The Ultimate Ally
The “realists” are wrong: America needs Israel now more than ever.
By Michael Oren. Mr. Oren is Israel’s ambassador to the United States and author, most recently, of Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present.
Israel is the only Middle Eastern state never to oppose America on major international issues. Its fundamental interests, like its values, are America’s.
These benefits of the U.S.-Israel relationship are of incalculable value to the United States, far outweighing any price. Americans know that Israelis have always stood by them, ready to share technology, intelligence, and innovation — ready to aid them in conflict and to make the painful sacrifices for peace. Israel may be one of a handful of countries that fully fits the definition of ally, but its willingness to support the United States unwaveringly makes it the partner par excellence, America’s ultimate ally.
What is the definition of an American ally? On an ideological level, an ally is a country that shares America’s values, reflects its founding spirit, and resonates with its people’s beliefs. Tactically, an ally stands with the United States through multiple conflicts and promotes its global vision. From its location at one strategic crossroads, an ally enhances American intelligence and defense capabilities, and provides ports and training for U.S. forces. Its army is formidable and unequivocally loyal to its democratic government. An ally helps secure America’s borders and assists in saving American lives on and off the battlefield. And an ally stimulates the U.S. economy through trade, technological innovation, and job creation. Few countries fit this description, but Israel is certainly one of them.
In return for its aid to Israel, the United States receives not only an armed but an innovative ally, enhancing America’s military edge.
Israel not only enhances America’s defenses — it also saves American lives. A kibbutz-based company in the Galilee has provided armor for more than 20,000 U.S. military vehicles. “Two days ago, my patrol was ambushed by insurgents using 7.62mm PKM Machineguns,” David C. Cox, a platoon sergeant in Iraq, wrote the manufacturers. “None of the rounds penetrated the armor of the vehicle, including one that would have impacted with my head.” Marine gunner Joshua Smith, whose Israeli-armored vehicle tripped an IED near Marja, Afghanistan, described how his unit “walked away smiling, laughing, and lived to fight another day.” Military medical experts from both countries also meet annually to discuss advances in combat care. One such breakthrough was a coagulating bandage, the brainchild of a Jerusalem start-up company, a million of which have been supplied to U.S. forces (and even applied by a Tucson SWAT team medic to stanch the life-threatening head wound of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords).
Israel also assists the American people by stimulating trade, spurring technological innovation, and creating jobs. Despite a population of just 7.7 million people, Israel is America’s 20th-largest customer in the world, surpassing Russia and Spain.
In addition to providing software and hardware for most American computers and mobile phones, Israel also pioneered the USB flash drive, the ingestible microcamera, advances in drip irrigation, and the portable MRI.
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