National Best Interest: John Golan, Jerusalem Post, July 9, 2016— Despite what some might wish us to believe, the United States does not provide aid to Israel out of charity.
Why Bibi Defeated the Generals: Evelyn Gordon, Commentary, July 8, 2016 — It’s pure chance that Amir Tibon’s lengthy essay on “Netanyahu vs. the Generals” appeared just 10 days after the Brexit vote, but both demonstrate the same blind spot on the part of the so-called elites.
Bracing For Next War, IDF Troops Drill for Mass Casualty Rocket Strike: Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel, July 8, 2016— Smoke, explosions, rubble, screams, blood.
Reflections On The Second Lebanon War: Dr. Jonathan Spyer, Jewish Press, July 7, 2016— Ten years since the Second Lebanon War.
Israel: The World's Most Moral Army (Video): Prager U, Dec. 7, 2015
Israel Balks at Obama’s New 10-Year Aid Offer: Barbara Opall-Rome, Defense News, July 15, 2016
No One-Shot Solution to the Hamas Challenge: Prof. Efraim Inbar, BESA, June 30, 2015
How Much Should Israel Fear ISIS? (Video): Daniel Pipes, Middle East Forum, July 12, 2016
Jerusalem Post, July 9, 2016
Despite what some might wish us to believe, the United States does not provide aid to Israel out of charity. Rather, it is a strategic investment, closely tied to US interests in the region: safeguarding the only reliable ally that the US has in that corner of the world; stabilizing the Arab-Israeli conflict and deterring Israel’s neighbors from resorting to war; giving Israelis the security that they need to make the painful concessions necessary for peace, should Israel’s neighbors eventually return to the negotiating table; and doing so without requiring the direct intervention of US troops, as has been necessary in virtually every other conflict zone in the world. Towards achieving these ends, the US has received more than its money’s worth. Which is what makes it all the more vital that negotiations over the next 10 years of security assistance should not fall prey to petty personality conflicts or to individual grievances.
The 10-year, $40 billion aid package that the Israeli government has reportedly negotiated its way down to, would amount to an annualized increase of only 2.9-percent over the prior 10-year agreement – only slightly greater than the pace of inflation. In the aftermath of a deal that fortified Iran’s defenses – freeing up billions for Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs, as well as arming Iran’s proxies along Israel’s borders – it should be readily evident that such an increase should be the minimum appropriate. What is equally essential toward supporting US objectives, however, is the sustainment of the off-shore portion of this aid.
Of the $3.1 billion in annual aid that Israel currently receives (neglecting for a moment separate funds allocated by Congress for ballistic missile defense), one quarter has been made available for off-shore procurement of goods and services in Israel. This funding goes to pay for everything from daily weapons maintenance and air base renovations – things that can more affordably be acquired locally in Israel – to the procurement of unique weaponry available nowhere else. As history has proven, exercising this spending power locally is not only more cost-effective, due to lower Israeli labor rates, but also provides specialized weaponry that often goes on to benefit both Israel and the United States.
For decades, Israeli arms developers have pioneered technologies that have provided the Israeli armed forces with unique capabilities. Israel’s multilayered missile defense system – from the shortrange Iron Dome designed to protect against Hamas rockets to the long-range family of Arrow interceptors intended to defend against Iranian ballistic missiles – is today the only battle-tested, tiered network of its kind. Combining Israeli innovation and program management with serial production capabilities in the United States has benefited the defense and industrial capabilities of both nations.
Similarly, Israel pioneered the systematic use of unmanned air vehicles for both surveillance and strike roles decades ago, and remains a leader in this field. Moreover, time-and-again Israeli- developed weapons have stepped in to bridge gaps in the US arsenal: from the AGM-142 Have Nap or “Popeye” airto- ground missile, developed in Israel and manufactured in the US by Lockheed- Martin for use by American armed services; to helmet-mounted sights and displays that were designed, developed and battle-tested in Israel before being transferred to the US for production under a joint-venture for service in the US armed forces.
There is a long-standing pattern of the US benefiting from Israeli innovations. This has been no accident. Israeli arms developers are invariably closer to the needs of their military customers than are their counterparts in the US. Furthermore, Israeli developers have proven adept at overcoming a natural inclination to reinvent every detail and component technology each and every time that a new weapon is developed – instead focusing their energy on those attributes that are truly unique and add value. The result has been a more effective, affordable approach to weapons development.
This is not a new trend. A case in point was provided decades ago by the Lavi fighter program. By the estimate of the US GAO at the time, the Lavi development effort was expected to deliver a fighter uniquely adapted to Israel’s strike aircraft requirements at a total development cost of a mere $1.9 billion in Fiscal 1985 dollars. In contrast, the US Navy’s F/A-18 development effort – adjusted to Fiscal 1985 dollars – had cost some $3.38 billion. Combining both US and Israeli components and subsystems, the Israeli development team had re-used existing technologies in actuators, engines, and fly-by-wire computers to keep the program’s development cost to a minimum – allowing them to focus their innovation instead on those features that would grant the Israeli warplane superior survivability over the battlefield.
Israeli weapons developers have succeeded precisely because they have taken a practical, evolutionary approach to adding capability as the technology matured and became available. Israel’s first helmet-mounted sights, for example, were deployed into front line fighter cockpits with a sight only, and without a visual display. Visual displays were added only later, as the technology matured and could meet the space and weight requirements of a high-g fighter. Still later, the field-of-view for the visual display was expanded. It was a practical, incremental approach to fielding technology that succeeded where many other developers with an all-or-nothing strategy had failed…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Commentary, July 8, 2016
It’s pure chance that Amir Tibon’s lengthy essay on “Netanyahu vs. the Generals” appeared just 10 days after the Brexit vote, but both demonstrate the same blind spot on the part of the so-called elites. After thousands of words describing the Israeli defense establishment’s years-long, no-holds-barred war against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Tibon’s verdict, shared by everyone he interviewed, is that Netanyahu has succeeded in curbing defense officials’ power to thwart his policies. Yet Tibon seems at a loss to explain why the widely loathed Netanyahu was able to defeat the most respected institution in Israel. In fact, the reason is the same one that produced the Brexit campaign’s victory: Experts, however respected, will never be able to persuade voters to disregard the lessons of their own lived experience.
As Tibon readily admits, the defense establishment consists “mostly of men who grew up in the strongholds of the left-leaning Israeli Labor Party” and hold dovish views. Thus they were understandably appalled by many of Netanyahu’s positions, such as that Israeli-Palestinian peace isn’t currently achievable, or that the Iranian nuclear deal was a disaster.
What is neither understandable nor acceptable, however, is that they then proceeded to flout one of the fundamental norms of democracy: Instead of respecting the elected government’s right to set policy, they sought to undermine Netanyahu’s policies in every conceivable way. For instance, at the very moment when Netanyahu’s government was lobbying Congress for stiffer sanctions on Iran, then-Mossad chief Tamir Pardo met with American senators and lobbied against new sanctions, claiming they would cause another Mideast war. His predecessor as Mossad chief, Meir Dagan, “had a direct communication channel with Obama’s first-term CIA director, Leon Panetta, over the head of Netanyahu,” Tibon wrote.
While Tibon doesn’t specify what they discussed, Panetta himself, interviewed by Israel’s Channel 2 television in May, implied that Dagan was passing on information about the government’s internal debate over attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities. In any normal democracy, both Pardo and Dagan would have been promptly fired for such insubordination–and Dagan might well have been investigated for espionage.
Nevertheless, for most Israelis, the top voting issue isn’t proper democratic norms, but security. And this, remarkably, is where defense officials really lost the Israeli public. As Tibon acknowledges, the defense establishment overwhelmingly backed the Oslo Accords. But most Israelis consider Oslo a disaster since it led to a massive upsurge in terror. Palestinians killed more Israelis in 2000-04 alone than in the entire previous 53 years of Israel’s existence. Tibon also acknowledges that defense officials overwhelmingly supported the disengagement from Gaza. But most Israelis think that, too, was a disaster: It led to thousands of rockets and mortars being fired at Israel from Gaza over the last decade, compared to zero from the Israeli-controlled West Bank.
Finally, as Tibon painstakingly documents, almost every single defense official who served under Netanyahu publicly challenged his position on the peace process. They argued that an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal should be Israel’s top priority and that it was achievable if Netanyahu would just do it. But most Israelis disagree. They’ve seen the Palestinians reject repeated Israeli final-status offers over the past two decades; they’ve seen the upsurge in terror that followed every territorial cession to the Palestinians, the massive incitement perpetrated by our Palestinian “peace partners,” the consistent denial of any Jewish rights in the Land of Israel. And consequently, like Netanyahu, they have overwhelmingly concluded that peace isn’t currently achievable.
This disconnect between the defense establishment and ordinary Israelis was even more glaring in a riveting article that appeared in Haaretz just two days after Tibon’s piece ran in Politico. It consists largely of interviews with numerous former senior Israeli defense officials about Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences in Israel for the murder of five Israelis.
Almost without exception, these officials agreed on two things. First, although the court managed to convict him of only five murders, Barghouti was, in fact, the person in charge of Fatah’s armed wing throughout the second intifada, meaning he was actually responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Israelis killed by Fatah members. And second, despite all the Israeli blood on his hands, he shouldn’t be in jail: Israel should never have arrested him to begin with; once it did so, it should have released him quickly; and having failed to do that, it should at least release him now, or very soon. Why? Because, these experts say, he’s the one who can deliver a Palestinian peace deal.
Needless to say, most Israelis don’t share this enthusiasm for releasing vicious killers. But even more importantly, they don’t buy the theory that a mass murderer is the key to making peace–because Israel already tried that theory 23 years ago, and it failed spectacularly. This, after all, was precisely the argument for signing the Oslo Accords with Yasser Arafat: Only a leading anti-Israel terrorist had the credibility to make peace with Israel. Instead, it turned out that despite his glib talk of peace in English, what Arafat really wanted to do was what he had always done–kill more Israelis. And there’s no reason to think Barghouti is any different, because he, too, glibly talked peace during Oslo’s heyday, yet returned unhesitatingly to organizing mass murder just seven years later…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Judah Ari Gross
Times of Israel, July 8, 2016
Smoke, explosions, rubble, screams, blood. Down in the south of Israel, a residential building in Safed was hit by a missile with a half-ton warhead. There was no immediate body count, but videos surfaced on social media of people trapped in collapsed building and under cars. Not really, of course. This was a search and rescue exercise by the Israel Defense Forces’ Home Front Command, on their base in Zikim near the Gaza border.
The residential building hit by a rocket in “Safed” was actually hundreds of miles away from the real northern Israeli city. The explosions and smoke were clever pyrotechnics. The blood was fake, as were the screams. The rubble has been there for years, playing the part of numerous Israeli cities for search and rescue exercises. Sunday’s exercise was designed to be immersive, as close to the real thing as possible, with fake rocket alert sirens blaring in the background, pretend journalists interviewing rescue workers and the aforementioned pyrotechnics and other theatrics meant to reproduce the clamor of such attacks.
“This advanced training exercise also included the integration of IDF officers, police officers, firefighters and Magen David Adom,” Brig. Gen. Dedi Simchi, chief of staff for the Home Front Command, told The Times of Israel on the sidelines of the exercise. Less than a week after a real rocket fired from Gaza struck an Israeli kindergarten in Sderot, IDF soldiers took part in a large, theatrical drill on Sunday designed to imitate just such an incident. The timing was a coincidence. The exercise had been planned long before last Friday night’s attack. But the recent strike demonstrated the necessity of drills like it.
In Gaza, Lebanon, Syria or Iran, the immediate threats to Israel come in the form of rockets, missiles and mortars. While Israel possesses one of the world’s best missile defense batteries, the IDF has repeatedly stressed that those systems are not a panacea, that in the next war the country needs to be prepared for civilian casualties and strikes on Israeli cities. “In the next war, we determined that a lot of missiles of varying sizes and types will fly at the Israeli home front. Some of them will hit residential areas,” Simchi said.
Israel may be a society that is used to war, but the Israeli civilian population has not been seriously harmed during a war in decades. In the 2014 Gaza war, six Israeli civilians died. In the 1973 Yom Kippur War — arguably the closest the Jewish state came to destruction — though approximately 2,500 Israeli soldiers were killed in the fighting, there were zero Israeli civilian deaths. The only person who died away from the front lines in the October war was an air force pilot who was killed when a Syrian surface-to-surface missile struck the Ramat David base in northern Israel. Israel’s last war with a large number of civilian casualties was in fact its first, with some 2,400 non-combatants dying in the War of Independence.
Those figures are undoubtedly a testament to the IDF’s ability to protect the civilian population, but they may also give Israeli citizens a false sense of security, one that the IDF top brass has worked and is working to fix. “I don’t think that the population isn’t prepared. But I do think that we need to adjust citizens’ expectations. In the past three rounds with Hamas in Gaza, the rockets weren’t so heavy,” he said.
In a speech last month, the head of army intelligence Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevy stressed the importance of those “expectations.” “In the Yom Kippur War, we had one person” — the IAF pilot — “killed on the home front from a Syrian missile. The situation in the next conflict will be completely different,” Halevy said. As such, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot instructed the Home Front Command to put additional effort into preparing itself and the country for attacks, Simchi said. “We understand that the home front is going to be the secondary front in every war. If there’s going to be a war up north or down south, the Israeli home front is going to be hit with rockets,” Simchi said.
In addition to large-scale exercises, like the one conducted on Sunday, this has meant speaking with the country’s rescue services and government agencies to ensure that there is an understanding of who is responsible for what during an emergency — something that Israel has not always excelled at. “Today there are agreements — written and signed — between the Home Front Command and National Emergency Authority, written and signed agreements between the Home Front Command and the Israel Police. We are ready,” Simchi said.
“There’s no doubt that since the Second Lebanon War, everything dealing with the home front and emergency preparedness has improved greatly. For instance, Simchi offered, in the 10 years since that conflict, the precision of Israel’s rocket alert system has improved tenfold. Where the country was once divided into 25 alert zones, there are now 250, Simchi said, and there are plans to make the system even more accurate. In addition to the military’s improvement, individual Israeli cities have also become more prepared for rocket attacks, the brigadier general said. “Approximately 93 percent of the local authorities are in ‘Good’ condition, which we define as being able to handle threats and know how to provide a response [to disaster],” he said. “There’s a lot to do, but we’ve done a lot. We have a very good trend of improvement.”
Dr. Jonathan Spyer
Jewish Press, July 7, 2016
Ten years since the Second Lebanon War. For those of us who took part in it, that war remains always just in view. Like a suitcase filled with items of vivid memory, waiting quietly in the corner of a room. It was an entirely inglorious and partially botched and inconclusive affair. A “great and grave missed opportunity” as the second report of the Winograd Committee termed it.
It has also been rapidly forgotten. This, it seems, is the way of the small wars that Israel fights these days. None of them passes into legend, as did the great conflicts of the state’s foundation. Today’s conflicts, after a short time, become largely the private property of those who participated in them. That’s perhaps not a bad thing. Perhaps it is akin to the rapidity with which Israeli cities clear up and move on after terror attacks. Still, the long quiet that has followed the 2006 war on the northern border has helped to further obscure some of the lessons of that summer. It is worth therefore recalling, in unforgiving focus, some of what took place.
A cabinet led by individuals with minimal security experience (and a prime minister and president now serving jail terms), and an IDF led by its first chief of staff from the Air Force set out for war with the Iranian proxy Hizbullah organization in July 2006. It is now evident that no coherent and achievable plan for the conduct of the war had been decided on at the rushed and overheated cabinet meeting that set it in motion. This problematic, unprepared leadership was in turn commanding an army ill suited for the war it would need to fight.
There were two reasons for the IDF’s state of unreadiness. The first was practical: The 2006 war came immediately after an intensive five-year period of counter-insurgency, in which the IDF was engaged against a large scale Palestinian uprising. The demands of the Second Intifada left little time for training for conventional war. The challenges faced by troops at that time were considerable. But they were mainly of a police-like nature, not employing or testing the specialized skills of front line military units in battlefield conditions. This army in 2006 found itself facing a well armed, mobile enemy, on terrain the Israeli side knew far less well than its foe.
The resulting difficulties were compounded by a second, conceptual issue. The 2006 war was not the fight the army was expecting. Chief of Staff Dan Halutz expected to spend his period at the IDF’s helm facing the key challenge of the Iranian nuclear program and focusing on ballistic missile defense. Future wars, it was assumed, would be fought using air power, with small numbers of trained specialists on the ground. As a result, resources had in preceding years been diverted from training the large, reserve land army. It was assumed that this was a force unlikely to be used. In 2006, some reserve armored formations, as a result, went into battle against Hizbullah having taken part in only one training exercise using tanks in the previous half decade. Full disclosure: I was a member of such a force.
These were the circumstances in which Israel went to war in 2006. The war for the greater part of its duration consisted of limited ground operations by the IDF in an area adjoining the border, air operations up to Beirut, as well as a successfully maintained naval blockade; and on Hizbullah’s side, defense of areas under ground attack and a successful effort to maintain throughout a constant barrage of short-range rockets on northern Israel. A cease-fire went into effect at 8 a.m. on August 14, following the passage of UN Resolution 1701. The end of the fighting found some IDF forces deployed at the Litani River, but with Israel far from control of the entire area between the river and the Israeli-Lebanese border…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Israel: The World's Most Moral Army (Video): Prager U, Dec. 7, 2015—Is the Israeli military a paragon of morality and wartime ethics? Or is it an oppressive force that targets innocent Palestinian civilians and commits war crimes as a matter of policy?
Israel Balks at Obama’s New 10-Year Aid Offer: Barbara Opall-Rome, Defense News, July 15, 2016—Israeli industry is bracing for lost funding and layoffs as a result of a proposed $38 billion, 10-year US military aid package that rescinds Israel’s ability to convert a significant portion of US grant dollars into shekels for local research, development and procurement.
No One-Shot Solution to the Hamas Challenge: Prof. Efraim Inbar, BESA, June 30, 2015 —A senior Defense Ministry source in Israel said recently that a confrontation with Hamas is inevitable, and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) must be prepared for it. The source added, significantly, that “the next round must be the last one for the Hamas government.”
How Much Should Israel Fear ISIS? (Video): Daniel Pipes, Middle East Forum, July 12, 2016—Dr. Daniel Pipes is the founder and president of the Middle East Forum and a prolific commentator on the Middle East. He joins me now to discuss the threats on Israel's borders. Dr. Pipes, welcome.