Remember the commentaries after 9/11 that “we should have been expecting something like this”? Some even implied that America was, in part, responsible for the attacks because of our one-sided policy toward the Muslim World, and in particular, “our support for Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.”
Remember also, though, the news reports about the cheering and dancing in Palestinian Arab neighborhoods on 9/11? Perhaps these celebrations resembled the high-fives and other macabre gestures of glee made by some Palestinian Arabs following the kidnapping of three Jewish teenagers in Gush Etzion near the ancient Judean city of Hebron.
Guilt-riddled apologies for America’s alliance with Israel can only be explained by ignorance, by disingenuous attempts to curry favor with Arabs, or for some, by a darker motivation.
Given the pervasive Orwellian double standard applied to Israel by Western media and the often sanctimonious comments by U.S. and European politicians that Israel should be fearful of being internationally isolated, a reality check might be in order.
First, there is no change in U.S. policy toward Israel that will win any true allies in the Muslim world, no matter what its leaders claim. They often assert that only if we would solve the Palestinian-Israeli problem first, relations would improve. This is a tactic. These leaders employ it simply to divert Western officials from making demands on them instead of on Israel. The reality is that most Arabs view the U.S., its European allies, and Israel with ineradicable contempt.
No Arab state has recognized the legitimacy of a Jewish — or often even a pluralistic — state in Palestine. Egypt and Iraq have been persecuting their Christians, only because the Jews were all forced out already; and many Muslim countries cannot even abide each other, as seen every day in the Shia-Sunni Conflict, still under way after centuries.
This struggle between Israel and the Palestinians is not about land. If it were, there would have been a two-state solution long ago. Former Palestinian leader Arafat would have said yes to the Camp David Plan offered by Clinton and former Israeli Prime Minister Barak. The current strife between the Hamas terrorist movement and Israel is just another stage in the permanent state of Arab hostility towards the existence of a Jewish state in the region.
While U.S. support for Israel has sometimes been described as a costly diplomatic albatross or a consequence of political influence by U.S. Jews, the truth weighs in quite the opposite direction. The Israeli-American alliance greatly benefits both nations.
There is only one democratic country in the Middle East. There is only one country with free speech, a free press and equality of rule under law in the Middle East. And the United States has only one reliable ally in the Middle East. It is Israel.
Israeli intelligence support on adversarial states such as Iran, Iraq, and Libya has been a prime source of difficult-to-obtain threat-data on these countries. Moreover, Israel has far better Human Intelligence than American intelligence agencies have in the Middle East. This Israeli asset has been invaluable in reducing the terrorist threat to U.S. military and diplomatic personnel deployed to the region.
Israeli experience with border and installation security, military application of medical advances, disaster relief lessons-learned, and security related encryption innovations have been enhanced by the cooperative work of both countries. Moreover, Israeli military and civilian industries have helped the U.S. integrate software innovations, data collection, and cyber security methodology into its overall defense posture. One such contribution is the popular Helmut-mounted Display System (HMDS). (1)
The U.S. and Israel jointly developed and tested several generations of defensive weapons, helpful to both countries, including the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs or drones), the “Arrow” anti-ballistic missile interceptor and the “Iron Dome” System, which keeps cities safe from shorter-range rockets, The stunning performance of the “Iron Dome” is invaluable to American efforts to protect its military bases in the region. The Arrow system can protect U.S. cities from a sneak missile attack by a rogue state, such as North Korea or Iran. Although this possibility might sound far-fetched at this moment, much of any military is developed to address probabilities; it is not considered prudent or advisable to start designing and manufacturing a defensive weapon once an attack you have not been expecting has already been launched.
The greatest asset for the U.S., however, is the trust between the American and Israeli military, developed in crises over decades of cooperation. Both recognize that together they face the same enemies of the Free World. And both understand that liberal democracies are not at all the “natural order of things” and will only endure if both countries are willing to do what is needed to survive. No apologies necessary.
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Dr. Lawrence A. Franklin served on active duty with the U.S. Army and as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve where he served as a Military Attaché to Israel.
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(1) Eg: The HMDS is produced by Israel’s Elbit Systems and the U.S. company Rockwell Collins, that allows for enhanced situational awareness and better night vision capability.