by Yoram Ettinger
1. 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.
2. The Jewish state is located in a region, which is dominated by an Islam-driven worldview which has never tolerated non-Muslim, “infidel” sovereignty in the, supposedly, abode-of-Islam. The 1,400-year-old raging nature of the Middle East precedes the establishment of Israel, and it haunts the globe irrespective of Israel’s policies, conflicts or existence.
3. Israel’s national security requirements grow in direct proportion to the intensification of Middle Eastern and global unpredictability – recently exhibited by the tectonic Arab Tsunami – which produced radical regime-change, highlighting the provisional nature of Arab policies and agreements.
4. Global and Middle Eastern unpredictability has been documented by the collapse of the Soviet Union; global transformation from bi-polar, to multi-polar, confrontations; the strategic retreat by the US and the draconian cuts in its defense budget and size of military force; the eruption of international terrorism; the spill-over of Islam-driven terrorism into Europe and the US; the disintegration of Libya, Iraq, Syria and Yemen; the rising threat of conventional and nuclear Iran; the downfall of the supposedly invincible Mubarak, Assad, Saddam Hussein and Qaddafi; etc.
5. The increase of Israel’s security requirements is a common-sense-derivative of the unpredictable, volcanic eruptions which could afflict the Middle East and beyond. For instance, a regime change in highly-vulnerable Jordan would transform Israel’s currently peaceful, longest and most critical 300-mile-border – the closest to Jerusalem, Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv and 80% of Israel’s population and infrastructures – into a most lethal threat to Israel’s homeland and national security, producing chaos in Israel’s heartland. A regime change in Jordan would exacerbate Palestinian terrorism, possibly forging a radical bloc from Iran to the Jordan Valley, posing a clear and present danger to the relatively pro-US regimes in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Oman and Egypt.
6. Israel’s added security requirements are also a derivative of a potential regime change in Egypt, from the current moderate military regime to the explosive Muslim Brotherhood, the largest trans-Islamic terror organization. It would provide a tailwind to Gaza-based Palestinian terrorism, as well as to Islam-based terrorism in northern Africa, the Horn of Africa and throughout Africa, severely undermining US geo-strategic concerns.
7. The drastic cuts in the US defense budget, combined with the US retreat from Afghanistan and Iraq, the nuclear agreement with the Ayatollahs and the US policy of engagement with – rather than confrontation of – rogue regimes are perceived, by rogue regimes, as weakness, undermining the US posture of deterrence, which has been a critical force of stabilization. Israel’s security requirements must assume that the erosion of the US military power projection may be sustained, energizing rogue regimes in the Middle East and throughout the globe, dramatically undermining homeland and national security of Israel and all other Western democracies.
8. Expecting Israel to retreat from the 3,000 ft.-steep-mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria – which dominate the Jordan Valley, the Jerusalem enclave, the main highway which connects Jerusalem to the coastal plane, Israel’s only international airport, Tel Aviv and the 9-15 mile sliver along the Mediterranean – requires Israel to sacrifice Middle East, intra-Muslim and global reality on the altar of delusion, to relinquish 4,000 years of Jewish historical, religious cultural and national roots, to repeat – rather than avoid – past errors (such as yielding land to the Palestinian Authority, in 1993 and 2005, which intensified terrorism and hate education), to ignore the treacherous intra-Arab Palestinian track record, and to rely on inherently tenuous diplomatic and military agreements, warranties and guarantees.
9. Lt. General (ret.) Tom Kelly, Chief of Operations in the 1991 Gulf War, stated: “I cannot defend Israel without the West Bank…. The West Bank Mountains, and especially their 5 approaches, are the critical terrain. If an enemy secures those passes, Jerusalem and Israel become uncovered. Without the West Bank, Israel is only 8 miles wide at its narrowest point. That makes it indefensible.”
10. Military high-tech today will be low-tech tomorrow, but high ground always remains high ground. Moreover, any technology can be jammed, but one cannot jam the mountainous topography of Judea & Samaria. Israel’s control of the Judea and Samaria mountain ridges minimizes threats to homeland security and national security, providing Israel with the time required to mobilize its active reservists (75% of the military force!) in case of a surprise Arab offensive, as happened in 1973, when Israel was on a verge of destruction. A retreat from the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria would import the terroristic Gaza-reality to Judea & Samaria, transforming Israel from an assertive national security producer – for the US – to a feeble national security consumer, burdening the US.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This insightful article by former Ambassador Yoram Ettinger once again emphasizes that Israel’s defense comes from the LORD GOD of ISRAEL!
By Eric Metaxas/Breakpoint.org
It is even said that Israel’s subterranean contacts and quiet cooperation with certain Arab states, united by fear of a nuclear Iran, might be imperiled by the tumult such a move would cause on the Arab street. The Palestinian Authority (PA) has reportedly threatened to revoke its official recognition of Israel (which in reality it did not ever accept as Jewish state).
Indeed, PA President Mahmoud Abbas — no stranger to urging violence over Jerusalem; just recall his September 2015 call upon Palestinians to violence to defend the Al Aqsa Mosque, which he falsely claimed was under assault from the Jews’ “filthy feet” — has threatened that if the embassy is moved, “it will destroy the peace process.”
Weighty as these considerations against moving the embassy might seem, President Trump would be wise to act on his pledge (as well as his original inclination) and move the embassy, for four reasons:
First, President Trump spoke in his inaugural address of the imperative of “eradicating from the face of the Earth” radical Islamic terrorism. It would ill-serve his credibility and thus American interests to renege on a emphatic, explicit commitment to move the embassy in the face of jihadist terrorist threats as virtually the first act of his Presidency.
Second, how are allies to put trust in American commitments that can be undone at the first hint of violence or intimidation? Retracting his commitment to move the embassy would appear to be the worst possible way for President Trump to tackle, as he has pledged to do, reversing the perception that America doesn’t stand by friends while being concessionary to violent enemies.
Third, jihadist terrorists, dedicated to destroying or transforming America into a sharia-compliant state irrespective of Israel’s existence, have either planned or launched at least 91 attacks within the U.S. since 9/11 (ten during 2016 alone). It’s unlikely that moving the U.S. embassy will engender attacks that would not otherwise be undertaken. But even if it did, the idea that U.S foreign policy is to be determined by the probability of resort to murderous force by terrorists is unworthy of a sovereign country, let alone a world power.
Fourth, this is especially so where such a move might be beneficial to peace. Far from harming peace prospects, a clear U.S. policy that corrects an historic anomaly and unambiguously recognizes the reality of Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital by relocating the US embassy there might serve to dissipate the unrealistic Palestinian ambition that Israel can be detached from Jerusalem.
Islam possesses holy sites in Jerusalem, but the city is neither sacred to Islam nor has it ever served as an Islamic capital; Jordan, which illegally occupied and annexed Jerusalem’s eastern half (1948-67), neglected it and retained Amman as its capital. During this period, no Arab leader, other than Jordan’s King Hussein, even visited it. Indeed, the Quran never refers to the city and Muslim prayers are directed towards Mecca. But detaching Israel from Jerusalem is one of the holy grails of the Palestinian movement.
PA senior official and former ambassador, Abbas Zaki, succinctly explained why in 2011: “if they get out of Jerusalem, what will become of all the talk about the Promised Land and the Chosen People? They consider Jerusalem to have a spiritual status. If the Jews leave those places, the Zionist idea will begin to collapse.”
Accordingly, the Palestinian ambition to detach Jerusalem from Israel is itself an impediment to peace prospects – and so therefore is America’s present policy that even the western half of Jerusalem in Israeli hands since the 1949 Israeli/Jordanian armistice is not treated as Israel.
The standing US position on Jerusalem emboldens jihadist aggression and reinforces Palestinian hopes that Jerusalem, and eventually Israel, will pass out of Jewish hands.
Deferring or refusing to move the embassy entrenches this aspiration. This is scarcely a signal that the U.S. should wish to send. America’s reputation and reliability, as also the opportunity to remove an obstacle to eventual peacemaking, are at stake. Hopefully, President Trump understands this.