Ettinger: Smothering Sandstorms in the Middle East
Former Israeli Ambassador Yoram Ettinger capped a whirlwind tour and speaking engagements in Pensacola Sunday evening with a grand finale at First Pentecostal Church, Pensacola (FPCP). An audience of more than 1,200 echoed Pastor Brian Kinsey who blessed Israel and Ettinger in a moving worship service. Over the weekend, the Ambassador also spoke at B’nai Israel Synagogue and a private luncheon.
Ambassador Ettinger amazed the audiences at each event with his broad knowledge of both the troubled Middle East and his personal knowledge of US Israel relations and American goodwill towards the Jewish State. His years as Israeli US Embassy Congressional Liaison and regional Consul General in Houston, Texas have provided valued experience on communicating with supporters of Israel in the American Heartland.
That was evident in his final talk at FPCP replete with reference to our Founding Fathers reverence for Hebraic traditions. Ettinger pointed out to the FPCP audience the Hebrew Biblical passages used on emblems for early universities in America such as Yale, Columbia and Dartmouth College. He spoke of one of Yale’s earliest Presidents, Baptist clergyman Ezra Stiles, who told entering Yale students that if you wanted to speak with Saint Peter when you entered through pearly gates, he spoke Hebrew. Suffice to say that He went on to talk about more enduring contemporary examples of how Israel has paid back America’s friendship, especially with regard to common national security and economic interests. He received several rounds of applause during his talk at First Pentecostal.
Here are several examples drawn from his talks in Pensacola.
On how Israel’s Victory in the June 1967 War saved the Saudis.
Ettinger noted that a by-product of Israel’s stunning June 1967 War was the defeat of Egyptian strongman Nasser’s disastrous Yemen adventure. According to Ettinger Nasser’s objective was to use Yemen as a springboard for invasion of pro-American ally, Saudi Kingdom. That may have contributed to an important change by President Lyndon Johnson supporting military assistance to Israel to counter the Soviet presence in the Middle East.
How Israel’s mobilization in 1970 saved the Kingdom of Jordan from then Soviet Ally Syria.
While the US was bogged down in Vietnam, then Soviet Ally, Syria began an invasion of US ally, the Kingdom of Jordan. President Nixon and National Security Advisor Kissinger called then Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir requesting assistance. Within 24 hours regular and reserve IDF units had been mobilized and tanks positioned on the Syrian/Jordanian frontiers forcing the Syrians to back down. That was, according to Ettinger, to pay enormous dividends in the fateful days of the October 1973 War by Syria and Egypt, when President Nixon, over the objections of Kissinger, ordered the critical aerial resupply of arms to the IDF. That enabled in the ultimate crossing of the Suez Canal and the capitulation of Egypt’s Third Army.
Dick Cheney’s belated thank you for the 1981 IAF bombing of Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor.
In 1991, then Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney in one of the early news conferences during the First Gulf War issued a belated ‘thank you’ to Israel for its successful raid in June 1981on the late Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear reactor. As Ettinger noted, Israel had been branded an ‘international pirate’ and subjected to both UN and US condemnation for its unilateral action. As Cheney was alleged to have commented, absent the IAF “raid on the sun”, the coalition forces might have been deterred by nuclear weapons enabling Iraq’s invasion of neighboring oil-rich Kuwait. Further, as Ettinger commented, following the successful US-led coalition liberation of Kuwait, among the first actions was the expulsion of several hundred thousand Palestinians given the late Yasser Arafat’s support of Saddam Hussein. The inference being that Arab solidarity with the Palestinian cause was an illusion.
Senator Inouye’s prediction of the Arab winter and threat of Iran in 1990-the Smothering Sand Storms.
Ettinger told of his admiration for the late Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii. Inouye was in Ettinger’s words, “the most effective architect-ever of mutually-beneficial US-Israel strategic cooperation.” Moreover, Inouye viewed the Congress as a co-equal branch of the US government and was not intimated by Executive branch diktats. That was evident in Ettinger’s Congressional liaison experience during a tense period of relations with the Bush 41 Presidency. In 1990, the talk inside the Beltway was about the so-called Peace Dividend arising from the end of the former Soviet Union, the evil empire of the Reagan era. Inouye, according to Ettinger, was not one to have blinders on about national security and American interests. While the chief rogue nation threat posed by the former Soviet Union had ended, Inouye’s national security advisor drew attention to the rising threat of several rogue nations in the Middle East, notably the Iraqi and Iranian ‘sand storms’. Inouye’s national security aide was an Oxford U graduate who had done a thesis on a little known British intelligence assessment made in the 1920’s pointing out the fractious and dangerous Arab countries in the map of the Modern Middle East. The assessment propounded the importance of supporting a Jewish population in Mandatory Palestine who had acquitted themselves as able soldiers during WWI.
As recounted in an Ettinger Reportarticle in December 2012, Inouye showed his mettle in defense of US Israel national security cooperation:
Senator Inouye initiated a series of amendments, leveraging Israel’s unique capabilities, enhancing the win-win US-Israel cooperation in the face of mutual challenges in the Middle East and beyond (e.g., counter- terrorism, missile defense, military intelligence, battle tactics, industrial research and development).
Inouye initiated a significant transfer of US military systems from pacified Europe to Israel, due to Israel’s geographic location, which is most critical to vital US economic and national security interests. This enhanced the US-Israel posture of deterrence in the Middle East, reassuring pro-US Arab allies such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia, and deterring anti-US rogue regimes such as Libya, Syria, Iraq and Iran. Inouye was, also, responsible for expanding pre-positioned ammunition and medical supplies, in Israel, for American use during Middle East emergencies.
Inouye’s amendments were signed into law, in defiance of President Bush and Secretary Baker, who were on the verge of cutting off their noses to spite their faces, by holding the win-win bilateral cooperation initiatives hostage to their opposition to Israel’s settlements policy.
In 2001, Inouye briefed Dr Uzi Landau, then Israel’s Minister for Homeland Security, on Israel’s unique contributions to the national security of the US, Inouye: "The scope of intelligence received by the US, from Israel, exceeds the scope of intelligence received from all NATO countries combined."
General Alexander Haig’s comment on America’s ‘Aircraft Carrier’, Israel.
Ettinger noted the comments of the late Gen. Alexander Haig, former NATO Commander and later Secretary of State under President Reagan, who said: “Israel is the largest American aircraft carrier in the world that cannot be sunk, does not carry even one American soldier, and is located in a critical region for American national security. If Israel did not exist, the US would have to deploy a few more real aircraft carriers to the eastern flank of the Mediterranean, costing $20BN annually, which has been spared by the Jewish State”.
How Israel may have saved billions in retrofits of the F-16 produced by General Dynamics
Ettinger referred to the hitherto not well known close co-operation between the IAF and the US Air Force’s prime contractor for the F-16, General Dynamics. Apparently there is a team of IAF specialists located at the Fort Worth, Texas production facilities of General Dynamics who receive instant updates 24/7 from IAF combat missions. The IAF is the only air force currently engaged in combat using the F-16. This has, according to General Dynamics F-16 program managers, resulted in more than 600 production modifications of the F-16 saving both time and billions in retrofit expenditures. Ettinger’s comment: “Israel constitutes the most advanced, battle-tested, cost-effective, invaluable laboratory for US military systems.”
On the matter of Iran’s nuclear threat to Israel and the West.
During Ettinger’s discussion with Pensacola students he was asked about Iran’s nuclear threat to Israel and the West. He quickly focused on what the Iranian nuclear development was really about- threatening US interests in the Gulf region. He said that Israel is not the target, but rather the US assets and allies in the Gulf region. To his mind, all that the allegedly tough sanctions have done is allow Iran to evade them through granting of waivers under US legislation while the Islamic Regime gets closer to achieving its objective. The notion that Iran presents a significant military deterrent in the Gulf region is false. He believes that Iran’s conventional military forces would not be capable of countering a pre-emptive attack by powerful US forces in the Gulf and Indian Ocean. Thus, dialogue with the Ayatollahs only permits Tehran to achieve its objective of regional and ultimate world Islamic terrorism hegemony. He spoke of the frightening scenario of one day the White House receiving the equivalent of a 3:00AM phone call from the Supreme Ruler in Tehran advising the President that they had five nukes pre-positioned on ships offshore ready to launch against five US cities. What would our government do? Ettinger noted that Iran already has supplied missiles to Venezuela and may have sleeper cells in the US and Latin America. After all, he noted Iran’s revolutionary guards were caught using a Mexican drug cartel in an attempt to hit the Saudi Ambassador in a posh Washington restaurant.
The demographic doomsday scenario for Israel is a myth
Saturday evening at BIS Ambassador Ettinger spoke about new realities of Israel’s demographics. He recounted demographic trends in Israel versus the West Bank, Gaza and the Muslim Ummah; Jewish fertility rising, while Arab fertility is falling. He viewed those trends as a reflection of optimism, especially among young secular Jewish families, the second generation of Russian, Ukrainian and Moldavian immigrants to Israel. That contrasted with modernity and emigration among Arabs that have intensified family planning among women in Muslim countries in North Africa and the Middle East. The investigations and audits of Palestinian demographic statistics by a Joint team of American and Israeli researchers have, according to his presentation, led to an overstatement of more than 1 million Arabs in Judea, Samaria and even Gaza. That implies that the current Jewish demographic surge in Israel flies in the face of perennial dooms day predictions by critics of the late Israeli first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion. Those dire prediction are still propounded by the liberal press in Israel, the US, UK and EU. Moreover, the new demographic findings imply that annexation of Judea and Samaria presents an obvious means of accommodating this remarkable demographic growth in Israel. Couple this with the possibility over the next decade of 500,000 Jews making aliyah from Jewish communities in the EU and UK, plagued by virulent Islamic anti-Semitism, might augur well for Israel's future economic growth. Further those demographic trends in Israel could create an important reservoir of future military manpower to draw upon to protect the Jewish nation's national security.
Ambassador Ettinger’s 72 hours in Pensacola on Presidents Day Weekend bolstered the warm welcome he received upon his arrival. As Pastor Kinsey of First Pentecostal Church told the multitude of 1200 who came to hear Ambassador Ettinger, “Israel is American only enduring democratic ally in the troubled Middle East.”