March 2, 2010
From birth, Israel
was a regional menace until America became its benefactor in the late
1960s. Now it’s a global one, powerful with a large standing army and
the latest weapons and technology, nuclear armed and ready to use them.
It’s belligerent on the slightest pretext or none at all, and a threat
to world peace and security because US administrations since Lyndon
Johnson supported a nation of 5.6 million Jews in an area the size of
New Jersey, partnering in its worst crimes and abuses.
It’s due largely to the Israeli Lobby’s influence, or as John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt wrote in their book, The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy,
America’s Middle East policy is driven "almost entirely (by) US
domestic politics, and especially (because of) the (Lobby’s)
activities…. This situation has no equal in American political history."
In his book, The Power of Israel in the United States,
James Petras documented its enormous influence, explaining its roots
throughout government, the business community, the dominant media,
academia, the clergy, and powerful wealthy Jewish families. Broad
support comes from thousands of dedicated activists, including doctors,
lawyers, accountants, other professionals, philanthropists, and
journalists given special prominence and benefits for their unwavering
pro-Israeli reporting, suppressing decades of its militarism,
belligerence, and illegal occupation while vilifying Israel’s enemies.
As a result, Israel receives
enormous benefits, including billions in annual aid, the latest weapons
and technology, unrestricted US market access, and free entry of its
immigrants. Its imperial wars, illegal occupation, and crimes of war
and against humanity are supported. Harmful Security Council
resolutions are vetoed and General Assembly ones ignored. As a result,
it operates freely, including spying in America by covertly penetrating
US military bases, the FBI, CIA, IRS, DHS and many other government
agencies, remaining unaccountable for its actions.
Israel is unique as America’s
largest aid recipient, on the most favorable terms, and virtually
anything more requested, given openly or covertly, in violation of the
1961 US Foreign Assistance Act (as amended), stipulating that no aid be
provided to governments that engage:
in a consistent
pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights,
including torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or
punishment, prolonged detention without charges, causing the
disappearance of persons by the abduction and clandestine detention of
those persons, or other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty,
and the security of person, unless such assistance will directly
benefit the needy people in such country.
In 2004, the amended Act let the
president provide aid to treat orphans, other vulnerable children,
those with HIV/AIDS, and to set up schools and other supportive
US Aid to Israel
In November 2008, Shirl McArthur
of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (WRMEA) used
Congressional Research Report (CRS) data for a "Conservative Estimate
of Total Direct US Aid to Israel" since 1949, saying it’s almost $114
billion, but explaining that determining the exact figure is impossible
since parts are buried in various agency budgets, mostly the Defense
Department’s (DOD) or in forms not easily quantifiable.
"It must be emphasized that this
analysis is a conservative, defensible accounting of US direct aid to
Israel, NOT of Israel’s cost to the US or the American taxpayer, not of
the benefits to Israel of US aid. The distinction is important, because
the indirect or consequential costs suffered by the US as a result of
its blind support for Israel exceed by many times the substantial
amount of direct aid" provided.
Besides Afghanistan and other
Middle East conflicts, excluded from McArthur’s data, is the mounting
Iraq invasion and occupation cost, estimated by Joseph Stiglitz and
Linda Bilmes to be $3 trillion in their book titled, The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict.
They include an extra $2
trillion national debt, ad infinitum interest on it, veterans’
healthcare and disability payments, the economic impact of lives lost
and jobs interrupted, the higher cost of oil, the long-term economic
impact, and numerous intangibles such as global anti-American
sentiment, the near universal Arab world view that Washington attacked
Iraq for Israel, and the US’s reduced capability to respond to other
global crises and address vital homeland needs.
In his June 2003 WRMEA article
titled, "The Cost to American Taxpayers of the Israeli-Palestinian
Conflict," Thomas Stauffer conservatively estimated it at around $3
trillion measured in 2002 dollars, nearly four times the amount for the
Vietnam war, also in 2002 dollars.
Stauffer said US Israeli aid is way-understated:
"since much is outside of the
foreign aid appropriation process or implicit in other programs. It
comes to $1.8 trillion, including special trade advantages,
preferential contracts, or aid buried in other accounts. In addition to
the financial outlay," about 275,000 US jobs are lost annually.
His estimates include:
- multi-fold oil price increases;
- the effect on US jobs and exports;
- economic and military aid,
- special benefits to Israel, including privileged contracts for
Israeli firms, legal and illegal weapons and technology transfers,
exemption from US trade protection provisions, discounted "surplus"
military equipment sales, low or no-interest loans, and other
undisclosed costly benefits, exclusively for Israel.
He concluded that Israeli
assistance and Middle East unrest "ha(ve) proven to be very expensive
for the US," much higher than revealed figures. Their total costs "are
some six times the official aid" with all related factors included such
as the price of oil and burden on other regional states. "All states —
not just the US — have borne the burden of conflicts in the Middle
Known US aid includes:
- annual $3 billion direct appropriations;
- undisclosed additional amounts;
- millions annually to resettle immigrants;
- disclosed and unknown billions in loan guarantees;
- since 1981, economic aid in direct cash transfers, and since 1985 military aid the same way;
- Israeli military loans as grants, repayment not required; Israel
wants them called loans to avoid US monitoring; according to the
Congressional Budget Office (CBO), "Technically, the assistance is
called loans, but as a practical matter, the military aid is (given as)
- economic aid is the same, Israel spending it as it pleases with no required accountability;
- since 1982, Economic Support Fund (ESF) cash transfers come in lump
sum form at the beginning of each fiscal year, no strings attached — a
benefit afforded no other country, made even greater by investing it in
- special Foreign Military Sales (FMS) funding is also afforded to
purchase American weapons and technology; other countries buy them
through the Defense Department (DOD); Israel deals directly with US
companies; other countries must comply with minimum purchase amounts;
Israel has no such restriction; other countries let DOD disburse funds
to suppliers; Israel pays them directly and is reimbursed by the US
Treasury; under this arrangement, Israeli officials have committed
serious offenses, including embezzlement and improper access to highly
classified information on US weapons and technology;
- US weapons suppliers provide offsets by purchasing Israeli products and services;
- Israel may use over 26% of its aid to buy weapons, munitions and
other equipment from its own companies; no other nation has this
benefit; as a result, its arms industry is one of the world’s largest
and most sophisticated; in 2007, it was the 8th largest supplier to
- aid finances Israel’s defense industry;
- state-of-the-art weapons and technology are provided; and
- America guarantees Israel’s access to oil and finances its settlements — illegal under international law.
In April 1998, Washington
designed Israel a "major non-NATO ally," qualifying it to receive
Excess Defense Articles (EDA) under Section 516 of the Foreign
Assistance Act and Section 23(a) of the Arms Export Control Act. As a
strategic US ally, it gets unmatched preferential treatment.
In FY 2009, the If Americans
Knew web site said America gave Israel $7 million or more daily.
Palestinians got nothing, except to police their own people, strengthen
Fatah against Hamas and other competing parties, some economic aid
benefitting Israel and the West, and spotty amounts through USAID and
to UNRWA and US-based NGOs for projects called "humanitarian."
In their above-mentioned book, Mearsheimer and Walt said:
Since the October
(1973) War, Washington has provided Israel with a level of support
dwarfing the amounts (given) any other state. It has been the largest
annual recipient of direct US economic and military assistance since
1976 and the largest total recipient since World War II. Total direct
US aid to Israel amounts to well over $140 billion in 2003 dollars…. In
per capita terms, the United States gives each Israeli a direct subsidy
worth about $500 per year.
Over the last 20 years,
Washington focused mainly on military aid, increasing it by $150
million annually since FY 2007, plus additional amounts for Israeli
incursions, planned jointly with Washington.
Before 1998, Israel annually
received military grants of $1.8 billion and economic ones totaling
$1.2 billion. Beginning in FY 2009, by mutual agreement, economic aid
is being reduced by $120 million and military grants increased by $60
million annually over 10 years. In August 2007, a memorandum of
understanding afforded Israel $30 billion in aid for 10 years, plus
later discovered undisclosed amounts, totaling billions.
Budgeted amounts go mostly for
specific projects, such as Israel’s Merkava tank, its Arrow
anti-missile missile, other anti-missile systems, and the cancelled
Lavi attack fighter. Grants also go to US-Israeli scientific and
business cooperation organizations, the two largest being the BIRD
(Binational Research & Development) Foundation and the BARD
(Binational Agriculture and Research and Development) Fund.
Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report on US Foreign Aid to Israel — December 4, 2009
Its latest report affirms Israel
as "the largest cumulative recipient of US foreign assistance since
World War II," saying it gets nearly $3 billion annually, mainly as
In August 2007, the Bush
administration incrementally increased it by $6 billion over the next
decade. For FY 2010, the Obama administration requested $2.775 billion
in Foreign Military Financing (FMF). Congress provided $555 million of
Israel’s total FY 2010 FMF in PL (Public Law) 111-32, in the FY 2009
Supplemental Appropriations Act. HR 3081 and S 1434 contain the
On July 9, 2009, HR 3160 was
introduced, the Israeli Foreign Assistance Appropriations Act, 2010.
The bill was referred to committee and awaits further action.
Recent possible military sales include:
- on September 29, 2008, the F-35
Joint Strike Fighter with associated equipment and training, a deal, if
consummated, worth up to $15.2 billion; Israel wants up to 75 depending
on the cost; negotiations continue, but reported disagreement was
reported over its right to customize aircraft to its needs and the
final per plane cost, from $100 – $200 million depending on the degree
- on September 9, 2008, Patriot Missile Fire Unit upgrades, 1,000
GBU-39 small diameter guided bombs, and 28,000 M72A7 light anti-armor
weapons, in total worth about $330 million; Israel already has
US-supplied Hawk and Patriot missiles as well as its own defense
systems; since 1988, both countries have been developing the Arrow
Anti-Missile system, a weapon with theater ballistic missile
capability; Arrow became operational in 2000; Arrow II is designed to
deter longer-range conventional ballistic missiles, and other systems
are under development, including Arrow III;
- on July 30, 2008, nine C-130 J-30 aircraft with associated equipment and training, worth up to $1.9; billion; and
- on July 15, 2008, four Littoral combat ships, worth up to $1.9
billion, and JP-8 aviation jet fuel worth up to $1.3 billion; in 2009,
Israel declined to purchase these ships over cost concerns.
American Israeli aid began in
1949 with a $100 million Export-Import Bank loan and continued modestly
for the next two decades. In 1962, Israel bought its first advanced
weapons system, Hawk anti-aircraft missiles. In 1968, a year after the
Six Day War, the Johnson administration assured Israel’s regional
military superiority. Since 1970, large-scale aid followed. In 1971, it
was $545 million, and by 1974 Israel became America’s largest aid
recipient, two-thirds for military purposes.
After the 1979 Camp David
Accords and Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty, Washington gave both sides $7.5
billion under the 1979 Special International Security Assistance Act,
allocated 3-2 favoring Israel. Thereafter, regular and emergency
economic and military aid followed. Today, Israeli allocations far
exceed amounts given Egypt or any other nation.
In 1985, Congress appropriated
special economic assistance of $1.5 billion under terms of a US-Israel
Joint Economic Development Group (JEDG), calling for neoliberal reforms
and empowering Israel’s Finance Ministry and national Bank.
Washington and Tel Aviv colluded for two goals:
– balancing Israel’s budget; and
– cutting wages, prices, credit,
public benefits, pensions, and the currency’s value as well as curbing
union power and establishing an exploitable temporary worker market.
It began Israel’s race to the
bottom by mass privatizations, welfare and social benefit cuts, and
wealth shifted to the top as in America, the result being growing
Jewish poverty, hunger and homelessness to the present.
In 1985, all US military aid
became grants, what began for economic aid in 1981. Thereafter,
generous supplemental aid followed, including after the Gulf and 2003
Iraq wars. The FY 2003 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act
included $9 billion in loan guarantees over three years and $1 billion
in military grants. Other amounts came earlier. They’ve continued ever
since, some open, others covert, affording Israel exclusive
The "special relationship"
remains fixed under Obama, what he affirmed at the June 2008 AIPAC
meeting that he’s "a true friend of Israel," felt he was "among
friends," stressed that "the bond between the United States and Israel
is unbreakable today, tomorrow and forever," and, in fact, "as
president, I will work with you to ensure that this bond is
strengthened." He hasn’t disappointed.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site
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