US-Israel Cooperation is Surging, Despite Obama vs Bibi

March 27, 2015  

Cooperation between the U.S. and Israel in the fields of defense, science and commerce is surging in an unprecedented manner, in defiance of the unbridgeable gap between the worldviews of U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

For example, 250 major U.S. high-tech companies have research and development centers in Israel, which has become a major source of cutting-edge innovative technology. This serves to improve U.S. competitiveness, increase U.S. exports and expand U.S. employment. In 2014, Israeli startup companies raised an all-time record of $3.4 billion, mostly from American investors. Israel operates hundreds of U.S. military and homeland security systems, providing the U.S. defense industries with critical know-how in operation, maintenance and repairs, which dramatically upgrade the quality of these systems and their global competitiveness. In turn, this improves U.S. research and development, exports and employment.

U.S.-Israel cooperation in the areas of cyber, nano and space technologies is dramatically on the rise. Israel provides the U.S. with intelligence exceeding all the intelligence provided by all NATO countries combined. The formulation of U.S. battle tactics, in general — and urban warfare in particular — is based largely on Israel’s battle experience. Joint U.S.-Israel air force exercises are conducted regularly. U.S. Army units on their way to Afghanistan are trained by Israeli experts in urban warfare, car bombs, suicide bombers and improvised explosive devices.

Contrary to the one-way-street type of relationship of 40 years ago (the U.S. gave and Israel received), current U.S.-Israel ties have been transformed into a mutually beneficial two way street, expanding cooperation — especially at a time of drastic cuts in the U.S. defense budget and the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen. This two way street is not impacted by the bad blood between Obama and Netanyahu.

While Obama harshly criticizes Netanyahu’s approach to the Palestinian issue, U.S. national security and commercial interests, as well as U.S.-Israel relations and Obama’s legacy, all transcend, by far, the Palestinian issue.

Moreover, Obama’s assumption that an unresolved Palestinian issue is a core cause of Middle East turbulence overlooks the last four years of the Arab tsunami, which have exposed the marginal role of the Palestinian issue in shaping the Middle East. Thus, the tectonic outbursts in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria and Iraq — as well as the lethal Iranian threat to every pro-American Arab country in the region — are independent of the Palestinian issue. Also, the Arab countries shower the Palestinians with rhetoric, but not with tangible resources. They do not consider the Palestinians their crown jewel, but rather a source of further corruption, subversion and terrorism.

While Obama and Netanyahu are on a collision course, the U.S. Congress — the most authentic representative of the American constituent and a coequal, co-determining branch of government in all areas — has been a systematic supporter of enhanced U.S.-Israel cooperation. It was Congress that stopped the U.S. military involvement in Vietnam, Angola and Nicaragua (in defiance of Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan); triggered the collapse of the white regime in South Africa (overriding Reagan’s veto); forced Moscow to allow free emigration; clipped the wings of the U.S. intelligence community (in defiance of President Gerald Ford); has refrained from ratifying the 1999 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (signed by President Bill Clinton); significantly expanded strategic cooperation with Israel (in defiance of President George H. W. Bush and Secretary of State James Baker); forced Obama to veto the 2011 U.N. Security Council anti-settlement resolution and to sign the August 1, 2014 $225 million appropriation for the acquisition of additional Iron Dome batteries; etc. The U.S. political system provides Congress with the muscle to initiate policy and change, suspend, defund, roll back and abort presidential domestic, foreign policy and national security initiatives.

Unlike U.S. ties with most other countries, the special relationship with the Jewish state reflect the sentiments of most U.S. constituents, irrespective of presidential policies. They are based on Judeo-Christian values dating back to the 17th century Pilgrims of the Mayflower and the Arabella, who departed from “modern day Egypt,” crossed the “modern day Red Sea” and landed in the “modern day Promised Land.” Today, there are statues of Moses in the U.S. House of Representatives (facing the Speaker) and the U.S. Supreme Court (above the Justices’ bench), and Ten Commandments monuments can be found on the grounds of the Texas and Oklahoma state capitols.

For Netanyahu to embrace Obama’s policies on Iran and the Palestinian issue would require ignoring Obama’s track record in the Middle East: he welcomed the Arab tsunami as an Arab Spring transitioning toward democracy; he stabbed pro-U.S., former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the back and is now turning a cold shoulder toward the current president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, while embracing the anti-U.S. Muslim Brotherhood, the largest Islamic terror organization; he denies the existence of Islamic terrorism (“workplace violence,” “extremism”); he claims that “Islam has always been part of the American story” (2009 Cairo speech); he contends that the root cause of terrorism is socio-economic deprivation; he trained the anti-U.S., pro-Iran Houthi tribes of Yemen; he provides a tailwind to Iran’s gradual domination of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen (which controls the critical Bab-el-Mandeb strait), assuming that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” while in fact Iran is “my enemy”; he is preoccupied with the details of an agreement with Iran rather than with the details of Iran’s rogue, terrorist, noncompliant, apocalyptic, expansionist, anti-U.S. track record; he aims to contain rather than prevent a nuclear Iran; he transformed Libya into one of the largest incubators of terrorism; he subordinates U.S. unilateral action to multilateralism; he has lost the trust of Saudi Arabia and other pro-U.S. Arab states, eroding the U.S. posture of deterrence to an unprecedented low point.

For Netanyahu to embrace Obama’s policies on Iran and the Palestinian issue would spare him the wrath of the White House, but would distance him from Middle East reality, dooming the Jewish state to destruction.

By: Yoram Ettinger

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