Israel is in the headlines, evoking a heated debate. However, one topic remains largely unmentionable, so let me carefully raise it: Is it time to think about ending US aid to Israel along the way?

This is not about bashing Israel. But does it really make sense that the United States delivers the whopping sum of $3.8 billion annually to another rich country?

I don’t think any change should happen suddenly or in a way that endangers Israeli security. The reason for rethinking US aid is not to seek leverage over Israel – although I think we should be tougher on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is extinguishing any hope of a two-state solution and is, in the words of former prime minister Ehud Barak, “determined to degrade Israel to a corrupt and racist dictatorship that will disintegrate society.”

Rather, the reason for having this conversation is that American aid to another rich country wastes scarce resources and creates an unhealthy relationship that is harmful to both sides.

Today, Israel has legitimate security concerns but is not in danger of being invaded by the armies of its neighbors, and it is richer per capita than Japan and some European countries. One sign of changed times: Almost a quarter of Israel’s arms exports last year went to Arab states.

The $3.8 billion in annual aid to Israel is more than 10 times what the United States sends to the much more populous nation of Nigerone of the poorest countries in the world and one under attack by jihadists. In countries like Niger, that amount could save hundreds of thousands of lives a year, or here in the US, it could help pay for desperately needed early childhood programs.

Aid to Israel is now almost exclusively military assistance, which can only be used to buy American weaponry. In fact, it’s not so much aid to Israel as it is a subsidy to American military contractors, which is one reason some Israelis are cool with it.

“Israel should give up American aid,” Yossi Beilin, a former Israeli justice minister, told me. He has argued that the money can be used more effectively elsewhere.

Daniel Kurtzer, former US ambassador to Israel, agreed.

“Israel’s economy is strong enough that it doesn’t need help; security aid distorts Israel’s economy and creates a false sense of dependency,” Kurtzer said in an email. “Aid provides the United States with no leverage or influence over Israeli decisions to use force; because we sit idly by while Israel continues policies we oppose, we are seen as ‘enablers’ of Israel’s occupation.”

“And U.S. aid provides a multibillion-dollar cushion that allows Israel to avoid tough choices about where to spend its own money and thus allows Israel to spend more money on policies we oppose, such as settlements.”

At some point when running for president in the last election, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren all suggested it conditioning aid to Israel Survey of American Jews found a majority supported assistance but also preferred some restrictions on aid so it could not be used to expand settlements.

It’s not just liberals. “Cut the chokehold on aid,” Jacob Siegel and Liel Leibovitz argued recently in Tablet magazine, saying that the aid benefited the US and its arms manufacturers while undercutting Israeli companies.

There is a legitimate counterargument that any reduction in aid could be perceived as a withdrawal of support for Israel in ways that could invite aggression from, say, Iran. That risk can be mitigated by treating the issue as a long-term discussion for the next bilateral memorandum of understanding on aid, by 2028 and likely to last 10 years, and by reaching other security agreements with Israel (such as Beilin and Kurtzer). to recommend).

Martin Indyk, who twice served as the US ambassador to Israel, also favored new security agreements and said it was time to have this discussion about ending aid.

“Israel can afford it, and it would be healthier for the relationship if Israel stood on its own two feet,” he told me.

The issue is politically sensitive, of course. Just a few years ago, more than 325 members of the House of Representatives signed a letter opposing any drop in aid to Israel.

“There is a serious conversation that should be had before this following memorandum of understanding on how to best use $40 billion in American tax dollars,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, advocacy. “However, instead of a serious discussion about national security, you are likely to get a toxic mix of partisan bickering and political pity.”

I think we can do better if we all approach this in a non-ideological, patient way by exploring what is best for both countries.

Aaron David Millerwho was for many years a State Department Middle East analyst and negotiator, argued for blocking aid to some military units that commit gross violations of human rights. He also told me, “Under the right conditions and in a galaxy far, far away, with US-Israeli relations on even if not better terms, there would be benefits for both to see military aid phased out over time.”

Thus we should think about how a conversation should move us. We would all benefit from finding the maturity to discuss the unmentionables.

By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *