Archive for the ‘Israeli technology’ category

Good News from Israel

December 10, 2017

(This post is part of my Good News Friday posts that I publish every Friday, bringing good news from Israel to counteract all the gloom and doom that dominates the news cycle nowadays, and to shine a positive light on the Middle East’s only democracy. — anneinpt.)

Good News Friday | Anne’s Opinions, 8th December 2017

It’s been a very exciting week this week, and it’s a great feeling to close the week with another Good News Friday installment.

Besides the actual news of Trump’s speech recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the timing should be noted too. The speech took place just a day after the 69th anniversary of Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion’s announcement of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – 5th December 1949.

Chabadniks (Lubavitcher Hassidim) will assure us that the timing was perfect for another reason. The speech took place on 19th Kislev, the date that the original Lubavitcher Rebbe was released from the Tsar’s prison, and from that year on, the date is a great festival for Chabad.

But it’s not only Donald Trump who vocally supports Israel. Listen to this amazing speech by Vice President Mike Pence at the 70th anniversary of Resolution 181:

Brian of London describes Pence’s speech and quotes the highlights:

You can watch the whole speech above, but here are the most important passages:

We gather today on the eve of a historic anniversary to celebrate what happened here, in this very hall, 70 years ago when the United Nations declared to the modern world an ancient truth, that the Jewish people have a natural, irrevocable right to an independent state in their ancestral and eternal homeland. (Applause.)

So in May 1947, less than two years after its inception, the United Nations formed the Special Commission on Palestine to propose paths forward for that region.

And on November 29, 1947 — 70 years ago tomorrow — the General Assembly gathered in this great hall and passed Resolution 181, calling for creation of the Jewish State of Israel. (Applause.)

Now to be clear: Israel needed no resolution to exist, for Israel’s right to exist is self-evident and timeless.

Nor did that resolution create the State of Israel. For Israel was born of the sweat and the sacrifice of the Jewish pioneers who risked everything to reclaim their beloved lands, with — in those well remembered words — “with a plow in one hand and a rifle in another.”

They turned the desert into a garden, scarcity into plenty, and an age-old dream into a reality. And their striving and their sacrifice laid the foundation for what took place in this hall 70 years ago.

And only six months later, the Jewish State of Israel was born — answering the ancient question first asked by the prophet Isaiah: “Can a country be born in one day, can a nation be born in a moment?”

It happened when on May 14, 1948, Israel declared “the natural right of Jewish people to be the masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign state.” (Applause.)

While Israel was built by human hands, it’s impossible not to see the hand of heaven leading its people, writing their history in the restoration of this ancient people to their land of their birth.

In fact, the God of Abraham told His people, “Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there I will gather you and bring you back to the land which your fathers possessed.”

The quoting of prophet Isaiah is fantastic. If you want to understand how important that passage of Isaiah is relating to the rebuilding of Israel, Rabbi Lord Sacks wrote an extensive commentary. We’d expect nothing less from such a deeply religious mensch as Mike Pence, so it stands out dramatically as different from pretty much everything we’ve seen for almost a decade coming out of the USA.

Read the rest of the article – it’s excellent.

Turning now to a completely different subject, the following story demonstrates Israel’s care and concern for its neighbours in the entire region, even for its enemies, which Trump and Pence described so well (and which the antisemites deny or twist the facts about).

The IDF has expanded its medical facilities for Syrian civilians caught up in the civil war and has now equipped a maternity hospital over the Syrian border:

The Israel Defense Forces has equipped a new maternity clinic over the border in Syria, as part of its Operation Good Neighbor instituted a year and a half ago to provide medical, infrastructural and civilian aid to Syrian victims of the ongoing civil war.

An Israeli soldier cradling a child at the Israeli field hospital near the Syrian border. Photo courtesy of IDF Spokesman’s Office

The hospital reportedly was opened in November in response to an urgent request from Syrian doctors who saw that many women could not get to the existing maternity hospital due to the difficult conditions.

The clinic is staffed entirely by Syrian healthcare workers using equipment donated by the Israelis. More than 200 pregnant women so far have sought medical care at the new clinic, and 30 women have given birth there.

“We took a decision not just to sit on the fence and see people slaughtered and suffering every day – we decided to help them. And we understand that it might change their feeling about Israel a little bit – that we are not Satan,” the IDF commander of Operation Good Neighbor told The Jerusalem Post.

The IDF’s Mazor Ladach field hospital for Syrians includes a playroom and provides hot meals, hygiene products and medicine to take home. Photo courtesy of IDF Spokesman’s Office

Last September, the IDF set up a secure field hospital, Mazor Ladach (literally, Bandaging Those in Need) on an unused Israeli military post in the southern Golan Heights. The Israeli staff has cared for hundreds of Syrians already, according to the Operation Good Neighbor commander.

Mazor Ladach includes a playroom and also provides hot meals. “A Syrian mother who comes with her children leaves the clinic with healthier children and an aid kit from the State of Israel that includes food, basic hygiene products, and medicine,” wrote the commander on the IDF’s official blog.

In addition, over the past five years an estimated 4,000 wounded Syrians have been transported to Israeli hospitals for treatment.

I am so proud of our crazy little country! Kol hakavod is to mild a term to salute the IDF and its medical teams as well as the government authorities who worked towards providing this urgent medical care for the civilians of our enemies. Hopefully these actions will change attitudes (they are already) and make new friends out of our potential enemies.

And one more item from Israel’s medical sector. An extraordinary story of Mark Lewis, a British Jew who was suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS) and underwent successful stem cell treatment in Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem has been made into a UK Channel 4 TV documentary.

A prominent Jewish lawyer has taken part in a ground-breaking clinical trial at Israel’s Hadassah hospital that offers treatment which could finally offer a “miraculous” cure for the 2.5 million sufferers of multiple-sclerosis.

Mark Lewis — best known as the media lawyer who took on Rupert Murdoch over the newspaper phone-hacking scandal — is one of 48 patients to have participated in the revolutionary year-long trial at the internationally renowned hospital in Jerusalem.

At the Israeli hospital, Mr Lewis was injected with stem cells derived from his own bone marrow, directly into the spinal fluid.

Speaking to the JC before a Channel 4 documentary this week about his treatment, he said he had benefited immediately afterwards from “a miraculous 60 per cent improvement in my condition”.

He added: “Within minutes I had feeling and movement back that I had not had for years.”

“The Herzl quote they speak about a lot in Israel sums it up,” he said. “ ‘If you will it, it is no dream’.”

Watch this fantastic clip about Mark Lewis’ treatment and results:

Mr. Lewis’ observations about Israeli society are heart-warming, and it is great that they will receive a wide audience:

Mr Lewis praised the pioneering Israeli technology used by the multi-faith medical team at the university hospital at Ein Kerem. “The trial is the complete antithesis to BDS,” he said. “It is Israeli technology treating everybody with a team that has no concept of religion, nationality or whatever.

“It is purely about helping people, whoever and whatever they are — no matter what god they do or do not believe in.”

Mr Lewis said the sense of unity among the medical team was striking. “The leading professor was born in Greece and is Christian but is now an Israeli citizen. There was a Muslim doctor, there was someone from the former Soviet Union and there was a specialist who is the sister of someone known to be an Israeli ‘settler’.

“But all I noticed was this real sense of everybody pulling together to try and crack this thing.”

Research into the treatment’s efficacy for MS patients began at the Hadassah in 2007. It was one of the first experiments in which advances in stem cell treatments were applied to neurological diseases.

By a stroke of luck, Mr Lewis was holidaying in Israel nine years later when he heard from a friend that the hospital was seeking patients for the full-time trial.

Since being diagnosed with MS, Mr Lewis’s symptoms have grown progressively worse and he feared he would have to give up work within a few years. His life expectancy was put at just 65 years.

Mr Lewis said the first thing he did on flying out to Israel to begin the trial was to visit the Kotel to say prayers.

As to the treatment itself:

The treatment is extremely painful for the patient. In order to be injected directly into the spinal fluid doctors insert the needle, which is four inches long, between the patient’s vertebrae.

“I cannot describe to you the pain,” Mr Lewis said. “That injection took about one hour and 20 minutes — I thought I was going to faint.”

The patient’s own bone-marrow stem cells are first extracted, then enhanced and then injected into the spinal cord.

Each patient then undergoes monthly neurological evaluations including MRI scans and techniques to detect neuro-regeneration.

In addition, electrophysiological and visual tests are performed of patients’ brains with up to five complete neuro-cognitive evaluations performed for each patient.

Professor Karussis Dimitrios, Hadassah’s internationally renowned neuroimmunologist, will then write a report on the results allowing other medical facilities around the world to use the findings.

Mr Lewis says that some of the initial positive responses to the treatment have now began to fade and he believes another shot of injections would bring similar benefits.

“Think of it in the same way as if you were suffering from diabetes. You wouldn’t just be given one insulin shot and then told you were finished being treated.

“The treatment was over a year ago now – and I am ready for another shot. But that may never happen of course. It depends on the final results of the trial and the goodwill of the hospital.”

Kol hakavod to Professor Karussis Dimitrios and the entire research team at Hadassah Hospital for discovering and implementing this treatment. May Mark Lewis have a full and speedy recovery, refuah shlema, and may all the other countless sufferers of MS benefit from this treatment too.

On this optimistic note, I wish you all Shabbat Shalom. This week we celebrate the first days of Chanukah, so I wish you all Happy Chanukah, חג אורים שמח as well!

Israeli technology saving American lives and equipment

October 4, 2017

Israeli technology saving American lives and equipment, American ThinkerRuss Vaughn, October 4, 2017

One of the huge problems in fighting asymmetric wars such as America has been doing now for decades is that the advantage a major power has in expensive, sophisticated weaponry can be negated in seconds with an inexpensive, primitive weapon, with the rocket-propelled grenade being the classic example.  RPGs have taken out everything from helicopters to heavy tanks.  Now,  according to Global Security.org, the Army is doing something about it by doing a test refitting its main battle tank, the M1A2 Abrams, with a new advanced Israeli defensive system.

The US military will be installing the Israeli-built Trophy Active Protection System (APS) meant to intercept and destroy incoming missiles or rockets on their M1A2 Abrams tanks. This will make the US military the only other besides the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to use the defensive system.

The Trophy system consists of a quartet of radar antennae and fire-control radars that detects incoming projectiles, such as anti-tank guided missiles and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), and then destroys them with a blast like that from a shotgun.

It is a “hard kill” system, meaning it protects the vehicle by destroying the projectile; this is opposed to a “soft kill” system that interferes with the missile’s guidance and redirects it. Soft kill devices are useless against the simple RPGs popular with militant groups such as Daesh.

Jointly developed by two Israeli-owned state corporations, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the Trophy is the only combat-proven APS in the world.

The Pentagon made this decision after an “urgent material” request, they said in a press release on Thursday. Each system costs an estimated $350,000, and it will be first deployed to one of the US Army’s 14 Armor Brigade Combat Team’s squadron of 28 M1A2 SEPv2 variants, a nearly $10 million contract. It may then be added to other squadrons later on if it impresses, the Pentagon said.

Anti-materiel weapons such as RPGs have been a perennial thorn in the side of the US military and its allies. A $2,000 RPG launcher firing a $500 grenade can destroy or disable a $9 million Abrams tank. Over the course of 2014, the Iraqi Army lost 100 of the 140 Abrams the Americans had sold them in the fight against Daesh.

That last paragraph explains exactly why this is a good economical move by the Army.  Even a disabled tank can cost millions to retrieve from the battle area and return to a maintenance depot capable of making the necessary repairs, so just a few such “saves” can more than justify the cost of this program.  Other active protection systems, like the Iron Curtain, are being used to protect other military vehicles.  Let us hope more and better protection systems are in the works to protect these vehicles and their crews.

 

Israel’s 69th Independence Day: Remarkable Achievements, Continuing Dangers

May 2, 2017

Israel’s 69th Independence Day: Remarkable Achievements, Continuing Dangers, PJ MediaP. David Hornik, May 2, 2017

Israeli youths wave national flags as they enter Jerusalem’s Old City through Damascus Gate during a march celebrating Jerusalem Day, Sunday, May 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Israel’s growth is not, of course, merely quantitative; today it punches far above its weight in a wide range of fields. It was recently ranked the eighth most powerful country in the world. Compared to Israel’s 8.7 million people, the seven countries ranked above it have populations of: United States, 324 million; China, 1.37 billion; Japan, 127 million; Russia, 142 million; Germany, 81 million; India, 1.27 billion; Iran, 83 million.

Israel shines its light to the nations from a dark region, and its emergence as an incubator of optimism, vitality, and creativity is one of the great stories of our time.

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Today, Israel marks its 69th Independence Day. The country is a success beyond what anyone could have dreamed when independence was declared on May 14, 1948. (Today is May 2; Israeli holidays are guided by the Hebrew calendar.)

Around this time of year, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics publishes its annual data. Some of this year’s highlights:

Israel’s current population of 8.7 million is almost eleven times its population of 800,000 when it was established. Back then, 6 percent of the world’s Jews lived in Israel; now it’s home to 43 percent of world Jewry.

Since last Independence Day, the country’s overall population — Jews and non-Jews — has grown by 159,000: 174,000 births, 44,000 deaths, 30,000 new immigrants. Estimates show the population will reach 15 million by 2048; by then the Jewish portion of it should, by current trends, constitute a considerable majority of world Jewry.

In 1948, the “ingathering of the exiles” was a Zionist slogan. Today it’s a statistically demonstrable fact.

Since that era, large numbers of Jewish immigrants have come to Israel — particularly from post-Holocaust Europe, the Middle East, the Soviet Union, and the post-Soviet nations. At a time when Western countries’ fertility rates are falling perilously, Israel’s fertility rate keeps growing — and is far beyond that of any other Western country.

Israel’s growth is not, of course, merely quantitative; today it punches far above its weight in a wide range of fields. It was recently ranked the eighth most powerful country in the world. Compared to Israel’s 8.7 million people, the seven countries ranked above it have populations of: United States, 324 million; China, 1.37 billion; Japan, 127 million; Russia, 142 million; Germany, 81 million; India, 1.27 billion; Iran, 83 million.

How does Israel do it? By having incredible capabilities to offer in various domains.

Just some examples: Only the United States and China have more companies listed on the NASDAQ. Last year, a top Google official ranked Israel’s tech sector as second only to Silicon Valley for innovation. Israel also has “one of the highest per capita rates of patents filed” and “the 2nd highest publication of new books per capita.”

In the crucial field of desalination and water management, tiny Israel is the world’s leader. It’s also a “powerhouse in medical innovation.” And it’s a leader in disaster relief; last year the UN – which is generally hostile to Israel — ranked its army’s emergency medical team as “No. 1 in the world.” Israeli agriculture, too, is exceptionally innovative, and feeds a considerable part of the planet’s population.

Because of its circumstances, Israel has had to excel not only in saving and sustaining life but also in protecting it. It has the world’s most technologically advanced army and is “rapidly becoming the world leader” in cybersecurity. The prowess of its intelligence agencies, particularly the Mossad, has an almost mythological status.

When you’re so good at so many things, others want to benefit from it. The past few decades have seen a dramatic increase in the number of countries having diplomatic ties with Israel. From a pariah status in the 1970s, as of last year Israel had diplomatic relations with 158 of the world’s 193 countries. Apart from Arab and Muslim countries that still — at least officially — boycott Israel, that means almost all of the world’s countries.

That trend has included, perhaps most dramatically, rapidly growing ties with the world’s two largest countries, China and India. Both were formerly hostile to Israel, but are now — despite their size — eager to gain from what it can offer.

For all that, the world’s per capita most innovative, productive, beneficent country remains, almost seven decades after its birth, the only country specially marked for annihilation in some quarters.

Whereas decades ago Arab states led the push to eradicate the world’s only Jewish state, today the dubious mantle has passed to the Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies. Second only to that axis is the worldwide BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement, which uses the Goebbels big-lie technique to spread canards about “Israeli Apartheid” and the like — particularly on Western campuses where minds are being formed.

But after almost seven decades at the front line of civilization, danger and hostility are not new to Israel. Despite the pressures, the aggressions, and the losses, Israel ranks — perhaps surprisingly — high in yet another, more subjective domain. This year’s UN Happiness Index ranked Israel 11th in the world; other surveys have placed it in the top 10.

Israel shines its light to the nations from a dark region, and its emergence as an incubator of optimism, vitality, and creativity is one of the great stories of our time.

US-Israel security interests converge

April 28, 2017

US-Israel security interests converge, Israel Hayom, Yoram Ettinger, April 28, 2017

In 2017, the national security interests of the U.S. and Israel have converged in ‎an unprecedented manner in response to anti-U.S. ‎Islamic terrorism; declining European posture of deterrence; drastic cuts in ‎the U.S. defense budget; an increasingly unpredictable, dangerous globe; ‎Israel’s surge of military and commercial capabilities and U.S.-Israel shared ‎values. ‎

Contrary to conventional wisdom — and traditional State Department policy — ‎U.S.-Israel and U.S.-Arab relations are not a zero-sum game. This is ‎currently demonstrated by enhanced U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation, ‎concurrently with expanded security cooperation between Israel and Egypt, ‎Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other pro-U.S. Arab countries, as well as stronger ‎cooperation between the U.S. and those same Arab countries. Unlike the ‎simplistic view of the Middle East, Arab policymakers are well aware of their ‎priorities, especially when the radical Islamic machete is at their throats. They ‎are consumed by internal and external intra-Muslim, intra-Arab violence, which ‎have dominated the Arab agenda, prior to — and irrespective of — the ‎Palestinian issue, which has never been a core cause of regional turbulence, a ‎crown-jewel of Arab policymaking or the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict. ‎

Israel’s posture as a unique ally of the U.S. — in the Middle East and beyond — ‎has surged since the demise of the USSR, which transformed the bipolar ‎globe into a multipolar arena of conflicts, replete with highly unpredictable, ‎less controllable and more dangerous tactical threats. Israel possesses proven ‎tactical capabilities in face of such threats. Thus, Israel provides a tailwind to the ‎U.S. in the pursuit of three critical challenges that impact U.S. national security, significantly transcending the scope of the Arab-‎Israeli conflict and the Palestinian issue: ‎

‎1. To constrain/neutralize the ayatollahs of Iran, who relentlessly aspire to ‎achieve nuclear capability in order to remove the ‎U.S. from the Persian Gulf, dominate the Muslim world, and subordinate the American “modern-day Crusaders.”‎

‎2. To defeat global Islamic terrorism, which aims to topple all pro-U.S. Arab ‎regimes, expand the abode of Muslim believers and crash the abode of non-Muslim “‎infidels” in the Middle East and beyond.‎

‎3. To bolster the stability of pro-U.S. Arab regimes, which are lethally ‎threatened by the ayatollahs and other sources of Islamic terrorism.

Moreover, Israel has been the only effective regional power to check the North ‎Korean incursion into the Middle East. For instance, on Sept. 6, 2007, the ‎Israeli Air Force destroyed Syria’s nuclear site, built mostly with the support of ‎Iran and North Korea, sparing the U.S. and the globe the wrath of a ruthless, ‎nuclear Assad regime. ‎

While Israel is generally portrayed as a supplicant expecting the U.S. to extend a ‎helping hand, Adm. (ret.) James G. Stavridis, a former NATO supreme commander, ‎currently the dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts ‎University, says otherwise. He maintains that Israel is not a supplicant but ‎rather a unique geostrategic partner, extending the strategic hand of the U.S. ‎through a mutually beneficial, highly productive ‎relationship with the U.S.

On Jan. 5, 2017, Stavridis wrote: “Our ‎best military partner in the region, by far, is Israel … as we stand together ‎facing the challenges of the Middle East. … Israeli intelligence gathering is ‎superb. … A second zone of potentially enhanced cooperation is in technology ‎and innovation. … In addition to missile defense, doing more together in ‎advanced avionics (as we did with the F-15), miniaturization (like Israel’s small ‎airborne-warning aircraft) and the production of low-cost battlefield unmanned ‎vehicles (both air and surface) would yield strong results. … We should up our ‎game in terms of intelligence cooperation. [The Israeli intelligence ‎services] of our more segregated sectors on a wide range of trends, including the disintegration of Syria, the events in Egypt and the military and nuclear ‎capability of Iran. … Setting up a joint special-forces training and innovation ‎center for special operations in Israel would be powerful. … It truly is a case ‎of two nations that are inarguably stronger together.” ‎

Unlike other major U.S. allies in Europe, the Far East, Africa and the Middle East, ‎Israel does not require U.S. military personnel and bases in order to produce an ‎exceptionally high added value to the annual U.S. investment in — and not ‎‎”foreign aid” to — Israel’s military posture.

For example, the plant manager of Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the ‎F-16 and F-35 fighter planes, told me during a visit to the plant in Fort Worth, Texas: “The ‎value of the flow of lessons derived from Israel’s operation, maintenance and ‎repairs of the F-16 has yielded hundreds of upgrades, producing a mega-‎billion-dollar bonanza for Lockheed-Martin, improving research and ‎development, increasing exports and expanding employment.”

A similar ‎added value has benefitted McDonnell Douglas, the manufacturer of the F-15 fighter plane ‎in Berkeley, Missouri, as well as hundreds of U.S. defense manufacturers, ‎whose products are operated by Israel. The Jewish state — the most ‎predictable, stable, effective, reliable and unconditional ally of the U.S. — has ‎become the most cost-effective, battle-tested laboratory of the U.S. defense ‎industry. ‎

According to a former U.S. Air Force intelligence chief, Gen. George Keegan: ‎‎”I could not have procured the intelligence [provided by Israel on Soviet Air ‎Force capabilities, new Soviet weapons, electronics and jamming devices] with ‎five CIAs. … The ability of the U.S. Air Force in particular, and the Army in ‎general, to defend NATO owes more to the Israeli intelligence input than it ‎does to any other single source of intelligence.” The former chairman of the ‎Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Daniel Inouye, revealed that “Israel ‎provided the U.S. [operational lessons and intelligence on advanced Soviet ‎ground-to-air missiles] that would have cost the U.S. billions of dollars to find ‎out.”

On Oct. 28, 1991, in the aftermath of the First Gulf War, then-Defense ‎Secretary Dick Cheney stated: “There were many times during the course of ‎the buildup in the Gulf, and subsequent conflict, that I gave thanks for the ‎bold and dramatic action that had been taken some 10 years before [when ‎Israel destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak].” The destruction of Iraq’s ‎nuclear capabilities in 1981 spared the U.S. a nuclear confrontation in 1991.

An Israel-like ally in the Persian Gulf would have dramatically minimized U.S. ‎military involvement in Persian Gulf conflicts, and drastically reduced the ‎monthly, mega-billion dollar cost of U.S. military units and bases in the ‎Gulf and Indian Ocean, as is the current Israel-effect in the eastern flank of ‎the Mediterranean.‎

Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of Second Thought: A U.S.-Israel Initiative.

Toward a True US-Israel Partnership

February 24, 2017

Toward a True US-Israel Partnership, Front Page MagazineCaroline Glick, February 24, 2017

us_israeli_flags_wikimedia_commons

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

Unlike the US, Israel has used the past generation to develop cutting edge technological capabilities in almost all of the areas where the Americans are lagging behind their competitors. Under these circumstances, Obama’s military assistance is exposed not merely as bad for Israel. It is bad for the US as well.

Israel can help the US compensate for its current scientific disadvantages. Israeli technological innovations can help the US to rebuild its independent capabilities and leapfrog its competitors far more rapidly than it can do on its own today.

An R&D partnership with Israel is also aligned with Trump’s vision for a renewed role for the US in global affairs. As Defense Secretary James Mattis told the US’s NATO allies this week, the US will not continue carrying the load of protecting the West on its own. It wants its allies to be its partners, not its dependents.

In Mattis’s words, “America will meet its responsibilities, but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to the alliance, each of your capitals needs to show support for our common defense.”

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In his speech before the members of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations in Jerusalem this week, President Reuven Rivlin said that Israel has three overriding foreign policy concerns: “Number 1: Relations with America. Number 2: Relations with America. Number 3: Relations with America.”

There is a lot of truth in Rivlin’s hyperbolic statement.

Israel’s security depends on its relationship with the US. After all, the Russians and the Chinese won’t sell Israel fighter planes. Russia couldn’t develop strategic ties with Israel even if it wanted to. Its Iranian ally wouldn’t let it.

As for China, its mercantilist view of the Middle East makes it indifferent to the power balances in the region. Beijing may not harbor hostile intentions toward Israel, but it will act in a hostile fashion if it views China’s interests as advanced by such hostility.

While Israel rightly is working to diversify its foreign ties to move beyond the narrow scope of its alliance with the US, the fact is that with or without Australia and sub-Saharan Africa, the US remains Israel’s irreplaceable ally.

Unfortunately, today even the friendliest US administration cannot be relied on to secure Israel’s long-term capacity to defend itself. Israel faces enemy forces equipped with Russian and Chinese technologies – including Russian forces in Syria – that are rapidly challenging American systems in key areas. So long as the US remains behind the technological eight ball, Israel’s long-term reliance on its military ties to the US is a dangerous proposition.

Things didn’t use to be this way. At the start of the 21st century, America’s military power was unrivaled. From the end of the Cold War until the turn of the century, neither Russia nor China could challenge the US and its status as the sole global superpower.

That is no longer the case.

In a distressing article published this week in the American Affairs Journal, David Goldman details the technological crisis the US is steeped in today.

Goldman notes that the US is lagging behind the Russians and the Chinese in air defense systems and technologies, missile technology, particularly hypersonic missile technologies, submarine warfare, cyber warfare technologies and satellite interdiction capabilities.

To bridge the gap and outpace the Chinese and the Russians, Goldman argues that the US needs to initiate massive government-funded research and development programs.

In the post-Cold War era, Goldman notes ruefully, Americans have forgotten that they were ever vulnerable, that their victory against the USSR was anything but preordained.

The actual history, Goldman reminds us, was quite different. The US victory in the Cold War was the result of conscious decisions by US leaders to outstrip Soviet technology after American technology was shown to be lagging behind.

In 1957, the Americans reacted to the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik with a crash program in space exploration. That program, which benefited from lavish federal funding, ended the Soviets’ advantage in aerospace technology inside of a decade.

During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the Americans realized that the Egyptian success in downing Israeli jets over Sinai in the early days of the war meant that the Soviet surface-to-air missiles Egypt fielded had neutralized US air superiority. The Americans realized that the Soviets’ technological advantage meant that they would win a land war in Europe.

Consequently, Goldman explains, the US initiated détente to avert a war in Europe. At the same time, the Americans began to develop the technologies to defeat the Soviets. Massive public investments in defense R&D followed. A decade later, Ronald Reagan announced the Strategic Defense Initiative; the Soviets realized they couldn’t compete, and eight years later, the USSR collapsed.

The Americans weren’t the only ones to respond to Israel’s air losses in 1973 with a massive investment in defense R&D aimed at destroying Russia’s technological advantage with its surface-to-air missiles.

Israel responded to its exposed vulnerabilities by developing the electronic warfare capabilities to neutralize Soviet SAM batteries. As Goldman recalls, in 1982, Israel matched US air platforms – the F-16 and F-15 – used in combat for the first time in the Lebanon War – with its own homegrown computer- based electronic warfare systems. So equipped, Israel eliminated Syria’s Soviet-built surface-to-air batteries and its Soviet-supplied air force, in a stunning air victory.

Whereas in the 1950s and the 1970s, the US had the domestic scientific capacity to quickly regroup in the face of Soviet technological advances, today the US’s path to rebuilding its technological advantage is less clear. Since the Cold War, the US government slashed its investment in military R&D.

According to Goldman, as a percentage of GDP, today US government investment in R&D is barely half of what it was in 1978.

Goldman bemoans the self-imposed evisceration of America’s capacity to develop the knowledge it requires to regain the technological advantage over the Chinese and the Russians.

In his words, “The national laboratories are hollowed out, and the major corporate laboratories (at IBM, the Bell System, General Electric, and RCA among others) that contributed significantly to defense R&D during the Cold War no longer exist. Within the shrinking defense R&D budget, a disproportionate share has been squandered on the F-35, a poorly conceived and executed weapons system with the highest price tag in defense history.”

And it won’t be easy to rebuild them. For 25 years, the US has not only shut down its own laboratories, it has done little to encourage its citizens to acquire the knowledge they need to rebuild that capacity.

Goldman notes for instance that currently, China graduates twice the number of STEM PhDs from its universities as the US.

This brings us back to Israel. In the 1980s, the US regarded the stunning technological advances Israel had made with suspicion. America feared that Israel’s growing technological capabilities would diminish its dependence on the US, at a time when the US was most concerned with keeping the Arab states inside the anti-Soviet bloc and keeping the Soviets out of the Middle East.

Last year, then-president Barack Obama forced Israel to agree to a multi-year military assistance package that if implemented will diminish Israel’s independent technological capabilities while expanding Israel’s technological dependence on the US.

While the aid package increases the amount of US funds Israel is permitted to spend on US systems from $3.1 billion to $3.3b. per year, the deal phases out Israel’s right to use a quarter of the funds on its domestically built systems.

Obama’s aid package also denies Israel and Congress the ability to initiate joint projects to meet new challenges as they arise.

In short, Obama’s deal ensures Israel will be incapable of acting on its own and will remain dependent on US goodwill and technologies for the foreseeable future.

This then brings us back to the US’s swiftly vanishing technology advantage.

Unlike the US, Israel has used the past generation to develop cutting edge technological capabilities in almost all of the areas where the Americans are lagging behind their competitors. Under these circumstances, Obama’s military assistance is exposed not merely as bad for Israel. It is bad for the US as well.

Israel can help the US compensate for its current scientific disadvantages. Israeli technological innovations can help the US to rebuild its independent capabilities and leapfrog its competitors far more rapidly than it can do on its own today.

An R&D partnership with Israel is also aligned with Trump’s vision for a renewed role for the US in global affairs. As Defense Secretary James Mattis told the US’s NATO allies this week, the US will not continue carrying the load of protecting the West on its own. It wants its allies to be its partners, not its dependents.

In Mattis’s words, “America will meet its responsibilities, but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to the alliance, each of your capitals needs to show support for our common defense.”

Earlier this month, Prof. Hillel Frisch published a short paper for Bar-Ilan University’s BESA Center showing the utter dishonesty of the claim that Israel is the largest recipient of US military aid. Frisch noted that US military assistance to Japan, Germany, Italy and South Korea far outstrips its assistance to Israel. All of those states receive US military assistance in the form of US forces permanently deployed to their territory to protect them. Israel, on the other hand, receives aid in military equipment only. No US assets are endangered, no US forces are required to defend Israel. And the financial burden of the former is far great than that of the latter.

Trump is interested in states like Japan and Germany transforming their strategic relations with the US from relationships based on dependency to partnerships by increasing their military spending.

What Israel’s technological and innovation prowess shows is that as far as Israeli defense assistance is concerned, the US should base its relations with Jerusalem on each sides’ complementary capabilities.

America and Israel should abrogate Obama’s military assistance package and replace it with a partnership based on US finance of Israeli R&D projects geared toward developing weapons systems and technologies that both the US and Israel require.

The deal should stipulate the modalities for both sides sharing the technologies with third parties, and their rights to use the technologies developed by Israel with US capital for civilian commercial purposes. Israel should be permitted to purchase US platforms based on Israeli-developed technologies.

Such a partnership would enable Israel to ensure that its continued dependence on the US won’t place it at a disadvantage vis-à-vis its enemies such as Iran, which are able to purchase advanced weapons systems from Russia and China. Such a partnership would ensure that both the US and Israel have the systems they need to outpace Chinese and Russian technological advances and develop the weapons systems they need to win tomorrow’s wars.

In his remarks before the Conference of Presidents, Rivlin voiced concern at the fact that Israel has become a partisan football in US politics. His concern is well placed.

Assuming that Israel’s dependence on the US will be a fixed variable for the foreseeable future, Israel needs to consider the best way of ensuring that the alliance will persevere regardless of the partisan attachments of future presidents.

The best way to ensure the resilience of the US-Israel alliance over time is for Israel to transform its military dependence into a mutually beneficial alliance with the US. A new military relationship based on joint technology development rather than Israeli purchase of US platforms is the best way to accomplish that goal, for the benefit of both countries.

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.