The Israelis, quite reasonably, feel besieged, with all those rockets that keep coming in, and with the Israeli Arab mobs revealing the Enemy Within. Is this the time to be cutting our aid to Israel, our only sure ally between Europe and Japan? Nicholas Kristof thinks so. His latest vaporings are discussed here: “New York Times Columnist Kristof Questions ‘Vast Sums’ of US Military Aid to Israel, writes Hugh Fitzgerald
More than 1,700 rockets have been launched at Israeli civilians from Gaza by the terrorist group Hamas. in the first five days of the latest conflict. Meanwhile, mobs of marauding Arabs have been burning Jewish homes, shops, and synagogues in Lod and a half-dozen other mixed (Arab and Jew) cities inside Israel. The Israelis, quite reasonably, feel besieged, with all those rockets that keep coming in, and with the Israeli Arab mobs revealing the Enemy Within. Is this the time to be cutting our aid to Israel, our only sure ally between Europe and Japan? Nicholas Kristof thinks so. His latest vaporings are discussed here: “New York Times Columnist Kristof Questions ‘Vast Sums’ of US Military Aid to Israel,” by Ira Stoll, Algemeiner, May 13, 2021:
With Israeli children and grandmothers huddled in bomb shelters to protect themselves from terrorist Hamas and Islamic Jihad rockets aimed indiscriminately at civilian populations, a New York Times columnist is suggesting cutting back US military aid to Israel.
In a grotesquely ill-timed column and a series of promotional follow-up tweets posted for his 2 million Twitter followers, Nicholas Kristof vacillates between outright calling for less aid and merely raising the question.
The strongest statement came in a print headline over the column: “The US Should Condition Aid to Israel on Reducing Conflict.” This is slightly comical — or it would be if our Israeli cousins weren’t diving for cover. Imagine a World War II-era headline: “The US Should Condition Aid to Britain on Reducing Conflict.” Or the Cold War: “The US Should Condition Aid to West Germany on Reducing Conflict.” The level of conflict is not entirely up to the Israelis — they are facing a hostile power with a declared aim of wiping them off the map.
How exactly should Israel “reduce conflict” with Hamas other than what it is doing? Should it stop trying to prevent the oncoming missiles, of which 2,000 have already been launched, from landing in Israel cities? According to the IDF, Hamas could keep firing missiles at its current rate for two more months. Would it “reduce conflict” if Israel stopped shooting them down? Would Hamas stop launching those rockets to show its appreciation to Israel for letting them land? Didn’t Israel, in an attempt to decrease tension, decide to cancel this year’s Jerusalem Day march, so as not to offend Muslims? That did not win it any points from Hamas. Should Israel stop trying to prevent thousands of Muslims on top of the Temple Mount from heaving rocks and Molotov cocktails down on Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall and instead, simply escort those Jews out of harm’s way? Would that “reduce conflict”? How? What about the property dispute in Sheikh Jarrah between Jewish landowners and Arab tenants who have refused, since 1967, to pay rent? Should Israel simply let those non-paying tenants continue to take advantage of the situation, keep refusing to pay rent, counting on the fact that the owners, given the constant threat of Arab violence if there are any evictions, may be reluctant to enforce their rights?
Israelis would like nothing better than to reduce conflict. But the murderous assaults by Hamas during the last week have made that impossible. The only sure way to reduce conflict is by depriving Hamas of its vast storehouse of weapons, its top terror commanders, and its infrastructure (especially its system of underground tunnels). That will bring down the level of conflict, perhaps even end it for a few years, until Hamas again decides to renew its murderous assault on the Jewish state that it has pledged to destroy.
For online, the headline [of Kristof’s article] was walked back to “What Your Taxes Are Paying For in Israel.”
Similarly, the column frames the aid issue as a rhetorical question: “as American taxpayers, we don’t have much influence over Hamas, while we do have influence over Israel and we provide several billion dollars a year in military assistance to a rich country and thus subsidize bombings of Palestinians. Is that really a better use of our taxes than, say, paying for COVID-19 vaccinations abroad or national pre-K at home? Shouldn’t our vast sums of aid to Israel be conditioned on reducing conflict rather than aggravating it, on building conditions for peace rather than creating obstacles to it?”
First, Kristof appears not to know that the military assistance to Israel is money that Israel is required to spend on American weapons. Second, Israel gives back to the American military more value than it receives in aid. Israeli advances in military technology are shared with the United States. We have all heard of the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system, and the Iron Beam laser anti-missile weapons that Israel has supplied to the United States. Some may know of the cooperation between Israeli and American scientists on the development of Arrow missile system and the Tactical High Energy Laser.
But there is much more to this story. Among Israeli weapons and weapons systems that the U.S. military now uses are the following:
Trophy Active Protection System
The Army has purchased an emerging technology for Abrams tanks, Bradleys and Strykers designed to give combat vehicles an opportunity identify, track and destroy approaching enemy rocket-propelled grenades in a matter of milliseconds. Trophy is an Active Protection System (APS) that uses a 360-degree radar, processor and on-board computer to locate, track and destroy approaching fire coming from a range of weapons such as Anti-Tank-Guided-Missiles and Rocket Propelled Grenades. DRS Technologies and Israeli-based Rafael Advanced Defense Systems are working with the army to integrate the system that Israel developed after realizing that tanks could not be given more armor without greatly minimizing their maneuverability and deployability.
Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and U.S.-based defense contractor Leonardo DRS announced On January 6, 2021, they completed delivery of Trophy Active Protection Systems ordered by the U.S. Army for installation on Abrams battle tanks. This delivery culminates a multi-year effort by the Army to study and rapidly field active protection due to the urgency of the threat and the growing need for improved ground vehicle survivability.
Iron Fist Light Configuration
The U.S. Army chose to purchase the Iron Fist Light Configuration active protection system for its armored personnel carriers in June 2015, developed by Israel Military Industries. The system uses a complex network of radar and electro-optics to detect and neutralize a broad range of missiles and other objects. The Iron Fist Light Configuration can jam the GPS systems of incoming projectiles causing them to malfunction and fall to the ground, and can also deploy interceptors that destroy incoming objects with a shock wave.
Common Laser Range Finder
Israel’s Elbit Systems was awarded a $73.4 million, 15 year contract from the US Marine Corps in March 2015 to supply them with new laser systems. The new systems will assist Marines in concealed positions with imaging, range-finding, and navigation through combat areas. This will allow the soldiers to acquire and dispatch targets from their concealed positions, significantly lessening the potential impact of a mistake and keeping the soldiers safe.
Surveillance balloon manufactured for tactical surveillance, public safety, police, and military activities. Skystar 180’s can provide surveillance for up to 1,000 square feet on one tank of helium, which lasts for approximately 72 hours. The Skystar 180 system is simple and intuitive, and can be fully operated by only two people. Israeli police have used these balloons and previous models to control riots and provide intel during times of conflict. The U.S. Army approved the Skystar 180 for purchase in March 2015, after a unit successfully completed the Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment
ADM-141 TALD (Improved Tactical Air Launched Decoy)
Jet powered, unpiloted decoys look and maneuver like an airplane. TALD’s are used to confuse enemy radar and draw the fire away from piloted aircraft so they can perform their missions under “safer” conditions. Earlier unpowered glider versions of the ITALD were used extensively during the initial stages of the Gulf War and in Bosnia.
Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System
This helmet-mounted display (HMD) system allows fighter pilots to target enemy aircraft by using a display within their helmet to guide the missiles at the target they are looking at rather than having to maneuver their aircraft into an attack position.
Reactive Armor Tiles
Developed by the IDF after the Yom Kippur War, these tiles protect tanks and the soldiers within them. The tiles overlay the tank’s armor and have embedded explosives that detonate outward when hit by missiles. The explosion destroys and repels the incoming missile before it penetrates the tank’s main armor. During the 1982 Lebanon war, not a single Israeli tank equipped with these tiles was lost to enemy fire.
LITENING Targeting Pod
Litening is a navigation and targeting device that enables aircraft to fly and target in bad weather and at night. The Litening transforms older planes into round-the-clock fighters. The Litening is equipped with two cameras – one uses heat sensors to identify targets at night and during bad weather, while the second provides powerful images from long-range distances during the day. The U.S. Air National Guard, a quarter of whose fleet cannot fly at night, has purchased the Litening to enhance the capabilities of its F-16s. The Litening is also being purchased by the U.S. Marine Corps.
AGM-142 Have Nap
Known as “the Popeye,” this missile is used to destroy targets, such as concrete military bunkers, with exceptional precision from great distances. It is the only air-to-ground missile that can be retargeted after launch. The United States uses the Popeye on B-52 bombers. A small number of aircraft armed with the Popeye were deployed to Europe for use in Kosovo.
UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles)
The UAV has been one of the most important factors enabling the United States to fight effectively with minimum casualties. The U.S. has one of the largest fleets of Israeli-made UAVs which re used to identify targets and assess bomb damage without putting pilots at risk. During the Gulf War and Kosovo, Israeli-made Pioneer and Hunter UAVs were used to stop hard-to-detect targets such as missile launchers, artillery units and command and control bunkers.
Python-4 Air-to-Air Missile
The Python-4 is recognized as the world’ most advanced short-range air-to-air missile. Unlike other missiles of its kind, the Python can fire at targets from any angle, not just those directly in front of it. This gives it a much larger zone in which in can effectively destroy enemy aircraft.
SIMON breach grenade
A rifle grenade designed to breach through doors. It is mainly used to access buildings with locked or barricaded doors without endangering U.S. troops or the people inside. A variant is currently in service with the United States army.
B300/SMAW Bunker-Busting Missile
This Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon (SMAW) is a portable weapon for use in destroying deeply buried and hardened concrete-reinforced bunkers. The U.S. Marine Corps procured this missile for use in Iraq.
Man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS)
The US Air Force ordered 21 MANPADS, shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles (SLSAMs), for use against low-flying aircraft, such as unmanned aerial systems (e.g., drones), and helicopters.
I wanted to provide full descriptions of these weapons, to impress upon Kristof the value of Israel’s own technological advances to the American military. Perhaps that will give him a better sense of how valuable Israel has been to our defense. There is no other country that has done more for American security.