Interestingly enough, this policy is awkward - borderline useless - for two reasons. First, any satellite imagery, at any resolution, can be purchased on the private market, for the right price. Maybe not from the US, but it's not like the US is the only country that collects satellite imagery.
But there is a more interesting aspect to this story. Israel does allow publishing high-resolution imagery of its territories, given that they have been censored. Thus, you get ridiculous images such as a huge park in the middle of Tel Aviv, where clearly the Kirya  usually stands.
The fun starts once you diff a censored map with a publicly available one, even if it's low-res. Even an untrained eye can easily spot places that someone does not want you to look at. (I have been toying with the idea of mining satellite imagery and running image diffs between censored and uncensored versions of the same area.)
Ridiculous, considering that most secret places blend in perfectly with their surroundings.
Had they not been censored, no one would notice these facilities.
 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HaKirya
Pretty certainly someone, somewhere thought that this would be necessary and a good idea, but I fail to grasp the reasons. It seems as if the 'privacy' gained by censoring/prohibiting this kind of imagery is borderline security by obscurity. It's not like anyone really interested in these maps couldn't get them from other places - or travel the country and look for places of interest. It just annoys the laymen - like me.
What am I missing?
And this effect works recursively for any entity that has power over the map maker. The Israeli government similarly wants to shift any blame away. So they can ban publishing a map of anything they consider vulnerable, not to realistically prevent any attack, but just to make sure they look like they tried and nobody can play the card of "why didn't they do something?" against them.
For a tech example, consider a system of stringent password requirements, with specifications for length and no dictionary words and special characters and so on. We know that this leads to the Post-it approach by users. But the password designer is only looking to avoid blame for any hypothetical attack - if the password is stolen off the written note, he can blame the stupid user and point to his own "secure" requirements.
I have a major pet peeve against the warped culture of "accountability" which really just means "find someone to blame when things go wrong". In that environment (when you aren't lavished rewarded when things go well, but are punished when they break) the incentives are skewed.
I remember years ago hearing stories about rocket squads using Israeli radio reports of rockets striking (for example) 1km west of Kibbutz Dan to adjust their aim.
That said: I don't quite get your point. If you want to shoot at point X, doesn't a decent map (no imagery needed) give you what you need? Distance, probably elevation? And if you're in range for these militia stuff, can't you check out the place before anyway?
It's not like Google Maps/Earth is live, showing the result of your action (as the radio would in your example).
Again, to avoid stirring up trouble: I certainly have no clue about living in a country where you have real security threats. But I cannot grasp (potentially because of the reason listed before) how this limited availability of 'old' imagery helps protecting against attacks.
That said, (A) satellite imagery, I assume, contains information that's hard to get from a map. The buildings, trees, layouts, and flow of the place. You can easily see on satellite where people are likely to be. (B) Maps are also censored. What's this thing?: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&...
Also, just to give a picture of the scale we are talking about, that thing is close enough to Gaza to aim with a naked eye. We're not talking about ICBMs
Some charity sponsored some aerial imagery of Gaza and mapped that well.
Just after mapping Gaza, JumpStart went to map the country of Georgia. For anyone interested in as a programmer (lead or otherwise) in Georgia (Tblisi, cool city) on interesting followup projects, get in touch, I'm on the JumpSatrrt board and we're currently looking for IT talent...email in my profile. When I say "volunteer", we can pay expenses and a small salary...its just not Silicon Valley pay ;).
a) decent _readable_ (here's the focus.. I cannot, yet, read hebrew) maps. Google Maps is actually not that bad for that so far.
b) a way to explore points of interests in advance: This needs satellite images that have a high resolution. OSM doesn't help here for all I can tell.
Open Data to the rescue! The folks at Wikipedia (I think) have made a map based on all the different languages. Here's Isreal with English names: http://toolserver.org/~osm/locale/en.html?zoom=8&lat=31....
No one seriously/actually claimed that you cannot see satellite images of Israel. Zoom closer, compare to the quality you're used from elsewhere.
First, welcome to Tel Aviv.
Second, what you describe as check out places of interest, possible targets for a day off or a weekend trip is not falling into the category of secret army bases etc. which are in discussion. (unless of curse, if in your case, "the places pf interests" are actually army bases ;-) But, I assume you are a hacker at most, but not a spy.
Keep in mind the fact that Israel is a very small country, and yet major parts of whatever is left to us, is claimed by others. From Tel Aviv, which is located on the west side, by the sea, and the east border there are only 16KM (10 miles) of land in between (same range as from 14th Street to Baker Field, New York)
Therefore, we try to keep the little we have as much as possible and this is the reason, I think, for the censorship one might call it.
All in all, I wish you great and joyful stay in our city, and if you need a partner for a beer or two, drop me a mail.
Furthermore, its just silly in an international market. Thinking that this will make images of Israel go away to protect them is just silly. Useless legislation is useless and a waste of taxpayer time and money.
We don't do this for any other country/ally. As a non-religious American, I quite honestly don't understand why we have such a relationship with Israel as it yields us zero benefit and many losses.
A bonus is that Israel is still a sovereign nation and if it for example bombs Syrian nuclear reactors, the United States has zero responsibility. Which can leave the US to pursue détente with any country it likes, regardless the Israel protest.
A nations power is measured not only in its military capabilities but in its allies. The US has many, many allies but not that many loyal ones especially in the Middle East.
The benefits are way too many, but very few of them are international-PR-related. Except of course domestically, which is much, much more important to any politician.
I respect Israel, and I see the value in a healthy relationship with it. However, the US should be looking out for the best interests of Israel, which are _not_ the continued oppression of the Palestinian people. Many Israelis understand that a two-state solution is the only sustainable solution...unfortunately, Netanyahu does not realize that. The US needs to push Israel in the right direction, for the sake of our shared relationship (and Israel itself).
Does the US have close economic/military relationships with Israel-bashing Arab countries? It does. Although they are not the best possible alliances (not ideological similarity), they are convenient. So theory holds out in practice, doesn't it? ;)
There was a time in the 70s when Arab governments did the whole embargo thing, but they quickly realized that its not in their best interest. And the US-Israel relationship has only improved, hasn't it? I don't think back then there was a deep military relationship between the countries.
As for the push in the right direction - I think there are some limits to what you can practically do in this relationship as in any. You don't want to risk the favorable strategic terms of the status quo in any way and you want some changes. It gets tougher when your job as a politician is to win votes. Maybe this special relationship is the barrier to solution and not an endless limbo. This is a question too deep of foreign policy, too many books on the subject. I like those from Fareed Zakaria, because he deals in much more broader terms than local issues.
Remember that with constant escalation coming from the Balkans, the world entered World War I. Just the same, is the question of who is right and wrong and what is doing locally that important in the much larger , global scope? And then again, what credibility does a 'global concert' have if it cannot resolve a given issue for 60 years?
What is the right direction? Please elaborate.
There is nothing Israel/US/UN/Europe/etc. can do to make the Palestinians create a decent government. Only the Palestinians can do that.
Keeping aside the possibility that you are a troll, it simply makes no sense to bring up issues related to the Palestinian / Israeli conflict. This is not a thread about it, and I have no time to go into detail about historical grievances of either party in the conflict.
It is easy and pat to make simple, childish judgments based on one's race, religion or prejudices. If you want to stick to that level, it is your loss. The idea that the conflict is one side of monsters and one side of tragic heroes is comedic, regardless of which 'side' one chooses.
Uhhmmm no, the original post to which I was replying illustrates why. You did read it, right?
> The idea that the conflict is one side of monsters and one side of tragic heroes is comedic, regardless of which 'side' one chooses.
Thanks for the moral relativism drivel. When you find the time to "go into detail about historical grievances of either party in the conflict" instead of wasting time writing gibberish, feel free to reply.
Nobody else is reading this thread anymore. It'll just be the two of us.
His question was, what are we getting out of it that would cost us more if we didn't do it ourselves.
In contrast the surrounding allies always warn that the relationship or balance of power may change if the current government goes out of power. The state department may lose some hours of sleep when there is a change in power in Egypt or in Yemen, but does it have to when the same happens in Israel?
Look at how much tension there is between Obama and Bibi. Bibi point-blank says he couldn't give a damn less what Obama's ideas are for peace, there will be no halt of construction in occupied lands and there will be no negotiation for Jerusalem.
That's quite a stretch from what his predecessors once said.
As a non-religious American, I quite honestly don't understand why so many non-religious Americans try to paint this partnership in grandiose, apocalyptic religious way (heh, ironically just like many religious people). Just as the arab-israeli conflict is not inherently a religious conflict, the US partnership with israel is not a "religious" bond - it's a political partnership like all others.
Maybe all the 'non-religous' need to effectively lobby their congresscritters?
Regarding American-Israeli relations: "During Lyndon B. Johnson's presidency, U.S. policy shifted to a whole-hearted, but not unquestioning, support for Israel. Prior to the Six-Day War of 1967, U.S. administrations had taken considerable care to avoid giving the appearance of favoritism."
Regarding Russia, at the very beginning they were pro-zionists, wanting to undermine the British influence in the Middle East. But quickly the USSR became a menace, whether threatening directly or by proxies
I'm not a First Amendment lawyer, but this strikes me as unconstitutional. I'm sure there are other lawyers on here with a better recollection of Con Law I. Thoughts?
I suspect the reason it hasn't been challenged is that Google doesn't want the fight and others would have standing issues.
Just for the record, the First Amendment covers more than simply political speech. See long line of cases distinguishing pornography from obscenity.
Characterizing satellite photography as protected political speech sounds like a stretch to me. I'd be surprised if it passed judicial muster. If it's political speech, what's the political position? That Israel or the Palestinians are bad? That their borders as drawn are right or wrong?
The point is, speech is presumed protected. By what virtue would high resolution pictures of Israel not be protected free speech? It's not libelous, obscene, seditious, or any other exception I can think of.
A company pays to have a satellite built and then put into orbit, and then sells licenses of the images the satellite takes.
That is commerce, not political speech.
If you started a non-profit that built and placed into orbit satellites, and then freely distributed those images, I would agree with your argument.
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Entebbe for why this is important.
I'm not sure where you see this. There were French and American Jews who were among the hostages. In fact, the Israeli forces accidentally killed a French Jew.
> there's even a good chance I would not be officially recognized as Jewish.
If one of your grandparents is Jewish, by Israeli law, you are entitled to citizenship as a Jew.
My mother converted to Judaism before I was born. I do not know if the Israeli courts would recognize that conversion. My case is weaker than some of the people profiled in this NY Times piece: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/02/magazine/02jewishness-t.ht...
Also, if your mother converted to Judaism before you were born, you're 100% Jewish. The only potential sticking point would be if she was converted under Orthodox law. I am not familiar with the Rabbinate's position on that, but 99% of the Jewish world recognizes you as a Jew. Your case is quite strong as a matter of fact.
Google is a private company.
> I quite honestly don't understand why we have such a relationship with Israel as it yields us zero benefit and many losses.
If you don't understand something, a good bet is that your premises are wrong.
But an ally asked for something that's rather trivial (for us)... I don't see why we shouldn't comply.
Because it violates US citizens' first amendment rights?
So not having high-res satellite imagery of sites in Israel is an affront to your rights, but these aren't?
But another bet is that "that something" doesn't actually make sense.
> America does benefit from a healthy relationship
> with Israel and, more importantly, from Israel's
Edit: I am really curious. I don't know much about this topic.
As I outlined above and which you are purposely and blatantly ignoring, our relationship is more than economic.
Ireland doesn't face an existential threat from anti-Western regimes, nor does it have the same military relationship that we do with Israel. The situations could not be more different.
One problem is that it's difficult to consider the question of Israel being a "democracy" while setting aside "all religion". (Short version: there are a lot of people in occupied territories that don't have a vote.)
Another is that there is a very good question of just how much can you let a country get away with just because they are or claim to be a democracy? That amount is surely limited (right?), but the question is, how much?
By your logic, the United States is not a democracy because illegal aliens cannot vote in US elections.
Yes they do. In their own government(s). What are you talking about?
Edit: Oh gosh... downvoted? I feel as though I am on reddit.
Edit 2: They voted for Fatah and Hamas. They do get to vote - in their own elections. (Though not for a few years because Hamas and Fatah have postponed elections multiple times)
What happened to Turkey?
 quick googling turned for example http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/04/01/full-comment-...
 due to time constraints I can't find recitations now, so take it at face value. Sorry.
EDIT: eh, life just gave a brilliant new example: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/michaelweiss/100092061/bre...
According to that Israel is a 'Flawed democracy' and Lebanon is a 'Hybrid regime'. I cannot say I'm familiar with the political system in Lebanon, but I do know they've been having some major issues with their government lately. IIRC they haven't had a functioning executive branch since they agreed to comply with the UN investigation into the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Hezbollah (effectively the military of Lebanon and a very strong political power) is extremely unhappy with this because the allegation is that they assassinated him.
I don't think it's an obvious fact which is why 7 minutes before you wrote this, I responded to a similar question.
Edit: Here it is
That's at the same zoom level and the Boston image is clear. Sure, you can make things out in the Tel Aviv map, but it's very blurry. The Boston map has a crispness to it. Plus, the Boston map can be zoomed in another level. The Tel Aviv map tells you "we are sorry, but we don't have imagery at this zoom level for this region."
In all seriousness though, on the Android I can't get a detailed view of Israel from any app the charts my movement (like biking or running tracking apps). It annoys me greatly. Not to mention our really secret places are not military bases.
What I'd like to understand (but cannot check - I'm clueless, just curious) is if the image quality degrades more the 'hotter' the area is.
I use google maps (map view, not satellite) multiple times a week. I use the walking directions, and find the
directions and the estimated time to be highly accurate.
It would be a nice perk for satellite imagery, but that doesn't really hurt my usage of google maps in israel. It would be really nice too for google street view, but I'm not crying.
Why don't we let israel manage it's satellite imagery how it wants. For a country constantly at war over since the writing of its declaration of independence, it seems only prudent to hinder the spread of even mediocre quality intelligence gathering tools.