Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Israel Hosts ROA on Tour of Israeli Defense

Pictured left to right: RADM Paul Kayye, ROA President;
Maj. Gen. (Ret) Sid Shachnow, USA (Ret); Brig. Gen. Noam
Tibon, Commander, Israeli Defense Force Command and
Staff College; Maj. Gen. (Ret) David Bockel,
ROA Executive Director.
 The American Israel Public Affairs Committee brought ROA President Rear Adm. Paul Kayye, Executive Director Maj Gen David Bockel, and 5 others from organizations representing the interest of American Veterans to Israel in December. This trip focused on the military and political aspects of the country and its defense. For the most part, the emphasis was on the current state of affairs in the only democracy in that part of the world.

The group saw the entire country and received presentations from experts on topics such as Iran as well as from representatives of the Palestinian Authority. Their visits included the Israel Defense Force’s Command and Staff College, an IDF air force base, army outposts on Lebanon’s border in the Northwest and the Syrian border on the Golan Heights. They visited a kibbutz on the border of the Gaza Strip, which was hit by rocket fire the next day.

“We came to understand the fragile state of the physical infrastructure in terms of the military threat from Iran, as well as their clients in Hamas and Hezbollah,” said Gen Bockel. “We learned that the majority of the fresh water of the country comes from the Sea of Galilee in the North which is piped all the way to Jerusalem. An attack on that resource alone would cripple much of the country.”

Tour guide, archeologist, and military
historian Asher Afriat, briefs the
participants on portions of Israel's
recent history. The group was enroute
to a kibbutz on the border with the
Gaza Strip.
With 50 percent of the population and industrial base of Israel located in a small area on the West coast of the country, they visited an Israeli settlement on the West Bank. This settlement had been in existence and prospered since 1967. “Compared to the surrounding Palestinian desert portion of the West Bank, this settlement reminded me a lot of a small, attractive middle class community in the Southwest United States,” said Gen Bockel.
Among the most informative presentations were from two Israeli general officers. One was a physician who spoke to us about the Iranian threat. The other, who is the only reserve general in the IDF, is a corps commander as well as the dean of a law school in Jerusalem. Both generals were on the famous raid on Entebbe, Uganda. Visits to Yad Vashem, the Old City, Tiberias, and Masada were included.

“From a personal standpoint, the trip had significant meaning to me,” said Gen Bockel. “We don’t understand the daily threat that the citizens of that country face each and every day from countries that would like to see them wiped off the map. This is a country (and religion) that has roots going back over 3,000 years. I would encourage all to learn more about this fascinating and wonderful place.”

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