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The U.S. is committed to Israel’s security, preventing Iranian nukes

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Israel faces some of the toughest challenges it has encountered in its 62-year history. Chief among them is Iran’s threat to the Jewish state’s very existence. But, especially in the last several months, progress in defending against, deterring, and preventing Iran from fulfilling that evil objective has been achieved.

On the continuing threat side, Iran-funded and directed Hezbollah and Hamas still have more than 50,000 rockets on Israel’s borders and continue to seek even more sophisticated weaponry to position against Israel, as evidenced by the recent transfer of Scud missiles to Hezbollah by Syria and Iran.

But the most terrifying and real threat to Israel is the possibility that Iran’s deranged President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will succeed in acquiring a nuclear weapon and use it to realize his long-stated objective of wiping Israel off the map.

All of this underscores the importance of what has now been achieved: the strongest military and intelligence alliance between the United States and Israel in recent history.

There is no question that the relationship between Washington and Jerusalem is not perfect — but when has it ever been? (See: Ariel Sharon’s comment that “Israel will not be Czechoslovakia” and Ari Fleisher’s rebuke that “[P]resident [Bush] believes that these remarks are unacceptable” in 2001.)

However, concerning military and intelligence cooperation — where the rubber meets the road, where issues speaking to Israel’s very existence hang in the balance — the U.S.-Israel relationship has never been stronger. I feel comfortable making this statement as a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittees on Defense and on State and Foreign Operations, which appropriate all spending for the U.S. military and all foreign aid, respectively. My position on these subcommittees affords me the opportunity to be in regular contact with the highest levels of all U.S. and Israeli diplomatic, military, and intelligence agencies. The weekly and sometimes daily classified and unclassified briefings I receive inform my views about the true status of U.S.-Israel relations.

America’s boycott of Durban II, dismissal of the Goldstone Report as “unbalanced, one-sided, and basically unacceptable,” and support of an Israeli-run investigation of the recent Gaza flotilla incident have helped shield Israel on the international stage. And over the past 18 months, America’s own improved international standing has helped secure a broad international consensus to confront Israel’s, the Middle East’s, and the world’s greatest threat: Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Israel’s qualitative military edge, which eroded under previous administrations, has been restored and improved, with more on the way. The Obama administration’s outreach to Russia has resulted in an agreement that Russia will not deliver its S-300 anti-aircraft system to Iran, a game-changer in Iran’s balance of power with Israel.

Also, months of aggressive U.S.-led negotiations in the United Nations have yielded a new sanctions regime against Iran that will allow for even greater sanctions against Iran’s financial, military, and energy sectors from the Europeans, the United States, and other nations.

There is more. Last month, President Obama allocated an additional $205 million to permit Israel to position additional short-range Iron Dome anti-missile batteries throughout the Jewish state. This is on top of the more than $3 billion in U.S. military aid that Israel will already receive this year, plus more than $200 million in additional money for the U.S.-Israel joint missile defense systems, including the long-range Arrow systems and the medium-range David Sling. In allocating these additional funds, President Obama is building on my efforts to enhance the U.S. support for and cooperation with Israel’s missile defense system against Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran.

Not only that, but there is an unprecedented high level of U.S.-Israel military and intelligence cooperation. An intensive and powerful demonstration of the strength of the U.S.-Israel relationship was demonstrated in October of 2009, with Operation Juniper Cobra in Herzliya, Israel. At that time 1,400 U.S. servicemen and women were sent to Israel with 10 U.S. warships, bringing the highest US military and intelligence command officers with them to coordinate with their Israeli counterparts in conducting live-fire testing of virtually every single missile defense capability in the U.S. and Israeli arsenal.

The Obama administration and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have declared that a nuclear capable Iran is unacceptable and that they will work to prevent it. In fact, on June 23, Uzi Arad, Prime Minster Netanyahu’s national security adviser, acknowledged that “the United States ‘is determined to prevent Iran from becoming nuclear.’ There is determination there. There is activism.” Both countries also hold that a policy of containment is not an option.

In that regard, there have been recent public reports that Saudi Arabia will let Israel overfly a portion of its territory, should Israel feel it necessary to undertake military action against Iran. This follows in the footsteps of Egypt, which has allowed Israeli submarines and missile ships through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea. These vessels have the capability of launching cruise missiles armed with both nuclear and non-nuclear warheads. And several months ago, the United States delivered advanced U.S. anti-missile batteries to four Persian Gulf states, operated by American crews.

Ahmadinejad should now clearly understand that Israel’s new relationships with the United States, Egypt, Saudi Arabia — and the other Sunni nations in the region — and Israel’s more effective and comprehensive missile defenses will make it difficult, if not impossible, to exercise his sick and deranged calculus whereby Iran would be willing to trade the lives of a million Iranians for even a few thousand Israelis. If he acts and takes that gamble without effect, he will pay a terrible, one-sided price.

While it would thus require a suicidal Iranian leader to consider attacking Israel, Ahmadinejad, unfortunately, may be such a leader.

And so, clearly, there still remains a long way to go before the Jewish state’s security is assured. We therefore must continue our vigilance in keeping Israel’s security at the forefront of U.S. foreign policy. But genuine progress has occurred in recent months. It is important it not be overlooked, ignored, or belittled.

Rep. Steve Rothman (D-9) is in his seventh term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves on the House Appropriations Subcommittees of Defense and of State and Foreign Operations, which appropriate all spending for the United States military and all foreign aid, respectively.
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The trauma of privilege

I have been in the center of the swirl of awareness about the unintended consequences of affluence and privilege on our children.

I meet these youngsters and their families when crisis penetrates their denial system and they arrive at Beit T’Shuvah, the recovery community I founded in Los Angeles 30 years ago. I have listened to their baffled, bewildered parents, who “gave them everything” only to have it thrown in their faces. I coined the family dynamic: “I hate you; send money.” At Beit T’Shuvah, we have been essentially “re-parenting” these children of all ages, allowing them to experience “all the disadvantages of success,” in the words of Larry Ellison.

A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds a direct correlation between parents who overvalue their children and children who are narcissistic. Researchers found that while parental warmth was associated with high self-esteem in kids, that parental over-evaluation was not. Or, as Madeline Levine put it: “Praise is not warmth pumped in; self-esteem is not self-efficacy.” I have heard from many recovering addicts that when they feel undeserving, praise exacerbates their self-loathing and sense of fraudulence.



What we have to pay for

Toilet paper . . .

This scroll endowed by . . .

With 2+ decades spent working in the Jewish world, I’ve seen a lot of things come and go. Ideas that were considered the epitome of best practice come into vogue, run their course, and become passé.

Agencies and innovative think tanks slip away due to failure to create, implement, and execute strategic sustainability plans. Iconic thought leaders tire and fail to notice that the landscape is changing and passing them by. Then what? Now what?



The lion and the compass

Maimonides and Nahmanides had their differences.

Maimonides (d. 1204) tolerated no idea that failed the test of reason. An ancient and robust tradition of superstition among the Jews did not deter him. Maimonides either ignored or rationalized scores of Talmudic halachot based on astrology, demonology, and magic.

Maimonides denounced astrology passionately, despite its popularity, calling the belief “stupidity” and its practitioners “fools.” His argument bears emphasis: Maimonides opposed astrology primarily on scientific rather than religious grounds. The Torah prohibits divination from the sky, he ruled, not because it displays a lack of faith in God, but simply because it is false.


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