Israel's Invisible Wonder Jets Won’t Defeat Knives

The children who kill and wound us will grow up and multiply. And we’re buying a bunch of stealth fighters.

Yoel Marcus
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Paramedics remove the body of a terrorist from the scene of an attack on a Jerusalem street, December 6, 2015. Traffic is at a standstill.
Yoel Marcus

Two supposedly happy pieces of news landed here this week. The Israeli air force decided to sell around 100 Skyhawk fighter jets – the first planes the United States supplied Israel when it replaced France, which stopped supplying us with combat aircraft after Charles de Gaulle decided Israel was no longer “a friend and an ally.”

In place of these planes, which the pilots loved so much and will of course be sold to another country, we’ll get a few squadrons of F-35 stealth fighters, the most advanced plane in the world. The F-35 is manufactured by Lockheed Martin and is considered better than anything made by the Russians or Chinese.

A senior U.S. Air Force commander who was asked about the jet’s astronomical price (about $150 million each) said it was worth every cent. The first 19 planes that Israel is buying, some with vertical takeoff and landing capabilities, will be called the Adir (the Mighty).

Of course, every pilot in Israel and around the world dreams of flying this wonder. Probably the only Israeli who could by the plane is energy baron Yitzhak Tshuva, whose fortune Forbes estimates at $3 billion to $4 billion.

The question is why there’s a need for such a great outlay and if we don't know who it’s needed against. Do we know who we’re going to be fighting? Can this plane’s gimmicks be used against the terror groups, countries, denominations and religions massacring one another?

The Iranian nuclear threat has been neutralized by the international agreement under American leadership, and every Israeli, however devoted a Likudnik he may be, is probably happy we didn’t carry out Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s threats against Iran.

More than once we’ve built monsters for D-Day and said we had an answer; against the Iranian threat, for example. Still, it’s not clear we would have used our answer, and there’s no doubt Bibi’s threat deterred Iran to a certain extent.

In any case, the terrorist threats don’t really endanger Israel’s existence. And with a defense budget of 60 billion shekels ($15.4 billion), what defense will 12 billion shekels of stealth fighters provide? The military has people too who say that when you’re not sure who the enemy is, a huge waste is going on. 

Israel wanted to make a large purchase of F-35 fighter jets (pictured).Credit: Reuters

In the situation that has been created, thinking is needed not based on viewing our country as Gunslinger Ltd. Last year’s Gaza war cost Israel 15 million shekels in the first six days and would have ended very badly if, for example, Hamas’ tunnels let it capture Kibbutz Nirim.

Even with the most modern and expensive planes, this country can’t be victorious against the popular uprising we’re experiencing. The Six-Day War happened nearly 50 years ago; Palestinians under 60 don’t remember the previous situation, they only know the present.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking for both himself and the president, warns us that if things continue this way, an ungovernable Palestinian entity will arise and the Palestinian Authority security forces will wither away. This will lead to anarchy and bloody clashes that Israel can’t win – not even with its wonder plane that can stand on its head.

The situation of those committing the knife, ax and scissors attacks won’t change. The role of a leader is not to say “that’s all there is,” but rather “here’s what has to be done.” Yitzhak Rabin threatened to “break their bones,” but it’s clear this didn’t help, and in the next generation too we’ll be consumed by the sword.

The kitchen knife, the ax, the scissors; the children who kill and wound us will grow up and multiply. President Reuven Rivlin is right when he warns our current leaders. Our invisible wonder jets won’t defeat knives.

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