September 7, 2004
Friend of FLAME:
The following article by Patrick D. O'Brien is of great importance and
deserves careful reading.
There are many, even among those who wish us well, who believe that
Israel benefits disproportionately from U.S. largesse. Yes, it is quite
true that the US is Israel's best and most constant friend, but it is
not, as many believe, a one-way street.
Israel is an unwavering friend of the United States, in a most critically
strategic area of the world most important and most helpful.
Mr. O'Brien explains that clearly and details the importance of Israel
to the United States under the rubrics of Invaluable intelligence
information, Technical/economic gains, A democratic presence
in the Middle East, and Peace through superior fire power.
To repeat: You will find this essay to be most enlightening, and it
will help you in explaining to your friends and to even those who are
not so friendly how important Israel is to the US in its fight against
world terrorism and how deserving Israel is of US support and assistance.
Why Do We Support Israel?
Does the average American understand what's at stake?
By Patrick D. O'Brien
The United States and Israel have many mutual political interests. Ethical
and altruistic considerations aside, this is the primary impetus behind
international alliances. I do love Israel, and I am proud that my nation
is Israel's best friend, but I know that it's not for purely noble reasons.
Geopolitical maneuvering and backroom deals are part and parcel of the
international political landscape. However, so long as such practical
matters of utility are necessary, I am very glad that such a fortuity
has brought our two nations and peoples together. As an average citizen,
I don't need to understand in great detail every facet of our complex
relationship with Israel, but I've learned that the Jews of Israel have
much in common with us culturally, politically, and economically. I
consider them to be my brothers and sisters, and I can't imagine not
having Israel as our friend. Sadly, not all Americans understand this
I've noticed over the years how many of Israel's most ardent critics
here in the U.S. decry the amount of foreign aid that the United States
gives to Israel (this year's estimate is about $2.7 billion, down from
last year's $3.7 billion). It seems to be their favorite point of criticism
because it is a hard, established number. One also notes how a lot of
these same people are of the opinion that the "Palestinians"
are engaged in a legitimate conflict against an aggressive occupying
force, and so they take issue with the fact that much of the assistance
provided to Israel from the U.S. is in the form of military aid (about
80% this year). I have heard on more than one occasion the mournful
plaint, "I don't know about you, but I don't like knowing that
my tax dollars are being used to fund the military of a country that
kills children." Of course, the fact that Israel is only trying
to protect its own children all too often from these same Arab
children is wholly lost on these people. I won't comment right
now on the implicit value judgments in such selective affinities.
Personally, I would support Israel no matter what. It's abundantly clear
to me that it is only just to do so. Not all of my fellow citizens get
that, though. So I'd like to make a more practical and compelling case
for why the United States should and must support Israel.
To begin with we are both democratic states trying to maintain order
and stability in a disorderly world which sometimes has all the stability
of a drunkard on stilts. Interestingly, many of Israel's American detractors
don't seem to consider just how little the United States gets in return
for its aid to other states in the same region as Israel. Jordan, Egypt,
Turkey, and the Palestinian Authority together receive U.S. aid comparable
to that of Israel, which is in large part, to placate them. Egypt is
basically paid not to attack Israel. If one looks into the matter at
all, it becomes clear that Israel actually earns its U.S. foreign aid,
and then some. The double standard employed by Israel's American critics
in this matter is somewhat disturbing. This article is an appeal to
my fellow Americans who do not understand why it is not only moral,
but also imperative for the United States to do its part to ensure Israel's
welfare, and indeed, survival.
Among the most important assets that Israel provides the U.S. with in
return for financial assistance are:
Invaluable intelligence information: The war on terror
is a euphemistic title which really means "the war on Islamofascism."
Israel is on the front lines of this war every day, and has been for
some time now. Rabid anti-Semitism is more or less de rigueur in Arab/Muslim
society, accounting for some of the hatred fueling the terror. Israel
is also despised for bringing democracy, success, and the rule of law
to an area which knows very little about such things. In the hate-polluted
and culturally stagnant waters that are modern Arab/Muslim affairs,
Israel has been the local target of choice for the irrational fury of
Islamic terror. As a consequence, Israel has excelled at combating terror
like no other nation on Earth.
A crucial part of neutralizing Islamic terror is having good, actionable
intelligence. Useful and current data needs to be gathered and properly
analyzed before it can be acted on. Since Arabic is one of Israel's
official languages, Israeli agents are on the ball with electronic,
on-the-ground, and print intelligence. They've got agents all over the
Arab world. And since 9/11, U.S. intelligence agents and special operations
soldiers have begun to pay special attention to the Israeli playbook,
because Israel knows better than anyone how to fight fourth-generation
warfare. We've participated in joint exercises with Israel in spheres
of warfare that are somewhat alien to us, since we haven't had to deal
with vicious criminals trying to blow up our kids every day. To be frank,
we are pretty damn fortunate to have Israel's expertise to help guide
us in these matters. Now more than ever, America needs this sort of
tutelage and intelligence support. In my book, that's worth about a
Technological/economic gains: Not only does Israel easily
rank among the world's elite in intelligence gathering and analysis,
but its citizens are brilliant and highly educated. Beyond the cultural
Jewish spirit for excellence, they have the incentive to succeed in
unique ways economically because of Israel's scant natural resources.
So, Israelis have tapped into their greatest and most reliable resource:
themselves. In fifty-six short years, Israel has accomplished what many
nations haven't been able to do in centuries. With a driving demand
for survival and success against all odds, Israelis developed an energetic
and ambitious entrepreneurial enthusiasm.
This attitude has helped to propel Israel to world leadership in the
fields of medicine, scientific research (many disciplines), agriculture,
telecommunications, high-tech electronics and software (the country's
leading industrial sector), and more recently, the biotechnology industry.
To quote industrialist Efi Arazi, "Israel now has a critical mass
in high technology that is far ahead of anything in Europe." The
United States is deeply involved in many of these enterprises and derives
enormous benefits from Israel's unrivaled supremacy in many of these
fields. And of course, many American businesses will be given preferential
treatment in securing joint venture contracts for Israeli projects.
Many Americans have no idea how many Israeli contributions are part
of our life. The drug Copaxone, which gives hope to those suffering
from multiple sclerosis, was developed by Israelis at the Weizmann Institute.
ICQ instant messaging was invented by four young Israelis in their twenties,
and bought by AOL. Israel's drip irrigation systems save between 40-50%
of water usage, while giving a 300% return in crop increase. Israel's
innovation and supreme industrial feats confer massive benefits to their
economy and to America's. Another billion here, I'd say.
A democratic presence in the Middle East: I think it's
pretty hard to put a price on this, especially when considering the
totalitarian states in that area whose people hate America and the west.
Having moved past its strategic role as America's democratic foothold
in the Middle East against the "Red Menace" of Soviet Russia,
Israel is now viewed by some to be our bulwark against the area's "Green
Menace" of militant Islam. I don't personally believe that Islam
will ever be an insuperable threat to western civilization. I optimistically
like to think that we'll (all) eventually deal with it, if for no other
reason than to save ourselves and our freedoms (not to mention the millions
of Muslims who might not be averse to a departure from grinding misery,
repression, and poverty). However, until the rest of the free world
gets its tolerant and multicultural head out of la-la land, it's a good
idea for both Israel and the United States to have a strong and defensible
secular democracy in the region. The Middle East is hardly the most
stable place in the world, and poses severe, if not long-term challenges
to democracy. With the psychotic mulllahcracy of Iran, the oil-drunk
Saudi terror sponsors, and various other erratic and violent regimes
in its immediate neighborhood, Israel has some experience dealing with
this sort of thing. We can only gain from this experience.
Below the strata of our governments, I see a mutual affinity among American
and Israeli citizens with regard to shared values like: freedom of speech,
the rule of law and due process in court, freedom of the press, freedom
of religion, equality between sexes, and all of the other worthy advantages
of democracy. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing if hateful
Muslim Arabs look at Israel and its democratic principles with scorn
and enmity. Israel is a reminder of what sort of governance truly works
for its people, offering freedom and happiness. It's high time the Arab
world got beyond its visceral rejection of innovation based upon a backward
and anachronistic amalgam of religion, tribal values, entrenched statism
and xenophobia. There are other considerations of security which make
having a democratic ally in the Middle East an idea that behooves the
United States. Cha-ching! - there's another billion. Israel's U.S. foreign
aid has now more than paid for itself. But wait, there's more.
Peace through superior firepower: The cooperative military
ventures between Israel and the United States are nothing short of spectacular.
The strategic value derived from these joint projects is hard to measure,
and the lives they save makes them priceless. The Arrow missile, as
was shown recently, promises to be an indispensable replacement for
the useful, yet not quite useful enough, Patriot missile system. From
the Tactical High Energy Laser (THEL) and satellite technology, to Israel's
state of the art Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) and down to more mundane
military matters, the U.S. takes advantage of Israel's technological
prowess and pioneering spirit. In today's world, military supremacy
is of paramount importance for free nations, and the U.S. and Israel
are a step ahead of everyone else. This is all the more important to
the U.S. when we now have the same monsters hammering on our door as
Israel's. Also, I'm sure there are also a few black book projects that
we don't yet know about. Heck, that's got to be worth another billion,
And when it comes to military might, Israel reigns supreme in the Middle
East. The IDF has approximately 150,000 active duty strength troops
and another estimated 500,000 regularly trained reservists which can
be mobilized inside of 72 hours. This formidable fighting force is also
equipped with the best available equipment, armaments, intelligence,
and logistical support. And Israel's Air Force has a fleet second in
size only to the United States.
After having had to defend Israel in five major wars, the IDF is among
the world's most seasoned and battle-trained armed forces. With fresh
hostilities each day, Israel's sons and daughters in the IDF are regularly
tested and retested in battle. Israel is also in possession of (openly)
secret nukes. In the unlikely event of America needing a "helping
hand" in the region, isn't it good to know that Israel's first-rate
military is on our side? They're numerous, well-trained, disciplined,
armed to the teeth, and they're already there no deployment.
It may well prove to be quite a godsend one day.
The value of the peace (and peace of mind), however tenuous, that all
of these military factors buy for the United States, through a powerful
deterrent to our enemies, and as a potential front line in a future
American offensive in the area is truly incalculable. As arrogant and
contentious as it may sound, there truly is something to be said for
the accessiblity of peace through superior firepower.
I am obviously not an expert in geopolitics, economics, or foreign policy.
I know a thing or two about these matters, though, because I think it's
important to understand at least a minimum of what goes on in one's
government, and what sort of relations ones country has with others.
For practical and personal reasons, I've grown quite fond of Israel
over the years, in great measure because I've discovered how tightly
knit, on many levels, our relationship with them is. The bottom line
here is that dollar for dollar, Israel gives back to the U.S. far more
than other nations, especially Arab states, which receive more or comparable
aid (and which consistently vote against us at the UN, by the way).
I'm almost willing to describe Israel's role in our relationship as
being on the United States' payroll; certainly not as a "puppet,"
but as a valued and crucial friend whose services are indispensable.
Israel earns our foreign aid, whereas other countries take our money
and give nothing back, or worse, actively work against us.
And anyone who thinks that Arabs hate us primarily because we support
Israel is either ignorant or looking for another specious justification
for slandering the U.S. and/or Israel. Or worse, they are seeking a
way to excuse Islamic terror. If this is what you believe, you need
to look into this matter more objectively, turn off your emotions, and
rethink your position. The United States is the Great Shaitan and Israel
is the Little Shaitan. And if you think that Europe is not hated by
those who think that shari'ah [Islamic religious law] is a good
idea, all I can say is stay tuned, and perhaps prepare for dhimmitude.
It makes sense for us to support Israel. It is in a nation's best interests
to do what makes sense for its well-being, for its standing in the world,
and for the security of its citizens.
Beyond all this, I just love Israel. The values of Israel's people are
more consonant with American values than any other people I know of.
I have no issue with the vast majority of my nation's values. I love
it here, and I think that in the balance, we are a just nation, like
Israel. I am grateful to live in a free and open society where what
I do as an individual counts, if only a little a bit. Israelis seem
to have a similar outlook, and I am truly glad to live in a nation that
supports such people. Despite the material reasons for our alliance,
at the end of the day, I am absolutely convinced that there is also
pure, human worth in our unique mutual friendship.
I think it's also important to remember that Israel is trying to lead
a modern, secular, democratic, existence in the middle of a region comprised
mainly of hostile and combative totalitarian regimes. This means that
Israel holds itself to standards that its enemies don't. I think many
westerners are resentful of Israel's perceived transgressions against
liberal democracy because they don't take into consideration just how
much adversity Israel is up against. Israel is not in the midst of like-minded
nations as European states are, and they are not the global powerhouse
that the U.S. is. Such an attitude against Israel is, of course, hypocritical
coming from Americans. And in some instances I regret to say that, yes,
it certainly appears to be anti-Semitic.
The fact is that for Israel to lose just one battle against its pugnacious
neighbors, is to lose all battles. That will be the end of the short
story of the Jewish homeland's rebirth. When I need to explain to others,
as I've done here, what's in it for us, then I have to face the fact
that some people don't seem to care if the Jewish state is wiped off
the map by the Arabs who seem to have all the patience in the world
to make that happen. I find it unsettling, just sixty years after the
Holocaust, that some of my countrymen have forgotten one of the principal
reasons why Israel must be defended this is the only place in
the whole world that every Jew can call home. This tiny strip of land
that comprises about two percent of the Middle East is all that stands
between the Jewish people and an ocean of Arabs/Muslims clamoring to
spill their blood. This isn't hyperbole either; this is the reality
for Jews in Israel. For me, this is the best reason for the United States
to support Israel-because it's the right thing to do.
So, some of my fellow Americans are apparently uniformed or willfully
ignorant in their one-sided criticism of Israel when it comes to this
U.S. foreign aid red herring. They don't seem to object to Arab states
which take the same American money that Israel gets, while giving back
little outside of hatred and death. Some of my fellow Americans are
blind. Just three years after deranged Arab/Muslim savages killed 3,000
of us on our own soil, they still don't seem to see how critical our
alliance with Israel is. They wonder how we can afford to send so much
foreign aid to our one true friend in all of the Middle East. I wonder
how we could afford not to.