Above the Fray Defense is one bright spot in tense Israel relationship

JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS/Newscom

JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS/Newscom

Although much attention in recent weeks has been focused on the strained political relationship between Israel and the United States, cooperation between the defense establishment of the two nations continues to be close and, if the Feb. 4 Senate Armed Services Committee hearings on President Barack Obama’s nomination of physicist Ashton Carter to replace Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel are any indication, may even improve.

Whereas Obama’s nomination of Hagel two years ago was fought tooth and nail by a number of Jewish organizations and pro-Israel groups, the Pentagon under his leadership has maintained good relations with its Israeli counterparts. And when the same senators who challenged Hagel questioned Carter this week, there were none of the fireworks that typified the earlier battles.

Although Israel did not come up during questioning, Carter, whose views on Iran are believed to be more hawkish than those of Obama, mentioned the Jewish state in an answer to a question from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on the danger posed by a nuclear-armed Iran.

“They have the ambition to wipe off the map other states in the region, namely Israel,” said Carter. “They have a long history of behaving in a disruptive way, of supporting terrorism, of trying to undermine other governments operating around the world. So I think they give abundant evidence that they’re not the kind
of people you want to have having nuclear weapons.”

According to Aaron David Miller, vice president for new initiatives and distinguished scholar at the Wilson Center, the Pentagon under Carter will likely continue to be the anomaly in U.S.-Israeli relations.

“I think in some respects the U.S.-Israeli relationship is on autopilot, and it continues to improve. … You have a measure of personal dysfunction at the top of this relationship,” he said, referring to the public spats between Obama’s administration and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “And yet … institutionally the relationship [has] so much momentum, so much deliverables that are mutually beneficial, that it’s in some respects on autopilot.

“I think that sense of confidence and trust among long-established mechanisms and relationships simply continues to endure and actually grow stronger regardless of the political dysfunction at the top,” he added.

That dysfunction has been a near constant narrative of the relationship between the executive and legislative leaders of both governments; its latest iteration is seen in the controversy over the invitation of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress about the dangers of a nuclear Iran without having coordinated it with the White House.

Last year, it was even seen at the cabinet level, such as when Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon called Secretary of State John Kerry’s quest to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority “messianic.” Other times, the slander has come from anonymous officials, such as when White House officials were reported calling Netanyahu “Aspergery” and a “chicken——.”

Reached outside the House of Representatives chamber after finishing a vote, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) blamed the Obama administration for the sore relations at the top but joined Miller and other observers in identifying the Pentagon as apparently above the political fray.

The people in the Defense Department “understand perhaps more than anyone how critical our alliance with Israel truly is,” said Franks. “The Pentagon understands how important Israel is to America, and I think that’s why they’re going to do everything they can to mollify or at least ameliorate this president’s — what I think has become an obvious sort of — resentment toward Israel.”

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) agreed that defense cooperation with Israel was crucial and tied the issue to the question of automatic budget cuts enacted in 2013, known as sequestration. During his hearing, Carter argued that across-the-board cuts imperiled America’s defense posture.

“We support Israel and we give Israel money to procure things like the Iron Dome missiles,” said Ruppersberger, a member of the House Intelligence Committee. “And when you cut across the board instead of prioritizing, I think that clearly it will hurt our allies, including Israel, because we won’t have the money to work with them and help them deal with the threats Israel faces every day.”

There is “increasing depth tied into U.S.-Israel coordination, cooperation and co-budgeting on things like missile defense,” said Aram Nerguizian, a scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “In parallel to any development within the bilateral political arena, there has been a pretty steady sense of continuity on military affairs. A lot of systems like David’s Sling; the Iron Dome; funding and planning for the Arrow II and Arrow III ballistic missile defense systems — these wouldn’t be possible if you didn’t have a sense of expanding scale and depth in the military-to-military partnership.”

Israel has been the largest cumulative recipient of foreign aid from the United States since World War II. With support for Israel high among the American population, Congress has not hesitated to provide additional funds for joint U.S.-Israeli research and development projects and other forms of cooperation, such as allowing the Israeli Defense Forces to use vast stockpiles of American military equipment stored within Israel on an emergency basis.

Under President George W. Bush, the United States and Israel signed a 10-year agreement in which Israel would receive $30 billion in U.S. aid annually.

In 2014 alone, according to the Congressional Research Service, Arrow and Arrow II mid-altitude ballistic missile defense system projects (researched and jointly developed by Boeing and Israeli Aerospace Industries) received $44.3 million, while $74.7 went to aid research and development of the new Arrow III high-altitude anti-ballistic system.

Another joint U.S.-Israeli project, David’s Sling, was budgeted for $149.7 million.

The Iron Dome missile defense system, another joint project that successfully intercepted Hamas rockets during last summer’s war in Gaza, initially received $235 million in the congressional budget. In response to the war, this amount was bolstered with an additional $225 million to assist Israel in replenishing its Iron Dome missile stockpile.

Both Nerguizian and Miller agreed that institutional momentum that has seen defense establishments of both nations grow closer and more codependent since 1949 is unlikely to reverse itself.

“When you get to where we are now, in this decade, it’s not because of any development in the last one two or three years, it’s tied to decades of systemic focus and you’re not going to have a dramatic shift either in the positive or negative,” said Nerguizian. “It’s just a steady state.”

Faith in the continuity of the military-to-military relationship was challenged when Obama nominated Hagel, whose statements for a book Miller wrote in 2006 were seen as critical of the Jewish state and its allies in Washington. Hagel’s confirmation hearing was quite a spectacle, but Carter’s hearing was surprisingly tranquil and respectful. Such civility bet-ween Republican and Democratic lawmakers toward each other and toward Obama’s nominees has been rare.

When asked whether he thinks it is likely the relationship would change if the Senate confirms Carter, Miller said that in the current defense environment, in which dealing with conflicts in the Middle East takes up much of the Pentagon’s time and energy, it is nearly impossible for a defense secretary to be anti-Israel.

“Along with the Saudis, the Israelis constitute the closest American ally in this entire region,” said Miller. “Whatever the drama and the soap opera of the Bibi/Obama relationship, it’s just a fact.”

dshapiro@midatlanticmedia.com

Tryko Assumes Management of Rock Glen Property

Six months after acquiring Rock Glen Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Baltimore, Tryko Partners, LLC has assumed operational management for the 120-bed property at 10 North Rock Glen Road. The firm will immediately launch a $1 million upgrade and repositioning at the facility, which has been renamed Westgate Hills Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center.

According to Barry Munk, vice president of nursing home operations for Marquis Health Services, Tryko’s in-house healthcare division, the improvements will include physical renovations as well as service and program enhancements as the firm works to refocus the property toward short-term, sub-acute patient care. An expanded 1,500-square-foot therapy gym is among the plan highlights. Tryko Partners also will renovate family gathering areas, incorporate a fine dining program and update finishes throughout the Westgate Hills building to create a homelike environment.

“Providing quality of life is a key component of the Tryko/Marquis philosophy,” said Norman Rokeach, director of nursing home operations for Marquis Health Services. “For three generations, we have been catering to the needs of our patients and their families, with energy and excellence at the center of everything we do.”

Tryko Partners owns and manages more than 2,000 apartment units in Maryland, including several in Baltimore and its suburbs, and the company maintains a corporate office in the city.

MVLS Welcomes New Board Members

Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS), the largest provider of pro-bono legal services to low-income Marylanders, announced two new members to its board of directors. MVLS’s board of directors helps to advance the organization’s mission of closing the justice gap in the State of Maryland.

The Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service elected two new members to its board of directors during its meeting on Nov. 19, 2014. Joining the board for three-year terms are Patricia Bosse, vice president for advancement and marketing at Notre Dame of Maryland University, and Gretchen Klebasko, director of intellectual property and associate general counsel at Legg Mason.

Promotions, New Staff at Komen

Kim Schmulowitz, Laura Pichotta, Sarah  Cordi (Photos provided)

Kim Schmulowitz, Laura Pichotta, Sarah Cordi
(Photos provided)

Komen Maryland announced two promotions and a new staff member at the affiliate.

Kim Schmulowitz, who has been with the organization in a variety of capacities since 2010, is the new communications and marketing director. Sarah Cordi, who began working with the affiliate in September 2014, moves into the position of development manager. Laura Pichotta is the new communications and marketing manager. All three are off and running in their new positions, with a strong focus on the Komen Maryland Ocean City Race for the Cure on April 19.

Schmulowitz has a B.S. degree in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and has worked in print media, public relations and nonprofit administration. Cordi has a master’s degree in elementary education and has worked for local arts nonprofits as well as in print publication in both Baltimore and Los Angeles. Pichotta recently moved to Maryland from California, after receiving her B.S. degree from California State University, Chico.

Lenrow to be JHU Alumni President

021315_bbriefs_Jay-LenrowJay L. Lenrow of Adelberg, Rudow, Dorf & Hendler, LLC, has begun serving a two-year term as president of the Johns Hopkins University Alumni Council.

“I am thrilled to take on the challenge of leading the council, which organized more than 500 alumni events in 17 countries around the world last year,” Lenrow said. “My goal is to make sure that everyone connected to Johns Hopkins, from the first day they set foot on campus and throughout their careers, helps celebrate the greatness of this institution.”

Lenrow began his longtime affiliation with Johns Hopkins as an undergraduate. After earning a bachelor’s degree in International Relations, he attended the university’s School of Advanced International Studies. He recently completed terms on the board of advisers for both the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and Johns Hopkins Hillel and continues to serve on the Johns Hopkins University Board of Trustees. In November, he led a JHU alumni contingent on an educational mission to Cuba with Gianfranco Pasquino from the Johns Hopkins University SAIS Bologna Center in Italy.

As an attorney, Lenrow focuses his practice on real estate law, corporate law, construction law and real estate finance. He joined Adelberg, Rudow in 2012, after serving as a principal in Lenrow, Kohn & Oliver, P.C., the firm he co-founded in 1995.

Baltimore Executive Coaching Firm Launched

A new Baltimore-based executive coaching firm called ProtÈgÈ Executive Coaching & Consulting, LLC, has been launched to meet the coaching needs of area executives and to provide expert management consultation. Seven highly recognized and accomplished business leaders have joined forces to support area executives, using their decades of leadership and mentoring experience. They have experience in a diverse group of fields, including business, financial/investment services, communications/technology, higher education, healthcare, marketing and communications, government relations, public accounting and nonprofits.

Protégé’s principals are Warren Green, former president and CEO of LifeBridge Health; David Nevins, founder of marketing and communications firm Nevins & Associates; Howard Rosen, president of RS&F, a leading regional accounting and consulting firm; Stephen Burch, board chairman of the University of Maryland Medical System and former president of the Atlantic Division of Comcast Cable; Joseph DeMattos Jr., CEO of Health Facilities Association of Maryland; Terrence Smith, an executive adviser and former higher education executive; and Judy Berman, former senior VP of the Baltimore Sun Media Group. Most of the principals also serve on the boards of major corporations and organizations.

“We formed Protégé Executive Coaching & Consulting to help other top executives transform their leadership skills. We can help them make more effective decisions, better resolve conflict, enhance their communication skills and build better teams, all in a confidential environment,” said Berman. “We serve as trusted advisers who can help them grow, and in turn, help their organizations grow.”

Bayshore Announces New Partnership

Andrew S. Parker, Steven J. Sless and Ian B. Sandler have partnered with Bayshore Mortgage Funding to launch their reverse mortgage division. Previously employed by Maverick Funding, DBA Reverse Mortgage Network and Great Oak Lending Partners, they played a key role in building both companies into top 10 Reverse Mortgage lenders.

“Bayshore Mortgage Funding is very excited to add this division to our already growing company,” said Bayshore president Paul Jednorski. “We have wanted a reverse division for a long time. Due to the nature of the product and the need to deliver exceptional service to our clients it was important to have the right leadership in place. We believe our patience has paid off. We are confident that we have found the best possible group to lead and grow this division, providing our clients with the service and education that the reverse mortgage requires.”

Friedman Named to Sinclair Board

Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. announced that Howard E. Friedman has been appointed to its board of directors. Friedman will stand for re-election to the board at Sinclair’s next annual meeting of shareholders.

David Smith, chairman of Sinclair’s board, said, “Howard, a native of Baltimore, will provide the kind of experience and knowledge that will add voice and point of view essential to the governance of this great company we have built.”

Friedman is a founding partner of Lanx Management LLC, a hedge “fund of funds.” He was the co-founder, publisher & CEO of Watermark Press, Inc. From 2006 to 2010, Friedman served as president and then chairman of the board of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). In 2007 and in 2009, Washington Life magazine listed him as one of the 100 most powerful people in Washington D.C.

From 2010 to 2012, he served as the president of the American Israel Educational Foundation, the charitable arm of AIPAC. He is the immediate past chair of the board of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. Friedman has served as president of the Baltimore Jewish Council and as president of JTA-The Global News Service of the Jewish People. He currently serves as the chairman of the board of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.

In addition, Friedman serves on the boards of the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Touro College and University System, Talmudical Academy and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Renbaum Joins Carroll Bank

Carroll Bancorp, Inc., the parent company of Carroll Community Bank, announced the appointment of Barry J. Renbaum to its board of directors.

Renbaum was the co-founder and co-manager of Custom Savings Bank, a $350 million federal savings bank that consistently outranked its peer institutions in terms of profitability and asset quality. He is a magna cum laude graduate of Rider University, where he earned a B.S. degree in business administration. Following his graduation from Georgetown Law School, he was appointed law clerk for Maryland Court of Appeals Judge John C. Eldridge.

Lawrence Joins BBBSGC

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake announced that Michelle Lawrence has been hired as director of marketing and communications, a first-of-its-kind role for the organization. Lawrence comes to Big Brothers Big Sisters from the second-largest running organization in the country, Atlanta Track Club. She brings with her a variety of experience developed in the advertising, sports marketing and nonprofit industries.

Lawrence is from Florida and graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. degree in advertising from the University of Florida. She started her professional career at Doner, a mid-size agency in Atlanta, where she managed every aspect of agency of record work for fast food, retail and higher education brands. After years in advertising, Lawrence made a transition to nonprofit marketing, most recently working as brand marketing manager at Atlanta Track Club, where she implemented the first rebrand in the organization’s 50-year history and handled all communications for the organization, including the world’s largest 10K running event.