In October of this year, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon came to Washington to visit with his counterpart, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
He asked for visits with other U.S. leaders, including Vice President Joe Biden. The White House was not inclined to meet his requests.
The U.S. and Israel media were quick to dub this a major “snub” related to recent Israeli verbal attacks on President Obama.
The “snub” did not prevent Ya’alon from conducting his business with Chuck Hagel while he was in Washington. He and Hagel finalized a weapons deal that they say benefited the U.S. and Israel.
At the time of the October meeting of the two defense leaders, the weapons story received no media attention. The “snub” from Obama was the story.
The weapons deal was not even reported until Friday of this past week, when the Jewish Forward site provided the details for a story it headlined “Huge Israeli Arms Buy Nobody’s Talking About”.
The story included an illustration of the U.S. F-35 Lightning II jet, shown at left.
When Israel gets the F-35s it wants, as Arlo Guthrie might put it, what care we about snubs, real or imagined? After all, Israel is the nation that has invaded Gaza and killed Palestinians in the thousands, while destroying their homes and infrastructure in three separate assaults since 2007.
The world has finally begun to rise up in horror after this latest July-August invasion. A growing number of nations now threaten all sorts of diplomatic attacks against Tel Aviv. How does Israel’s respond?.
The Israeli Knesset takes another step toward world isolation by introducing legislative action which would merge Israeli national citizenship with being a Jew, thereby disenfranchising more than 20% of its current citizens.
“Show us the weapons” is the Israeli mantra. In its response, the U.S. Congress, which thrives on the funding largess of the weapons industry, rushes to please both Israel and the weapons cartel.
Senator John McCain (R-AZ), a major player in this political-military cartel, was a harsh opponent of Chuck Hagel’s 2012 appointment. Hagel had failed the Israel Lobby loyalty test which automatically rallied politicians against him. He was confirmed by a narrow margin in the Senate.
This time around, Senator McCain, the upcoming chair of the Senate Armed Services committee, has rushed to embrace President Obama’s next Defense Secretary-appointee Ashton Carter (no relation to Jimmy).
What a difference two years and the endorsement of the Lobby make. This was part of Sen. McCain’s endorsement of Carter:
“I look forward to Dr. Carter’s confirmation hearing in the Senate Armed Services Committee next year, which will provide a valuable opportunity to fully ventilate all of issues around this administration’s feckless foreign policy, and its grave consequences for the safety and security of our nation.”
Carter will sail through his hearing, but he will still have to provide answers to criticism of what McCain calls Obama’s “feckless” foreign policy. (“feckless” as in “worthless, incompetent, inept”).
McCain and Israel’s current government leaders are as close as two Arizona black-tailed jackrabbits in the Arizona Sedona desert, thanks to their shared fondness for U.S. campaign finance funding, weapons-producing, power centers.
When he was selected as Defense Secretary in 2012, Chuck Hagel faced such hostility from the Republican power structure, led by Senator McCain that he was almost rejected.
What accounts for McCain’s openness to Carter? The Israel Lobby did not like Chuck Hagel; it does support Obama’s current choice, experienced Pentagon veteran Ashton Carter. Case closed.
Meanwhile, whether the Defense chief is Hagel or Carter, the military industrial power center goes forward. The Jewish Forward gave these details of the October Hagel-Ya’alon meeting:
The [Israeli] cabinet authorized this purchase of 14 F-35s following an agreement between American and Israeli defense chiefs in October. This is just one part of a long-term deal that includes a 2010 purchase of 19 warplanes (which won’t arrive until 2016) for $2.75 billion, and maintains the option of purchasing 17 more in the future.
If the deal, which all together entails 50 jets, is completed, Lockheed Martin has agreed to purchase $6 billion worth of security equipment from Israel. It will also give Israel comfortable credit conditions.”
The Forward describes “the celebrated F-35 Lightning II” as a fighter aircraft designed for missions that more typically have been in the realm of specialized aircrafts to perform strikes and interceptions.
As Israel has demonstrated repeatedly, its primary air-to-ground targets since 2007 have been Gaza’s Palestinian civilian population, which possess neither aircraft nor iron dome protection of their own.
What exactly, we must ask, is the rationale for adding this air power expense to the Israeli budget? The Forward notes that this expense was discussed within the Israeli cabinet before the cabinet was dissolved by the firing of two of the ministers.
“No wonder then that some Israeli ministers strongly — but unsuccessfully — opposed approving this huge purchase”.
The money for these very expensive purchases comes, by the way, from American military aid. Each year Israel receives around $3 billion in U.S. military aid. Very generous, but Israel is obliged to spend 75% of this money in the U.S. — by purchasing U.S. arms. So, instead of treating this money as aid to Israel, you might be tempted to go ahead and call it aid to U.S. arms industries.”
If Israel follows its recent history, we can anticipate a new U.S. president in 2017 will be greeted by a protesting cry from Israel’s government leaders, “we must once again defend ourselves against attacks from Gaza”.
The screen shot at top of a U.S. F-35 Lightning II fighter jet is from a Youtube video (click here.)