UCI EXCLUSIVE: Israel and the US – A Dynamic Partnership – Part 2 of an Interview with Ambassador (Ret.) Yoram Ettinger


PART 2 – If you haven’t already read it, CLICK HERE TO READ PART ONE.

In part two of this two part series, founder and CEO of the Unity Coalition for Israel, Esther Levens, interviews Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, a leading Israeli consultant to members of Israel’s Cabinet and Knesset. He regularly briefs US legislators and their staff on Israel’s contribution to vital US interests, on the root causes of international terrorism and on other issues of bilateral concern.

“According to the late General Alexander Haig, the benefit or savings to the US defense budget was anywhere between 15 to 20 billion dollars every single year!” – Amb. Yoram Ettinger

Esther Levens, CEO and Founder, Unity Coalition for Israel:

The Unity Coalition for Israel has long been a fan of the work of Ambassador Yoram Ettinger. He is an author and columnist and has served as Ambassador and Minister for Congressional Affairs at Israel’s Embassy in Washington D.C. He is an internationally respected insider on US-Israel relations, Mideast politics and overseas investments in Israel’s high tech arena.

CEO and Founder of the Unity Coalition for Israel spoke with Ambassador Ettinger on the wisdom of US investments in Israel which return many more times the monetary and security value to the United States than US taxpayers pay out. Following is part two of a transcript of the Ambassador expounding on the topic which presents Israel in a most positive light not often seen in the mainstream media.

Ambassador (Ret.) Yoram Ettinger:

Thank you. I view it as a privilege to communicate with the Unity Coalition for Israel in general, but especially with Esther Levens who I’ve known for many years and highly respected and admired for your contribution for enhanced US-Israel relations. You have made a difference for which I’m grateful.

When it comes to US – Israel relations, there is the reality of conventional wisdom on one hand and the state of affairs on the other hand. The conventional wisdom is that the US extends foreign aid to Israel, which is absolutely not the case.

Picking up where we left off, one can move from defense industry manufacturing to a totally different area and that is day-to-day military operations.

Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, the intellectual “mecca” of the US military and, as I was told by a former commander of the US Army, who was involved in battle tactic formulation, that that which was formulated in Leavenworth, in terms of tactics, was based on the Israeli experience. They study Israeli wars and they apply it to future challenges which will be faced by the US. And one such challenge is battle tactics.

During one of my visits to Alabama, I met a major who serves as a specialist in urban warfare. He told me that on their base there is a platform that serves their urban-warfare-specialized soldiers. And that model was built by Israeli Defense soldiers as a result of Israel’s experience in urban warfare in Lebanon, the West Bank and in Gaza. And, once a year, that major joins other urban-warfare-specialized US forces and they fly to Israel to get training and updates on the latest Israeli lessons in training as far as urban warfare is concerned.

Another experience, much more critical, has to do with the threat of nuclear war.

Going back to 1991, there was a major event in Washington DC in the aftermath of the first Gulf War and the key note speaker was Dick Cheney, then Defense Secretary under George Bush Senior. The first sentence uttered by Dick Cheney was, “Thank you Israel, for bombing Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981 which spared us in the US a nuclear confrontation in 1991.”

Now, how does one assess such a contribution which, by the way, was provided by an Israeli bombing of the nuclear reactor in defiance of a most egregious, most brutal American pressure to refrain from that bombing. If one goes back to the chronicles of 1981, Israel was severely punished by the US for the bombing. But sometimes it takes more than a few months or even a few years for leaders to realize the Israeli contribution and Dick Cheney’s statement made clear that, finally, the US realized the depth and extent of the Israeli contribution in that instance.

In 2007, Israel bombed and destroyed the Syrian nuclear reactor.  Can one imagine the face of Syria with nuclear capabilities in the hands of either Assad – or Hezbollah? – or ISIS? – or the Iranians? All of this was spared by an Israeli action.

I could go on and on. But, to give a more personal example, I spoke about that issue 2 years ago with a major Christian conference of 400 participants and, at the end of my presentation on “What Has Israel Done Lately for the US?”, some people came to share with me their feedback. One of them, a retired combat pilot, said, “Mr. Ettinger, I would like to add another item to your inventory of Israeli contributions to the United States. As a retired combat pilot I can tell you that the most beneficial time for American pilots is joint maneuvers with the Israeli Air Force.

And my response to him was that I loved hearing that but had difficulty accepting it because of the fact that Israel is using American hardware and, certainly, the I.Q. of the Israeli pilots is not higher, maybe lower, than the I.Q. of the American pilots… why would the American pilots benefit so much from the joint maneuvers with the Israeli pilots?

And his response was this: “The Israeli pilots always fly – training or operationally – under a ‘do-or-die’ state of mind which we in America rarely experience. Whether it’s training or operations, Israeli pilots always fly within enemy radar and within range of enemy surface-to-air missiles, therefore you have to fly more audaciously and more creatively – which Americans rarely, if at all, experience. And the only time for Americans to realize how much more audacious and creative they can become is when they train with Israeli pilots that do fly with American hardware but through that do-or-die state of mind. They stretch the capabilities of the American hardware to a much, much larger distance than is done daily by American pilots.”

Last and not least, I’ll refer to the late General Alexander Haig, the Secretary of State under President Reagan. I was told by his chief of staff that General Haig was one of the most excited supporters of expanded and enhanced US-Israel strategic cooperation. Whenever he was asked why it was he was so excited about joining forces with Israel, General Haig formulated a standard response which was as follows:

“Israel constitutes the largest American aircraft carrier
– which does not require a SINGLE American on board…
– which is deployed in the most critical area for regional and closed stability as well as American interests…
– which is an unconditional ally of the US…
– and which can never be sunk.”

And, if there would not be an Israel, in the western flank of the Middle East or the eastern flank of the Mediterranean, then the US would have to deploy more military divisions to the Middle East, more REAL aircraft carriers to the Indian Ocean AND the Mediterranean – all of which is spared by one, Jewish state.

And, according to the late General Alexander Haig, the benefit or savings to the US defense budget was anywhere between 15 to 20 billion dollars every single year!

That, by itself, is 600-700 percent annual rate of return on what is misperceived as “foreign aid” to Israel. It is, in fact, an investment in the state of Israel yielding to the US Taxpayer a unique level of rate of return.

And I haven’t discussed yet what Israel is doing as far as intelligence for the US.

Former head of the US Air Force Intelligence, General George Keegan was also a MAJOR supporter of expansion with Israel and used to refer to Israel unabashedly and repeatedly stated publicly during his life that, “Israel is worth five CIAs.” Because, according to George Keegan, the scope of intelligence shared by Israel with the US – and, especially, when it comes to Islamic terrorism – “equals what would be produced by 5 CIAs.”

What’s the dollar sign next to such a contribution?

And, again, there’s no doubt, Israel is, by far, the junior partner.

But we are partner with the US! We are not a greedy entity looking for foreign aid.

We are involved in a very busy, highly-mutually-productive two-way street rather than the much more common one way street afforded almost every other country in the world that receives US foreign aid of any sort.

Esther Levens, CEO and Founder, Unity Coalition for Israel:

I’m really so elated that the US is recognizing Israel as such a wonderful partner. You’ve given us such an articulate statement of how they have literally helped the United States. Thank you so much…

Ambassador (Ret.) Yoram Ettinger:

If you will let me give one more example before we sign off…

In 2018, the US is rightly very concerned about the survival of its Arab allies in Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Abu Dabi, U.A.E., in Kuwait, in Amman, Jordan and Egypt. All of the regimes in those countries could experience very tenuous reality. And, you never know, in the unpredictable violent Middle East – how long will they last?

The fact is that the US is limited in its ability to extend support to those regimes and Israel has collaborated with the US in bolstering those regimes. As a result, we have seen unprecedented strategic contacts between Saudi Arabia and Israel, between Kuwait and Bahrain and Abu Dabi and Israel, between Jordan and Israel, etc.

And, by the way, the enhancement of bilateral relations between Israel and every one of the 12 Arab countries goes on and is expanded, irrespective of the Palestinian issue which does not cast concern so much in those Arab regimes. Contrarily, again, to the Arab talk. When it comes to Arab walk, they value relations with the US and Israel much more than the Palestinian issue.

Here again, it’s Israel on the scene in a critical area making sure that friendly pro-US regimes in Amman, Jordan, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in Cairo, Egypt, in Kuwait City, Kuwait, etc. are with us rather than replaced by anti-American, radical forces which would make the threat of Islamic terrorism to the US that much closer to home and all of which is averted by the collaboration between the US and Israel. And, again, Israel, by far, the junior partner and the US, by far, the senior partner.

Esther Levens, CEO and Founder, Unity Coalition for Israel:

I’m so grateful for your wonderful interview and we wish you just nothing but good health and success. And let’s continue to “pick your brain,” as you will. I appreciate it so very much. Thank you.

Ambassador (Ret.) Yoram Ettinger:

I consider it a privilege. And let me know, any time. Thank you for everything you have done through the Unity Coalition and on a personal level. Thank you very much.

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