Ambassador (Retired) Yoram Ettinger is an insider on US-Israel relations, Mideast politics and overseas investments in Israel's high tech. He is a consultant to members of the Israeli Cabinet and Knesset, and regularly briefs US legislators and their staff. His OpEds have been published in Israel and the US he has been interviewed in both Australia and the U.S. A graduate of UCLA and undergraduate at UTEP, he served amongst other things, as Minister for Congressional Affairs at Israel's Embassy in Washington. He is the editor of "Straight from the Jerusalem Cloakroom and Boardroom" newsletters on issues of national security and overseas investments in Israel's high-tech.
While the election of President Trump represented a setback to political-correctness, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s interview on May 14, 2017 NBC’s Meet the Pressreflected the State Department’s political correctness on US-Israel and US-Arab relations, the Palestinian issue and the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
The interview may have sent a message of US procrastination on the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, the ancient core of Judaism and Jewish history, which inspired the early US Pilgrims and Founding Fathers. Procrastination would be interpreted by Arabs as US retreat in the face of Arab pressure and threats, eroding the US posture of deterrence, triggering further pressure and emboldening anti-US Islamic terrorism.
Intel acquired Mobileye, Israel’s auto-tech giant, for $15.3BN (Globes, March 13, 2017) The British equity firm, APAX, acquired Israel’s medical equipment Syneron for $397MN (Globes, April 30). The New Jersey-based Becton-Dickinson, the medical equipment giant, acquired Israel’s CME for $250mn (Globes, April 5). Palo Alto acquired Israel’s LightCyber for $130mn. In 2014,, Palo Alto acquired Israel’s Cyvera for $112mn (Globes, March 1) The Washington, DC-based Danaher acquired Israel’s printing quality inspection AVT for $107mn (Globes, March 6). The New York-based event-ticketing giant, SeatGeek, acquired Israel’s TopTix for $56mn (Globes, April 20).
In 2017, the national security interests of the US and Israel have converged, in an unprecedented manner, in response to the anti-US Arab Tsunami; anti-US Islamic terrorism; the declining European posture of deterrence; drastic cuts in the US defense budget; an increasingly unpredictable, dangerous globe; Israel’s surge of military and commercial capabilities and US-Israel shared values.
Contrary to conventional wisdom—and traditional State Department policy - US-Israel and US-Arab relations are not a case of zero-sum-game. This is currently demonstrated by enhanced US-Israel strategic cooperation, concurrently with expanded security cooperation between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other pro-US Arab countries, as well as stronger cooperation between the US and those same Arab countries. Unlike the simplistic view of the Middle East, Arab policy-makers are well aware of their priorities, especially when the radical Islamic machete is at their throats. They are consumed by internal and external intra-Muslim, intra-Arab violence, which have bled and dominated the Arab agenda, prior to - and irrespective of - the Palestinian issue, which has never been a core cause of regional turbulence, a crown-jewel of Arab policy-making, nor the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
US policy toward Israel is driven by prime US national security interests and priorities, militarily and commercially.
US-Israel relations have evolved into a productive two-way-street, mutually-beneficial ties, militarily and commercially.
Israel is a unique national-security producer for the US, in face of the imminent threats of Iran’s Ayatollahs and Islamic terrorism, and in the attempt to bolster the pro-US Arab regimes.
US policy toward the proposed Palestinian state should be based on US national security interests, realizing that a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River would doom the pro-US Hashemite Jordanian regime east of the Jordan River, and consequently threaten the pro-US Arab regimes in the Arabian Peninsula.
The Jewish community in the US has provided a robust tailwind to the deeply-rooted affinity (since the 1620 “Mayflower”), by the American people, toward the Jewish state. Congressional legislation, enhancing US-Israel cooperation have been introduced, almost exclusively, by Christian legislators.
Irrespective of - and unrelated to - the Palestinian issue, the Middle East is boiling, firing the 14-century-old Sunni-Shia intra-Muslim confrontation, exacerbating intra-Arab violence in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain and threatening to explode in every Arab country. The Arab Tsunami, which has erupted independent of the Palestinian issue, has been leveraged by Iran’s Ayatollahs, in order to advance their supremacist, megalomaniacal goal of dominating the Persian Gulf, the Middle East and beyond, notwithstanding the Palestinian issue, which has never played a substantial role in shaping the stormy intra-Arab and intra-Muslim relations and the Middle East agenda.
In 2011, the Department of State welcomed the Arab Tsunami, which has displaced millions of people and murdered hundreds of thousands – and keeps raging - as an Arab Spring, youth revolution, Facebook revolution and a transition towards democracy.
In 2011, the State Department recommended the toppling of Gaddafi in Libya, in spite of Gaddafi’s transfer of Libya’s nuclear infrastructure to the US in 2003, and irrespective of his fierce battle against Islamic terrorism. The toppling of the ruthless Gaddafi transformed Libya into the largest, lawless platform of Islamic terrorism in the Middle East, spilling over into Africa, Europe and the rest of the world, severely undermining the US national and homeland security.
Notwithstanding Israel’s unique challenges of the chaotically unpredictable state of the Middle East, the Islamic and Arab onslaught, the scarcity of natural resources (other than brain power), the UN enmity, the European appeasement of rogue regimes, systematic criticism by the “elite” media and the attempt to boycott, divest and sanction, the independent, non-partisan quarterly, The American Interest, stated on January 24: “This is there is a new name on our list of The Eight Greats, Israel….
In 1948, the US State Department’s conventional “wisdom” contended that the reestablishment of a Jewish state would damage US interests, since the Jewish state would be aligned with the USSR, undermine US-Arab relations, intensify regional instability, and would be militarily devastated by its Arab neighbors, thus causing a second Jewish Holocaust in less than ten years.
However, conventional “wisdom” was trounced on the rocks of Middle East reality, as it was when: the State Department appeased Egyptian President Nasser (1950s); facilitated the toppling of the Shah of Iran by the Ayatollas (1977-78); embraced Saddam Hussein, and inadvertently encouraged his August 1989 invasion of Kuwait; proclaimed Arafat as a messenger of peace (1993); welcomed the Arab Tsunami as the Arab Spring, a transition toward democracy (2011); supported the anti-US Muslim Brotherhood offensive against the pro-US Egyptian President Mubarak, and turned a cold shoulder toward the pro-US President al-Sisi (2011-2017); toppled the Kaddafi regime, thus transforming Libya into a major platform of Islamic terrorism (2011), etc.
Israel is urged to concede the historically and militarily most critical mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, in return for a US, or a multinational, peacekeeping force, as well as US security guarantees or defense pact.
In order to be effective, defense pacts, and security guarantees – including peacekeeping monitoring or combat forces - must be reliable, durable, specific and politically/militarily sustainable. It must serve the interests of the foreign entity, which dispatches the force, lest it be ignored or summarily withdrawn.
Israel’s security requirements derive from the explosive Middle East, which requires an unusually high national security threshold, due to the 14-century-old intra-Muslim and intra-Arab unpredictability, intolerance, violence, volatility, fragmentation, treachery and the absence of intra-Arab peaceful-coexistence.
Israel’s economic performance has defied conventional “wisdom,” political-correctness and steep geo-strategic, diplomatic and economic odds, transforming seemingly-insurmountable hurdles into boundless opportunities.
1. A January 11, 2017 European vote-of-confidence, in Israel’s economy, took place in the London Stock Exchange, when Israel sold to British, German and French financial institutions 2.25BN Euros in 10 and 20 year government bonds, while demand surged to 9.8BN Euros. It was Israel’s biggest Euro offering ever.
The term “suspension of disbelief” refers to well-intentioned subordination of documented-facts and common sense to one’s zeal and wishful-thinking: sacrificing long-term realism on the altar of oversimplification and short-term gratification and convenience.
Secretary Kerry’s December 28, 2016 speech was replete with suspension of disbelief, totally inconsistent with Middle East reality, but consistent with the Secretary’s 31-year foreign policy track record.
President Obama’s collaboration with the December 23, 2016 UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2334, which condemns Israel’s settlements policy, has defied history and reality, injuring the peace process and US national security, occupied land, settlements
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