“The United States benefits tangibly now from this relationship with Israel. There are things I cannot say in this forum, but there are people in the United States today who are safe, who are alive, because of intelligence cooperation that Israel has provided to the United States,”
—U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman
It is well known that the United States donates billions of dollars in foreign aid to Israel, and supports their military with weapons, training, and political support. Is there much the United States gets in return?
While many Americans support Israel unconditionally because of their faith, the partnership between the two countries is mutually beneficial, and the investment certainly pays off for the United States.
Today, Israel is the closest ally of the United States in the fight against terrorism in the Middle East, and Israel also deserves credit for helping the United States develop the most powerful military technology in the world.
Israel began helping the U.S. when it was still a young nation by turning over the Soviet-built weapons they captured from wars with Egypt and Syria. The Soviets had been eager to provide their anti-Zionist allies with state-of-the-art technology in hopes of crushing democracy in the region.
The United States, on the other hand, was reluctant to sell much of its best and latest technology to the Israeli military. This reluctance was primarily due to fear.
The United States feared the technology would fall into the wrong hands. The Soviets were bold and aggressive, and there was no telling what they would do if they could gain a technological advantage over the United States.
While America had to keep its best weapons secret, they provided the Israeli military with plenty of much-needed ammunition, which the Israelis used to fend off attackers from all sides.
Both countries underestimated Israel. In the end, Israel would emerge victoriously, and it was the Soviet technology that wound up captured.
A Leg Up in The Arms Race
Understanding Soviet technology was very important for the United States during the Cold War. This understanding helped give America a significant advantage in the arms race against the USSR. By staying ahead of the Soviets, the United States was able to prevent direct attack and ultimately avoid catastrophic nuclear war.
The technology was also invaluable to Israel, who would be up against state-of-the-art Soviet technology supplied to the Egyptians and Syrians more than once.
Joint efforts between the CIA and Mossad, like Operation Diamond, led to the capture of Soviet-built jets, which the Israeli military used to train their pilots. By evaluating Soviet jets, Americans were able to build even better planes and sell them to the Israelis.
At that point, the Americans became more confident that the well-trained Israeli Air Force would not let the American technology fall into the wrong hands, and they were right.
In battles over the Golan Heights, for example, Israeli pilots were so well prepared that they managed to take down six enemy planes without any casualties.
By 1973, the Israelis had formed a division of some 300 captured Soviet-built tanks to use against their enemies, upgrading them with armor and air conditioning to better protect the tank crews.
After the Yom Kippur War of 1973, American military officials toured the desert battlefields to evaluate how American-built tanks used by Israelis fared against the Soviet-built tanks and artillery used by the Egyptians. The Americans were able to assess weaknesses of their tanks and create far more superior models for the future.
Learning desert tactics, and understanding enemy technology, helped the United States achieve a swift victory during the first Persian Gulf War against Iraq, who used out-dated Soviet-built tanks. The ground offensive launched and led by the United States defeated Iraqi forces in less than four days, liberating Kuwait from Saddam Hussein’s oppressive regime.
Israel’s Recent Role
Israel had a significant role in helping the United States with many recent Middle Eastern affairs. The partnership between Israel and United States intelligence agencies has prevented countless catastrophes across the Middle East and beyond:
- Israeli Intel Against ISIS
Israel has long been an invaluable and trusted source of human intel. The Israelis are able to provide more information about terrorist activities in their neighboring countries than anyone.
The presence of the United States’ CIA has diminished over the years, particularly in Lebanon during the 1983 bombings of the American Embassy in Beirut.
But Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, has been able to shoulder the burden of collecting valuable intel about terrorist activity with local personal networks—most recently, by flying drones over enemy territory.
In recent years, Israel has provided information to the United States regarding ISIS recruitment and activity by providing lists of Western converts, as well as ISIS activity in neighboring countries.
Israeli intelligence has also led to successful airstrikes against ISIS, as well as expose bomb makers in Syria who intended to harm US passengers on airplanes by disguising bombs in laptop batteries.
- Sabotaging Nuclear Development in Iran
Israel has also been instrumental in helping the United States monitor Iran’s compliance with nuclear weapon development… and together they are slowing them down!
In 2010, Iran reported technical difficulties in their Nuclear weapons development programs that ultimately stopped them from completing the projects.
Years later, New York Times reporting pointed to US-Israeli operations that successfully sabotaged Iranian nuclear plants by using computer viruses.
- The United States Permanent Air Base in the Negev Desert
In 2017, the United States established its first permanent air base in the heart of the Negev Desert, in Israel. The move provides Israel with additional defensive support from its closest ally, the U.S.
The establishment also gives the United States more mobility and advantages over its enemies in nearby countries in the Middle East.
More than anything, it symbolizes the strong partnership and alliance between the two powerhouses, and our commitment to spreading democracy and creating peace in the world.
It’s Our Turn to Support Israel
With all that Israel does to keep our country, and the men and women who protect it, safe, we are forever grateful. And we’re not shy about showing our support!
My Olive Tree has partnered directly with the Israeli Defense Forces to provide unique support for the Israeli military, and our sponsors are some of the proudest supporters of Israel.
Find out how you can show your appreciation for Israel and make a difference for the men and women who help us keep terrorism at bay.