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What’s in a name? First US military base… or living facility in Israel

“For the first time in Israel’s history, the United States Army has opened a permanent base on Israeli soil, flying the Stars and Stripes inside an IDF base.” So reads the opening line of a JPOST article by Anna Ahronhein dated Sept. 18. IDF, US Army Celebrate Inauguration of First American Base in Israel.

But wait! The next day, Judah Ari Gross, in an article for The Times of Israel, reported: “The American military on Tuesday denied a claim made by the Israel Defense Forces that the United States had established its first base in Israel, saying the new buildings were instead a ‘living facility.’”

Living facility? At first glance the replacement phrase seems inappropriate. Google living facility and you will learn about institutions for adults — perhaps in this case, nations — which cannot, or chose not, to live independently. On second thought, perhaps that is accurate.

Or, perhaps, Act II, Scene II of Romeo and Juliet applies. What, after all, is in a name? More importantly, what is it about the “apparent” American military presence in Israel that demands such artful linguist dodging?

Prior to the U.S. military’s introduction, Tuesday, of the confounding alternate description of what we first assumed was indeed, a base, Brigadier General Zivka Haimovitch, head of the IDF’s Aerial Defense Division, referred in the JPOST article to the “‘historic and exciting’ inauguration of the American base attended by senior American officials such as the American Defense Attaché.”

Haimovitch was also quoted as having mentioned the American flag flying, the U.S.-Israeli “partnership,” mutual strategic commitment and “another layer to the security of the State of Israel in defending the threats of rocket or missile fire.”

“Several dozen American soldiers will be stationed at the permanent base in southern Israel, which the Americans and Israel have been working on for the past two years and will have all the facilities necessary for a permanent military presence,” he continued.

“The American soldiers,” Haimovitch stressed, “would be operating American systems, not Israeli ones.”

All good news, one would suppose, and it shall probably remain so despite the U.S. rechristening of what had been a military base to something less-hostile sounding.

The U.S. military had more to say regarding Gen. Haimovitch’s unfortunate choice of words — what, after all, qualifies an Israeli brigadier general to recognize a military base?

“As part of the United States’ continued commitment to Israel senior leaders from the U.S. military participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony… to commemorate the opening of a new building on an Israeli Air Force base,” the Times of Israel article reported Meghan Henderson, deputy director of the U.S. military’s European Command, Media Operations Division, as having said in response to General Haimovitch’s statement.

There we have it. Ribbon cutting, nothing more, on an Israeli living facility base.

“The new buildings located on the Israeli installation are not a U.S. military base,” Henderson confirmed. “The buildings are facilities on the existing Israeli Air Force Base to support our U.S. service personnel who are working there.”

What could be more clear?

Tis but thy name that is my enemy:

Thou art thyself, though not a base,

What’s base? It is not hand nor foot,

Nor arm nor face. O be some other name

belonging to a garrison!

What’s in a name? That which we call a base,

By any other word would defend as well.

We suppose, presume, imagine…

Cliff Keller lives in Jerusalem, Israel with his wife, Marcia after making Aliyah in the spring of 2011 from the United States. He has recently published a three-novel series, historical biblical fiction the theme of which is The Modern Restoration of Israel, based on the life and times of the prophets Elijah, Hosea and Daniel. Cliff also blogs at Standing by the Gate and has a writing website goodStories.

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