There's too much importance given to the Israel-Singapore defense relationship. It was horses for courses and Singapore under the late Lee Kuan Yew milked it for what it was worth.

Israel had strategic interests and ambitions in the region, and Singapore fit the bill as a willing working target/partner for that purpose.

David Marshall, a celebrated lawyer and politician in Singapore at the time was a Jew. He was a thorn in the side of Lee Kuan Yew for amongst other things citing those achievements of the Jews over other races (perceived, mythical or real) in attempts to belittle Lee's Chinese origins and that of a very dynamic and resourceful mainly Chinese Singapore risging successfully to the challenges of its much larger and natural resources rich neighbours. Lee often referred to Marshall disparagingly as that "Cantankerous Sephardic Jew".

There was also Alex Josey, the MI6 plant also a Jew, who was amongst other things Lee's speech writer and researcher. Both men played a critical and clandestine role along with Lord Vivian Rothschild in swaying Lee's decision away from India, one of two contenders for the training of the Singapore Defense Forces including its air force at the time.

Lee coveted trade more than anything else in international relationships. And although not on the world trade map as an outstanding economy, the network of Jews worldwide including in places such as the former Soviet Union made Israel a perfect choice for the job. India on the other hand was inefficient, centralist socialist and insular as an economy.

Lee was no slave to Israel for the favor. In the 1980's Israel in fact bitterly lamented Singapore's refusal for the third time to grant landing rights to El Al, Israel's national flag carrier. Lee turned down the request for security and more pragmatic reasons. One of these was the publication of the Tehran Papers.

The Tehran papers (the secret US embassy documents, painstakingly re-assembled by highly trained counterintelligence operatives within the Iranian revolutionary student movement in 1979) revealed amongst other things that Israel had been spying on Singapore and on Lee himself.

The Tehran papers included details of how the Mossad were spying on the Lee family's acquisition of banking, and other major commercial interests within Singapore and abroad, through his siblings Dennis and Kim Yew- and Israel's infiltration of the Singapore defense and foreign intelligence apparatus. There was more.

Lee suspected the Israelis were planning to gather enough material from spying to blackmail him as the British and Americans had tried to on many previous occasions and failed. He never shied away from a confrontation in this regard however big and powerful his adversary was.

Israel at the time coveted Singapore as its base for the ASEAN region.

But Lee being Lee, decided he would characteristically teach Israel a lesson as he did with the US at the Goodwood Hotel incident in 1965, by showing them that neither the Chinese (Singaporeans) nor Singapore as a nation were an inferior lot to anyone. The self-proclaimed superhumans "God's chosen people" the Israelis included.

Today, several months from the 7 October affair, Israel is nobody's darling or super hero. Its missiles and anti-missile systems were rendered impotent to Hamas's well-planned multi-pronged attack on them.

Its intelligence failures raises serious questions about Israel's real capabilities (militarily) today as opposed to the well-crafted Western media image created of their armed forces and super-intelligent race. Hamas has turned 7 October into a myth.

Vivian Balakrishnan was wise together with his president to call the Israelis for what they are and to re-assert Lee Kuan Yew's philosophy that Singapore and Singaporeans are nobody's slaves; nor do they take prisoners or give hostage to fortune.

Singapore is malleable in political terms. It is able to adapt to changing situations in their foreign relations.

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Singapore is "malleable" in more ways than one, not all of them excusable in humanistic terms. so let's stop blaming Israelis for Lee's imperfect calculations in inviting the country's long, secret love affair with Israel. The problems with EL Al "landing rights" and even with Singapore's new "Israel has gone too far" rhetoric are justified and understandable as examples of the calculated gyrations of LKY's still-fundamentally illiberal, increasingly Orwellian society. Its apologists shouldn't blame that mania for control on Israel's interests, intentions, or software.

Physician, heal thyself!

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Good primer on SG-Israel military and political relations from an outsider perspective. There are however a few things that can be elaborated on or corrected in this piece.

If that stretch of ECP leading from Changi Airport to the CBD area is meant to be an emergency runway for the RSAF, it's the first I've heard of it and quite unlikely because the central divider separating traffic going in opposite directions is actually fixed metal and concrete. The only other piece of public roadway that is indeed explicitly meant for RSAF emergency usage in times of war would be Lim Chu Kang Road all the way in the western bit of Singapore. There's plenty of video footage online.


The Singapore Armed Forces is basically at its core a cloned copy of the Israeli Armed Forces, minus the bit about equal conscription of both sexes (Singapore does not conscript females though they can sign on as full-time regulars, Israel does both). An interesting anecdote has it that the Israeli military officers sent to Singapore to train up its first batch of officer cadets and set up SAFTI (Singapore's equivalent to West Point) had to have no Israeli markings on their uniforms, and that if their presence was ever caught on by anyone in public or the media they would be explained away as "Mexicans" due to their swarthy tanned exteriors.

Israeli-SG defence cooperation is deep and significant in several key areas. For instance, Singapore's armored force was first built up in 1969 with some 72 French-built AMX-13 light tanks bought from Israel two years prior. For a country that first became independent only four years ago in 1965, Singapore became the first military in the Indo-Malayan archipelago to have an armored force, a huge deal back then as it is now today. Malaysia would not get their first proper tank till the late 2000s when they bought Polish tanks that are modeled after the Russian T72 tank. This is all the more significant when you realise that even the British balked at selling Singapore its Centurion tank in 1970, wondering why would an island-state that was formerly its colony, freshly independent under acrimonious conditions, and only recently in the thick of regional conflict such as Konfrontasi and the Malayan Emergency need main battle tanks for its defence.

A large part of Singapore's air defence network on the ground is also Israeli (SPYDER). In the air the RSAF equips Israeli-made Python 4/5 air to air missiles on its F-16s; these are deemed more capable than US Sidewinder missiles. Singapore's airborne early warning is now based off the Gulfstream G550 business jet using an Israeli radar system produced by IAI/Elta. The first military drone publicly known to be used and operated by Singapore is also an Israeli model called the Heron.

Even for naval defence, Israel was pivotal in providing Singapore with weapons that allowed it to outclass anything regional militaries had for decades. The RSN was the first navy in Southeast Asia to have naval missile capabilities back in 1968 when it equipped its new Sea Wolf-class missile gunboats with Israeli Gabriel missiles. The latest version of this missile (Blue Spear) was selected last year to replace the US Harpoon antiship missile in RSN service onboard its six Formidable-class frigates, which are some of the most powerful surface ship assets in any Southeast Asian/Pacific navies barring the US and China.

Bottomline is, without Israeli military advice and cooperation, Singapore's very existence as an independent country in 2024 might not have been a reality.

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