My big fat Israeli arsenal

With Washington’s latest gift — thousands of smart bombs, missiles and bunker busters — our pace of armament continues to spiral, yet I don’t feel any safer.

By Uri Misgav 06:40 22.05.15
It warms the heart to hear of the Pentagon’s “compensation deal” with Israel in exchange for the agreement with Iran.

The deal consists of 8,000 smart bombs, 14,500 smart bomb guidance systems, 50 bunker busters, 4,100 “small” bombs (only 110 kilograms of explosives) and 3,000 Hellfire missiles for the Apache helicopters. The overall cost is $1.8 billion. This does not include separate deals for another 3,000 bomb guidance kits and enlarging the F-35 stealth bomber fleet.

What is all this armament intended for and where? To ensure an Israeli attack in Iran, immediately after the powers sign an international agreement with it? Perhaps just to replenish stockpiles after the last war rampage in Gaza, which broke all the Israel Defense Forces’ records in ammunition use?

The Pentagon announced that these deals reflect the “American commitment to Israel’s security.” Funny thing, the pace of armament keeps increasing, yet I don’t feel any safer over the years. History has proved that reckless armament doesn’t lead to security. It leads mainly to wars. Since 2006, when Israel began to base its warfare almost exclusively on fire power and pounding from the air, we’ve had one war in Lebanon and three in Gaza. Four wars in less than a decade.

That’s why it appears to me that these deals reflect mainly the American commitment to the American arms industries. One suspects that Israel is indeed “the American aircraft carrier in the Middle East.” But not as a metaphor or a simile — a real aircraft carrier. An enormous arsenal. An impenetrable bunker whose scope is impossible to discuss, not to mention its very existence.

According to this bitter logic, the Americans won’t help us end the conflict, at the most they’ll help us manage the flames. The conflict produces just too many jobs for them and their politicians. The Germans won’t save us either. Guilt-ridden, they compensate us with nuclear submarines and missile boats to safeguard Yitzhak Tshuva and Noble Energy’s oil rigs. This is good for their tormented conscience and also produces income and jobs at the shipyards in Kiel.

But passing the guilt on is not enough. In this case the cows may want to nurse, but the calf craves to suckle ravenously. Following the seminal traumas of the Holocaust and the War of Independence, Israel is a captive of its own armament obsession. This is reflected not only in wars. Somehow, after every peace agreement or strategic arrangement we hasten to “compensate” ourselves with planes and tanks and missile systems and bombs and military bases. This is how you raise a child with eating disorders – you give the kid some “compensation” that only exacerbates his condition. Just so he stops yelling.

Nothing can stop this bulimia. Not even the nuclear potential, which was supposed to serve as a calming deterrent. Mordechai Vanunu revealed at the time that Israel had more than 200 nuclear warheads. Thirty years have passed. I wonder how many it has today and who exactly they’re intended for.

The complex permeates all the way down, from the Pentagon and Dimona reactor to the streets of our cities. Mayors of big towns have set up “local police forces” in the past year, armed of course. Is it any wonder that peace has become a four-letter word? This is what remains of the Jewish genius: smart bombs, student trips to the Warsaw Ghetto and swearing-in ceremonies for military recruits in Masada.

History has proved that reckless armament doesn’t lead to security. It leads mainly to wars.