Should Israel Continue to Receive Aid from the United States?
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), in the “Support Security Assistance for Israel” section of its website (accessed May 20, 2015), wrote:
“U.S. security assistance to Israel in the annual foreign aid bill is the most tangible manifestation of American support, especially during a time of tremendous turmoil in the Middle East. American aid is a vital component of U.S. commitments to ensure that the Jewish state maintains its qualitative military edge over its adversaries.”May 20, 2015 - American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)
Howard L. Berman, LLB, Representative (D-CA) and ranking minority Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee at the time of the quote, in an Oct. 19, 2011 letter to the editor of the Washington Post titled, “This Is No Time to Consider Cutting Aid to Israel,” wrote:
“Our support for Israel is both moral and strategic. Assistance to Israel demonstrates to its enemies that the U.S. commitment to the Jewish state is unwavering; cutting that assistance would send the opposite message… A strong and secure Israel serves U.S. national security interests in the Middle East. U.S. aid to Israel has helped deter major conflict in the region — conflict that would be very costly for us in many ways — by making it clear to potential enemies that they cannot defeat Israel.
Our assistance also gives Israel the confidence it needs to take risks for peace, as it has done repeatedly over the years. This confidence is reflected in the Israeli government’s unconditional commitment to negotiate if and when the Palestinians return to the table.
Finally, we benefit from close defense cooperation. Israel’s use of U.S. defense materials on the battlefield helps our military improve its equipment. Our soldiers also benefit from Israeli technological advances, including life-saving armor used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The aid we provide to Israel to help ensure its existence, to combat our enemies and to promote American interests is only about one-tenth of 1 percent of the federal budget. In my opinion, this is money well spent.”Oct. 19, 2011 - Howard L. Berman, LLB
Andrew J. Shapiro, JD, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs at the time of the quote, in a Nov. 4, 2011 speech at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy titled “Ensuring Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge,” a transcript of which is available at the Department of State website, stated:
“We don’t just support Israel because of a long standing bond, we support Israel because it is in our national interests to do so…
Our support for Israel’s security helps preserve peace and stability in the region. If Israel were weaker, its enemies would be bolder… It is the very strength of Israel’s military which deters potential aggressors and helps foster peace and stability. Ensuring Israel’s military strength and its superiority in the region, is therefore critical to regional stability and as a result is fundamentally a core interest of the United States…
The United States also experiences a number of tangible benefits from our close partnership with Israel. For instance, joint exercises allow us to learn from Israel’s experience in urban warfare and counterterrorism. Israeli technology is proving critical to improving our Homeland Security and protecting our troops… The links between our two governments and U.S. and Israeli defense companies have yielded important groundbreaking innovations that ultimately make us all safer… Additionally, if we are considering the economic impact, it is important to note that our security assistance to Israel also helps support American jobs, since the vast majority of security assistance to Israel is spent on American-made goods and services.
In sum, while our commitment to Israel’s security is rooted in our shared values and outlook, we don’t provide assistance out of charity. We provide assistance because it benefits our security.”Nov. 4, 2011 - Andrew J. Shapiro, JD
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC), the Washington D.C. office of the Union for Reform Judaism, in an Apr. 15, 2011 advocacy letter to Congress opposing cuts to foreign aid to Israel, available from the RAC website, wrote:
“It is essential that foreign aid to Israel, America’s strongest ally in the Middle East, continue as part of a strong far-reaching foreign aid package that allows nations to address poverty, global warming, democracy building, human rights and disease prevention…
This aid is essential to Israel, which spends a higher percentage of its gross domestic product on its own defense than any other industrialized country in the world. U.S. foreign aid reaffirms our commitment to a democratic ally in the Middle East and gives Israel the military edge to maintain its security and the economic stability to pursue peace. Furthermore, U.S. foreign aid to Israel represents a strong investment in the American economy; Israel spends over 75% of its aid in the United States supporting American jobs…
Aid to Israel, like foreign aid in general, is an investment in the future.”Apr. 15, 2011 - Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC)
Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the largest pro-Israel grassroots organization in the United States, in a Feb. 2011 ‘rapid response action alert’ letter to Senator Ron Paul which reportedly garnered over 20,000 signatures, available from www.cufi.org, wrote:
“[E]liminating aid to Israel would abandon a key ally in a dangerous region at a turbulent time. Such a cut would betray our highest principles, endanger our nation, and, in the long run, end up costing us far more…
Our military aid to Israel enables Israel to maintain its qualitative edge over its enemies. The minute that Israel’s enemies believe they can destroy Israel, they will do so. Then we will likely see this stable outpost of democracy turned into another anti-American terrorist base. If you look at how much we have spent in both American blood and treasure to try to build democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan, you will begin to understand the bargain that is our aid to Israel.
The fact is this — if Israel didn’t exist we’d have to invest far more to create this front-line force in the battle against Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran.”Feb. 2011 - Christians United for Israel (CUFI)
Moshe Feiglin, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset at the time of the quote, in a May 20, 2013 interview with The New American by Alex Newman titled “Deputy Knesset Speaker Feiglin on Iran, Arab Spring, U.S. Aid, and More,” stated:
“To get any kind of aid from America when, economically, we are in a much, much better position doesn’t look moral to me. But it’s much more than that. This aid is not in our favor, not economically, not militarily, not in any way. This aid serves psychological purposes, not anything else. We are talking about 1.5 percent of our income, of what Israel is producing — we can definitely deal without it.”May 20, 2013 - Moshe Feiglin
Benjamin H. Friedman, Research Fellow in Defense and Homeland Security Studies at the Cato Institute, in a Feb. 8, 2011 commentary for the Daily Caller titled “Rand Paul is Right About Israel,” available from www.cato.org, wrote:
“The problem with aiding Israel is not that we are being ideological. We can afford that. The problem is that Israel no longer needs our charity. Israel’s backers in Washington talk like it is 1948, when Israel was poor and surrounded by aggressive neighbors. Even in 1970 Israel had almost ten times more GDP per capita than either Egypt or Syria, according to UN statistics. Today Israel has calmer borders, and its vibrant technology sector increases its military superiority over its rivals… Without our three billion dollars in aid, Israel’s military budget would still be more than three times that of Lebanon and Syria combined and more than Iran’s. And that ignores Israel’s qualitative military superiority and its nuclear weapons, which deter attack… it is time to stop treating Israel like a perpetual ward, issuing it subsidies and instructions it ignores. If Israel faced conquest, we would be right to defend it. But we should do our friends the favor of acknowledging that they have the ability to prevent that without our help.”Feb. 8, 2011 - Benjamin H. Friedman
Steven Strauss, PhD, Visiting Professor at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School and Adjunct Lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School, in his Nov. 10, 2013 op-ed for the Huffington Post, titled “Israel Has Reached Childhood’s End – It’s Time to End U.S. Aid to Israel,” wrote:
“For Israel’s sake, as well as for America’s, it’s time to reduce U.S. annual aid to Israel – to 0…
The U.S. should move to a more normalized relationship with Israel because:
A) Israel has become an affluent and developed country that can afford to pay for its own defense… replacing all American aid would cost Israelis about 1 percent of their income per year, hardly an outrageous sum… Also, as a general principle, people and institutions make better choices when they have to internalize costs. If the U.S. ends aid to Israel, Israelis may make better choices about their national defense and foreign policy.
B) Other countries/programs could better use this aid money… To the extent the U.S. is committed to helping other countries, there are many of the world’s nations in far more desperate situations than Israel… Even domestically, the aid that goes to Israel could be useful. Detroit is bankrupt, and our Congress is cutting back on food stamps, and making other painful budget cuts.
C) Israel and the United States have increasingly different visions about the future of the Middle East. We shouldn’t subsidize a country (even an ally) that is undermining our policy goals… the current Israeli government is clearly not committed to the U.S. vision, and has done everything possible to sabotage American efforts. Israel’s continued building of random settlements – all over what’s supposed to become the State of Palestine – directly conflicts with American policy goals… In exchange for $3 billion dollars/year in aid to Israel, the least the U.S. should expect is that the Israeli government be serious about negotiating peace with the Palestinians.”Nov. 10, 2013 - Steven Strauss, PhD
Naftali Bennett, leader of the Jewish Home, an Israeli political party, in a Jan. 8, 2013 interview with The Jewish Press by Yori Yanover titled “Naftali Bennett: Stop US Aid, Slash Israel’s Military Budget,” stated:
“Today, U.S. military aid is roughly 1 percent of Israel’s economy… I think, generally, we need to free ourselves from it. We have to do it responsibly, since I’m not aware of all the aspects of the budget, I don’t want to say ‘let’s just give it up,’ but our situation today is very different from what it was 20 and 30 years ago. Israel is much stronger, much wealthier, and we need to be independent.”Jan. 8, 2013 - Naftali Bennet
Todd May, PhD, Professor of Philosophy at Clemson University, in an Apr. 15, 2002 Media Monitors Network commentary titled “Why the U.S. Should End Aid to Israel,” wrote:
“Aid to Israel is against any conception of U.S. interests that one would want to hold, whether one is conservative or liberal. It subverts the conservatives’ attempts to build a far-reaching international campaign against terrorism. It subverts the liberals’ desire to direct U.S. policy toward upholding general human rights standards. By introducing tension with European and Arab countries, isolating the U.S. in the United Nations, and diminishing the perception (and reality) of the U.S. as an honest world broker, aid to Israel runs counter to U.S. goals and short- and long term interests.”Apr. 15, 2002 - Todd May, PhD
Ron Paul, MD, Representative (R-TX) and presidential candidate at the time of the quote, in an Aug. 2011 interview with Fox News, the transcript of which is available from Ron Paul’s website, states:
“I wouldn’t give foreign aid to Israel. I want Israel to have their own national sovereignty. I don’t want them to depend on us either for the money which socializes their economy… and I don’t want them to depend on us to tell them how to draw up their peace treaties or what to do with their borders. So yes, we should have friendship with them, we should trade with them, but total dependence on United States and on our money is a bad risk for them because we’re in bankruptcy. We’re not going to be there forever, we are going to come home and I think their dependency on us is very, very harmful to them.”Aug. 2011 - Ron Paul, MD