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PAGE 2A By Ben Sales AIRPORT CITY, Israel (JTA)--An Israeli soldier sits in an office chair in an air- conditioned metal chamber staring at two screens side by side. One shows a map with a moving dot. The other displays a video feed. Next to the soldier are three more identical stations. The soldier isn't an air traf- fic controller but a pilot, and his aircraft is called an un- manned aerial system, more commonly known as a drone. By Jacob Kamaras JNS.org WASHINGTON, D.C.-- Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted nearly 400 Gaza rockets last November alone, with an 85 percent success rate, amid the Israel Defense Forces' Opera- tion Pillar of Defense. But the brains behind the system isn't resting on his laurels. "I'm realistic, so I'm not putting all the eggs in one system, [even though] it had much success," IDF Brig. Gen. Dr. Danny Gold, who had the initial idea for the Iron Dome, said in an interview with JNS. org at the 2013 American Israel Public Affairs Com- mittee (AIPAC) conference. "I did my job, I developed many other systems. So [the Iron Dome] helped Israel to probably prevent a massive ground operation and war, but it's not alone." Gold was referring to other joint U.S.-Israel missile inter- \\; HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 15, 2013 As world's largest exporter of drones, Israel looks to transform battlefield a key role on the battlefield. "Already today we see that the technology can work faster and better than our five senses, which are limited," Tzvi Kalron, a marketing manager for Israel Aerospace Industries told JTA in an in- terview during a recent tour of an Israeli drone facility. "When you take away the hu- man factor in battle and send tools that know how to do it better, it's easier." With two large drone man- ufacturers--Israel Aerospace Industries, a government company, and Elbit Sys- tems-Israel is the world's second-largest producer of drones, behind the United States, and the world's largest exporter of drones. IAI began manufacturing drones in 1974, employs 1,000 people in its drone division and sells about $400 million worth of drones per year. The company exports to 49 coun- tries, including NATO allies fighting in Afghanistan, such as Canada and Australia. The Drones on page 19A Welcome to the next gen- eration of the Israeli Air Force. Israel long has relied on superior air capability to maintain a military edge in the Middle East, and its pilots are among the most respected soldiers in the county. Now Israel's drone indus- try is booming, and experts predict that within decades, manned flight largelywiU be a thing of the past-especially in risky combat missions. Dur- ing Israel's Pillar of Defense operation in Gaza lastyear, Is- raeli drones reportedly played Ben Sales/JTA The Heron 1, Israel Aerospace lndustn'es' largest drone, weighs five tons and can fly for 50 consecutive hours. Brains behindlsrael's Iron Dome 'not putting all the eggs in one system' Israel Defense Forces The Iron Dome batterg in Ashkelon. explain to audiences what Iron Dome was, how it works, and why the U.S. should fund it. That is no longer the case following Operation Pillar of Defense, according to Biden. "The world saw firsthand why it was and remains so critical," Biden said of the Iron Dome. "For too long, when those sirens blared in the streets of the [Israeli] cities bordering Gaza, the only defense had been a bomb shelter. But late last year Iron Dome made a difference." Asked how the Iron Dome's results so far have compared with his expectations of the system, the IDF's Gold said, "I am very content of course, I strive for the top, 100 per- cent, but it is very good, it is a breakthrough." "We are working on the sec- ond generation and the third generation, against other scenarios, more sophisticated threats, and we will update the system all the time," he told JNS.org. November's Israel-Gaza conflict saw Palestinian rock- ets land in the vicinity of the large cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, rather than being limited to southern Israel. It marked the first time a rocket alarmwas sounded in Tel Aviv since the Gulf War in the early 1990s, and the first time such an alarm was ever sounded in Jerusalem. As a result, the fifth Iron ception systems such as the David's Sling (still in develop- ment), Arrow 2 (operational) and Arrow 3 (still in develop- ment). Asked by an audience member during an AIPAC breakout session to compare and contrast David's Sling to Iron Dome, Gold explained that the concept of protecting Israel comes in "layers"-- with David's Sling providing the second layer (after the first layer of Iron Dome) to protect against long-range rockets and cruise missiles. Arrow 3, considered to be the most innovative and revo- lutionary anti-missile system in the world, was successfully tested in central Israel on Feb. 25. The system is meant to bolster Israel's ability to intercept long-range ballistic missiles, and is designed to intercept such missiles out- side the Earth's atmosphere in space. The Iron Dome's success-- and the $275 million that the U.S. has contributed so far to the system--made it a natu- ral source of pride for both American and Israeli officials at the AIPAC conference. Out- going Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said at a plenary session last Sunday that the system is "like hitting a bullet with another bullet." At last Monday morning's AIPAC plenary, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden recalled a time when he needed to Dome battery was installed near Tel Aviv ahead of sched- ule. How will the system continue to protect Israelis if more powerful Palestinian rockets, such as the Iranian- developed Fajr-5, continue to penetrate deeper into the Jewish state? "You just put a battery there, and it is ok," Gold said. Gold told the AIPAC break- out session that the Iron Dome is a positive develop- ment for both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict. "You're not just saving Israeli life, you save also Hamas life and Syria's life because there is no more war [as a result of the system]," Gold said. But during wartime, the Iron Dome has no margin for error, U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) said at last Monday night's AIPAC plenary. "Make no mistake. The Iron Dome has to be right 100 percent of the time, or Israelis die," Cantor said. Meet Menendez: The new Senate foreign relations chair's public and private takes on Israel By Maxine Dovere JNS.org WASHINGTON, D.C.--For U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N J), closing remarks at the recent American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference publicly marked the start of a new phase in his relationship with the Jewish community. Menendez, the new chair of the Senate Foreign Rela- tions Committee, follows current Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice Presi- dent Joe Biden in that post. "There will never be any daylight between the United States and Israel on my watch," he told the AIPAC crowd. "Never. Not on my watch." JNS.org spoke privately with Menendez in the halls of he Washington Convention Center following his address. The senator said he hopes hat the upcoming trip o President Barack Obama :,) h;rae, coupled with Kerry s chplomatc efforts in the Middle East. "can reignite an effort where we can get the Palestinians back to the negotiating table with Israel, which is the only way inwhich we will have peace." Maxine Dovere U.S. Sen. Robert Menen- dez (D-NJ) speaks at the American Israel Public Af- fairs Committee 2013 Policy Conference on March 5. "It has to be a negotiated [peace Settlement]--you can't do it at the United Na- tions," Menendez told JNS. org, referring to the Pales- tinians' unilateral statehood bids at the UN the last two years. 'You have to do it be- tween the two parties. Israel has expressed itswiliingness to negotiate without precon- ditions." "We look to [PA] President [Mahmoud] Abbas as the elected leadership of the Palestinian people and we would hope that if he came to the negotiating table in good faith, that would spark an aspiration that exists among the Palestinian people, hope among the Palestinian peo- ple," Menendez said. "If we move forward in good faith, then there might be the wherewithal to strengthen his role so that we in fact can move more towards our ultimate goal, which is a two- state solution with peaceful, secure boundaries and above all, security for the State of Israel." Asked by JNS.org if he sees anyone else capable of leading the PA should Abbas leave or lose that role one day, Menendez responded, "I don't think it's really for the United States to look towards whom the Pales- tinian Authority and its people choose as its leader. We stand ready to work with anyone who is willing to follow the path to peace, who is willing to enter into a negotiated settlement with the government of Israel, and to seek to live side by side peacefully and fulfill the hopes and dreams and aspirations of their people. Whoever that is, we look for- ward to working with him. Right now, that's President Abbas, and that's with whom we work." JNS.org asked Menendez if his public support for the Jewish community and for Israel in any way has conflicted with his work in diverse New Jersey commu- nities such as Paterson, a city that is home to the second- largest Muslim population in the U.S. as well as a mosque, the Islamic Center of Pas- saic County, whose leader, Mohammad Qatanani, is al- legedly a member of Hamas. The Senator responded by expressing his admira- tion for the "incredibly hard working people" of New Jersey's Muslim community. "They have helped rebuild some of our oldest com- munities," Menendez said. "They have a strong faith and family focus. My experience has been that they are mak- ing contributions in those communities in New Jersey in which they reside." Menendez, in partnership with U.S. Sen. Lindsey Gra- ham (R-SC), has co-authored a new resolution that calls on the U.S. to"standwith Israel and provide diplomatic, mili- tary, and economic support to the government of Israel in defense of its territory, people, and existence." The resolution is expected to pass in the House and Senate. Soon after submission of the Graham-Menendez resolution, U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Ted Deutch (D-FL) put forth a bill that would create a unique, legally acknowledged desig- nation of Israel as a "major strategic ally" for the U.S. Delegates at AIPAC's 2013 Policy Conference, prepar- ing to go to Capitol Hill to lobby their House Represen- tatives and Senators follow- ing the end of the conference on March 5, were invigorated by the words of Menendez, the three-day conference's final notable speaker. The newly appointed Senate foreign relations chair was making his first major public appearance after returning from a trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Menendez told the crowd including the 500-member delegation from New Jersey that he acknowledged, that America would "protect and defend our fundamental promise to stand with Israel and the Israeli people in a strong and lasting alliance." He called the Jewish state "an enlightened society," promising the availability of America's "military strength where necessary." U.S. aid to Egypt should be contingent upon Egypt up- holding its 1979 peace treaty with Israel, Menendez said. "American security assis- tance to Egypt cannot be a blank check," he said. Drawing a standing ova- tion from the AIPAC crowd, Menendez affirmed the bibli- cal Jewish connection to the land of Israel. "There can be no denying the Jewish people's legiti- mate right to live in peace and security in a homeland to which they have a connec- tion for thousands of years," he said. As far as the Iranian nu- clear threat goes, Menendez said, "Containment is not an option for the United States." "Our clear intention must be to prevent Iran from eve reaching nuclear capacity he said. "We will not and cannot talk for talking's sake," Menendez said of the diplo- macy track for Iran. "We can- not allow the negotiations to become just a stalling tactic for Iran to buy time."