An Israeli soldier (L) helps roll up the Israeli and American flags after an honor guard ceremony held for Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Tel Aviv, Israel, May 9, 2017.
A festive ceremony on an Israeli Air Defense Command base drew no special attention. The Sept. 18 ceremony in the Negev desert dedicated a first of its kind in Israel’s history: a permanent American military base, to be staffed with dozens of uniformed American soldiers, within an Israeli air force base. It’s an open secret that the Americans have warehouses for ammunition and strategic equipment in Israel for emergency situations, but until now there were no real military bases. For the first time, the American military will have a physical foothold within Israeli territory.
“This is a historic day when we dedicate a base with our most important ally, the United States, here in the Negev,” said the commander of Israel’s aerial defense at the ceremony, which was attended by American generals as well. Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovich went on, “This is the first time a permanent American base is situated within one of our bases, and it proves the strategic commitment of the two militaries and two air defense commands. It is an important moment in the State of Israel’s air defense against high-trajectory fire that would attack us from far and near. And it adds to the capability that is growing year by year.”
This coming February, Israel and the United States will cooperate in the “Juniper Cobra” exercise, which takes place every two years — a strategic exercise of the two countries’ joint air defense capabilities as well as radar systems and the identification and interception of ballistic and high-trajectory threats to Israel.
It all started at the end of the past decade: Sen. Mark Kirk, one of Israel’s biggest supporters in the US Congress, suggested situating in Israel the sophisticated X Band Radar, a defensive system that gives early warnings of missile strikes. To the surprise of decision-makers in Jerusalem, the US administration’s Secretary of Defense Robert Gates quickly authorized the exceptional request and within two months, by September 2008, the huge radar system was built in the Negev. It includes two towers of sophisticated sensors, the tallest of their kind in the world.
The radar is operated by the United States, and the base is considered an American extraterritorial location in Israeli territory. Essentially, Israel receives the intelligence collected by the radar in real time from the Americans, and not from the facility itself. The system was tested in special exercises in Europe in the presence of Israeli staff and senior officials before it was brought to Israel.
The Israeli security establishment very gladly accepted the reinforcement. The Americans did not grant, sell or transfer the system to Israel, but only placed it in its territory. In the first years, the radar was operated by American civilians working for the US military. Now the US military has changed its policy and decided to replace those civilians with regular uniformed soldiers. To that end, the US base was established within the Israeli base.
“This is a radar system that consists of the best American technological capabilities,” a senior source in the security establishment told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “It allows us to identify threats to the state even from the longest ranges. It allows us to identify rocket salvos precisely and quickly, and it can determine exactly where the ballistic threat would hit before it’s too late.” According to various reports, the radar can identify a threat from a distance of 2,500 kilometers (1,553 miles) away and offer Israel a relatively long warning period (around eight minutes), enabling effective civilian defense and the use of various means of interception such as Israel’s Arrow missile.
“This cooperation works with great efficiency,” reported a senior Israeli security source in a private conversation with Al-Monitor. “The capabilities of this radar are amazing. It opens before us the whole map of the Middle East and identifies all the threats. It’s connected and synchronized with additional systems, Israeli and American, and it dramatically enhances our capacity to defend ourselves. The cooperation between the air force, its supervision system and air defense units — and the radar and its American staff — has proven to be perfect.”
The placement of the American radar in Israel is perhaps the most interesting testament to the depth of the security relationship between Israel and the United States, to the American commitment to Israel’s security and to the willingness of Washington to strategically partner with Israel.
“We must remember that the Americans could take this radar from here and bring it somewhere else tomorrow morning in a simple operational decision,” said a senior Israeli security source who spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “As far as we know, they haven’t considered it. Even in the worst days of the relationship between President [Barack] Obama and Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, it was clear to all sides that when it comes to the security of Israel there are no conflicts and no rivalries.”
The radar is estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. It is indirectly connected to the Israeli air force’s monitoring systems. The US staff transmits any threats detected in real time to the Israeli air force, which is synchronized and connected to the various parts of the “Magic Wand” system (also nicknamed the “David’s Sling” missile defense system), which is intended to intercept ballistic missiles and high-trajectory threats to Israel. According to estimates, it would take mere seconds between the identification of the threat and the launch of the means of its interception, providing precise forecasting of the missile’s point of impact.
“Without a doubt, this is an exceptional gesture,” a senior Israeli security source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “With such a radar system at our service, we can sleep a little bit better at night.”
A common but mistaken reading of the current strategic situation in the Middle East presents the region as approaching the end of a period of instability. The “return of the Arab state” is one of the more arresting refrains that this perspective has produced.
According to this view, the wars in Syria and in Iraq are drawing to a close. The defeat of the Islamic State in these countries represents the eclipse of the political ambitions of Salafi jihadi Islamism for the foreseeable future. Assad is set to restore his repressive but stable rule in Syria. In Iraq, the firm reaction by the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to the Kurdish bid for independence has ended prospects of the imminent fragmentation of the country. In Lebanon, attempts by Sunni jihadis to export the Syrian war have failed, and all is quiet.
In July 2016, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria (pictured in front at center)—the leader of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church—hosts Ignatius Aphrem II (left), patriarch of Antioch and All East of the Syriac Orthodox Church, and Aram I, head of Lebanon’s Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
While Christianity traces its birthplace to the Middle East, that region has been arguably the most hostile area for the religion in recent years. A new report by the Christian charity group Open Doors has found that most of Israel’s neighbors, including Egypt, Jordan, Syria and the Palestinian territories, are among the world’s most dangerous places for Christians.
Kingdom says Jerusalem agreed to pay compensation over deaths of three people, in order to end diplomatic standoff
Jordanian protesters wave national flags and chant slogans during a demonstration near the Israeli embassy in the capital Amman on July 28, 2017, calling for the shutting down the of the embassy, expelling the ambassador, and canceling the 1994 peace treaty with Israel. (AFP PHOTO / KHALIL MAZRAAWI)
Israel is paying $5 million in compensation to the families of two people shot dead by an Israeli embassy guard last year, as well as a Jordanian judge killed in a 2014 incident, diplomats in Jordan told the al-Rai newspaper Saturday.
Ultra-Orthodox women and children attend a ceremony to welcome new Torah scrolls in a neighborhood of Jerusalem, Oct. 1 2014.
Reuven K., who is about 30 years old, is an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic man who lives in Betar Illit, one of Israel’s most prominent ultra-Orthodox localities. Reuven studies in a yeshiva, a Jewish school for Talmudic learning, but works half of each day as a wholesale merchant selling religious ritual supplies. His wife, Bracha, works as a bookkeeper in a governmental institution.
Palestinian boss Mahmoud Abbas recently declared that Israel is “a colonial enterprise that has nothing to do with Jewishness.” Moses, King David and thousands of years of Jewish history would disagree. Israel and the Jews are part of the story of human civilization. Over 50% of the human race has a holy book that tells of the Jewish journey to Israel. That includes Mohammed’s own copy of the Koran.
Israel isn’t a “colonial enterprise.” Palestine is.
Anyone who wants to find out where the name Israel comes from can open the Book of Genesis 32:29. The story even appears in Islamic hadiths. But where does “Palestine” really come from?
It may not be a shooting war. For the most part. (Though don’t tell that to some Republicans at a charity game practice who were targeted by a Bernie Sanders supporter.) But it’s a war all the same.
The war is still being fought with paper and protests. But it’s based on irreconcilable differences between parts of the country. Much like the ones that brought on the war between brothers.
This is a topic that I’ve written about quite often over this past year. Rush Limbaugh saw fit to read and promote some of those pieces. And now I’ll be giving a talk on the subject at the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Conference in Myrtle Beach, SC. It’ll take place from Jan 20-22. I’m scheduled to speak on the 21st, but there are plenty of other great speakers there.
The speech was loud and clear. It wasn’t just the “may your house be demolished” curse that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas fired at the leader of the strongest world power. It was the utterly delusional ideology, with false claims that only make the Palestinians sink deeper into a path of delusions and collapse.
The reactions were predictable: We have to understand him. He’s under a lot of pressure. He has no political horizon. The Palestinians are desperate. He didn’t really mean it.
A document drafted by members of the global Christian community convening at the 3rd International Christian Forum held in Moscow, detailed how over the past 10 years the Middle East’s Christian population has shrunk by 80 percent and warned that unless current trends are reversed Christianity “will vanish” from its ancient homelands in a few years’ time. Around the year 2000, there were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq, whereas today there are only 100,000, roughly a 93 percent drop, the document notes. In Syria, the largest cities “have lost almost all of their Christian population.”
Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, has delivered a speech triggered by his rage at the President of the United States Donald Trump, going so far as to hurl the most bitter curse in the Arabic language at the POTUS: “May your house be destroyed.”
This imprecation does not merely relate to someone’s present home, but to all the members of his family being thrown into the street to lead lives of destitution, humiliation, and shame. Only someone familiar with Middle Eastern culture understands the real significance of this curse.
The 1964 presidential election was the second in which I voted. Lyndon Johnson who had succeeded John Kennedy was running against Barry Goldwater. I didn’t like either candidate: Johnson’s personal characteristics were obnoxious, though he had achieved much, especially in the area of civil rights; Goldwater’s personal characterizes seemed fine, but I disapproved of his conservative political views.
I was shocked to read an article in Fact magazine, based on interviews with more than 1,000 psychiatrists, which concluded that Goldwater was mentally unstable and psychologically unfit to be president. It was Lyndon Johnson whose personal fitness to hold the highest office I questioned. Barry Goldwater seemed emotionally stable with excellent personal characteristics, but highly questionable politics. The article was utterly unpersuasive, and in the end, I reluctantly voted for Lyndon Johnson. Barry Goldwater went back to the Senate, where he served with great distinction and high personal morality. Lyndon Johnson got us deeply into an unwinnable war that hurt our nation. The more than 1,000 psychiatrists, it turned out, were dead wrong in their diagnosis and predictions.