Obama Offers $3.1 Billion in Military Aid to Israel
August 6, 2016
Glenn Greenwald / The Intercept & Ed Adamczyk / UPI & David Welna / National Public Radio & Nick Thompson / CNN
The US already transfers $3.1 billion in taxpayer money every year to Israel -- more than any other country by far -- but a new agreement that President Obama is set to sign "significantly raises" that amount -- and guarantees that it will continue for another 10 years. In response to this massive windfall, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is angry that he is not getting even more. For some time, Netanyahu has reportedly been "holding out for as much as $5 billion a year."
As Israel Prospers, Obama Set
To Give Billions More in Aid While Netanyahu Demands Even More
Glenn Greenwald / The Intercept
(July 31 2016) -- For all the chatter about animosity between US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Washington Post reports that "a senior Israeli official will arrive in Washington next week for a final round of negotiations involving the largest military aid package the United States has ever given any country and that will last more than a decade after President Obama leaves office."
The US already transfers $3.1 billion in taxpayer money every year to Israel -- more than any other country by far -- but the new agreement Obama is set to sign "significantly raises" that amount, and guarantees it for 10 years.
In response to this massive windfall, Netanyahu is angry that he is not getting even more. For some time, "Netanyahu was holding out for as much as $5 billion a year." Also, Israel has been opposed to efforts to direct more of that aid to US military contractors rather than Israeli ones (so this "aid" package is as much a transfer of US taxpayer money to weapons manufacturers in both countries as it is to Israel itself).
Moreover, "Israelis are also said to be displeased with a US position that whatever amount of money they agree on will be final and that Israel will not go to Congress requesting more money."
Usually, when someone hands you billions of dollars in aid, you're not in much of a position to demand more. But the rules for Israel when it comes to US policy, as is so often the case, are simply different.
Even as Israel has aggressively expanded settlements of the West Bank (often in a way designed to most humiliate the US) and slaughtered civilians in Gaza, US aid simply increases more and more.
What's particularly fascinating about all of this is that Netanyahu originally intended to wait until the "next administration" to finalize the deal -- because, assuming that would be Hillary Clinton, he believed (with good reason) he would get an even better deal -- but is now worried about an "unpredictable" Donald Trump, who has spouted standard pro-Israel rhetoric before AIPAC (and worse) but had previously espoused the need for "neutrality" on the Israel/Palestine question and has made "America First" the rhetorical centerpiece of his campaign.
All of this means that the US generally, and Democrats specifically, bear direct responsibility for the hideous brutality and oppression imposed by Israel on Palestinians through decades of occupation. That's because, as a 2012 Congressional Resources Service report documented:
"Almost all US aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance. US military aid has helped transform Israel's armed forces into one of the most technologically sophisticated militaries in the world. US military aid for Israel has been designed to maintain Israel's 'qualitative military edge' over neighboring militaries."
And, of course, Clinton herself vowed in a letter to Democratic Party billionaire funder Haim Saban and her speech to AIPAC to do everything possible to oppose a boycott of Israel in order to end the occupation.
What's perhaps most shocking of all is how little attention or debate any of this receives. Would Americans really be supportive of transferring billions of dollars every year to Israel, and then entering into a new agreement to significantly increase that amount and guaranteeing it -- placing it beyond debate -- for 10 more years? That seems doubtful.
To begin with, Israel enjoys universal health care coverage, while "33 million Americans, 10.4 percent of the US population," remain without health insurance. That disparity is captured in headlines such as this one:
As The Forward put it in 2012: "Israeli citizens appear to be getting better care [than Americans] for their lower expenditures." Fortunately for Israel, the people of that country enjoy a much higher life expectancy than the citizens of the country that transfers billions to them every year. According to the most recent CIA statistics, Israelis can expect to live 82.27 years -- 11th best in the world -- while Americans can expect only 79.68 years, which is 43rd in the world.
Israeli infants also fare much better than American infants. Israel has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world (3.55 deaths for every 1,000 births), while 5.87 American babies die for every 1,000 births.
Just last month, unemployment in Israel fell to the lowest level in decades (4.8 percent, which "is not only low historically but low by international standards, and by conventional economic definitions there's no unemployment at all in Israel"), while US workers, despite declining unemployment rates, continue to struggle when "the underemployed and the discouraged" are counted.
In sum, US politicians in both parties endlessly pay lip service to how much Americans are struggling while the Obama administration prepares to transfer more and more billions of their money to Israel.
The US does so even as Israel pursues with more aggression than ever the very policies that the US claims to find so objectionable and destructive (just two days ago, the State Department said Israel "is systematically undermining the prospects for a two-state solution" by continuing to expand illegal settlements).
Just compare (a) the rhetoric Democrats love to spout about themselves to (b) their treatment of Palestinians to see how empty the former is. And just imagine what would happen if this policy of transferring even more billions of American taxpayer money to Israel were widely debated instead of ignored as Bipartisan Consensus.
$40 Billion Aid to Israel is
'Largest Ever' to Any Country
Ed Adamczyk / UPI
WASHINGTON (June 14, 2016) -- U. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said the proposed military aid package to Israel is larger than any the United States has ever offered to any country.
The 10-year aid program would give Israel up to $40 billion to upgrade its military aircraft and missile defense systems, and to defend against militants in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, and al-Qaida and Islamic State affiliates in Syria and Egypt.
As 10-Year Deal Nears End,
Israel Urges US To Provide More Arms Aid
David Welna / National Public Radio
(May 11, 2016) -- Israel is the top recipient, by a wide margin, of US foreign military aid. As the current 10-year aid package nears its end, US and Israeli officials are negotiating a new and likely even bigger aid deal.
Senators from both parties are prodding the White House to get a "robust" deal done; many have arms industries that will benefit. Critics call it a give away to a prosperous nation that drains spending on the home front.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Well over half the money that the US spends each year on foreign military aid goes to Israel. Under a 10-year agreement that runs out next year, that country has been receiving more than $3 billion annually.
Negotiations are underway for another decade-long deal, and Israel with strong backing from Congress is seeking even more US aid for buying weapons. Others question whether that's really needed as NPR's David Welna reports.
DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tangled publicly with the White House last year over the Iran nuclear agreement. But after that deal went through, he showed up at the Oval Office to talk about another deal, one that would keep billions of dollars flowing every year, so that Israel could, as Netanyahu put it, defend itself by itself.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Israel has shouldered a tremendous defense effort over the years, and we've done it with a generous assistance of the United States of America.
WELNA: Sitting alongside Netanyahu, President Obama said they would be discussing a renewal of US military aid to Israel.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
BARACK OBAMA: It will be expiring in a couple of years, but we want to get a head start on that to make sure that both the United States and Israel can plan effectively for our defense needs going forward.
WELNA: That encounter took place six months ago. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are growing impatient. Late last month, 83 of the US Senate's 100 members signed a letter to Obama…
CHRIS COONS: Simply urging the administration to move forward to the conclusion of negotiating with Israel a new 10-year memorandum of understanding.
WELNA: That's Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons, one of the letter's organizers. Coons says no specific sum of money is being sought, just a bigger commitment.
COONS: The letter urges serious consideration of an increase in the annual military support that the United States provides to Israel, but does not direct a specific number outcome.
WELNA: Israel is reportedly seeking up to $5 billion a year in aid. The $3.1 billion the US currently provides covers a fifth of Israel's defense budget. In return, Israel has to spend about three out of every four of those dollars on American-made weapons. Sen. Richard Blumenthal is a Democrat from Connecticut, home to some large defense contractors.
RICHARD BLUMENTHAL: The increased military aid to Israel may well mean more investment in the military components, parts, products, weapons systems that are produced in Connecticut.
WELNA: By law, the US has to help Israel maintain what's called a qualitative military edge. Paul Pillar is a former senior CIA officer for the Middle East. He says Israel already is far ahead of its potential adversaries.
PAUL PILLAR: Any combat between the Israelis and any really combination of foes would still be one in which the qualitative edge by Israel would be so substantial, it would be an easy Israeli victory.
WELNA: And Pillar, who's also a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Center for Security Studies, doubts more US military aid to Israel is indispensable.
PILLAR: Israel is a wealthy country that could easily pick up the tab even if Uncle Sam was not.
WELNA: According to the World Bank, Israel's economic output per capita is now higher than Japan's. Todd Harrison directs defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He says funding for Israel comes from the same budget-capped pot of money that domestic spending comes from.
TODD HARRISON: So every additional dollar provided to Israeli for a military financing program is a dollar less that could be spent on domestic priorities in the US budget.
WELNA: For Sen. Coons, the help for Israel is justified.
COONS: It is different from our military assistance to all other countries, but I also think our partnership, our alliance with Israel is particularly strong, particularly important.
WELNA: To the point that there's wide agreement that the question now is not whether that aid will continue, but by how much it increases. David Welna, NPR News, Washington.
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Seventy-five Percent of US Foreign Military Financing Goes to Two Countries
Nick Thompson / CNN
(November 11, 2015) -- American taxpayers doled out $5.9 billion in foreign military financing in 2014, according to the government's Foreign Assistance report -- that's roughly the GDP of Somalia. But where did the money go?
To the usual suspects, mostly -- Israel ($3.1 billion) and Egypt ($1.3 billion) received roughly 75% of all foreign military aid money handed out by the US last year. This map from the cost-information website howmuch.net shows the relative size of countries based on how much US military aid they receive.
The top five recipients of foreign military financing in 2014, according to the report:
1. Israel: $3.1 billion
2. Egypt: $1.3 billion
3. Iraq: $300 million
3. Jordan: $300 million
5. Pakistan: $280 million
What also stands out from the report is the regional distribution -- the Middle East (64%) and Africa (23%) account for 86% of all US foreign military financing last year.
US spent $35 billion on foreign economic aid last year
The $5.9 billion for military funding represents 17% of the roughly $35 billion the US spent on foreign aid in 2014, according to the report.
This map from howmuch.net shows the relative size of countries based on how much total economic aid they received from the US last year:
Again, the Middle East dominates the top five, thanks mostly to Israel. Here's the total amount of aid the top countries received:
1. Israel: $3.1 billion
2. Egypt: $1.5 billion
3. Afghanistan: $1.1 billion
4. Jordan: $1 billion
5. Pakistan: $933 million
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