Archive for the ‘Israeli technology’ category

The Resilience of Israel

December 29, 2016

The Resilience of Israel, Town HallVictor Davis Hanson, December 29, 2016

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The Obama administration’s estrangement from Israel has had the odd effect of empowering Israel.

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Israel would seem to be in a disastrous position, given the inevitable nuclear capabilities of Iran and the recent deterioration of its relationship with the United States, its former patron and continued financial benefactor.

Immediately upon entering office, President Obama hectored Israel on so-called settlements. Obama promised to put “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel — and delivered on that promise.

Last week, the U.S. declined to veto, and therefore allowed to pass, a United Nations resolution that, among other things, isolates Israel internationally and condemns the construction of housing in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Obama has long been at odds with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Over objections from the Obama administration, Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress last year about the existential dangers of the Obama-brokered Iran deal and the likelihood of a new Middle East nuclear proliferation race.

Obama then doubled down on his irritation with Netanyahu through petty slights, such as making him wait during White House visits. In 2014, an official in the Obama administration anonymously said Netanyahu, a combat veteran, was a “coward” on Iran.

At a G-20 summit in Cannes, France, in 2011, Obama, in a hot-mic slip, trashed Netanyahu. He whined to French President Nicolas Sarkozy: “You’re tired of him? What about me? I have to deal with him every day.”

In contrast, Obama bragged about his “special” relationship with autocratic Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Never mind that Erdogan seems to want to reconstruct Turkey as a modern Islamist version of the Ottoman Empire, or that he is anti-democratic while Israel is a consensual society of laws.

The Middle East surrounding democratic Israel is a nightmare. Half a million have died amid the moonscape ruins of Syria. A once-stable Iraq was overrun by the Islamic State.

The Arab Spring, U.S. support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the coup of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to regain control of Egypt, and the bombing of Libya all have left North Africa in turmoil.

Iran has been empowered by the U.S.-brokered deal and will still become nuclear.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bombers blast civilians not far from Israel’s borders.

Democrats are considering Rep. Keith Ellison as the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee despite his past ties to the Nation of Islam and his history of anti-Israel remarks.

Yet in all this mess, somehow Israel is in its best geostrategic position in decades. How?

The answer is a combination of unintended consequences, deft diplomacy, political upheavals in Europe and the United States, and Israel’s own democratic traditions.

Huge natural gas and oil finds off Israel’s Mediterranean coast and in the Golan Heights have radically changed Israel’s energy and financial positions. Israel no longer needs to import costly fossil fuels and may soon be an exporter of gas and oil to needy customers in Europe and the Middle East. (America recently became the world’s greatest producer of carbon energy and also no longer is dependent on Middle Eastern oil imports, resulting in less political influence by Arab nations.) Israel is creating its own version of Silicon Valley at Beersheba, which is now a global hub of cybersecurity research.

The Obama administration’s estrangement from Israel has had the odd effect of empowering Israel.

Rich Persian Gulf states see Obama as hostile both to Israel and to themselves, while he appeases the common enemy of majority-Shiite Iran.

After a “leading from behind” U.S withdrawal from the Middle East, many Arab nations now see Israel more as a powerful ally against Iran than as an old existential enemy. They also see Israel as a country that has likewise been snubbed by America.

The idea of an Arab-Israeli understanding is surreal, but it is developing from shared fears of being targets of Iranian bombing and American indifference.

Many of Israel’s neighbors are threatened by either ISIS or al-Qaida nihilists. Those deadly dangers remind the world that democratic, free-market Israel is the sole safe port amid a rising Middle East tsunami.

Changing Western politics are empowering Israel as well.

More than 2 million migrants — for the most part, young males from the war-torn Middle East — have terrified Europe, especially after a series of radical Islamic terrorist killings. Suddenly, Europe is far more worried about Israel’s neighbors than about lecturing Israel itself.

Pushback against the Obama administration extends to its foreign policy. President-elect Donald Trump may be more pro-Israel than any recent U.S. president. And he may be the first U.S. leader to move the American embassy to Israel’s capital in West Jerusalem.For all the chaos and dangers abroad, the map of global energy, Western politics and Middle Eastern alliances has been radically redrawn.At the center is a far stronger Israel that has more opportunities than at any other time in its history. It will have an even brighter future after Obama has left office.

Israel Puts the Spike Missile on its Apache Helicopters

November 17, 2016

Israel Puts the Spike Missile on its Apache Helicopters, Gatestone InstituteStephen Bryen and Shoshana Bryen, November 17, 2016

For this reason, Israel concluded that the U.S. under Obama was not a reliable supplier of either helicopters or missiles.

Israel’s Spike is superior to the Hellfire. It has longer range, making it safer to use against an enemy that possesses shoulder-fired ground to air missiles.

Worse yet, despite Saudi Arabia’s horrible bombing performance in Yemen, the U.S. continues to sell billions of dollars’ worth of weapons and has stepped up shipments of munitions.

The Spike is a better option than the Hellfire and safer to use, which is why 25 nations now use the missile and 25,000 or more have been produced.

 

Sometimes when decisions do not work out exactly as intended, they work out just fine.

In the midst of Operation Protective Edge — Israel’s response to 182 Hamas rockets and mortarsfired at Israeli towns and villages in the first week of July 2014 — the Obama administration accused Israel of “heavy handed battlefield tactics,” including the use of artillery instead of precision-guided munitions. U.S. President Barack Obama halted the supply of Hellfire missilesand announced that all military equipment supplied to Israel would be vetted individually in the White House, instead of shipped, according to prior agreements, by the Pentagon to Israel.

The President, it appears, had been reading wild press stories about the damage to Gaza — which ultimately turned out to be concentrated in areas in which Hamas was stockpiling munitions and rockets and conducting command and control operations, which included firing more than 2,700 rockets and missiles during the rest of July. Israel struck an UNRWA-administered school, prompting cries of outrage, but UNRWA later admitted that it covered up that Hamas had used the school for military operations.

The Hellfire decision was especially ironic because it is a precision munition, generally less broadly damaging than bombs dropped from aircraft. The Hellfire can be fired from airplanes, drones and helicopters.

Ironic, too, because the United States has used Hellfire missiles against terrorists — often without the permission of the countries in which the terrorists were killed. A Hellfire was used to kill Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Kahn, American citizens, in Yemen. Al-Awlaki was designated a terrorist, and Kahn the editor of the al-Qaeda magazine Inspire, but U.S. law may have been violated by their assassination.

Israel carried the Hellfire on its Apache helicopters — and the story of Israel’s purchase of 42 Apaches is also one of difficulty. In 2009, the Obama administration blocked the delivery of six of the Apaches to Israel, on the grounds Israel might use them in Gaza. U.S.-Israel military cooperation on the Apache was made difficult and as Obama’s dislike of Israel and Israeli security policy increased, the Hellfire on the Apache became the White House target.

For this reason, Israel concluded that the U.S. under Obama was not a reliable supplier of either helicopters or missiles. After the 2014 operation in Gaza, Israel turned to the Israeli manufacturer Rafael, developer of the hugely successful and potent Spike anti-tank missile. Rafael was to adapt Spike technology to the Apache, while the helicopter retained Hellfire capability at the same time.

The decision was fairly easy, because Israel was already working on adopting the Spike to helicopters in Europe, where the Spike is a big hit. Spain has already installed the Spike ER version on its Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters. Others in Europe and Asia are doing the same.

2048A Tiger attack helicopter carrying two racks of Israeli Spike ER missiles. (Image source: Airbus Helicopters)

Israel’s Spike is superior to the Hellfire. It has longer range, making it safer to use against an enemy that possesses shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles known as MANPADS. Since Benghazi, sophisticated MANPADS, including US-made Stingers (the same as were used in Afghanistan in “Charlie Wilson’s War”), have been smuggled from Libya and are now in the hands of terrorists including Hezbollah and ISIS.

The Spike features a non-line-of-sight firing capability, making it a more flexible weapon. But one feature of Spike that is entirely missing in Hellfire is that the operator can change target in mid-course or even destroy the weapon in flight if the target turns out to be wrong — a capability that is not trivial. During the Yugoslav war, NATO aircraft on a number of occasions hit targets that should have been aborted. One such incident occurred during an attack to knock out the Grdelica Bridge near Belgrade on April 12, 1999. When the missile was launched, the bridge was empty; when it struck some minutes later a civilian train was crossing and destroyed. On May 1, 1999 in Kosovo, NATO planes hit a bridge at Luzane where, again, a school bus came along after the missile was launched, killing many school children.

The Obama administration should never have cut off the sale of a precision weapon such as the Hellfire in the middle of battle. It was bad policy: it signaled the unreliability of the U.S. at that time as an ally. Worse yet, despite Saudi Arabia’s horrible bombing performance in Yemen, the U.S. continues to sell the Saudis billions of dollars’ worth of weapons, and has stepped up shipments of munitions. So Israelis have reason to believe that America failed her at a moment when it counted.

But there is a silver lining. The Spike is a better option than the Hellfire and safer to use, which is why 25 nations now use the missile and 25,000 or more have been produced.