This is actually a very good review in the New York Times of a book that apparently gushes about Israel’s arms industry, The Weapons Wizards: How Israel Became a High-Tech Military Superpower, by Yaakov Katz and Amir Bohbot.
Reviewer Rosa Brooks describes the contents of the book, so for about two thirds of the review there is a lot of gushing (How did “the tiny Jewish state manage… to become such a military innovator[?]… brains, pluck and the bracing prospect of imminent annihilation”). But then Brooks, a former Pentagon official and now law professor at Georgetown who has published her own book on permanent war, points out the facts that shine a different light on the issue.
Left largely unmentioned, for instance, is the role of the United States. American security guarantees over the last few decades have kept Israel’s neighbors relatively docile, if not precisely friendly, and nearly a quarter of Israel’s annual defense budget is effectively paid for by the United States. Israel receives more American military aid than every other country in the world combined. A more complete answer to “How did Israel do it?” might be: pluck, brains and billions of dollars of American aid each year.
“The Weapon Wizards” is also largely silent on how Israel uses its military might. Absent is any reflection on the role of the Israeli armed forces in paving the way for the contentious expansion of Jewish settlements into Palestinian territory, for instance, or the Israeli practice of destroying homes occupied by the families of suspected militants, though both have been condemned by the international community.
Katz and Bohbot are similarly uninterested in the brave new world Israel is helping to create…. [T]argeted killings are interesting only because they showcase the combination of “cutting-edge technology, high quality intelligence, and Israel’s best and brightest minds.”
The only significant omission on her part is that she doesn’t mention who Israel helped arm. They armed some of the nastiest people, like the Guatemalan military. And they are widely believed to have been involved in South Africa’s atom bomb project, and maybe that alleged nuclear test in 1979, too.
The most important disclosure here, though, is about US military aid.
“Israel receives more American military aid than every other country in the world combined.”
John Kerry made a similar statement at the Saban Forum in December:
“I’ve watched while we, the Obama Administration, have put $23.5 billion on the line for foreign military financing. More than 50 percent of the total that we give to the entire world has gone to Israel.”
This fact needs to be reported widely, especially in the light of Israeli human rights abuses Rosa Brooks cites. Arabs know all about what we underwrite, from house demolitions to targeted killings. It’s time Americans did, too.