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July 06, 1984 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-07-06

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Friday, July 6, 1984 7

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

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The high cost of Israeli security

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Special to The Jewish News

Since its emergence as a
sovereign state 36 years
ago, the state and the people
of Israel have paid a heavy
price for the right to live in
security as well as in inde-
pendence. In Israel's longest
and costliest war, the War of
Independence (1948-1949),
the 6,000 dead represented
one percent of the popula-
tion of the state. Since then
the Israel Defense Force has
fought five wars: the Sinai
Campaign (1956), the Six-
Day War (1967), the sub-
sequent War of Attrition on
the Suez Canal, the Yom
Kippur War (1973) and the
Peace for Galilee War in Chief of Staff Moshe Levy with senior army officers. The
Lebanon (1982). This is in Merkava tank is made in Israel and costs $1 million.
addition to the continuous
war since 1948 against
A recent press release
As long as the Arab states
Arab terror attacks.
from Shai's office gives an maintain a state of war with
While the financial cost of unusual insight into the day Israel, there seems little
war cannot of course be to day expenditure of the hope of curbing Israel's se-
compared with the price army. They say an army curity expenses. As each
paid in dead and wounded, marches on its stomach and year passes, military
the economic demands that the IDF invests $1.50 per hardware becomes more
defense exacts from Israel's day to feed each soldier, sophisticated and the cost of
limited resources are never- while battle rations cost maintaining Israel's qual-
theless staggering. Israel's $2.50 per day. A pair of itative advantage over its
.Gross National Product boots is priced at $44, a Arab adversaries soars. It
(GNP) of some $25 billion winter jacket costs $34 and cannot, of course, be
annually is the per capita a flak jacket is worth $303. stressed too strongly that
equivalent of Great Britain, Other items in the soldier's without signs of real politi-
but Israel currently spends kit-bag include a helmet at cal change in the Middle
33 percent of its Gross Na- $62. A Galil rifle costs $515 East, Israel must maintain
tional Product on defense. while each bullet it fires is this advantage at all costs,
however onerous the finan-
This is by far the highest worth 16 cents.
These relatively modest cial and economic burden
proportion of expenditure
by any western indus- costs accumulate rapidly may be.
As the financial stakes
trialized nation (America when multiplied by the tens
spends some two percent of of thousands of soldiers rise so does the potential for
its GNP on defense). Israelis serving in the IDF. Expen- mutual destruction. Some
pay for this with the highest diture in other areas is even observers feel that.this fact,
taxes in the world. Sources bigger. A Merkava rather than a more positive
have reported that Israel (Israel-made) tank costs a desire for old fashioned
spends nearly a million dol- million dollars and eats up love thy neighbor" senti-
lars a day on the war in $300 of gas an hour if its ments will eventually force
Lebanon. Even if the actual engine is left running. A a peaceful solution of the
figure is lower, this indi- missile boat consumes Israel-Arab conflict. Until
cates how large are the ex- $1,000 worth of fuel an hour the vision of the Jewish
penditures involved in the while helicopters can eat up prophets will be consum-
mated, and "they shall beat
present war. The massive between $500 to $1,500 of
their swords into plow-
defense costs inevitably af- gas an hour.
Most expensive of all in shares," Israel, with the
fect Israel's economy, its
standards of living and its the army's inventory is air- vital help of the whole
ability to achieve economic craft. An F15 costs $36 mil- Jewish people, must be on
lion, while an F15 fighter perpetual guard against
independence.
bomber weighs in at a more those whose ultimate aim is

The current economic costly $52 million. Flying to destroy the State of Is-
slowdown in Israel has not the F15 for an hour costs rael.
Whatever the price, Is-
left the defense budget un- $7,000.
Even these costs pale into rael's real security needs
scathed, even though gov-
ernment and opposition insignificance when com- must and will be met. While
alike place security at the pared, for example, to the the Jewish people as a
head of Israel's priorities. construction of an airbase. whole is a partner in sup-
According to Nachman When Israel withdrew from porting Israel in areas like
Shai, the spokesman at the. the Sinai in 1982, billions of the economy, social im-
Ministry of DefeNse, some dollars had to be invested in provements, the full absorp-
$16 million has been shaved new facilities to replace tion of immigrants from all
off the IDF's annual budget those vacated as part of the over the world, Israel's se-
in recent austerity meas- Camp David Accords. Uvda, curity is the concern of the
ures. "I cannot say that one of three new airbases government and the citi-
these cuts will endanger the constructed in the Negev zens of the state. Nobody is
being asked to fight Israel's
country's survival," he says, cost $1.5 billion to build.
As Akiva Lewinsky, wars. Ever since the pre
but he thinks they could
have negative implications Jewish Agency treasurer State defense force — the
for Israel's security. Shai pointed out to a recent Haganah — was trans-
may have been referring to United Jewish Appeal dele- formed into the Israeli
cuts in items like the IDF gation to Israel, the interest army, it has been called
training program, which which must be paid on the upon to take every neces-
military sources accepted money borrowed from the sary measure to safeguard
with great reluctance be- United States to build Uvda the existence, the indepen-
cause of possible effects on costs more than the $200 dence and the security of the
the IDF's fighting perform- million that the UJA sends State of Israel.
to Israel each year.
World Zionist Press Service
ance.

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