This past Sunday – exactly 1 week before Purim – the Israeli Air Force unveiled a new, giant pilotless drone – the Heron TP.
This being the week of the Olympics (did anyone else watch tiny, snow-less Israel’s ice dancing couple finish in the top 10 last night?), and everyone all performance-crazed, here are some stats on the new Heron TP:
- It has a wingspan of 86 feet or 26 meters (as large as a Boeing 737!)
- It can fly at least 20 hours straight
- It can reach an altitude of more than 40,000 feet (12,000 meters)
- And it can fly as far as the Persian Gulf
These types of drones are primarily used for surveillance, carrying loads, jamming communications and connecting ground control to other air force planes, but can be used for other types of missions, as well.
Being extremely sensitive about keeping its soldiers safe, Israel is a world leader in unmanned aircraft technology, and supplies drone to several other countries, including the United States (which uses drones in large numbers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and famously, Pakistan).
So here is an interesting discussion question this raises for me:
If Israel uses some of these drones for a major military operation (of any kind), and presumably fewer Israeli pilots are killed than would normally be (the drones are piloted from the ground, after all), what would the world’s response be? Would the world celebrate the fact that less life was lost, or would the operation be deemed less “fair” or “moral” if “not enough” Israeli pilots die in the process, and Israel is seen as not having “sacrificed” enough during the operation?
Essentially, I guess what I’m asking is – will it actually be seen as “worse” to have saved a few soldiers’ lives, instead of sacrificing them to make the operation more “fair”?
Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Whoa There! Don’t Panic! Britain Is Not Really About to Cut All Ties with Israel.
As we reported on Saturday, there has lately been criticism from Great Britain and other EU countries, surrounding the assassination of a senior Hamas terrorist in Dubai. Before people get all worked up over “how dare anyone criticise such a reasonable action” and all that jazz, I would just like to clarify one thing. At this point, the thing that Britain (and their EU friends) have actually been getting worked up about is the alleged use of British (and by extension, EU) passports during the operation in Dubai. They are not criticizing the operation itself, but the misuse of their passports.
This seems a reasonable beef for a country to have – “you can’t use our passports, or pretend to use our passports, in an inappropriate way.” They have to say that – of course they don’t want their passports used in ways they did not authorize, or by people they did not authorize to use them, no matter what the actual action was, and regardless of whether it was right or wrong. Any country has to say it (“we discourage anyone not abiding by our bureaucratic rules,” and all that), and it probably doesn’t mean much. In this case, there is, of course, the added and potentially valid, concern that whoever did this could potentially open up British citizens to some form of relations, and again, the British government has the obligation to try and protect those citizens however it can.
Said Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown: “The British passport is an important document that has got to be held with care.”
Sir Menzies Campbell, the former leader of the British Liberal Democrats, added: “If legitimate British passport holders were put at risk it would be a disgrace.”
These are legitimate sentiments, and of course any country would be concerned about the possible misuse of its passports, or potential trouble being caused for its citizens. As diplomatic incidents go, this is also so minor as to be almost a joke, and will likely blow over in a matter of days (except in diplomatic circles, which adore drama and inflated self-importance). And as far as criticism of the incident itself, it amount to nothing at all – a mere disagreement on tactics, perhaps – and is not something I’d be overly worked up about.
Bonus: Israel’s Olympic Ice Dancing Videos
For anyone who’s as much a figure skating nut as I am, NBColympics.com has videos of Israel’s top-10 ice dancing couple’s performances from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games here.
As a side note, Israel has fielded top-10 ice dancing teams in the last 3(!) olympic games. Pretty incredible for a country with barely any ice, isn’t it?
Personally, I especially enjoyed their Original Folk Dance, set to Hava Nagila, and performed in (modified) traditional shtetl wear (including him in a kipah, and her with an orthodox head scarf – probably the first kipah ever worn on olympic ice!)
The Free Dance program set to music from Shindler’s List is terrific, as well. Especially as put on by these 2 tremendous skaters, whose family sustained terrible losses in the Holocaust.
As a bonus, the male half of the American ice dancing team which took the silver medal is half-Jewish American Charlie White. 4th place winner Ben Agosto is half-Jewish, as well (both on their mothers’ sides). So I guess this has a been a great year for Jews On Ice! Maybe Minnesota will finally see that influx of snow- and ice-loving Hebrews we’ve all been waiting for! (Though I wouldn’t hold my icy breath…)
[Photos: Wikipedia (1, 2, & 3)]
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t that impressed with the Israeli ice dancers. Compared to some of the other groups, they seemed a bit slow and not synchronized at key moments. I did love the “costumes” though!
And Israel’s “barely any ice” might be why they primarily train in New Jersey. But many others do too. I have both skated and gone sledding in Israel. Everyone should!
I don’t know – I definitely very much enjoyed their routines; even their compulsory tango, which is a tough dance to do for a sibling couple. But I suppose there’s no accounting for taste in these matters.
You’re absolutely right that many of the top international teams train in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut (including many of the Russian teams, who certainly have plenty of ice back home). Many of the top international-level coaches live in the States, and the American skating arenas tend to provide better training conditions than many other countries. In this case though, the Zaretskys have moved to train in the US relatively recently, mostly after having risen to the international level competitively, having trained for most of their lives in Metullah (at Israel’s ONLY competition-size skating rink), including during Roman’s IDF service a couple of years ago (many athletes get excused from compulsory army service, but in this case, Roman chose to serve, and keep training alongside his service).
My favorite Olympic name is Torah Bright even though she is an Aussie Mormon snowboarder. Her parents named her Torah after her mother learned the word meant “bearer of great message” in addition to referring to the five books of Moses. She carried the Aussie flag in the 2010 Vancouver opening ceremonies and won the Gold Medal in the Women’s Halfpipe.