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The President’s Indiscretion Won’t Shake the World’s Best Intelligence Relationship

Reports that Donald Trump shared highly classified information with the Russian ambassador and foreign minister dominated headlines this week. After the news broke, it was soon asserted that the intelligence in question came from Israeli spying on Islamic State (IS), raising the question of whether Israel’s sources would be compromised and its officials less willing to share intelligence with the U.S. in the future. Ronen Bergman comments:

Israel has good reason to be concerned about its intelligence making its way to Moscow: Russia is a major player in the war in Syria on Israel’s northern border, where it has also become a close ally of Iran and Hizballah, Israel’s sworn enemies. But the problem goes even deeper: if Israeli intelligence that has been shared with the United States—whether the National Security Agency, the CIA, the Defense Department, or the White House—is not safely guarded, Israel faces a major threat to its security. Cooperation with America’s agencies is deeply embedded in Israel’s intelligence community. . . .

In this relationship, Israel has always had an advantage in the recruitment and handling of agents in Arab countries, and the Americans have the edge when it comes to the technology for intercepting transmissions. In practical terms, Israel has become the eyes and ears of the United States in the Middle East. This arrangement has freed the United States from a heavy intelligence-gathering burden. But it has also forced the Americans to depend upon the Israelis. . . .

In recent months, Israel has passed on to the United States a great deal of highly sensitive and detailed information about the close coordination among the armed forces of Syria, Iran, Hizballah, and Russia, under Russian command. The problem, according to a former senior Mossad official, lies not in the information but in the most highly sensitive sources, some of whom were cultivated for years. . . . But after six decades of [American-Israeli] cooperation, it is difficult to picture the two intelligence communities operating separately. It would cause untold damage to both.

Read more at New York Times

More about: Donald Trump, Intelligence, ISIS, Israel & Zionism, Russia, US-Israel relations

Israel’s Economy Thrives While the Middle East Disintegrates

Jan. 19 2018

Now that the data have come in from 2017, it is clear that the Israeli economy had another successful year, expanding at a rate higher than that of any other advanced country. Israel’s per-capita GDP also grew, placing it above those of France and Japan. Daniel Kryger notes some of the implications regarding the Jewish state’s place in the Middle East:

The contrast between first-world Israel and the surrounding third-world Arab states is larger today than ever before. Israel’s GDP per capita is almost twenty times the GDP per capita of impoverished Egypt and five times larger than semi-developed Lebanon.

Like any human project, Israel is a never-ending work in progress and much work remains to integrate ḥaredi Jews and Israeli Arabs into Israel’s knowledge economy. Properly addressing Israel’s high costs of living requires more economic and legislative reforms and breaking up inefficient oligopolies that keep the prices artificially high. However, by any standard, the reborn Jewish state is a remarkable success story. . . .

Much has changed since OPEC launched its oil embargo against the West after the failed Arab aggression against Israel in October 1973. Before the collapse of the pro-Arab Soviet empire, China and India had no official ties with Israel and many Western and Japanese companies avoided doing business with Israel. Collapsing oil prices have dramatically eroded the power of oil-producing countries. It has become obvious that the future belongs to those who innovate, not those who happen to sit on oil. Israel has today strong commercial ties with China and a thriving partnership with India. Business delegations from Jamaica to Japan are eager to do business with Israel and benefit from Israel’s expertise. . . .

[For its part], the boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement may bully Jewish and pro-Israel students on Western campuses. However, in real life, BDS stands no chance of succeeding against Israel. The reason is simple: reborn Israel has . . . become too valuable a player in the global economy.

Read more at Mida

More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, Israeli economy, Middle East, OPEC