July 6, 2010
Netanyahu, Obama and the Truth
I’ve been getting a lot of e-mail, and you probably have been, too, hysterically accusing the Obama administration of deliberately and dangerously undermining Israel’s security. It comes from friends, family and people I barely know, and from around the globe. The original source is usually missing, identifying only those sending the messages under their own names without having any clue as to the accuracy, much less meaning, of what they’re sending.
Here’s how many begin: “I don’t know if this is completely true”; “I don’t care if it is not quite accurate, but it’s what I believe”; “I heard from a consultant to the United States who meets once a month with the president in the White House. He is in the know”; “I have just received this from my friend in Israel who moves in high circles in Israel”; “I just pass them on. I do not write them. Could there be some truth to this?”
One of the latest revealed that President Obama personally dispatched the CIA to Dubai to film the assassination of a Hamas leader so he could wage a PR campaign “to discredit Israel.”
What these mailings lack in accuracy they more than compensate for with hyperbole, ignorance, fear and loathing for the president of the United States.
At the risk of disappointing the legion of Obama haters, the U.S.-Israel security relationship is doing very well and getting better. The two military and intelligence establishments have been working closely and productively despite recent blips on the political and diplomatic front.
Even the political and personal relationship between Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu is getting better, according to Martin Indyk, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel, with the two leaders “develop[ing] a constructive working relationship sensitive to the legitimate concerns of the other.”
Anthony Cordesman, a respected defense analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., and a colleague, Aram Nerguizian, published a report on the Arab-Israeli military balance last week that finds “Israeli political claims that the Obama administration has somehow distanced itself from a concern with Israel’s security have not been reflected in arms transfers and security cooperation.”
Israel’s qualitative military edge (QME) is decisive and improving, they conclude.
Israel benefits from a steady decline in “Syria’s conventional military capabilities,” the weakness of Lebanese forces, “Egyptian and Jordanian adherence to their peace treaties,” and the disappearance of any Iraqi threat. The improved quality of Palestinian security forces is “reducing the threat of terrorism on the West Bank,” the authors said.
“Israel retains a major advantage in long-range missiles, long-range air strike capabilities, nuclear weapons and missile/land-based air defenses,” they noted, as well as in armor and other areas.
They attribute Israel’s overall superiority to the training and motivation of its forces, its leadership, the quality of its weapons, tactics, maintenance and readiness.
The authors say much of that is because “Israel has access to the latest U.S. weapons and technologies and can develop advanced weapons systems of its own.”
Congress recently approved the administration’s request for $205 million for Israel’s Iron Dome short-range anti-missile batteries in addition to $200 million for joint missile-defense systems, such as the medium-range David’s Sling and the long-range Arrow. All that is in addition to $3 billion in grant military aid, about a quarter of which can be spent in Israel on defense procurement, an arrangement no other country enjoys.
Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.), a member of the House appropriations subcommittees responsible for funding all aid to Israel, said the U.S.-Israeli military and intelligence alliance is “the strongest ... in recent history.” Israel’s QME “eroded under previous administrations” but “has been restored and improved.”
The military-to-military relationship has long been mutually beneficial. Israel has consistently shared with the United States the lessons learned — and equipment captured — in confronting Soviet-trained-and-equipped Arab armies, as well as sharing Israeli innovations such as reactive tank armor, first-generation drone aircraft, enhancements to F-15 and F-16 aircraft and more.
One friction point, however, is the administration’s unexpected support for Arab demands that a report on the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) include a call for Israel to sign the treaty. The administration clumsily tried to have it both ways, signing the report and then declaring it “deplores the decision to single out Israel” and endorsing the Israeli position that any discussion on a nuclear-free Middle East could come only after a comprehensive Israeli-Arab peace. The New York Times noted this issue “symbolizes why Israel remains insecure about the intentions of the Obama administration.”
The NPT episode has been rich fodder for Internet rumormongers eager to find evidence that Obama is ready to sell out Israel. But overall, it’s hard to deny that the U.S.-Israel strategic relationship is stronger than ever under President Obama — hardly the action of a president who wants to destroy the Jewish state.
Hatred of Obama and the rightist ideology that equates all criticism of Israeli policy with hatred of Israel itself — not “facts” most Israeli experts say are bunk — are what’s driving the drivel littering your e-mail in-box.
Douglas Bloomfield, a former staff member of AIPAC, writes about the Middle East and politics of Jewish life in America.