Israel is the predominantly Jewish state in the Middle East that borders Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Palestine and Egypt. All the other states in the region are predominantly Muslim although Egypt, Lebanon and Syria have large Christian minorities. Turkey is the only state in the region with an appreciable Jewish minority.
Israel became independent on May 14, 1948 (a.k.a. the 5th of Iyyar, 5708). A majority of the population 6,352,117 are Jewish by identity and tradition or by faith. In addition to Judaism, other major religions include Islam and Christianity. There are also tiny minorities of Druze and Samaritans.
Light of Nations Edit
Israel, India and Pakistan are the only three UN member states with nuclear weapons outside the framework of the 1968 Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. In 1969 the Nixon administration conducted an internal debate on whether it was possible to prevent the imminent Israel acquisition of nuclear weapons. The Senior Review Group (SRG) chaired by Henry Kissinger outlined options and in a September 26, 1968 meeting between Nixon and Isreali Prime Minister Golda Meir the Israeli government agreed to a policy of no visibility and no testing in return for the U.S. government's silence on the subject.
The Israeli government may be officially silent but the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are known to have possess some 200 nuclear warheads. By contrast, Britain has only 185 nuclear warheads and China only 130.
Isreali nuclear weapons delivery systems include 25 F-I5I long range capacity aircraft, land based Jericho II ballistic missiles and cruise missiles launched from its three Dolphin class submarines. Jericho II missiles have an estimated range of 1,500 to 1,800 miles. The aircraft and ballistic missiles give the Isreali government the ability to hold hostage the tens of millions of people living in the cities of neighboring countries which do not possess nuclear weapons. Cruise missiles launched from Dolphin class submarines mean that the Israeli government can threaten every major power on the planet.
In 1999 and 2000 the government of Germany, a non-nuclear state but a state with a horrendous history of miltiarism and genocide, subsidized 50% of the costs of Isreal's first three Dolphin class submarines. Then in August 2006 the Germans agreed to subsidize 33.3% of the costs of two more Isreali Dolphin class submarines to be in service by 2010.
On July 26, 2007 Shimon Peres admitted to being the author of the infamous weasel words formula about Israel's nuclear weapons in an interview with Le Figaro. Responding to a question about the Israeli nuclear arsenal he said that, "I will confine myself to reaffirming the Israel will not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons to the region. In this connection, it was I who invented this formula, which I devised in the early 1960s, during a visit to the White House." Source: Marc Henry. "Shimon Peres: 'Sanctions on Iran Could Work'." July 26, 2007. News Report
In 2004, per capita military spending in Israel was the highest on the planet, exceeding even that of the United States. Israel spent $1,627 per capita in its military while the United States spent $1,533 per capita. The only predominantly Muslim country among the top 15 countries in per capita miltiary spanding oin 2004 was Saudi Arabia, which spent $775 per capita. Israel fell to number two in the world in military spending in 2005 after the United States. Per capita military spending in the U.S. that year was $1,604 and $1,430 in Isreal.
In 2005, military spending in Israel totalled $9.6 billion, the 15th largest among the 190 countries on the planet, and the second highest in the Middle East, exceeded only by Saudi Arabia at $25.2 billion. Saudi Arabia does not pose a plausible threat to Israel because it is U.S. ally. What then is all miltiary spending for? Internal and border security is expensive. Forty years after the 1967 Six-Day War, Isreal continues to militarily occupy the West Bank, parts of Gaza and Syria's Golan Heights. In 2006 Israel reduced much of Lebanon to rumble with an invasion and massive aerial bombardment. All that is pricey.
The Israeli economy depends on 5 sources of revenue: foreign aid, exports of arms, tourism, high tech in the biomedical and electronics industries and niche agricultural products like fruits and cut flowers. Foreign aid from the United States amounts to 0.15% of Israel's GDP. Germany is another important source of foreign aid. Four of the planet's 100 top arms production firms are Isreali: Israel Aircraft Industries, Israel Military Industries, Elbit Systems and Rafael. Together, Israeli firms have a 1.5% share of the world's declared arms market. India, by comparison, is home to only 3 of the 100 top firms and has only 1% of the world's arms market. Israel has the third largest number of companies traded on NASDAQ in the world and produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation, including the United States.
Year after year, decade after decade comparatively wealthy Israel has been the largest single receipient of U.S. foreign aid. From 1948 to 2006, U.S. foreign aid to Israel has totalled at least $108 billion.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is the premiere organization lobbying the U.S. government on behalf of American supporters of Israel. It has more than 50,000 members. Two former employees of AIPAC are currently under indictment for allegedly receiving classified information from former DoD analyst Larry Franklin.
From the perspective of the many Palestinians and many others who support them inside and outside the Middle East, Israel is the last European settler state and Israelis are comparable to the Afrikaaners in aparthied era South Africa, the pied noir in French colonial Algeria, and the white English speaking colonists in Kenya and Rhodesia.
Before Israel existed, Palestine was a British League of Nations Mandate for several decades. Massive Jewish immigration from Europe in the last decade of British rule created a substantial Jewish population, augmented by subsequent immigration of Jews, some of them expelled from Arab countries in North Africa and the Arabian peninsula. Many Palestinian Arabs were displaced by those immigrants after independence. Today many of those displaced Arabs and their descendants remain stateless refugees in neighboring countries, especially Jordan and Lebanon. In her September 20, 2006 speech to the UN Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni asserted that Palestinians had no right to return to their homeland. Source: n.a. "Livni Rejects Palestinian Right to Return." Aljazeera. September 21, 2006.
Rewarding Bush Edit
The right-wing government of Ehud Olmert has decided to build a "Bush Center" in Israel to reward George W. Bush for his uncritical support. During the recent fighting between Israel and Lebanon, the U.S. delivered 100 "bunker buster" bombs to Isreal so that it could kill the Hezbollah leadership, including Hassan Nasrallah. The bombs are believed to have been delivered via Qatar. “Bush Center” to be built in Israel
Israeli Political ElitesEdit
- Prime Minister: Ehud Olmert אהוד אולמרט
- Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni ציפי לבני
- Defense Minister Amir Peretz עמיר פרץ
- Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh
- Minister of Stategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon
- Former Minister Avigdor Lieberman or אביגדור ליברמן
- Education Minister Yuli Tamir יולי תמיר
- Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer בנימין "פואד" בן
- Public Security Minister Avi Dichter אבי דיכטר
- Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog or Yitzhak Herzog
- Daniel Ayalon Israeli Ambassador to the U.S.
- Mossad Director Meir Dagan מאיר דגן
- Construction and Housing Minister Meir Sheetrit
- Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz
- President of Israel (#9) Shimon Peres שמעון פרס
- former Tourism Minister Abraham Hirchson
- Kadima Party Parliamentary Leader Avigdor Itzhaki אביגדור יצחקי
- Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu בנימין נתניהו
- Knesset Member Naomi Blumenthal
- Kadima party strategist and Olmert advisor Eyal Arad
- IDF Intelligence Chief Amos Yadlin
- Retired Brig. Gen. Zvi Shatuber
- Former IAF Intelligence Officer Yiftah Shapir
- Hebrew University Iran specialist Eldad Pardo
- Greenpeace International Political Advisor Merav Datan
Israeli Political PartiesEdit
- Kadima קדימה ("Forward") (Ehud Olmert)
- Labour העבודה (Ha-Avoda) (Amir Peretz)
- Shas ש"ס (Mifleget Ha-Sfaradim Shomrei Torah) מפלגת הספרדים שומרי תורה ("Sephardi Religious Party") (Eli Yishai)
- Likud ליכוד ("Consolidation"/Alliance) (Binyamin Netanyahu, a.k.a. Benjamin Netanyahu)
- Israel Beiteinu ישראל ביתנו ("Our Home Israel") (Avigdor Lieberman)
- National Union|HaIchud HaLeumi - National Religious Party|Mafdal (National Union-National Religious) (האיחוד הלאומי-מפד"ל) (Binyamin Elon) is a coalition that includes:
- Moledet (Homeland), T'kuma (Revival), Hitabrut (Conception) and Mafdal (National Religious Party).
- Gil - Gimla'ey Yisrael LaKneset]] (גיל - גימלאי ישראל לכנסת) (Raphael Eitan)
- Yahadut Ha-Torah/Achdut HaTorah HaMeuchedet United Torah Judaism יהדות התורה (Yaakov Litzman) is a party coalition of:
- Agudat Israel אגודת ישראל ("Union of Israel")
- Degel HaTorah דגל התורה ("Banner [of] the Torah")
- Meretz-Yachad מרצ-יחד ("Together-Vigor" or Yahad= Social Democratic Israel, Israel Hevratit Demokratit) (Yossi Beilin)
- Ra'am-Ta'al (Ahmed Tibi), comprised of:
- United Arab List רשימה ערבית מאוחדת-רע"ם (Reshima Aravit Me'uchedet or Ra'am)
- Ta'al ("Arab Movement for Renewal")
- Hadash חד"ש (acronym for Ha-Chazit Ha-Demokratit le-Shalom ule-shivyon החזית הדמוקרטית לשלום ולשוויון ("Democratic Front for Peace and Equality") (Mohammed Barakei) party coalition that includes:
- Communist Party of Israel מפלגה קומוניסטית ישראלית-מק"י(Miflaga Komunistit Yisraelit or Maki)
- Balad בל"ד (Brit Leumit Demokratit ברית לאומית דמוקרטית al-Tajamu' al-Watani al-Dimuqrati) ("National Democratic Assembly") (Amri Bishara), a predominantly Arab party
- Paul Belkin. "Germany's Relations with Israel: Background and Implications for German Middle East Policy." CRS Report for Congress. Congressional Research Service. January 19, 2007. Order Code RL33808.
- Michael Karpin. 2006. The Bomb in the Basement: How Israel Went Nuclear and What It Means For the World. New York: Simon & Schhuster. ISBN 0743265947.
- SIPRI Yearbook 2005: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security. 2005. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0199284016.
- SIPRI Yearbook 2006: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security. 2006. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0199298734. Pp. 667-668.
- Tom Segev. 1999. One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate. Owl Books. ISBN 0805065873.
- Historical perspective from a Palestinian perspective
- "Israel and Palestine: A Brief History", written from the Israeli point of view.
External Links Edit
News Sources Edit
- Ynet News, English language version of the most-read Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth
- Haaretz, English language version of the left-leaning daily Israeli newspaper
- Jerusalem Post, English language right-leaning daily Israeli newspaper
News Articles Edit
- Juan Cole article about Franklin/AIPAC spy scandal
- Bush Wants Wider War
- One Voice Movement
- Israel's Bomb by Walter C. Uehler
- Wikipedia: Israel