America’s Contributions to the Israeli Military Strengthen Both Countries

Some critics of U.S. military aid to Israel believe it should be brought to an end because they think the Jewish state uniquely evil. To others, this assistance isn’t worth the price tag because it doesn’t give Washington enough control over Jerusalem. To still others, American aid gives the White House too much control over the Jewish state, compromising its independence. Elliott Abrams dismantles this last argument:

In 1981, the United States provided Israel with $4.5 billion in economic and military aid at a time when the entire GDP of the Jewish state was only $25.4 billion—yet Prime Minister Menachem Begin felt free to attack the Osirak reactor in Iraq. In 2007, President George W. Bush told Prime Minister Ehud Olmert not to attack the Syrian nuclear reactor, and Olmert rejected the advice and did so anyway. There are plenty of other examples demonstrating that Israeli military and political leaders do not act as though they have been “crippled” by U.S. aid.

The aid program, [moreover], guarantees continuing, long-term, intimate work between Israeli and American defense experts, military officers, and defense industries. It makes American defense manufacturers sensitive to the Israeli market and allows them to deal with a customer who always pays in full and on time. No doubt the military alliance and intelligence-sharing would not disappear [if aid ended], but both would be weakened. Why would any supporter of Israel want what is now an intimate and continuing relationship to be reduced to one that is merely transactional?

Finally, these opponents of military aid claim that it gives fodder for anti-Semites and Israel haters:

But anti-Semitism is hardy in countries all over the world that have no relations with Israel and give her no aid, and in friendly countries that give no aid, and in hostile countries—in short, all over the place. What anti-Semites oppose is Jews. Yes, the extent of U.S. aid to Israel is an argument they sometimes use. So is the existence of Jewish organizations, and Jewish-owned companies, rich and famous Jews, and Jewish officials and politicians. You cannot eliminate the weapons anti-Semites use because they use every aspect of Jewish life, influence, and power. American Jews worried about American anti-Semitism should address that problem at home and not burden the Israelis—and American military support for Israel—with that task.

For the United States to end military aid today would send a message to all of Israel’s enemies that Israel’s greatest friend was stepping away, so they should double down on their plans for more, and more deadly, assaults on the Jewish state.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israeli Security, U.S.-Israel relationship

Why Hizballah Is Threatening Cyprus

In a speech last Wednesday, Hizballah’s secretary general Hassan Nasrallah not only declared that “nowhere will be safe” in Israel in the event of an all-out war, but also that his forces would attack the island nation of Cyprus. Hanin Ghaddar, Farzin Nadimi, and David Schenker observe that this is no idle threat, but one the Iran-backed terrorist group has “a range of options” for carrying out. They explain: 

Nasrallah’s threat to Cyprus was not random—the republic has long maintained close ties with Israel, much to Hizballah’s irritation. In recent years, the island has hosted multiple joint air-defense drills and annual special-forces exercises with Israel focused on potential threats from Hizballah and Iran.

Nasrallah’s threat should also be viewed in the context of wartime statements by Iran and its proxies about disrupting vital shipping lanes to Israel through the East Mediterranean.

This scenario should be particularly troubling to Washington given the large allied military presence in Cyprus, which includes a few thousand British troops, more than a hundred U.S. Air Force personnel, and a detachment of U-2 surveillance aircraft from the 1st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron.

Yoni Ben Menachem suggests there is an additional aspect to Nasrallah’s designs on Cyprus, involving a plan

to neutralize the Israeli air force through two primary actions: a surprise attack with precision missiles and UAVs on Israeli air-force bases and against radar and air-defense facilities, including paralyzing Ben-Gurion Airport.

Nasrallah’s goal is to ground Israeli aircraft to prevent them from conducting missions in Lebanon against mid- and long-range missile launchers. Nasrallah fears that Israel might preempt his planned attack by deploying its air force to Cypriot bases, a scenario the Israeli air force practiced with Cyprus during military exercises over the past year.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Cyprus, Hizballah, U.S. Security