In Many Ways, Israel Is the Giver and the U.S. Is the Receiver

[Yoram Ettinger]

Summary ... Statements made by and the conduct of Israel's leaders since 1993 create the false impression that Israeli-American ties constitute a one-way relationship.

The presumption is that America gives and Israel receives, leading to Israel's inferior position and the alleged compulsion to follow the State Department dictates.

However, former Secretary of State and NATO forces commander Alexander Haig refuted this claim, saying he is pro-Israeli because Israel is the largest American aircraft carrier in the world that cannot be sunk, does not carry even one American soldier, and is located in a critical region for American national security.

On our 57th Independence Day, Israel and the United States enjoy a two-way relationship. Israel is like a start-up company that enjoys the kindness of the American investor, but yields much greater profits than the investment.

Every day, Israel relays to the U.S. lessons of battle and counter-terrorism, which reduce American losses in Iraq and Afghanistan, prevent attacks on U.S. soil, upgrade American weapons, and contribute to the U.S. economy.

Senator Daniel Inouye recently argued Israeli information regarding Soviet arms saved the U.S. billions of dollars. The contribution made by Israeli intelligence to America is greater than that provided by all NATO countries combined, he said.

Meanwhile, the vice president of the company that produces the F16 fighter jets told me Israel is responsible for 600 improvements in the plane's systems, modifications estimated to be worth billions of dollars, which spared dozens of research and development years.

Israel's utilization of American arms guarantees our existence, but at the same time gives U.S. military industries a competitive edge compared to European industries, while also boosting American military production, producing American jobs, and improving America's national security.

Japan and South Korea, for example, preferred the "Hawkeye" spy plane and the MD-500 chopper, both purchased and upgraded by Israel, over comparable British and French aircraft.

Indeed, innovative Israeli technologies have a similar effect on American civilian and agricultural industries, which view Israel as a successful research and development site.

As early as 1952, U.S. Army Chief-of-Staff Omar Bradley called for the integration of Israel into the Mediterranean Basin area, in light of the country's location and unique capabilities.

In 1967, Israel held back a radical Arab, pro-Soviet offensive, which threatened to bring about the collapse of pro-American Arab regimes and disrupt oil supply, thus severely undermining the American standard of living.

In 1970, Israel brought about the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Jordan, at a time when the U.S. was tied up by wars in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, thus preventing the fall of the pro-American Hashemite regime and a possible domino effect that could have reached Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

The 1976 raid in Uganda that freed Israeli passengers of an Air France flight hijacked by terrorists provided America with a backwind in the war on international terror, while in 1977 Israeli intelligence provided the intelligence information that foiled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's plan to assassinate Egyptian President Anwar Sadat .

Notably, Sadat would later go on to make peace with Israel, paving the way for other agreements between Israel and the Arabs.

In 1982, Israel destroyed Soviet anti-aircraft batteries in Lebanon that were considered immune to American weapons. Israel promptly shared the operation's lessons, estimated to be worth billions of dollars, changing entirely the global balance of power in the process and contributing to the Soviet Union's eventual disintegration.

In 1981, Israel bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor, providing the U.S. with the option of engaging in conventional wars with Iraq in 1991 and 2003 and preventing a possible nuclear war and a terrible price of thousands killed.

In 2005, Israel provides America with the world's most extensive experience in homeland defense and warfare against suicide bombers and car bombs. American soldiers train in IDF facilities and Israeli-made drones fly above the "Sunni Triangle" in Iraq, as well as in Afghanistan, providing U.S. Marines with vital intelligence.

Without Israel, the U.S. would have been forced to deploy tens of thousands of American troops in the eastern Mediterranean Basin, at a cost of billions of dollars a year. Had Israel been located in the Persian Gulf, the U.S. would have been spared the need to send hundreds of thousands of soldiers to the region, thanks to Israel's deterrence and operational capabilities.

Indeed, Congress leaders, Vice President Cheney, and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld are aware of Israel's unique contribution to U.S. interests. In fact, they all wonder why the post-1993 Israel does not use its impressive contribution as leverage, in sharp contrast to the pre-1993 Israel.

Yoram Ettinger is a consultant on U.S.-Israel relations and Mideast politics, frequently interviewed on Israeli and US media, OpEd writer for Israeli and US dailies and a regular lecturer in both countries.

[ Published: May 22, 2005 ]



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