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January 27, 2012

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illm.a]niaiHiliiilgiliglll r -- t|L]t]|!:ll] ,iL llW iLIIL :ill 'Iiil[ll 1| td aJ ]Oli!UJ HLiNH | PAGE 12A By Arieh O'Sullivan The Media Line The diminutive Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel, who is in charge of strategic planning and force building for the Israeli Defense Forces, joked that when he was in Washington last week the pressure was on not to strike Iran's nuclear program. "When I got there I was six feet and above, and look what happened [to me] after the pressure," said Eshel, aveteran fighter pilot, who stands five foot seven inches. Eshel, who is a candidate to take over command of the Israel Air Force, made sure to repeat he was speaking in jest, because any kind of lev- ity involving Israel's potential actions against Iran's nuclear program is serious business. With U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey scheduled to visit Israel last week, much of the focus has been on the reported differ- ence between Jerusalem and Washington about assess- ments over how long it will take for Tehran to develop its first nuclear weapon and how to stop it. "We are living right now during dramatic changes [in the Middle East] that create a By Arieh O'Sullivan The Media Line HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 27, 2012 Israel's army war, rs to keep its tanks lot of new challenges and a lot of unknowns," Eshel said, re- ferring to the growing power of Islamists in countries like Egypt. "Unfortunately, our assessment a year ago that those revolutions would be hijacked by others came true." Yet despite the dramatic political changes in the Middle East, Israel has no intention of reducing its battle order of conventional armored divisions, even as the traditional threats facing the Jewish state are arguably at an historic low and new ones are emerging in the form of asymmetrical warfare and missile attacks. ,It is a zero sum game and we are trying to juggle all the balls," Eshel said in response to a question from The Media Line. "When the adversaries find out that we are weak in one part, they will be sucked to that. We cannot allow ourselves to have too many weak points." "You see more unmanned vehicles on air, ground and sea. There are changes. But if you ask me if this is going to be cancelled, no tanks, that is not the case. It would be irresponsible. We have to be robust. You don't know what is going to happen tomorrow and suddenly a threat that you said was already gone is there and you don't have the right tools to address it." "There are changes, but we don't see a trick here to create a new military," he added. "One thing that I have learned from real life related to insurance policies, when the risk is higher so you pay more. You have to pay more for your insurance policy and the IDF is the real insurance policy of the state of Israel." Israel's military spending is among the largest in the world on a per capita basis and has been the subject of bitter controversy between the defense and finance ministries in recent months. Last week, Israel's defense budget for 2012 was sent at 53.6 billion shekels ($13.9 bil- lion), which includes some $3 billion in annual U.S. military grants. This included a three billion-shekel hike, and came after intensive lobbying by generals to counter demands to cut the defense budget to fund socioeconomic reforms. In Israel, the public is cling- ing to the social and economic agenda. But the government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has largely focused on the security agenda, citing the Iranian threat. The gener- als have been all too eager to comply, saying they need more funding. At a news conference two weeks ago, Netanyahu took the side of the defense estab- lishment saying that "in light of multiplying threats and security challenges around us, it would be a mistake--even a big mistake--to cut the de- fense budget. More than that, I think we need to increase it at this time." Speaking at a think-tank in Jerusalem, Eshel told foreign journalists, military attaches and diplomats that a nuclear- armed Iran could provide an "umbrella!' for Israel's adversaries like Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip which could make them more aggressive. "They will dare to do things that right now they would not dare to do," Eshel said. "This is going to create a dramatic change in Israel's strategic posture, because if we are forced to do things in Gaza or Lebanon under an Iranian umbrella, it might be different." Eshel echoed the views of most of the general staff when he highlighted the potential for conflagration in the region, saying there were 100,000 rockets and missiles currently aimed at Israel. He outlined the growing strategic threats, including an increase in surface-to-surface missiles and sophisticated anti-tank rockets. He said Syria, which is nearly bankrupt, has invested $2 billion in air defenses over the past two years that protest it from Israeli counter-strikes. Still, the threat of con- ventional military war with Israel appears more distant than ever, with Syria's army tied down in a 10-month-old popular uprising and Israel at official peace with Egypt. Iraq's Saddam Hussein's divisions were vanquished by the U.S. and Jordan has solid defense ties with Israel. Hizbullah, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have no armored forces to speak of. Yet Dana Preisler, head of the international sphere at Reut, a government-linked think tank, explained the army's hesitancy to take ma- jor risks such as lowering its battle order. "The IDF right now, as every other establishment, is wait- ing. It is a difficult period of change and bodies like the IDF prefer to wait and see how the realities are going to evolve," Preisler told The Media Line. "The threat is getting bigger, the region is going backwards, so let's enlarge the budget and let's build ourselves to be ready for the next war." Preisler has been leading her organization's investi- gation of the impact of the Arab Spring on Israel and she doesn't foresee that things will stabilize for some time. "During a period of change nobody can say that in one year or in five years we will see here a stable new regime or that we will know who the good guys are andwho the bad guys are. It is what we call an eco-systemic nature." She also noted that Israel's traditional strategic pillar of deterrence may have held up with Arab regimes but the new world emerging was shaking it. "Deterrence is strong, but visa vis who? The regimes. And those regimes are chang- ing." She said that if any risks were to be taken now by Israel to explore the new opportuni- ties in the region it would be diplomatic and civilian before military. These included reaching out to Turkey and Saudi Arabia and other players in the region, she said. Chauffer for Mom's Doctor Appointment An advanced DNA test developed in Israel is now helping Bedouin shepherds identify which of their sheep carry the gene for twins so they can produce more lambs with smaller herds. "The Bedouins who tradi- tionally grow sheep anyway whether or not it makes man- ey, now realize the potential here," said Aviv Kahana, a molecular biologist who heads the department that developed the DNAtesting kit at Bactochem Labs in Israel. "This can make a revolution Mom's Social Calendar Fully Booked Giving Moma new lease on life at Oakmonte rfllage...Picelz Call Today for your tour and complimentary five-star dining experience! Mom's Meal O A K 1.)O NTE AT LAKE MARY Treating patients in Winter Park Orlando 407-678-4040 407-370-3705 Altamonte Springs Viera 407-331-6244 407-678-4040 Central Florida for over 25 Years Steven Rosenberg, M.D. Carlos M. Jacinto, M.D. Our physicians are Board Certified Allergy, Asthma & Immunology & Board Certified Pediatrics Untt of C  Sche of tm    of F  Ki$ Day's W in the Bedouin herds because it makes sense economically." For centuries, the Bedouin in the Negev desert in southern Israel have traditionally raised the indigenous, fat-tailedAwassi sheep because it is so adapted to the harsh desert conditions. But about four years ago the Israeli Volcani Center, an agriculture research institute, started intro- ducing the new Afec into their herds to reduce the mortality rate and increase the incidence of twins among the Awassi. The Afec breed is the Is- raeli name for the Boorola sheep from New Zealand, which is known to carry the multiple birth gene mutation. "Now this mutation has en- tered into the Awassi, which is very hardy and will stand up in the desert climate. But instead of having 1.1offspringperbirth, wewill have something like 1.7," Kahana told The Media Line. Scientists have sought for years to find the double ewe-- the sheep with the gene that makes it more likely they will produce twin lambs and give shepherds two animals for the birth of one. The company is adjacent to the Weizmann Institute of Sci- ence in Ness Tsiona, less than an hour's drive from the desert stretches of the Negev. But in a meeting of Israeli high technol- ogy and traditional herding, Bactochem's DNA test can be done in the field at a cost of about 60 shekels ($16) for each animal. It identifies the ewes with the special gene. The test is called Real Time PCR. Bedouin shepherds say it's worth it since they can sell the sheep for hundreds of shekels more to other breeders, Ka- hana said. The new test allows a shep- herdto raise flocks ofsheepwho will be able to reproduce more efficiently since fewer ewes will be required for getting the same number of lambs. This will mean asaving in feedandwater. About half the flocks tested have been found to have the twin gene.While called the twin gene, thosethatcarryitactually have multiple births, often three or four Iambs. But as good as it is for the sheep herder, the DNA test is bad news for some ewes. Those found not to have the twinning gene have their future mapped out for them as mutton on someone's table. Only the ones with the twin gene get to keep on breeding. "The price of feed for ani- mals is rising and you want to pay less for feed and sell more meat .... They want to produce the maximum amount of meat from the smallest number of animals that they have to feed. They feed the mothers and they get from a smaller- number of mothers the same amount of meat, or they have the same number of mothers that give now birth to 30 percent more offspring, meaninga30 percent increase in meat," Kahana said. He said that about 50 percent of the offspring of the sheep in every generation with the twin gene will carry it, meaning that the next generationswillhave to be checked too. He added that it was difficult to get the use of high-tech developments into the mindset of the Bedouin. "It is not easy because for mostofthe Bedouin. Words like 'genetics' or 'mutations' are new for them and the tradition is still very strong to grow tradi- tionally in the remote areas," Kahana said. This could prove to be suit- able for the Bedouin as they become more sedentary and less nomadic. Many Bedouin are starting to raise their herds in pens near their homes and Kahana said this was neces- sary since ewes giving multiple births tended to need help. "These kinds of animals should be grown next to the manager of the herd. There should be an eye on them, not on the traditional way where you don't see your animals very much. So it is a shift they have to make to manage their herds much more carefully," he said. While the testing is being offered to Bedouin and Jewish shepherds, it is also suitable for sheep farmers in the Palestin- ian areas and Jordan, who also have started to cross breed their flocks with the Afec breed. "I think the potential is very high," Kahana said. In quest for twins, Bedou ins seek double-ewes