Netanyahu in India: Prof. Efraim Inbar, Israel Hayom, Jan. 12, 2018— Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits India just half a year after the first historic trip of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel (July 2017)
Considering Netanyahu’s Transformational Leadership: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 7, 2018— Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the most underappreciated leader Israel has ever had.
Is the IDF Ready for Our Next War?: David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 29, 2017 — I came away from a conference this week deeply concerned about the IDF’s battle preparedness; actually, about its fighting spirit and ethos.
War Prevention: A Top IDF Goal: Yaakov Lappin, BESA, Dec. 18, 2017— At the end of October, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman addressed graduates of a military officer’s course at Training Base 1, deep in Israel’s Negev Desert.
Meretz Reshuffles Israeli Left's Political Deck: Mazal Mualem, Al-Monitor, Jan. 10, 2018
WATCH: The IDF ‘Dreams Big and Achieves Big’: United With Israel, Dec. 13, 2017
2017 Was Tough But Successful Year for Israeli Army: Tsivya Fox, Breaking Israel News, Jan. 8, 2018
General Says ‘Jewish Brains’ Have Found Solution to Eliminate all Hamas Tunnels: Tamar Pileggi, Times of Israel, Jan. 14, 2018
Prof. Efraim Inbar
Israel Hayom, Jan. 12, 2018
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits India just half a year after the first historic trip of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel (July 2017). These visits reflect the significant expansion in relations between the two countries that has taken place since the establishment of full diplomatic relations in 1992.
Since Modi came to power in May 2014, his Bharatiya Janata Party government has shed its predecessors' reservations regarding India's ties with Israel. Noteworthy, Modi's trip to Israel was not "balanced" with a visit to the Palestinian Authority, indicating that India has decoupled its relations with Israel from its historical commitment to the Palestinian issue. India has even occasionally refrained from joining the automatic majority against Israel in international fora. The two states decided to focus on the bilateral relationship.
The strategic glue consists of high levels of threat perception and a common strategic agenda. Both have waged major conventional wars against their neighbors and have experienced low‐intensity conflict and terror, as they are both involved in protracted conflicts characterized by complex ethnic and religious components not always well understood by outsiders. Weapons of mass destruction are in the hands of their rivals. Both regard parts of the Arab world as hubs for Islamic extremism – a common threat. Moreover, India fears the Pakistani nuclear arsenal might ultimately fall into the hands of Islamic radicals, while Israel sees the mix of Islamic zeal in Iran with nuclear ambitions as an existential threat. The offshoots of ISIS threaten the stability of Egypt and Jordan – Israel's neighbors – and are increasingly sources of concern in South and Southeast Asia.
Indeed, the first paragraph of the India-Israel joint statement issued at the end of Modi's visit in Israel states that that the friendship between the two states has been raised to "a strategic partnership." Modi explained, "Israel and India live in complex geographies. … We are aware of strategic threats to regional peace and stability. … Prime Minister Netanyahu and I agreed to do much more together to protect our strategic interests." Washington is important for Jerusalem and New Delhi. India, a major player in the international system, has improved relations with the U.S. Nevertheless, New Delhi's links with Jerusalem have the potential to smooth over some of the difficulties in dealing with the U.S. Working with Israel fits into Modi's plan to deepen relations with the U.S. given the U.S.‐Israel friendship.
The American Jewish organizations valued the importance of India for the U.S. and for Israel, as well as the potential advantages of nurturing good relations with the Indian community in America, whose political power is on the rise. The Jewish and Indian lobbies worked together to gain the George W. Bush administration's approval for Israel's sale of the EL/W-2090 Phalcon airborne early warning and control system to India. In the fall of 2008, Jewish support was important in passing through the U.S. Congress the U.S.‐India nuclear deal, which allowed India access to nuclear technology for civilian use despite its not being a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Two strategic developments of the 21st century are likely to strengthen the strategic glue between India and Israel: the perceived decline of the U.S. and the rise of China. In the Middle East, the American reluctance to get involved in the region helped Iran's quest for hegemony. U.S. weakness inevitably has ripple effects in other parts of the globe. Indeed, Asian states view the declining American role with concern…
Gradually, India has overcome its reservations about security cooperation with Israel. It is not only on counterterrorism, which preceded the establishment of diplomatic relations and has been conducted away from the public eye. The November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks underscored the need for better counterterrorism preparations in India and elicited greater cooperation with Israeli agencies.
Arms supply and technology transfer have also become important components in the bilateral relationship. Israel's export policy is flexible, meeting Indian demands for technological transfer and offsets. The India-Israel Joint Statement hailed the defense cooperation, noting that India and Israel agreed that "future developments in this sphere should focus on joint development of defense products, including transfer of technology from Israel, with a special emphasis on the ‘Make in India' initiative."
As result of the successful overtures of its military industries, Israel has become the third‐largest arms supplier to India. Over the years, New Delhi purchased Israeli advanced radar and communications equipment and turned also to Israel for portable battlefield radars, night warfare vision equipment, and electronic fences to improve border monitoring. A long list of Israeli military items, such as ammunition, UAV parts, and missiles (Spike anti‐armor, the Python‐4 air‐to‐air, naval Barak 8 surface‐to‐air) are being produced in India.
Recent examples of purchase include a contract for two additional Phalcon systems, valued at $1 billion, signed during the November 2016 visit of President Reuven Rivlin to India. Additional large contracts were concluded before Modi's visit to Israel last year. The occasional difficulties in implementing the Indian military procurement contracts do not obscure the general trend of close cooperation. These deals are part of India's $250 billion plan to modernize the armed forces by 2025 amid tensions with neighbors China and Pakistan.
For Israel, good relations with India reflect an awareness of structural changes in the international system as the center of gravity moves to Asia and the Pacific Rim. India is an extremely important protagonist that requires Israel's utmost attention. While national security issues, including defense contracts, are an important facet of the bilateral relations, it is only one component. The joint statement mentions a myriad of agreements in the civilian sphere: space, water management, agriculture, science and technology. In addition, the two countries decided to create a $40 million innovation fund to allow Indian and Israeli enterprise to develop innovative technologies and products with commercial application.
Netanyahu values very much Israel's relations with Asia, particularly India. His visit will be an opportunity to gauge the progress made in the bilateral relationship, overcome the blocks hindering the implementation of the agreements signed during the Modi visit and further cement India's strategic ties with the Jewish state. Netanyahu will adopt once more the salesman role and try to expand economic relations between the two countries and promote Israel's image as a technological giant and an important member of the international community.
Jerusalem Post, Jan. 7, 2018
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the most underappreciated leader Israel has ever had. In the near future, he will likely take Israel’s first prime minister David Ben-Gurion’s title of the longest-serving premier. Yet, Netanyahu is not only perceived as being a leader of less significance than Ben-Gurion. He is considered a less consequential leader than prime ministers like Levi Eshkol, Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon, whose records in office are far thinner than Netanyahu’s.
Both Netanyahu’s detractors and supporters view his long stewardship of Israel as largely inconsequential because Netanyahu has not overseen any grand, headline-grabbing initiatives. He didn’t declare Israel’s independence, as Ben-Gurion did. He didn’t lead Israel through the 1967 Six Day War and so oversee Israel’s greatest military victory to date, as Eshkol did. He didn’t recognize the PLO, like Rabin. He didn’t withdraw from Gaza like Sharon did. He hasn’t withdrawn from Judea and Samaria, as Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert tried to do. He didn’t surrender south Lebanon to Hezbollah, as Barak did.
True, grand initiatives like all of these have left their marks on Israel – for better and for worse. And no, Netanyahu has no grand initiative in his record. But when you stop and think about what Netanyahu has accomplished during his more than a decade in office, it rapidly becomes clear that he has adroitly and successfully transformed Israel for the better in a way that no leader except Ben-Gurion has done.
Netanyahu has operated in a media environment more hostile than any his predecessors ever faced. Despite this, beginning with his first term in office in the late 1990s, Netanyahu authored and implemented the economic reforms that transformed Israel from a sclerotic socialist backwater into a prosperous first world economy. All of Israel’s citizens have benefited from the change. Consider, for instance, that when Netanyahu replaced Olmert in office in 2009, Israel’s per capita GDP stood at $27,000. By 2016, it had risen to $37,000.
Rather than seeking to transform Israel’s diplomatic weakness through a grand gesture of appeasement to the PLO, as so many of his predecessors tried to do, Netanyahu opted, instead to leverage the economic prosperity he engendered. He turned Israel’s economic strength into the foundation of a new, far more powerful diplomatic strategy. It served to return Israel to Africa after a forty year absence. More importantly, Netanyahu used Israel’s comparative economic advantages to develop strong diplomatic and economic relations with China, India and other major markets and great powers for the first time in Israel’s history.
As for Russia, far from the spotlights, Netanyahu has skillfully and quietly cultivated a strong personal relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin based on mutual respect. Military and intelligence officers credit the understandings Netanyahu has reached with Putin regarding the war in Syria as the reason Israel was able to avoid getting sucked into the conflict on its northern border while still protecting its strategic interests.
As for Israeli-US ties, for eight years, Netanyahu deftly ducked and parried and waited out Barack Obama’s presidency. He kept Israel strong and safe and able to defend itself despite Obama’s support for its enemies and hostility toward the Jewish state. No other Israeli leader could have withstood the Obama administration’s pressure to make strategically cataclysmic concessions to the Palestinians. So too, no Israel leader would have been capable of leading the opposition to Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran as Netanyahu did.
Had Netanyahu remained silent as Obama gave the keys to the nuclear club to the ayatollahs, Obama and his echo chamber would have successfully demonized opposition to the deal. It was Netanyahu with his unswerving, reasoned opposition to the centerpiece of Obama’s foreign policy that empowered Republicans and even some Democrats to maintain their public opposition to the deal. Their opposition, in turn, paved the way for President Donald Trump’s decision last October to refuse to certify Iranian compliance with its terms. As for Trump, Netanyahu has deftly cultivated his relations with the new president. Trump’s respect for Netanyahu’s statesmanship empowers the president to break with the failed Middle East policies of his predecessors and base his policies on support for America’s allies and opposition to its enemies.
So yes, it is true that Netanyahu’s long tenure in office has been largely undramatic. But his record of accomplishments makes clear that drama is not what we should be seeking. Under his quiet, workaday leadership, Netanyahu has transformed Israel into an economic and military power. He has cultivated good relations with Israel’s regional neighbors and with the nations of the world.
He has developed constructive and mutually beneficial ties with all the major world powers while preserving and enhancing Israel’s strategic alliance with the US. All of these accomplishments render Netanyahu one of Israel’s most successful leaders. Indeed, they place him second only to Ben Gurion as the most significant leader Israel has ever had.
David M. Weinberg
Jerusalem Post, Dec. 29, 2017
I came away from a conference this week deeply concerned about the IDF’s battle preparedness; actually, about its fighting spirit and ethos. I hope that the weaknesses exposed by the experts I heard from can be corrected in time for our next military confrontation. On the one hand, it is apparent that the IDF is building an impressive capacity to crush Hezbollah and Hamas and Iranian assets in Lebanon, Syria and Gaza when the next inevitable round of fighting ensues.
Major General Yair Golan, the immediate past deputy chief of staff, and Major General (res.) Yaakov Amidror, former national security advisor to Prime Minister Netanyahu, told a forum convened by Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies (JISS) that the IDF is intensively training its front-line combat troops for decisive ground offensives against Israel’s enemies. “No amount of airpower is going to win the next battles for us or be able to quash enemy missile fire on Israel. We will have to maneuver on the ground in large formations with power and agility,” Golan says.
The two generals also emphasize that the IDF and IAF are better equipped than ever with tactical communications systems, exact targeting systems, accurate field intelligence, outstanding cyber abilities and robotic weapons, alongside world-leading air force platforms (F-35 jets and killer drones) and naval platforms (submarines and more). Golan’s view is that the Russian military and political entrenchment in Syria can also play in Israel’s favor – if Israel plays its cards well. Only Russia can rein in Iran’s operatives and militias in Syria, not the US; and Russia may discover an interest in doing so as its economic investment in Syrian reconstruction grows.
Amidror, who is now the Anne and Greg Rosshandler Senior Fellow at JISS, is of the view that Israel has a very deep bench: a powerful economy and industry, a motivated citizenry and army, and a resilient home front. “Israel is a huge power, and can overwhelm any of the Islamist forces that surround us.” But here is where doubts seep in. Is this country’s leadership hardening the home front for the resilience needed going into our next confrontations? And is the fighting spirit of the IDF all that it needs to be? Not so much, according to other experts I heard from this week.
Uzi Rubin, a senior fellow at JISS who was founder of the Israel Missile Defense Organization in the Ministry of Defense (which developed the Arrow missile), warns that the Iranian strategy is a long war of attrition against Israel; a series of “nuisance” wars that will eat away at the Israeli economy and make life here intolerable. Without significant investments in the protection and survivability of national infrastructures – which Rubin says Israel isn’t sufficiently making – he fears a collapse of national resilience leading to emigration from Israel.
Lt. Col. (res.) Eytan Honig of the Kohelet Forum has a different concern – that IDF soldiers are being fed a diet of liberal-progressive messages that undermine their fighting spirit and determination. He says that over the past two decades the IDF outsourced its “values” education to civilian associations which wrenched the IDF’s “moreshet krav” (combat legacy) programs away their foundations in Maccabee and Zionist ethos, and towards curricula that emphasize humanitarian values and international law. (Honig believes that the IDF is beginning to fix this, by bringing its educational programs back in-house; but I’m not sure this is a real remedy)…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
BESA, Dec. 18, 2017
At the end of October, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman addressed graduates of a military officer’s course at Training Base 1, deep in Israel’s Negev Desert. During his speech, he warned of Iran’s attempt to place a chokehold around Israel, including an attempt to take over Syria. He warned that Israel would not back down from the need to act when necessary to lift this chokehold. “We do not search for adventures, and our role is to first of all ensure the security of the citizens of the State of Israel, and to prevent wars as much as possible,” Lieberman said. “And that occurs, first and foremost, through strengthening deterrence, and through an effort in the diplomatic arena.”
Those brief comments accurately reflect the priority list guiding the Israeli defense establishment. War prevention is at the top of the list, but if war cannot be prevented, then winning it as quickly and decisively as possible shares the top spot. War prevention receives little attention among the general public, yet it is a central planning component that guides the decision-making of the Israeli defense establishment on a daily basis.
The merits of war prevention are self-evident. The absence of high profile armed conflict, and the stability offered by prolonged periods of quiet, cultivate the Israeli economy. They offer Israeli citizens the chance to focus on their daily, routine affairs, free from the traumas and severe disruptions created by conflict, and free from enemy projectile fire on Israeli cities and towns. This boosts Israeli morale and national resiliency. A prolonged quiet also enables the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to focus on force build-up and restructuring programs. These are critical in allowing the military to adapt to the challenges posed by the 21st century hybrid terrorist armies that have formed across the Middle East, and to prepare for the multiple challenges posed by the Iranian regime.
Lieberman’s comments alluded to a central tactic used to promote war prevention: deterrence. This is a somewhat hazy concept and far from an exact science, but recent experience has shown that it can be developed and fortified through a range of actions. These include an effective force build-up program accompanied by the selective use of Israel’s enhanced strike powers.
In the War Between the Wars – Israel’s low-profile military and intelligence campaign to selectively disrupt the force build-up of the Iranian-led axis – force has reportedly been used for at least six years. In other words, low-profile, pinpoint military strikes, made possible by breakthrough intelligence capabilities and advanced weaponry, have served the goal of war prevention. They demonstrated to enemies both the extent of Israel’s intelligence penetration of their activities and the lethality of standoff, precise firepower that can strike targets near and far. These strikes also, according to international media reports, place limits on the force build-up program of Hezbollah and its Iranian sponsors by preventing them from becoming overconfident. They are now less willing to launch provocations against Israel that can deteriorate into war, as Hezbollah did in 2006 when it attempted to kidnap Israeli soldiers.
In this complex security environment, then, military strikes, if conducted correctly, can push back war and promote the goal of war prevention. “We will not hesitate, even for a single moment, to prevent the Iranians from setting up a chokehold [in Syria],” Lieberman vowed. Such a statement is designed to enhance Israeli deterrence, and thereby serves the objective of war prevention. This deterrence is magnified when it is backed up by action. This thinking can be found across the Israeli defense establishment, and has been alluded to in comments by the high command…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Meretz Reshuffles Israeli Left's Political Deck: Mazal Mualem, Al-Monitor, Jan. 10, 2018—Israel's Meretz Party decided to change its internal election system Jan. 7, transferring power from the 1,000 members of its Central Committee to a primary system open to all the party's members. In this way, Meretz hopes to restore the relevance it lost after a decade of crises and political indolence.
WATCH: The IDF ‘Dreams Big and Achieves Big’: United With Israel, Dec. 13, 2017 —The Israeli military constantly faces new challenges – and adapts, training in the air, on land and at sea and creating new technology in order to respond to a multitude of threats. In this monthly update, Lt. Col. Jonathan describes some of the major successes of the IDF, including, for example, the “Knights of the Jordan Valley” and the launch of the naval Iron Dome.
2017 Was Tough But Successful Year for Israeli Army: Tsivya Fox, Breaking Israel News, Jan. 8, 2018—The Israel Defense Force (IDF) recently published the latest statistics on terror attacks in Israel for 2017. The numbers show that Israel’s soldiers, in conjunction with intelligence, did an impressive job protecting the country and her citizens.
General Says ‘Jewish Brains’ Have Found Solution to Eliminate all Hamas Tunnels: Tamar Pileggi, Times of Israel, Jan. 14, 2018— An IDF general on Sunday said the Israeli military, helped by the “Jewish brain,” had devised a solution that would see all of Hamas’s cross-border tunnels into Israel destroyed.