How Israel Helped the U.S. Win the Cold War

March 6 2020

The Soviet Union cast a crucial UN vote in favor of the creation of a Jewish state in 1947. Then it very quickly turned against Israel, as Shammai Siskind explains:

[A]nti-Zionist sentiment had been brewing within the Soviet leadership well before the emergence of Israel. Vladimir Lenin himself allegedly saw the Zionist project as a form of bourgeois colonialism. . . . By the early 1950s, however, having realized that Israel would not become a Soviet-type socialist state, and recognizing the Arab states’ far greater geostrategic, geopolitical, and economic importance, Moscow took an increasingly anti-Israel line. Soviet support for the Arabs moved from the diplomatic to the material in 1955 when Moscow signed a large-scale arms deal with Egypt (via Czechoslovakia) that included heavy-weapons platforms.

Jerusalem in turn gravitated toward Washington as the cold war took shape. Since Israel faced Soviet weapons in its wars with Egypt and Syria, it shared a common interest with Washington in gathering intelligence on the latest technology. Israeli efforts led to some stunning coups, such as Operation Diamond, in which it acquired a Soviet-made MiG-21 fighter jet, at the time one of the most sophisticated aircraft in the world. Siskind writes:

In 1963, Israeli agents in Tehran learned of an Iraqi fighter pilot, Munir Redfa, who was considering leaving Iraq after years of discrimination within the military due to his Christian roots. A Mossad agent contacted him, and after building a relationship, convinced him to meet with more senior officials.

In a meeting with government agents in Israel, Redfa agreed to fly his MiG to Israel in return for $1 million in payment plus the smuggling of his family out of Iraq. Within a few weeks after his arrival in Israel, Israeli Air Force pilots used his aircraft in a number of test flights. They analyzed the jet’s strengths and weaknesses and flew it against their own fighters. They mastered the aircraft, marveling at its speed and maneuverability. This proved invaluable during the June 1967 Six-Day War, when Egypt and Syria were both armed with MiGs.

A month later, Israeli authorities loaned the MiG to their U.S. counterparts, who were able to evaluate the plane themselves under the “Have Donut” program. . . . U.S. personnel also had a chance to peruse the training and tactical manuals delivered by Redfa, which no doubt substantially aided U.S. efforts to counter Soviet air power. The transfer of the MiG-21 was a major boost in U.S.-Israel defense relations.

Israel also delivered to the CIA the “secret speech” by Nikita Khrushchev in which the Soviet premier denounced Stalin’s crimes, and later obtained crucial documents about the USSR’s missile technology.

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Read more at Middle East Quarterly

More about: Cold War, Israeli history, Soviet Union, US-Israel relations

The Palestinian Authority Is Part of the Problem, Not the Solution

Jan. 31 2023

On Thursday, Palestinian Authority (PA) officials announced that they had ceased all security cooperation with Israel; the next two days saw two deadly terrorist attacks in Jerusalem. But the PA has in the past made numerous threats that it will sever its ties with the Israeli government, and has so far never made good on them. Efraim Inbar poses a different set of questions: does cooperation with Palestinian leaders who actively encourage—and provide financial incentives for—the murder of Jews really help Israel protect its citizens? And might there be a better alternative?

The PA leader Mahmoud Abbas seems unable to rule effectively, i.e., to maintain a modicum of law and order in the territories under his control. He lost Gaza to Hamas in 2007, and we now see the “Lebanonization” of the PA taking place in the West Bank: the emergence of myriad armed groups, with some displaying only limited loyalty to the PA, and others, especially the Islamists, trying to undermine the current regime.

[The PA’s] education system and media continue propagating tremendous hostility toward Jews while blaming Israel for all Palestinian problems. Security cooperation with Israel primarily concerns apprehending armed activists of the Islamist opposition, as the PA often turns a blind eye to terrorist activities against Israel. In short, Abbas and his coterie are part of the problem, not of the solution. Jerusalem should thus think twice about promoting efforts to preserve PA rule and prevent a descent into chaos while rejecting the reoccupation of the West Bank.

Chaos is indeed not a pleasant prospect. Chaos in the territories poses a security problem to Israel, but one that will be mitigated if the various Palestinian militias vying for influence compete with each other. A succession struggle following the death of Abbas could divert attention from fighting hated Israel and prevent coordination in the low-intensity conflict against it. In addition, anarchy in the territories may give Israel a freer hand in dealing with the terrorists.

Furthermore, chaos might ultimately yield positive results. The collapse of the PA will weaken the Palestinian national movement, which heretofore has been a source of endemic violence and is a recipe for regional instability in the future.

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Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror