Wednesday, October 1, 2008


It has just been reported that Israel is buying 25 advanced F35 Joint Strike Fighter jets from the USA, at a cost of $15.2 billion, to be delivered in five years' time. This is the first time these planes have been sold to another country, and this sale is understood as expressing the US Administration's support for Israel and dedication to its security.

I would like to question the wisdom of this move. I'm no military expert, but it seems to me that the IDF (Israel Defence Force) relies too much on its Air Force. During the Second Lebanon War (2006), there were air strikes on a Hezbollah controlled neighbourhood of Beirut, which killed many civilians and missed the Hezbollah leadership that was the supposed target. The use of air strikes against enemies lacking an Air Force makes Israel appear the aggressor in an unbalanced fight (although the fight is unbalanced in several ways, not all of them to Israel's advantage). It is also not effective in preventing the sort of rocket attacks we in Haifa were suffering every day for over a month (for this reason, Israel is investing in anti-rocket missiles).

It seems to me that more should be invested in the ground forces. The IDF seems reluctant to send in ground forces due to the greater risk of casualties, but the nature of the conflicts we are involved in seems to require this sort of action.

The planes would presumably be useful in the sort of attack carried out against Syria's reactor, or that being considered against Iran's nuclear program. However, these attacks are in the interest of the whole world, and it seems that the US is sending Israel to do the world's dirty work, instead of acting as the world's policeman, in this particular case...

Apart from that, the cost of these planes for a small country is immense. You can't help thinking what else could be done with even a fraction of this expense. Taking a subject close to my heart, the Israeli university system is close to collapse, with the Finance Ministry refusing to give the universities certain funds unless they raise tuition fees. The amount mentioned, about $640 million over five years, is so much less than $15 billion, and preventing the total collapse of Israeli's higher education system, once a source of great pride, should be a higher priority than acquiring more weapons of destruction, perhaps even weapons inappropriate for the country's needs.

As long as this country continues to worship the military and ignore important civilian aspects such as education, health and welfare, it is perpetuating the state of war and weakening the foundation of its existence.

No comments: