The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) concluded its annual conference late last month, triggering the usual debate in various alternative media outlets. Why does so much U.S. taxpayer money go to a small and not particularly useful client state that has a vibrant European-level economy and is already a regional military colossus?
Those who support the cash flow argue that Israel is threatened, most notably by Iran; they claim the assistance, which has been largely but not completely used to buy American-made weapons, is required to maintain a qualitative edge over the country’s potential enemies. Those who oppose the aid would counter that the Iranian threat is largely an Israeli and Saudi Arabian invention, used to justify continued American support for the national-security policies of both countries. And they would add that Tel Aviv is more than able to defend itself and pay for its own military establishment.
In truth, American aid to Israel is something like a pot of gold that keeps on giving. Both sides in the discussion would probably agree that the domestic Israel Lobby has been instrumental in sustaining the high level of aid, though they would undoubtedly disagree over whether that is a good or bad thing. The operation of “The Lobby,” generally regarded as the most powerful voice on foreign policy in Washington, led Professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer to ask, “Why has the U.S. been willing to set aside its own security … in order to advance the interests of another state? [No] explanation can account for the remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the U.S. provides.” They observed that “Other special interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that U.S. interests and those of the other country—in this case, Israel—are essentially identical.”
Since the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948, it has been “the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II,” according to the Congressional Research Service. The United States has provided Israel with $233.7 billion in adjusted for inflation aid between 1948 through the end of 2012, reports Haaretz. Current discussions center on the Obama administration’s memo of understanding with Israel that promised it $38 billion in military assistance over the next 10 years, a considerable sum but nevertheless a total that is far less than what is actually received annually from the United States Treasury and from other American sources.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), speaking in the most recent legislative discussion over Israeli aid, stated that the $38 billion should be regarded as a floor, and that Congress should approve additional funds for Israeli defense as needed. It has, in fact, done so. At its most recent meeting, AIPAC announced the latest windfall from America, applauding “the U.S. House of Representatives for significantly bolstering its support of U.S.-Israel missile defense cooperation in the FY 2017 defense appropriations bill. The House appropriated $600.7 million for U.S.-Israel missile defense programs.” And there is a long history of such special funding for Israeli-connected projects. The Iron Dome missile-defense system was largely funded by the United States, to the tune of more than $1 billion. In the 1980s, the Israeli Lavi jet-fighter development program was funded by Washington, costing $2 billion to the U.S. taxpayer before it was terminated over technical and other problems, part of $5.45 billion in Pentagon funding of various Israeli weapons projects through 2002.
The admittedly unreliable former Congressman James Traficant once claimed that “Israel gets $15 billion per year from the American taxpayers.” Indeed, how Israel gets money from the United States is actually quite complex and not very transparent to the American public, going well beyond the check for $3.8 billion handed over at the beginning of the fiscal year on October 1. Even that check, uniquely given to aid recipient Israel as one lump sum on the first day of the year, is manipulated to produce extra revenue. It is normally immediately redeposited with the U.S. Treasury, which then, because it operates on a deficit, borrows the money to pay interest on it as the Israelis draw it down. That interest payment costs the American taxpayer an estimated $100 million more per year. Israel has also been adept at using “loan guarantees,” an issue that may have contributed to the downfall of President George H.W. Bush. The reality is that the loans, totaling $42 billion, are never repaid by Israel, meaning that the United States Treasury picks up the tab on principle and interest, a form of additional assistance. The Bush-era loan amounted to $10 billion.
Department of Defense co-production projects, preferential contracting, “scrapping” or “surplusing” of usable equipment that is then turned over to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), as well as the forward deployment of military hardware to an Israeli-run base in Israel (used to support local military operations), are considerable benefits to Tel Aviv’s bottom line. Much of this assistance is hidden from view.
In 1992, AIPAC President James Steiner bragged how he “got almost a billion dollars in other goodies [in negotiations with Secretary of State Jim Baker] that people don’t even know about.” In September 2012, Israel’s former commander-in-chief, Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, admitted at a conference that between 2009 and 2012 American taxpayers had paid for more of his country’s defense budget than had Israeli taxpayers. Those numbers have been disputed, but the fact remains that a considerable portion of the Israeli military spending comes from the United States. It currently is more than 20 percent of the total $16 billion budget, not counting special appropriations.
Through tax exemptions, the U.S. government also subsidizes the coordinated effort to provide additional assistance to Israel. No other lobbying effort to promote the interests of a foreign country benefits in like fashion, and, indeed, most similar groups are required to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, as former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn has learned to his chagrin regarding Turkey.
Most organizations and foundations that might reasonably be considered active parts of the Israel Lobby are generally registered with the Department of the Treasury as 501(c)3 tax-exempt educational foundations. Grant Smith, speaking at a conference on the U.S. and Israel on March 24, explained how the broader Israel Lobby uses this legal framework:
Key U.S. organizations include the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Hundreds more, including a small number of evangelical Christian organizations, play a role within a vast ecosystem that demands unconditional U.S. support for Israel. In the year 2012 the nonprofit wing of the Israel lobby raised $3.7 billion in revenue. They are on track to reach $6.3 billion by 2020. Collectively they employed 14,000 and claimed 350,000 volunteers.
The $3.7 billion raised in 2012 was largely tax exempt and it does not include the billions in private donations that go directly to Israel, as well as the billions in contributions that are regarded as covered by “religious exemptions” for groups that don’t file at all. There are also contributions sent straight to various Israeli-based foundations that are themselves often registered as charities. The Forward magazine investigated 3,600 Jewish tax-exempt charitable foundations in 2014 and determined that they had net assets of $26 billion, $12 – 14 billion in annual revenue, and “focuse[d] the largest share of [their] donor dollars on Israel.” That share amounted to 38 percent of total income. The Forward adds that it is “an apparatus that benefits massively from the U.S. federal government and many state and local governments, in the form of hundreds of millions of dollars in government grants, billions in tax-deductible donations and billions more in program fees paid for with government funds.”
Some pro-Israel foundations are in-your-face about their goals. The Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, which “Support[s] the wellbeing and education needs of Israel’s brave soldiers,” is a registered tax-exempt charity that conducts fundraisers throughout the United States. Money being fungible, some American Jews have been surprised to learn that the donations that they had presumed were going to what they regard as charitable causes in Israel have instead wound up in expanding the illegal settlements on the West Bank, an objective that they might not support. It was recently reported that Donald Trump’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner has a family foundation that has made donations to Israel, including funding of West Bank settlements, which is illegal under U.S. law.
Israel also benefits in other ways, frequently due to legislative action by Congress. It enjoys free and even preferential trade status with the United States and runs a $9 billion trade surplus per annum. Its companies and parastatal organizations can, without any restrictions, bid on U.S. defense and homeland-security projects—a privilege normally only granted to NATO partners—which has given it dominance in some U.S. law-enforcement, telecommunications, and travel-security sectors. Its involvement in the development and use of classified military technologies developed by U.S. arms producers has sometimes led to claims that Israel has adopted and adapted—or even stolen—proprietary information and then used it to develop its own arms industry, which is now ranked sixth in the world by volume of sales. Ironically, U.S. taxpayers have subsidized an Israeli industry that then competes directly with American companies, producing a loss of jobs in the United States.
There has also been considerable collateral damage derived from the relationship with Israel, including the Arab Oil embargo and possibly even some blame for the ruinous cost of Iraq, which many believe to have been fought in part for Israel. But even without that war, the U.S.-Israeli bilateral relationship has been an expensive proposition for Americans. Whether Israel is a strategic liability or not, or whether its complicated geostrategic situation merits virtually unquestioning support from the United States, the reality is that it has a lopsided relationship with Washington. This has long been and continues to be largely paid for by the United States taxpayer, who is not as well off as he once was.
The U.S.-Israel relationship is yet another instance where the perceived needs of an American “ally” take precedence over genuine national interests. Tens of billions of dollars need not necessarily be spent to placate a wealthy foreign country and its powerful domestic lobby. Indeed, other options to employ the money closer to home—in the form of schools, highways, and hospitals—may become increasingly attractive to American voters.
Originally published on 2017-04-15
About the author: Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.This article was originally published by American Conservative.
Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest.
Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!
Donate to Support Us
We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.
Albert Einstein’s 1948 letter to the New York Times
If we want to understand the real history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, we can turn to a trustworthy Jewish source: Albert Einstein. Einstein was a humanitarian and peace activist, in addition to being one of the greatest scientists of all time. What did this extremely intelligent, wonderfully wise and warmly humane Jew have to say about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians? In a landmark open letter to the New York Times in 1948, Einstein clearly and candidly explained why Israel’s militant Zionist leaders were not to be trusted and did not deserve money ...
Fifty years ago today, in 1967, nearly 100,000 Americans marched on Washington, DC, to protest the Vietnam War. In those days there was a mandatory draft in place, and the risk was very real that a young man just out of high school could quickly wind up 13,000 miles away, fighting an unseen enemy in jungles that didn’t need tanks or B-52 bombers to inflict fear. Worse yet was the possibility of going MIA or coming home in a body bag — just another expendable statistic in the great fight against communism. But even many of those who made it ...
General Ratko Mladic’s arrest and his extradition to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia satisfied the prerequisites for Serbia’s membership in the European Union. As expected, the western media have tagged the defendant as the “Butcher of Bosnia” and piled on as many charges against him as possible, thereby masking NATO’s role in Yugoslavia. But there can be no reconciliation without truth, which, as Slobodan Despot observes, is far more complex than the Manichean account given.
Ratko Mladić did not serve his country well by hiding from justice for all these years, but his late capture may allow a ...
The Balkans conflicts of the 1990s saw a massive revival and resurgence of US and Western media propaganda and infowar techniques. The “new” advocacy journalists recalled the “yellow journalism” of William Randolph Hearst, who helped induce the US to engage in the imperialistic or colonial war in Cuba in 1898, the Spanish-American War. This marked the emergence of the US as an expansionist global imperial and colonial power, like Britain, France, Spain, and Germany had been. Hearst was credited with manufacturing or “furnishing” the war in Cuba.
Frederic Remington, his correspondent in Cuba, reported that nothing was happening in Cuba, that ...
Eighteen years ago, my dying mother asked me to continue working on a book about her father, Jonas Noreika, a famous Lithuanian World War II hero who fought the Communists. Once an opera singer, my mother had passionately devoted herself to this mission and had even gotten a PhD in literature to improve her literary skills. As a journalist, I agreed. I had no idea I was embarking on a project that would lead to a personal crisis, Holocaust denial and an official cover-up by the Lithuanian government.
Growing up in Chicago’s Marquette Park neighborhood — the neighborhood that had the ...
We are witnessing a presidential election of epic farce. The Republican Party nominates the caricature of a tinpot dictator. The Democratic National Committee is a caricature too, of comic opera: exposed in collusion with a favored candidate it anoints a felon, shown to be such but unindicted.
We are witnessing the collapse of democratic presidential politics. It is a derelict process, complex, absurdly long, insanely expensive, tedious, inconsistent and now chaotic.
Professional football is a public extravaganza, its six-month season culminating in the tangible climax of the Superbowl. It is dwarfed in spectacle however by the same suspense and dramatic finale of ...
Chemical weapons are an invention of the western war machine. Introduced into trench warfare by the French in 1915, over 190,000 tons of chemical weapons were produced during World War 1. There were an estimated 1.3 million casualties caused by chemicals during the war, with 90,000 fatalities.
Often referred to as the “Chemists War,” World War I saw the rise of chemical weapons being used on the battlefield. It all began with the French Army, who used tear gas in the form of small grenades.
These small grenades didn’t hold much gas, and were largely undetected by German forces. The French issued ...
The worst mistake in U.S. history was the conversion after World War II of the U.S. government from a constitutional, limited-government republic to a national-security state. Nothing has done more to warp and distort the conscience, principles, and values of the American people, including those who serve in the U.S. military.A good example of how the national-security state has adversely affected the thinking of U.S. soldiers was reflected in an op-ed entitled “What We’re Fighting For” that appeared in the February 10, 2017, issue of the New York Times. Authored by an Iraq War veteran named Phil Klay, the article ...
The speech delivered Tuesday by Donald Trump to the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York was without precedent either for the UN or the American presidency.Speaking before a world body ostensibly created to spare humanity the “scourge of war” and founded on the principles elaborated at the Nuremberg trials of Nazi leaders, the American president openly embraced a policy of genocide, declaring that he was “ready, willing and able” to “totally destroy” North Korea and its 25 million people.The fact that nobody in the assembly moved for Trump’s arrest as a war criminal, or even ...
Professor David Ray Griffin is a tenacious person. He has written a number of carefully researched books that demonstrate the extraordinary shortcomings in the official account of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon and the subsequent anthrax attack. He has provided the mountains of evidence completely ignored by the US government’s account and the presstitute media.In his recently published latest book, Bush and Cheney: How They Ruined America and the World , Professor Griffin demonstrates how 9/11 was used by the Zionist Neoconservatives, the Cheney/Bush regime, and the military/security complex with the complicity of Congress and ...
In Arabic TV interview, Labour’s ex-London mayor blames Israel for IS attacks in Europe and mass expulsion of Jews from Arab world, again claims Hitler supported Zionism
Former London mayor Ken Livingstone on Wednesday called the creation of Israel “fundamentally wrong,” and “a great catastrophe.” The existence of the Jewish state in the Middle East, he said, could ultimately lead to nuclear war.
“The creation of the state of Israel was fundamentally wrong, because there had been a Palestinian community there for 2,000 years,” Livingstone told an Arabic language TV station based in London, in a clip posted and translated by the ...
This article was original published by GR in May 2003
“It is easy. All you have to do is tell the people they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.” - Hermann Goering
Genocide used to be a crime without a name. Although the most heinous of all crimes, the concept was not introduced into international language until after World War 2. Until then, military invasion and destruction of other peoples and cultures masqueraded under such slogans as progress and spreading civilisation.
I was shocked many years ago when I heard Noam Chomsky ...
Several years ago two very distinguished American scholars wrote a book, The Israel Lobby.
The book made a very understated case that the Israel Lobby has far more power over the US government and media than is good for America or Israel, as it silences constructive critics who are Israel’s friends. The two scholars were demonized by the Israel Lobby as advocating the return of the Holocaust.
The Israel Lobby presented itself as just a poor little weak thing unable to stand up to all the Nazis assailing Israel. Meanwhile the US Congress was unanimously passing outrageous resolutions handed to it by ...
The superhighway to disaster is already being paved.
From Donald Trump’s first days in office, news of the damage to America’s international stature has come hard and fast. As if guided by some malign design, the new president seemed to identify the key pillars that have supported U.S. global power for the past 70 years and set out to topple each of them in turn. By degrading NATO, alienating Asian allies, cancelling trade treaties, and slashing critical scientific research, the Trump White House is already in the process of demolishing the delicately balanced architecture that has sustained Washington’s world leadership since ...
Q: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs [“From the Shadows”], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, ...
Paul Craig Roberts’ address to the Conference on the European/Russian Crisis, Delphi, Greece, June 20-21, 2015
Paul Craig Roberts, formerly Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy, Associate Editor, Wall Street Journal, Senior Research Fellow, Stanford University, William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
The United States has pursued empire since early in its history, but it was the Soviet collapse in 1991 that enabled Washington to see the entire world as its oyster
The collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in the rise of the neoconservatives to power and influence ...
Exclusive: The U.S. government and the mainstream media rushed to judgment again, blaming the Syrian government for a new poison-gas attack and ignoring other possibilities, reports Robert Parry.
With the latest hasty judgment about Tuesday’s poison-gas deaths in a rebel-held area of northern Syria, the mainstream U.S. news media once more reveals itself to be a threat to responsible journalism and to the future of humanity. Again, we see the troubling pattern of verdict first, investigation later, even when that behavior can lead to a dangerous war escalation and many more deaths.
Before a careful evaluation of the evidence about Tuesday’s tragedy ...
Seeing through the Official Lies on Ukraine.
“We can no longer find any willingness on the part of Poland to conduct serious negotiations with us. These proposals for mediation have failed because [of ] – – Polish mobilization.” (Adolph Hitler, 1939)
These are the words of Adolph Hitler just before invading Poland and then the Soviet Union. I have replaced Poland with Russia (see below) to show the analogy of US and Nazi pretexts.
“We can no longer find any willingness on the part of Russia to conduct serious negotiations with us. These proposals for mediation have failed because [of ] – – ...
America is coming to the rescue of Al Qaeda under a humanitarian mandate. The unspoken agenda is to undermine the Liberation of Aleppo.
The pretext and justification for these actions are based on America’s “responsibility to protect” (R2P) the “moderates” in Aleppo from Syrian and Russian attacks and bombing raids.
On October 3, the US State Department announced the suspension of bilateral relations with Russia pertaining to Syria (see document below), in response to which, France’s foreign Minister Jean Marc Ayrault was called upon to intermediate at the diplomatic level.
Pointing his finger at Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Jean Marc Ayrault casually accused Moscow ...
Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter, died Friday at a hospital in Virginia at the age of 89. Though the New York Times acknowledged that the former government advisor was a “hawkish strategic theorist,” misrepresenting his legacy as one of otherwise infinite positivity may not be as easy as the establishment might like to think.As the United Kingdom plays around with levels of the so-called “terror threat” following a devastating attack by an ISIS-inspired individual — and as the Philippines goes into an almost complete state of martial law following ISIS-inspired destruction — Brzezinski’s timely death ...
Albert Einstein’s 1948 Letter to the New York Times Comparing Israeli Politicians to Nazis
What We Still haven’t Learned from the Vietnam War
General Ratko Mladić and the Pandora’s Box of the Bosnian War (1992-1995)
Hidden Manipulators: Who is Behind the “Kosova Independence” Campaign?
My Grandfather (Jonas Noreika) wasn’t a Nazi-Fighting War Hero — He was a Brutal Collaborator
The Banana Republic of America: Democracy be Damned
These Horrible Chemical Weapons Were Created & Used During the First World War
The Worst Mistake in U.S. History
Trump’s “Mein Kampf” Tirade at the United Nations (September 2017)
How the US Became a Warmonger Police State
Ken Livingstone: Creation of Israel was a ‘Great Catastrophe’
Understanding the U.S. War State: The New Fundamentalism, “America is God”
Zionist Israel Hides its Crimes Behind its Smears of Truth-Tellers
The Demolition of U.S. Global Power
How Jimmy Carter and I Started the Mujahideen
Paul Craig Roberts’ Address to the International Conference on the European/Russian Crisis Created by Washington
Another Dangerous Rush to Judgment in Syria
Ukraine, America’s “Lebensraum”: Is Washington Preparing to Wage War on Russia?
Air Strikes against Syria: Who are the War Criminals?
The Real Story of Zbigniew Brzezinski that the Media isn’t Telling