While some may question the prudence of America’s relationship with Israel and wonder whether the benefits are one-way, there are many advantages from the relationship that are overlooked even in everyday life. Israel repeatedly shows that the relationship between the U.S. and Israel is one of mutual enrichment. There are several examples within the past month alone.
Recently Metropolitan Police cruisers began keeping their overhead lights continuously flashing while patrolling District neighborhoods. You may have seen a police car parked near our University and wondered why the lights were flashing while the officer was not in pursuit or pulling someone over. The goal of this new technique, which was adapted from the Israeli Police by MPD Chief Charles Ramsey on a recent trip to Israel, is to increase citizen awareness of police presence and allow citizens to easily find the police in case of an emergency. This cooperation in policing is just one of the many ways that Israel and the United States work together.
Over the past 28 months, Israel has endured a multitude of terror attacks resulting in more than 700 deaths and thousands of serious injuries. With a population of 6 million people, this is proportionally the Israeli equivalent to 10 times the casualties of the September 11 attacks. The terror attacks have stifled Israel’s economy, causing the worst recession in Israel’s short 55-year history. Despite relentless terror attacks, Israel continues to make substantial contributions to the world community.
On Jan. 16, 2003, Israel joined the elite group of nations that have sent astronauts into space. Colonel Ilan Ramon of the Israeli Air Force joined an American crew aboard the NASA Shuttle Columbia, becoming the first Israeli to venture into space. This launch culminated 20 years of cooperation between the Israel Space Agency and NASA. Colonel Ramon brought along on his journey a wallet sized Torah scroll that was smuggled out of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp during the Holocaust. Ramon said this represents the Jewish people’s eternal ability to survive. In light of the recent tragedy of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Israel stands with America in mourning the loss of the seven astronauts. Space travel is just one aspect of Israel’s vibrant scientific community that conducts numerous joint projects with the United States under the auspices of the Binational Science Foundation.
Last month, 34 senior law enforcement officials from the United States and Canada traveled to Israel to attend a conference titled “Police in the Age of Global Terror.” During the conference, police chiefs from around the country learned how Israel meets the challenges of daily terrorist attacks and how the various security agencies within the country cooperate. This conference, which was one of many conducted between the two countries, emphasized cooperation in the global fight against terrorism, of which Israel and the United States are at the front line. D.C.’s own Chief Ramsey attended the conference and learned how to further safeguard our city from terrorist attacks.
Among Israel’s other contributions to the world community are democratic elections. Just last week Israel elected its 16th government. In Israel, unlike any other nation in the Middle East, all citizens over age 18 can vote, regardless of their religion or gender. In Israel’s last Parliament, four Arab parties and 10 Israeli Arabs held office. Women hold political power in Israel as well. Israel has had a female prime minister and many members of Parliament have been women. The American government wholeheartedly believes in the Israeli democratic system. As Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Nov. 19, 2001, “The United States-Israel relationship is based on the broadest conception of American national interest in which our two nations are bound forever together by common democratic values and traditions. This will never change.”
Israel and the United States also work together through various research foundations including the Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund and the Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation. These groups embody the spirit of the United States-Israel relationship, which is based on shared interests and common values, such as democracy, education and human rights.
Advancements in science and technology, counter-terrorism training and vibrant democracy are some of the remarkable achievements Israel has made to the world. Next time you are walking around campus and see a police car with its lights flashing, remember that you partly have the Israeli police to thank for your increased security.
-The writer is a junior majoring
in international affairs.