Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) guide for the perplexed, 2018
Based on ancient Jewish sages, September 21, 2018, https://bit.ly/2QRtDDd
1. US-Israel special ties are accentuated by Columbus Day (October 8, 2018), which is always celebrated around Sukkot (September 24-30, 2018). According to “Columbus Then and Now” (Miles Davidson, 1997, p. 268), Columbus landed in America on Friday afternoon, October 12, 1492, the 21st day of the Jewish month of Tishrei, in the Jewish year 5235, on the 7th day of Sukkot, Hosha’na’ Rabbah – a day of special universal deliverance and miracles. Hosha’ (הושע) is “deliverance” in Hebrew, Na’ (נא) is the Hebrew word for “please” and Rabbah (רבה) is “The Sublime.” The numerical value of Na’ in Hebrew is 51 (נ – 50, א – 1), which corresponds to the celebration of Hoshaa’na’ Rabbah on the 51st day following Moses’ ascension up to Mt. Sinai.
2. Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles named after the first stop during the Exodus from Egypt, the town of Sukkota (סכותה) – Exodus 13:20-22 and Numbers 33:3-5.
It commemorates the transition of the Jewish people from bondage in Egypt to sovereignty in the Land of Israel; from nomadic life in the desert to permanence in the Promised Land; from oblivion to deliverance; and from the spiritual state-of-mind during the High Holidays to the mundane of the rest of the year. Sukkot aims at universal – not only Jewish – deliverance.
3. However, Sukkot is celebrated six month after Passover. According to the Jewish mystical Zohar (“Radiance” in Hebrew) – which was written by Rabbi Shimon bar-Yochai in the 2nd century and published by Moses de Leon in the 13th century – Sukkot commemorates the divine clouds of glory, which expressed the presence of God, sheltering the Jewish people throughout the Exodus until the return to the Land of Israel. The first appearance of the divine clouds of glory occurred in the first stop of the Exodus, Sukkota.
The holiday of Sukkot follows Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which reaffirm the faith in God’s moral and material supremacy. It is followed by the holiday of Simchat Torah – celebrated a day after Sukkot – which highlights the centrality of the Torah (the Five Books of Moses) in Jewish life. The Sukkot holiday represents a human effort to be worthy of the presence and benefits of the divine clouds of glory.
4. The Hebrew root of Sukkot stands for the key characteristics of the relationship between the Jewish people, the Jewish Homeland and faith in God. The Hebrew word Sukkah (סכה) means “wholeness” and “totality” (סכ), the “shelter” of the tabernacle (סכך), “to anoint” (סוך), “divine curtain/shelter” (מסך) and “attentiveness” (סכת).
5. Sukkot, the 3rd major Jewish holiday. It follows Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – in the month of Tishrei, the holiest Jewish month. According to Judaism, 3 represents divine wisdom, stability, integration and peace. 3 is the total sum of the basic odd (1) and even (2) numbers. The 3rd day of the Creation was blessed twice; God appeared on Mt. Sinai 3 days after Moses’ ascension of the mountain; there are 3 parts to the Bible, 3 Patriarchs, 3 annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem, etc.
6. The Book of Ecclesiastes. The holiday of Sukkot is dedicated to the study of the Biblical Book of Ecclesiastes, written by King Solomon. It accentuates Solomon’s philosophy of the importance of humility, morality, patience, learning from past mistakes, commemoration and historical perspective, family, friendship, long-term thinking, proper timing, realism and knowledge. The Hebrew name of Ecclesiastes is Kohelet (קהלת), which is similar to the Biblical commandment to celebrate the community-oriented Sukkot holiday – Hakhel (הקהל), which means “to assemble,” as well as “public” (קהל) and “community” (קהילה). Solomon’s call for the realization of human fallibility, vulnerabilities and limitations is consistent with a central message of Sukkot: a seven day relocation from one’s permanent residence to the temporary, humble, wooden Sukkah (booth).
The five Biblical Scrolls are read on five Jewish holidays: the Song of Songs is read on Passover, the Scroll of Ruth on Pentecost, Ecclesiastes on Sukkot, the Scroll of Esther on Purim and the Scroll of Eikhah is read on the Ninth Day of Av.
7. Sukkot and the longest-serving US Senator, the late Robert Byrd (D-WV), who often quoted Biblical verses, in general, and Ecclesiastes, in particular. For example, on November 7, 2008, Senator Byrd announced his retirement from the chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee: “’To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.’ Those Biblical words from Ecclesiastes 3:1 express my feelings about this particular time in my life.” On September 9, 1998, Senator Byrd made the following Senate floor remarks on the Lewinsky affair: “As the book of Ecclesiastes plainly tells us, ‘there is no new thing under the sun.’ Time seems to be turning backwards in its flight. And many of the mistakes that President Nixon made are being made all over again.”
More on Sukkot and other Jewish holidays: http://bit.ly/137Er6J
Yom Kippur guide for the perplexed, 2018
Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
Based on ancient Jewish Sages, September 17, 2018, bit.ly/2MCHiLl
More on Yom Kippur and other Jewish holidays: http://bit.ly/137Er6J
Yom Kippur aims at bringing one closest to God, while marriage aims at bringing man and woman closest to one another.
Yom Kippur aims at coalescing the entire Jewish public – not just observant Jews – around critical values. Hence the Hebrew word for “public” – צבור – which is an acronym for Righteous persons (צדיקים), Average persons (בינוניים) and Evil persons (ורשעים).
2. The Hebrew word Kippur, כיפור (atonement/repentance), is a derivative of the Biblical word Kaporetכפורת ,, the cover of the Holy Ark in the Sanctuary, and Kopher, כופר, the cover of Noah’s Ark and the Holy Altar in the Temple. Yom Kippur resembles a spiritual cover (dome), which separates between the holy and the mundane, between spiritualism and materialism. The Kippah, כיפה (skullcap, yarmulke’), which covers one’s head during prayers, reflects a spiritual dome. Yom Kippur is translated into “the day of Kippur.”
3. The substance of Yom Kippur is reflected through the Hebrew spelling of “fast” (צם and צום) – abstinence from food. צם and צום are the roots of the Hebrew words for “narrowed-down focus;” “concentration of attention;” “reduced consumption” (of food and material elements); miniaturization (צמצום) of one’s wrong-doing; enslavement of oneself (צמית) to an annual process of soul-searching and cleansing, but not to fellow human-beings; and eternal (צמיתות) faith in such values. The Hebrew/Biblical synonym for “fast” צם) and (צום is תענית, a derivative of the Hebrew words ענה and עני, which means to torture one’s body through soul-searching and fasting, to respond to spiritual needs, and to identify oneself with poverty during the cleansing process.
4. Yom Kippur, Judaism and #10. Yom Kippur is observed on the 10th day of the Jewish month of Tishrei, whose astrological sign is Libra (♎), which symbolizes the key themes of Yom Kippur: scales, justice, balance, truth, symmetry, sensitivity and optimism. Libra is ruled by the planet Venus (Noga, נגה, in Hebrew, the name of my oldest granddaughter), which reflects divine light and love of other people.
Yom Kippur concludes ten days of genuine, heart-driven atonement, repentance and soul-searching – the holiest Jewish time – which begin on Rosh Hashanah, the first day of Tishrei, commemorating the Creation. Ten has special significance in Judaism: God’s abbreviation is the 10th Hebrew letter (Yod – י); the ten attributes of God – Divine perfection – were highlighted during the Creation; the ten Commandments; the ten Plagues of Egypt; the ten reasons for blowing the Shofar; the 10% gift to God (tithe); the ten Martyrs (Jewish leaders), who were tortured/murdered by the Roman Empire; the ten generations between Adam and Noah and between Noah and Abraham; the ten divine Tests passed by Abraham (e.g., left his birth place to become a “stranger” in Canaan); the ten-person-quorum (Minyan in Hebrew), which is required for collective Jewish prayer; etc.
5. Six main annual Jewish fasting days:
(a) The 10th day of the Jewish month of Tishrei is Yom Kippur, an annual day of repentance for one’s misconduct toward fellow human-beings – in order to minimize future missteps – the cleansing of one’s behavior, recognition of one’s fallibilities and forgiveness of fellow human-beings’ misconduct. Therefore, Yom Kippur is a day of hope, optimism and improved relations with one’s family, friends and community. It requires a deep level of personal, focused concentration through humility, soul-searching, thoughtfulness, magnanimity, accepting responsibility, consideration, compassion and faith, which are facilitated by avoiding food and most forms of luxury.
(b) The 10th day of the Jewish month of Tevet commemorates the 589-586 BCE siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar;
(c) The 17th day of the month of Tammuz commemorates the 586 BCE and 69 CE breaching of Jerusalem’s walls by the Babylonian and Roman Empires, and the breaking of the Tablets by Moses upon confronting the Golden Calf lapse of faith;
(d) The 9th day of the month of Av commemorates the destruction of the first (586 BCE) and second (70 CE) Jewish Temples, by the Babylonian and Roman Empires respectively, the beginning of Jewish exiles, and the Ten Spies’ bankruptcy of faith;
(e) The 3rd day of the month of Tishrei commemorates the murder of the Jewish Governor of Jerusalem, Gedalyah Ben Achikam, by another Jew, Yishmael Ben Netanyah (586 BCE);
(f) The 13th day of the month of Adar is the Fast of Queen Esther – whose Hebrew name was Hadassah, which means righteousness – the day before the Purim holiday, commemorating Queen Esther’s three-day-fast prior to her appeal to the Persian King Ahasuerus to refrain from exterminating the Jews (around 480 BCE);
6. The Shofar (the ritual ram’s horn). The Ten Days of Repentance are launched by the blowing of the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah. They are concluded on Yom Kippur by the blowing of the Shofar, which represents humility, determination, optimism and peace-through-strength (the ram).
The blowing of the Shofar is a reminder of the Binding of Isaac (which was averted by a ram) – the highest level of faith in God. It is a reminder of the receipt of the Torah at Mount Sinai, which was accompanied by the first Biblical blowing of the Shofar (Exodus 19:17). It is, also, a reminder of the conquest of Jericho by Joshua, when the sound of seven Shofars brought the walls of Jericho tumbling down (Joshua 6:1-20; Paul Robson’s Joshua Fit De’ Battle of Jericho). In addition, it is a reminder of Gideon’s victory over the 135,000 strong Midianite military, which was achieved by 300 Jewish soldiers blowing 300 ram horns (Judges, Ch. 7).
The sound of the Shofar – which emanates from the heart, not from the mouth – aims at reaching God, while awakening people to repentance. The Hebrew/Biblical word Shofar – שופר – means to enhance and improve (שפר), top quality, glory, pleasure (שופרא) which are key messages of Yom Kippur.
US departure from conventional wisdom
September 13, 2018, https://bit.ly/2p0VHYi
The evolution of President Trump’s stance on the Palestinian issue reflects extrication from conventional wisdom, which was embraced by his predecessors and the establishment of the State Department, academia and the media, while systematically crashed against the rocks of Middle East reality.In contrast to his predecessors, Trump and his advisors – National Security Advisor John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Special Emissary Jason Greenblatt and Ambassador David Friedman – have concluded that the bolstering of US national security, morality and common sense behooves the US to take a realistic – and not an artificially neutral – position on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Moral equivalence has not advanced national security.
The timing of the official release of President Trump’s policy – the eve of the September 11 memorial of the 3,000 fatalities and 6,000 injured – underlines the awareness that advancing national and homeland security mandates a clear differentiation between entities which combat terrorism systematically and effectively (e.g. the US and Israel), on the one hand, and those who produce, train, educate and incite terrorists (e.g. the Palestinian leadership, Iran’s Ayatollahs and other Islamic regimes), on the other hand.
Unlike his predecessor at the White House, Trump and his advisors realize that the restoration of the US’ posture of deterrence is a precondition to the enhancement of the US’ national and homeland security, requiring the fending off – and not succumbing to – pressure, threats and terrorism. Hence, the disavowal of the self-defeating 2015 Iran Deal, the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish State and the restructuring of US policy on the Palestinian issue.
In contrast to his predecessors and to European policy-makers, President Trump and his advisors are cognizant of the well-documented fact that the Palestinian issue has not been a core-cause of Middle East turbulence, nor a crown-jewel of Arab policy-makers (who shower the Palestinians with talk but not walk), nor a root-cause of Islamic terrorism and the Arab-Israeli conflict. The President is aware of the unprecedented commercial and security cooperation between Israel and Saudi Arabia, the Arab Gulf States, Jordan and Egypt, who have viewed the Palestinians as an unreliable, subversive, terroristic and junior league element in the Middle East.
Contrary to his predecessors – since the 1993 Israel-PLO Oslo Accord – Trump has concluded that a Palestinian state would add fuel – not water – to the Middle East fire; would be the straw that would break the back of the pro-US Hashemite regime in Jordan; would therefore transform Jordan into another major platform of Islamic terrorism, posing a lethal threat to its southern neighbor, Saudi Arabia and other pro-US regimes in the Arabian Peninsula. It could provide a tailwind to the anti-US Ayatollah’s imperial vision; would expand the Russian presence (ground, air and naval) in the eastern Mediterranean and western Middle East; and would therefore deal a severe blow to the US national and homeland security.
Departing from political-correctness, Trump has decided to abort the sham of UNRWA, which does not operate in accordance with the patterns of the UN High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR). While the 11,500 employees of the UNHCR have resettled some 100 million refugees throughout the globe since the end of the Second World War, the 30,000 employees of UNRWA have artificially increased the number of Palestinian refugees from 320,000 at the end of the 1948/49 War to, supposedly, 5 million in 2018, sucking mega-billion of dollars, while intensifying hate-education and terrorism, which have doomed the pursuit of peace.
President Trump’s Palestinian policy also reflects recognition of Israel as a credible and systematic ally, constituting a most effective, a deterring outpost in an extremely critical and volatile region; thus, sparing the US the need to deploy additional ground, air and naval forces to the Middle East, Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, producing a unique rate-of-return – commercially and militarily – on the US’ annual investment in Israel.
Rosh Hashanah (New Year) guide for the perplexed, 2018
Based on ancient Jewish Sages, September 5, 2018, https://bit.ly/2NfMtFe More on Rosh Hashanah and other Jewish holidays: http://bit.ly/137Er6J
1. Rosh Hashanah (“the beginning of the year” in Hebrew), the Jewish New Year (5,779), is celebrated on the first day of the Jewish month of Tishrei (תשרי). Tishrei was a Babylonian term for launching the agricultural (creation) calendar, starting with the planting of seeds and the first rain.2. Rosh Hashanah is celebrated on the sixth day of Creation, when the first human-being (Adam) was created, highlighting the centrality of the soil – a metaphor for humility – in human life. Thus, the Hebrew word for a human-being is Adam (אדמ), which becomes the Hebrew spelling of “soil” (אדמה) when the Hebrew letter ה (an abbreviation of God, the Creator) is added.
In addition, the Hebrew word Adam (אדמ) contains the Hebrew word for blood (דמ), the liquid of life, and is the acronym of Biblical Abraham (אברהם), David (דוד) and Moses (משה), the three role models of humility.
3. The Hebrew word “Rosh” means “beginning,” “first,” “head,” “chief.” The Hebrew letters of Rosh (ראש) constitute the root of the Hebrew word for Genesis, pronounced “Be’re’sheet” (בראשית), which is the first/lead word in the Bible (Book of Genesis). Rosh Hashanah is celebrated at the beginning of the Jewish month of Tishrei, which means beginning/Genesis in ancient Acadian. The Hebrew letters of Tishrei (תשרי) are also included in the spelling of Genesis (בראשית). The Hebrew spelling of Genesis (בראשית) consists of the first two letters in the Hebrew alphabet (אב), the middle letter (י) and the last three letters (רשת) – representing the complete/wholesome undertaking of the Creation. Just like the Creation, so should the New Year (and human actions) launch a thoughtful, long-term – not a hasty – wholesome process.
Rosh (ראש) is, also, the Hebrew acronym of “the will of our Father that is in heaven” (רצון אבינו שבשמים).
4. Rosh Hashanah is one of four Jewish New Years: (a) the anniversary of the Creation, the beginning of the Jewish civil calendar (5,779) and the seasons, the setting of the Sabbatical (7th) and Jubilee (50th) years, and the time for calculating the annual tithe (10%) on vegetable and grains. (b) The first day of the month of Nissan initiates the three Jewish pilgrimages/festivals (Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles) and the measuring of the reign of ancient kings. (c) The first day of the month of Elul initiated the preparations for Rosh Hashanah and the New Year for animal tithes in ancient Israel. (d) The 15th day of the month of Shvat is the new year of the trees, which provide role-models for human-beings in humility, tenacity and growth.
5. Rosh Hashanah is announced, and celebrated – in a humble and determined manner – by the blowing of the Shofar (the ritual ram’s horn). It is a wakeup call morally, individually and collectively. The Hebrew spelling of Shofar, שופר, is a derivative of the verb שפר, which means to enhance – an unending, uphill effort (sometimes, against all odds) for improvement.
6. The shofar is the epitome of peace-through-strength. It is made from the horn of a ram, which is a peaceful animal equipped with strong horns to fend off predators. The numerical value of the Hebrew word for “ram,” איל, is 41 (א-1, י-10, ל-30), which is equal to the value of “mother” (אם, א-1, ם-40), who strongly protects her children. Rosh Hashanah prayers highlight motherhood, optimism and the pregnancies of Sarah, Rachel and Chana, who gave birth to Isaac, Joseph, Benjamin and Samuel, respectively. Noah – who led the rebirth of humanity/world – also features in Rosh Hashanah prayers.
7. Rosh Hashanah and the blowing of the Shofar….
*Constitute a moral wakeup-call, providing an expressway for prayers;
*Alert humanity to pending positive and negative significant developments (e.g., deliverance and attacks);
*Tumbled the walls of Jericho, and intensified Judge Gideon’s posture of deterrence during his war on the Midianites;
*Reaffirm the faith in God as the Creator, the supreme king (ancient kings were anointed to the sound of the Shofar) and judge (a day of judgment). An ancient expression of “In God we trust.”;
*Intensify the bonding of God and human beings;
*Commemorate the creation of the first human-being, Adam, on the sixth day of the Creation;
*Underline the annual judgment day, soul-searching and behavioral enhancement.
*Highlight the almost-sacrifice of Isaac – which was avoided by God’s angel and a ram (a paradigm shift away from human sacrifices!) – and the Biblical (Abrahamic) Covenant;
*Remind us that the three Jewish Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the Prophet Samuel (the latter inspired Thomas Paine, the author of “Common Sense,” the cement of the American Revolution), were conceived/born during the month of Tishrei, “the month of the strong ones ” (Kings A, 8:2);
*Blasts of the Shofar – along with thunder and lightning – were heard when Moses (“the humblest of all human-beings”) received the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, a unimpressive, relatively-undersized (humble) mountain;
* In ancient times, the Jubilee (Leviticus 25:10) was announced – every 50 years – by the blowing of the Shofar, ushering in deliverance from spiritual and physical slavery (release of slaves and land). The Jubilee was the role model of liberty for the early American Pilgrims and Founding Fathers. It inspired the anti-slavery Abolitionist movement in the USA. Jubilee – “Yovel” (יובל) in Hebrew – is a synonym for Shofar (the ram’s horn);
*Highlight the ingathering (Aliyah) of Jews to the Jewish Homeland;
*Emphasize optimism in the face of challenge and adversity.
8. Rosh Hashanah was conceived by Jewish sages, during the Second Temple period, referring to the Biblical “day of blowing the shofar” and “the day of commemorating the blowing of the shofar” (Leviticus 23:23-25, Numbers 29:1-6). Commemoration is a central Jewish value – a prerequisite for national cohesion, survival, an enhanced future and abstention from past critical errors. On the other hand, forgetfulness spells ignorance, loss of critical values and lessons, and therefore the tendency to repeat past errors.
9. Rosh Hashanah initiates the Ten Days of Repentance, which conclude on Yom Kippur (the Day of Repentance). It delivers a message that one should never underestimate one’s capabilities to enhance one’s fortunes, when guided by morality-driven tenacity/determination and faith.
10. It is customary to eat pomegranate seeds on Rosh Hashanah, accompanied by the following blessing: “May your benefits multiply like the seeds of the pomegranate.” The pomegranate is supposed to contain (at its prime) 613 seeds – the number of Jewish precepts, which regulate the Jewish way of life. The pomegranate – a prominent ornament of the Torah scrolls – represents fruitfulness, knowledge, learning and wisdom.
May the New Year, 5779, be top heavy on health, modesty, humility, challenge and reward.
Has Israel advanced US interests?
Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
www.TheEttingerReport.com, August 23, 2018
General Omar Bradley, the first Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs-of-Staff, said in July, 1950, in the aftermath of Israel’s War of Independence: “The Israeli army would be the most effective force south of Turkey, which could be utilized for delaying action [extending the strategic hand of the USA]….” General Bradley’s assessment was rejected by the State Department and the Pentagon, which opposed the 1948 establishment of the Jewish State, contending that it would be decimated by the Arabs, a burden upon the US and probably an ally of the USSR.
Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan wrote in the Washington Post, on August 15, 1979: “The fall of [the Shah of] Iran has increased Israel’s value as perhaps the only remaining strategic asset in the region, on which the US can only rely….Only by full appreciation of the critical role the State of Israel plays in our strategic calculus can we build the foundation for thwarting Moscow’s designs on territories and resources vital to our security and our national wellbeing…. Israel is not a client but a very reliable friend…. American policy-makers downgrade Israel’s geopolitical importance as a stabilizing force, as a deterrent to radical hegemony and as military offset to the Soviet Union….”
In 2018, General Bradley’s and President Reagan’s assessments are vindicated, as the pro-US Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Oman, as well as Jordan and Egypt, seek further strategic ties with Israel. They view Israel as a most effective ally in the face of lethal threats posed by the anti-US Ayatollahs, ISIS and Muslim Brotherhood terrorists, irrespective of the unresolved Palestinian issue – which they never considered a crown jewel – and their fundamental reservations about the existence of an “infidel” Jewish State in “the abode of Islam.”
In 2018, Russia lends credence to General Bradley and President Reagan, recognizing Israel’s enhanced strategic posture, accepting Israel’s military operations against the rogue Ayatollahs and Hezbollah terrorists in Syria, which has been a Moscow satellite since the late 1960s.
Moscow recognizes the impact of the Israel’s posture of deterrence on the Washington-Moscow balance of power: the 1967 Six Day War terminated the lethal offensive by pro-USSR Egypt against Saudi Arabia and other pro-US oil-rich Arab countries; a 1970 Israeli military mobilization forced the rollback of the pro-Soviet Syrian invasion of the pro-US Jordan; the 1967 and 1973 Israeli military victories over Soviet-armed Egypt and Syria provided the US military with a rare study of Soviet military systems and Soviet battle tactics; the June 1982 (first ever!) destruction of 29 of the most advanced Soviet surface-to-air missile batteries and the downing of 83 Soviet MIGs employed by Syria, and sharing with the US innovative battle tactics and technology; the 1981 and 2007 Israeli destruction of the nuclear reactors in pro-Soviet Iraq and Syria, which spared the US a nuclear confrontation in 1991 and a much more traumatic Middle East; etc..
70 years since the reestablishment of the Jewish State, notwithstanding the minute size of its population and area, the Jewish State has emerged as a uniquely stable, democratic, reliable, creative and effective ally of the US in the Middle East and beyond, commercially, militarily, scientifically and technologically.
The potential of Israel’s strategic contribution to US military and commercial interests has been bolstered by the Israeli experience and state of mind, which are top heavy on patriotism, attachment to roots, collective responsibility, ingenuity and defiance of the jugged cutting edge of nature, militarily and commercially.
The transformation of US-Israel relations from a one-way-street to a mutually-beneficial two-way-street, has occurred despite the tactical, short-term US-Israel disagreements over the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian issue. The significant compatibility between the strategic, long-term regional and global challenges and threats facing both nations has transcended such disagreements.
In 2018, the US-Israel strategic compatibility is underlined by their national security orientation, allocating 3.6% and 4.7% of their budget, respectively, to defense, which is much more than any European country: Britain 2.1%, France 1.8%, Germany 1.1% and Italy 1.1%, etc..
Moreover, in 2018, Israel’s Air Force features the US-developed and manufactured F-35 stealth combat plane, serving as a battle-tested laboratory for the US Air Force and manufacturer (Lockheed Martin), as it has been for the manufacturers of the F-15, F-16, missiles and missile launchers, tanks, armed personnel carriers and hundreds of additional US military systems. Israel has shared with the US lessons learned by Israeli pilots, who fly under a do-or-die state of mind, which has stretched the performance of the US-made aircraft beyond conventional standards. Such lessons have enhanced the capabilities of the US Air Force and the quality of the next generation of the F-35, saving the manufacturer many years of research and development, enhancing the US competitiveness in the global market, increasing US exports and expanding US employment. In other words, the annual transfer of $3.8BN to Israel (which funds the acquisition of US military systems) is not “foreign aid” to – but a highly profitable investment in – Israel.
In 2018, in response to growing sophisticated online and offline threats posed by Arab/Islamic countries and beyond, Israel has become a leading developer/producer in the area of cyber-technology, second only to – and in close collaboration with – the US. Israel is the site of 15%-20% of the global venture capital raised by cybersecurity companies, aiming to defend critical infrastructures, while preempting rogue regimes. On January 30, 2018, General David Petraeus, former CIA Director, stated: “the [US-Israel] collaboration reaches new heights, far beyond what is being published in the media…. Our cooperation has harmed significantly Iran’s nuclear program….”
In 2018, Israel is the chief source of intelligence (for the US) on the volatile, tectonic Middle East (and beyond), which has been a highly-complex platform of global terrorism, inherent instability, unpredictability, tyranny, domestic and regional intra-Arab/Islamic violence and intolerance, tenuous and shifty regimes, and consequently tenuous and shifty policies and agreements.
In fact, the nature of the Middle East highlights Israel’s unique qualities as a systematic, democratic, effective, strategic ally of the US, whether led by right or left of center coalition governments. The nature of the Middle East was demonstrated by the violent toppling of a series of pro-US Arab/Islamic regimes by anti-US elements. For example, the 1952 toppling of Egypt’s King Farouk; the 1958 toppling of Iraq’s King Faisal; the 1969 toppling of Libya’s King Idris (Wheelus Air Base, in Libya, was the largest US military facility outside the US); the 1979 toppling of Iran’s Shah; the 2011 toppling of Egypt’s Mubarak; the 2014-15 toppling of Yemen’s Hadi; and it is not over yet….
The reference to Israel, as “the largest US aircraft carrier, deployed in a most critical region, with no Americans on board” – made by a former Supreme Commander of NATO and Secretary of State, the late General Alexander Haig – reverberates an assessment made in 1923 by the British Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, a top intelligence officer in the western region of the Middle East: “I’ve always considered the Land of Israel to be the key to the defense of the Middle East…. When a Jewish State will be established, Britain shall benefit from air force, naval and land bases…as well as Jewish fighting capabilities…which will secure its long-term regional interests…. Unlike the Arabs, Jews are reliable and do comply with agreements…. The British policy in the Middle East bets on the wrong horse, when appeasing the Arabs….”
Will Trump adhere to – or ignore – past experience?
Will Trump defy the State Department’s and “elite” media’s traditional quid-pro-quo (and self-defeating, artificial connection) between the enhancement of the mutually-beneficial US-Israel strategic cooperation, on the one hand, and Israeli retreats from critical terrain, which would exacerbate regional instability, intensify threats to pro-US Arab regimes and undermine US national and homeland security?
Will Trump continue to expand US-Israel strategic cooperation, by focusing on the wider strategic context of the Middle East, or will he follow in the failed footsteps of Europe, which has largely sacrificed Middle East geo-strategic reality on the altar of oversimplification, quick-solution state-of-mind, appeasement and the misperceived role of the Palestinian issue?!
Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
August 30, 2018
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Thank you and Happy New Year (5,779), top heavy on health, challenge and gratification!
Yoram Ettinger, Jerusalem, Israel, “Second Thought: US-Israel Initiative,”