American military aid to Israel – leave it be – Opinion
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Peter Beinart, a professor at the City University of New York and senior columnist at The Forward, penned an anti-Israel screed this week published online calling for America to end its “blank-check military aid to Israel.”
The author, as is his wont, used 10 pages of single-spaced type to decry all of the wrongs he sees with the government of Israel, including how it treats the Palestinians; how it avoids dealing honestly with the option of a two-state solution; and how it never “pays the price” for America’s largesse. He then concludes by recommending that military aid to Israel should be stopped until all of these “wrongs” are addressed.
While the article is seemingly about its title subject, 90% of it deals with his personal frustrations about the political situation in Israel and virtually glosses over the value that America realizes from its current military aid package to Israel. Permit me to set the record straight, yet again.
For those who do not know, the aid package – concluded during the last year of the Obama administration and later ratified by Congress – provides Israel $3.8b. annually for 10 years to purchase advanced military equipment needed to keep Israel safe, given that it lives in a very dangerous neighborhood.
In previous years, when the allocation was $3b. a year, a quarter of those funds could be used to buy material from Israeli companies. So, there is certainly truth to the position that this assisted Israel in building its own military industrial sector. No doubt about that – and it is a reason that Israel is among the 10 largest arms exporters in the world.
For the record, the Israeli arms industry operates in close cooperation with its bigger sister in the US. The military aid the US gives to Israel ensures this cooperation, and every conflict in the Middle East contributes more to the profits of US arms giants (such as Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon) than to the Israeli arms companies.
However, the new agreement posits that by 2024, 100% of such purchases must be from US manufacturers. The effect of providing this aid and mandating that it be spent in the US is actually a job creator in America, a fact that is not mentioned by recent critics of this aid, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She, too, has said that the aid is “something that can be discussed” – and she does not mean that in a positive way, to be sure.
Looking at the situation from a neutral position, the aid package has two specific results. It allows Israel to maintain its position of being the strongest military force in the Middle East with the most sophisticated weaponry, while creating a significant amount of business volume for America’s arms suppliers.
We Jews have learned that our long-term survival is as dependent on maintaining our covenant of faith as it is in having the ability to protect ourselves in our own land. Israel’s ability to create a framework with a trusted ally that enables us to accomplish this goal while simultaneously bringing economic benefit to that ally is something that should be celebrated, not criticized.
The writer is a 35-year resident of Jerusalem, president of the business development consultancy Atid EDI Ltd. and a former national president of the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel.
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