In 2011, the United States will supply Israel with approximately 3 billion dollars in military aid. The practice of giving foreign aid to Israel is nothing new for America; it gives Israel more or less the same amount of money each year. In 2005, Israel topped the list of 16 countries who receive American foreign aid, with 2.58 billion dollars. Since the inception of Israel’s close diplomatic relationship with the U.S. , Israel has received over $100 billion in American aid. Of course, it’s natural to assume that Israel benefits from these billions of relatively free dollars year after year. After all, doesn’t it make sense that having more money is superior to having less of it? That sounds logical enough, but the reality is not so simple.
American foreign aid actually harms Israel in just about every way possible, and it is imperative that anyone who cares about Israel’s sovereignty and well-being soon begins to recognize this.
One important detail that Zionist supporters of foreign aid to Israel tend to ignore is the increased role in any given Israeli policy that the United States can play, if they so please, as long as they keep doling out the cash. Simply put, the more money a country gives to Israel, the more influence that country may seize in whatever Israel wants to do. Our current foreign aid system only serves to weaken Israel’s sovereignty – it severely handicaps the Israelis in anything that may be in their best interest… if America deems it to be otherwise.
This isn’t just some theoretical situation where the U.S. could potentially prevent Israel from a course of action which Israel feels is in its best interest. It has happened before and it continues to happen today. Perhaps the most prominent example in recent history is when former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice forced the Israelis to postpone the bombing of a possible nuclear facility in Syria. Israel clearly saw quick action as being imperative to their national security. However, Rice feared that the bombing would destabilize the region, and she “persuaded” the Israelis to delay their operation. Say what you will about this event, it can’t be denied that it constituted a serious drawback to Israel’s safety, or at least how Israel views its safety. Foreign aid traps Israel into a situation where it must seek American approval before undertaking any serious action.
Several prominent thinkers and economists within Israel itself have echoed the view that American foreign aid does far more harm than good to Israel’s sovereignty. Individuals including Israeli economists Ran Dagoni, Yoel Bainerman, Alvin Rabushka, the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, as well as groups including the Jewish Task Force, the Zionist Freedom Alliance, and the Manhigut Yehudit faction of the Likud Party have long advocated for an end to U.S. foreign aid to Israel. These groups insist that Israel must develop its own economic strength and move towards more free-market economic reforms as a means of boosting national prosperity and strength. Manhigut Yehudit member Shmuel Ben-Gad, also librarian at George Washington University, in 2007 wrote an editorial in Israel National News,
“The US puts pressure on Israel to surrender parts of the homeland. Even worse, this relationship seems to foster a mentality of dependence amongst many Israelis who, it seems, cannot imagine Israel defying the United States in any major way… Cutting the apron strings to the US would, I think, make Israel become more maturely self-confident, because it would be more self-reliant.”
Similarly, the late and infamous Rabbi Meir Kahane, leader of the right-wing Kach Party in Israel until his death, once stated that foreign aid “turns Israel into a junkie looking for her fix.” And even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu has stated that foreign aid may do more harm than good, and proposed efforts to wean Israel off of American military aid payments. In 1996, Bibi addressed Congress and received a standing ovation for his promise to reduce Israel’s reliance on American aid. Said Netanyahu, “I believe that we can now say that Israel has reached childhood’s end, that it has matured enough to begin approaching a state of self-reliance… We are going to achieve economic independence.”
It is thus clear that in addition to the detrimental effects on Israel’s sovereignty that comes under the guise of seemingly generous foreign aid, some of the most influential Israeli thinkers and economists – and even its current Prime Minister – see the current foreign aid package for what it truly is.
Since even from the most strictly pro-Israel point of view it is clear that Israel would benefit from kissing American foreign aid goodbye, how much more so should this benefit those who support both America and Israel? The costs that foreign aid packages pose to the American economy certainly have to be considered. Granted, in total they account for about 1% of the entire budget (around 30 billion dollars per year), but that’s a whole lot of money that could be used at home in America. Since foreign aid is funded by the American taxpayer, those tax dollars must rightfully be spent to help America first and its allies second – not vice versa.
From any point of view, be it pro-American, pro-Israel, or both, the only rational position on American foreign aid to Israel is that it has to end. In short, it creates an environment where Israel becomes dependent on American cash and thus allows America to undermine its sovereignty in order to keep the checks flowing. And from the American’s point of view, the money should be best spent helping revitalize the economy at home. Surely, those who consider themselves both pro-American and pro-Israel should be the biggest advocates of the complete end of this silly and failed practice.