Israel: Indispensable ally in a rough region
Published: Sunday, February 20, 2011
Updated: Monday, February 21, 2011 10:02
The seeds of rebellion and protest have spread across the Middle East over the past few weeks, along with several other major developments.
The people of Tunisia, Egypt and many other countries have risen against, and toppled, their governments.
Hezbollah, recognized as a terrorist organization by the State Department, has backed the government of Lebanon.
The reliability of these countries as United States partners in regional peace is always in a state of flux and depends on who is in power.
The Iranian Revolution of 1979 is a historic example, when a once U.S.-friendly Iran morphed into an oppressive and hostile regime.
These examples demonstrate the continued importance of a strong relationship between the United States and Israel, the only government in the Middle East or North Africa to be ranked as "free" by the nonpartisan organization Freedom House. All others, including Egypt, are ranked as "not free."
Through this relationship, we conduct joint military exercises, develop new defensive technologies and exchange knowledge regarding best practices when responding to emergencies, ranging from natural disasters to acts of terrorism.
To that end, the Obama administration has taken this alliance to new heights.
Last year, a sophisticated computer virus called Stuxnet struck and damaged Iran's nuclear facilities, essentially pushing back the clock on their quest for a nuclear weapon at least a few years. An investigative piece last month by The New York Times reported that the virus was developed as part of an American-Israeli joint project.
Officials of both countries continue to refuse comment on the matter or claim responsibility.
If the report holds true, however, it would be an example of the benefits of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, having delivered a significant blow to Iran's nuclear program without firing a single weapon.
It is these kinds of activities that set apart our relationship with Israel from other Middle Eastern countries.
Aside from Democracy, the Israelis have also been Middle East pioneers in the fields of environmental protection, transportation security, and the science and technology sectors.
As Egypt begins the transition to democracy, it is comforting to know that its Israeli neighbors will be there to serve as a role model and help aid movement toward a similar government — one that permits participation regardless of religion or race, offers freedom of speech and the press, holds frequent and fair elections, and of course, holds the choice of the people as sacrosanct.
Israel has proven to be an indispensable and dependable ally in an otherwise unpredictable region.
While we may not know for some time what exactly will result from the removal of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and other Arab leaders, we can always have certainty that Israel is there as a permanent force of Democracy, actively collaborating with the United States, Canada, and leading Western nations while brokering peace.
Israel relies on us for advice, input, and assistance regarding her quest for peace, and in turn, she provides us with invaluable military assets and regional intelligence.
Leaders on both sides of the aisle agree that this relationship is an indispensable part of the peace process.
As Egypt selects a new leader and the politics of the region change, the continued strength of this relationship is evermore important.