold back from the next planned wave of suicide bombers only for narrowly tactical reasons.

Once it becomes clear that Israel itself is being transformed into “Palestine,” and that any further U.S.-mandated deportations of Jews from Jewish lands has cleared a usable path for Arab rockets and perhaps even radioactivity, a choreographed paroxysm of synchronized explosions will tear across Israel.

The Opposition (or Lack thereof) to Hagel

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Three thoughts as the U.S. Senate gears up to consider on Jan. 31 the nomination of Chuck Hagel for the position of secretary of defense:

(1) It’s more than a bit curious that Barack Obama should nominate a politician of no distinction, with no significant bills to his name, no administrative accomplishments, and no known ideas, to the hugely important post of secretary of defense. It’s even more curious that Hagel is known for only two foreign policy/defense views: being soft on Iran and hostile to Israel. This certainly sends a strong signal to Israel.

(2) It’s been dismaying to note that, after an initial expression of skepticism, American Jewish institutions have taken a pass on the Hagel nomination. It would appear that, for them, access trumps other considerations.

(3) In contrast, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), released a statement expressing opposition to Hagel on account of his “unacceptable blindness to the greatest security threat of our day,” namely Iran and Hezbollah. In addition, CUFI announced that at least 400 Christian leaders will travel to Capitol Hill this week to lobby representatives of all 100 senators.

Comment: Odd that CUFI is out there swinging and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is silent.

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