Israel Impacts Safety Of US Troops

Pat Buchanan is drooling all over the Israel-American diplomatic blow up. He desperately hopes to see a widening of the rift, and may well be granted his wish. Unfortunately for him and us and the World, this deepening of the rupture in US-Israeli relations, or even a railroading of Israel to accept a left-wing White House’s black and white Mideast “policy”, will not improve America’s security.

David Petraeus was quoted as calling Israel a “strategic burden” on the US in the region. CENTCOM, after meeting with numerous Arab leaders and hearing unceasing complaint about Israel, has relayed to the White House that US troops are put at risk by Israeli activity that provokes Arab sentiment, because the two allies are seen as linked. According to Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahranot in an article about the Biden visit;

“The vice president told his Israeli hosts that since many people in the Muslim world perceived a connection between Israel’s actions and U.S. policy, any decision about construction that undermines Palestinian rights in East Jerusalem could have an impact on the personal safety of American troops.”

To illuminate the subject to people like Mr. Buchanan who have waited for this rift between the allies for years; I will correct the Yediot writer. It is not that case that Israeli action “could have an impact on the personal safety of American troops”, it is the case that Israeli actions have already had a  massive impact on their safety. Of course, it is also the case that American actions for many years have had a massive impact on the safety of every Israeli citizen and soldier, and that this impact has been both good and bad.

I am a former paratrooper. I served in the Israeli 202nd Airborne Infantry. My unit was called “Tzefa”, which means “Viper”. We fought a shorthanded, dirty, grueling and sometimes bloody little counter insurgency in the West Bank between 2001 and 2004, which only slowed down to a simmer when Israel completed a large physical barrier to the constant sniper fire, mortar fire, and homicide attacks that regularly crossed the (ill-defined) border between Israel proper and the West Bank. While I was in the West Bank, my unit captured or killed dozens of terrorist organizers. These were men who had experience with insurgency operations against Israel in Southern Lebanon, and had been trained as explosives experts. By the turn of the Millenium, the Palestinians had the largest cadre of highly trained expert small-scale terror organizers, explosives technicians, bomb makers, and insurgent commanders in the Muslim World. 

In 2003, during the height of this operation which turned the conventional strategy of an insurgency on it’s head (we wore them down instead of the other way around), I heard a lot of talk in Ramallah and Nablus. The guys we kept capturing, members of Hamas and Tanzim, members of smaller organizations with ties to Iran or Al Qaida, were all abuzz with the next big thing in the Middle East. As with every major conflict between a largely Muslim and largely non-Muslim military in the last 30 years, a large number of young Muslims were all eager to head out to the newest front to conduct Jihad. Hamas was doing everything it could to send explosives experts trained in the art of organizing a homicide bomber attack to Iraq to kill Americans. Tactics that had been long used by Hizbullah against Israelis in Southern Lebanon soon started to appear in Iraq (like ever more sophisticated IEDs) as flocks of “foreign fighters” arrived to kill Americans from undisclosed “Muslim countries”. Their bombs, bomb vests, IED advancements, insurgency tactics, and methodology empowered and materially advanced the Iraqi insurgency. Abu Musab Al Zarqawi was a Palestinian. Of course, the TV media never mentioned this, nor how many other foreign fighters were.

Friends of mine died in Ramallah capturing these would be Jihadists. Because they did, fewer foreign fighters got to Iraq and fewer Americans were killed. I was there. I saw it with my own eyes. I had to face their mothers at the funerals of my buddies.

Does Israel have an “impact” on the safety of US troops? You bet your sweet ass it does. America has had a positive and negative impact on Israeli security too. In 1991, we asked them to sit by and do nothing while their country was bombed because we were engaged in a war in Iraq. They sacrificed their own security for the sake of US national interest. Why did they do this? At least partly because the USA had saved their butt in 1973 and they remembered it. They owed us. They still do.

If Israel provoked the Arabs, they will take out their angst by killing Americans. If Israel does not provoke the Arabs, they will take out their angst by killing Americans. Welcome to the Middle East, guys. We will step on our allies toes and they on ours, but we are fundamentally good for one another’s security. If Israel strikes Iran to stop their nuclear program, it will provoke attacks on us. Americans may die as a direct retaliation. However, such a strike would also slow down the attainment of nuclear capability by a state that dramatically threatens our national security. Even the fact that Israel is so hated and feared in the Middle East benefits us all the time. We can fully explore a diplomatic option, and present ourselves to the Arab leadership as the “good cop” because they know that Israel is there. If we refuse to provide a credible American “stick”, the Israelis back us up, just as the Japanese backed us up by threatening North Korea and were ignored or slammed by us as a thank you. Being the best friend of the toughest, most scary guy in a very, very nasty neighborhood is actually a major advantage for us diplomatically. Unfortunately, people like Pat Buchanan fail to understand that. Their unreasoning hatred of Israel combined with their total ignorance of the Middle East create a toxic mixture that sees a rupture between America and the most pro-American state on Earth as a good thing.

Let me spell this out clearly; the Middle East is somewhat less friendly, nice, and touchy-feely than a prison block. We are an infidel power who is hated across the region and will remain so. This does not stop us from being respected, and our standing by our word in dealing with local Arab and other tribal leaders in both Iraq and Afghanistan has begun to give us a reputation as a fair, tough, and if not lovable, at least lawful power. We are on the verge of gaining respect, but make no mistake, we will never be liked, so long as we have a single American in the region. Israel is the local tough guy. They know that whether or not they are hated, being respected is far more important, and when they say they will do something, Arab states treat that word with solemn respect. They have to. America is the new guy in this particular prison block, but we have an old vet whose been there for years backing us up. It is not in our interest to openly breach with our own ally in front of the gang that considers us both to be “satans”. Pat Buchanan may want America to succeed, but he will be disappointed if his wishes concerning Israel come to fruition. Though we will both suffer from some blowback from the actions of the other now that we are both in the sandbox together, if we don’t back our ally’s play, we will both be far weaker than otherwise. In the Middle East, weakness precedes blood.

I implore all the Pat Buchanans out there. I have seen enough blood. We need to be strong, and Israel strengthens us. They are a strategic asset that we refuse to use, so they look like a burden. My machine-gun was a “burden” as a lump of steel, but when used, believe me, it saved lives and proved itself more than worth carrying around for all that time. We don’t need more attacks, so let’s please stop trying to make the Arab World love us and start to try to live with them realistically taking into account their realpolitik understanding of the World. Our guys are dying out there and we are engaging in social and diplomatic experimentation.

You may not like Israel. That’s fine. I didn’t like a lot of guys in my unit. We even fought when we were off duty. Some of our officers were complete assholes. All that was understood; but when we were out in a trench or a checkpoint or on patrol in an Arab city, we let our personal differences wait and we watched each other’s back. Israel is the only country in the Middle East that wants to watch our back. They know they owe us, they will try to pay that debt back, but we have to let them and we have to get a grip.

As a veteran of the Israeli paratroopers and as an American born and bred, I can answer the question; does Israel impact the safety of American troops? You bet it does, and I am proud of that impact, because I believe that a couple more American soldiers or marines are alive today because of what I did.


~ by Jubal Biggs on April 5, 2010.

One Response to “Israel Impacts Safety Of US Troops”

  1. I don’t deny that the Arabs of 1947 Palestine deserve fair consideration, but they tend to exaggerate and misrepresent and misinterpret facts with a marvelous but suspect passion.

    The area was the poorest and least populous and least productive of all lands in the Middle East in 1900.
    With publication of Herzl’s Zionist plans, Arab leaders shrewdly suspected that this implied the creation of a Jewish state although the plan was not for a state but a homeland.
    Land ownership had a different concept under the Ottomans and was owned chiefly by feuding families or wealthy landlords who lived chiefly in Syria and Egypt leasing to scratch felahin.
    When land was sold to Jews, the price paid was usually not only far higher but enmeshed in verbal leases to improvident felahin.

    UNO hydrology resident expert Dr. W.C. Loudermilk, explained that the Arabs had destroyed the once “land of milk and honey” and that if one looked out to the Sea after a heavy rain, one could see top soil washed into the Sea. He explained that the Arab shepherds let their sheep eat the bark off the trees thus killing the trees for lack of underground moisture and caused the top soil to flow to the Sea. His memorable words were that
    “a thousand trucks working for a thousand years working twenty-four hours a day could not restore the top soil lost through that foolish neglect.” I’ve always thought that someone should be held accountable for that terrible damage and that if the Arabs so loved their land, how could they possibly have so abused it?
    My reading of the conflict in the area is that the Arab Leadership shrewdly advised poor Syrians and Egyptians to counter the Zionist ambitions; that they liked the advantages that the early Jewish settlers provided: education, medical, jobs and when the British Mandate began, the Brits generally hired Arabs and, in census records and quotas, counted only Jewish immigrants and not Arabs.
    In spite of Arab claims to the contrary, life was almost always difficult for the Mizrahi Jews living in the Arab world. Arab claims to their “Golden Age” of advanced culture fail to recognize how important was the role of the Mizrhim. The 1948 declaration of the State of Israel evoked the hysterical attack on those Jews in all the Arab countries almost simultaneously like the recent Tunisian, Egyptian,and Jordanian outburst. The result was the near penniless flight of more than 850,000 Mizrahi Jews to Israel. They have yet to be indemnified for their losses that amount to far more than the possible Palestinian claims of loss. The big difference is that Israel did not hold them is blighted camps supported by UNRWA as the Arab leadership has cynically contrived. You may hear of the Holocaust and justly, but you never hear of the Mizrahi refugees who now amount to perhaps 2,500,000 of Israelis today. The Arab leadership has been ready to sacrifice three generations of their fellow Arabs in order to cunningly blackmail the civilized
    world. Most of the educated, wealthy Palestinian Arabs in 1948, left for Canada and the US. Have you heard of the Mizrahi refugees who had been occupants of Iberia and Iran before C.E.!!

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