Thursday, August 11, 2016


 
 Vic Rosenthal's Weekly Column


Israel’s sometimes impulsive Defense Minister, Avigdor Liberman, was forced to apologize for a statement issued with his approval that compared the Obama Iran deal with the 1938 Munich agreement, which as we know fed Czechoslovakia into the maw of Nazi Germany in a vain attempt to stave off war.

Ha’aretz reported that “the White House was furious. Obama’s senior aides couldn’t understand how, at the very moment when they were negotiating with Israel over the largest military aid package America has ever given any country, the Israeli defense minister could release a statement like that against Obama.”

This is at least the fourth or fifth time – usually it’s because of construction plans in Jerusalem – that Obama and his people have been reported as “furious” with Israel. There are, however, few non-satirical reports of Obama being furious with Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-Assad or even Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It seems that no country or national leader can ignite White House anger like Israel, Bibi Netanyahu or (now) Liberman.

It’s easy to understand why. We are granted $3 billion each year in military aid, and then we turn around and “spit in Obama’s face” by building apartments in our capital, by having the wrong capital, or by opposing the Iran deal, which, after all, really does have much in common with the Munich agreement.

Israel and its leaders are expected to be subservient, and when an underling doesn’t follow orders, then it is not just wrong, it is insubordinate and insulting. Insubordination provokes anger. Putin, on the other hand, is expected to oppose American interests, so nobody loses their temper when he does what he is supposed to do.

The problem is exacerbated by the increasing “daylight” between the Obama Administration and Israel. But even a more friendly administration would expect to get what it believes it is paying for.

Be aware that with every verbal slap in the face, every lecture from the White House or Secretary of State, every time our Prime Minister is called a ‘chickenshit’ or made to cool his heels while the President has dinner, every time one of our ministers has to grovel in order to be forgiven for making a true statement, every time Obama vents his fury at our country as at a disobedient servant, we lose some of our national honor.

Some people think this is nothing. An apology is just words; don’t we have the strongest army in the Middle East? But they are wrong. National honor is important, nowhere more so than in the Middle East. It is a component of deterrence, along with a powerful air force. A nation without honor is a legitimate target to its enemies, it is not worth defending by its friends, and it is not worth fighting for by its own people.

Our enemies know this, and that’s why they try to humiliate us, to steal our honor, whenever possible – even a bus ride or a handshake at the Olympics is worth exploiting.

But nothing steals honor more than being a whore, that is, someone who allows herself to be humiliated and does things that are opposed to her own sense of self and well-being in order to be paid. A whore has no honor. Zero.

Israel has become a whore for American military aid. For $3 billion a year we are expected to keep our mouths shut about the Iran deal that is going to bring us our next, possibly nuclear, war. We are expected to take seriously the insane idea of withdrawing from Judea and Samaria and allowing them to become a base for terror attacks against the center of our country. We are expected to freeze building in our capital city, while rising prices are driving Jewish residents out. And when we fail to do these things, the administration gets ‘furious’ at us.

There are plenty of good reasons to phase out American military aid. Since most of it (and soon all of it) must be spent in the US, it weakens our home-grown defense industry. It requires us to purchase systems like the F-35 that are unsuitable for our needs, perform poorly or are too expensive (the F-35 seems to be all of these). If you don’t agree, consider whether Israel would embrace the F-35 if it had to spend its own money.

Very significantly, it subverts the decision-making processes in our military chain of command. When our Minister of Defense and Chief of Staff evaluate possible courses of action – to bomb an enemy’s nuclear facilities or not? – it is impossible for them to forget that 20% of their budget comes from the US. Even their opinions on broader political issues can be colored by concern for the funding of their favored projects. This happens not only at the highest levels, but is pervasive throughout the IDF. How could it be otherwise?

Most important, the aid reduces Israel from a sovereign state to a satellite nation. We become subservient both in the political and military arenas to an administration which, increasingly, would just as soon see us disappear. We become a nation without national honor.

But we have options. It is not impossible to cut off the so-called “golden handcuffs.” A gradual phase-out of aid would permit our native defense industry to pick up the slack and soften the blow to the American contractors. There’s no doubt that many items could be produced here at a significant cost saving. We even buy our army’s boots with American aid today – making them in Israel would both save money and return it to our economy. Our expanded military industries would also be capable of increased export business. We don’t need to stop buying from American contractors where they produce the best products. We would simply use our own money to do it.

There would be great opposition to such a plan, from our generals who would have to think a bit outside the box that they have been in for decades, and from the US defense contractors who are the biggest beneficiaries of the aid. But the results would justify the effort. The $3 billion each year could be put to use within the US or even (gasp) be returned to American taxpayers.

It would be good for America – and better for Israel. 




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