The ‘eternal love-affair’ between United States of America and Israel is known to whole world. As part of this ‘special relationship’, the U.S. doles out a significant amount of tax dollars to Israel in the form of defense aid – which has been used to suppress the formation of a viable Palestinian state.
Israel is not the only country in the world that has been receiving billions of dollars in defense aid, but no country enjoys more taxpayer largesse than Israel. However, unlike every other country reaping billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars for defense, only Israel is allowed to spend the billions it receives every year to subsidize its own defense sector.
All other governments receiving American aid for defense has to spend it on American-made weapons, but because of the ‘special relationship’ with America, Israel uses American aid to bolster its own defense industry.
President Barack Obama recently took note of this troubling state of affairs and has called for an end of American subsidies to the Israeli defense sector. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu naturally wants the American aid tap to keep flowing.
As America and Israel are in the process of completing an agreement to continue giving billions of American tax dollars annually to Israel for defense, the last obstacle to the deal extending to 2029 is what is known as the “offshore procurement” provision. It is a provision President Obama wants repealed because it effectively uses American tax dollars to subsidize Israel’s defense sector.
As the agreement has been, and is now, Israel gets to spend a whopping 26% of the American ‘gifts’ at home to enrich its defense industry and create Israeli jobs. Israel is the only nation on Earth the U.S. has this ‘special arrangement’ with, and Netanyahu demands that it stays in place.
Even though under President Obama, the U.S. military aid to Israel has been greater than under any other Presidency, Republicans accuse the President of “throw[ing] Israel under the bus” with every foreign policy decision he makes.
Despite the unrequited love, the U.S. still finds itself bound to provide Israel with military aid. “Even in these days of belt tightening, we are prepared to sign the single largest military assistance package – with any country – in American history,” U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said earlier this month.
And she noted that the ‘gifts’ to Israel’s economy and jobs “comprises more than 50 percent of the total U.S. military aid budget.”
A little over a fourth of that 50 percent creates jobs and economic growth for Israel at the expense of American defense jobs.
President Obama’s hard line on ending the taxpayer subsidies for a Israel’s defense industry is a reflection of the concern among American defense companies and it is a valid concern.
They rightly complain that America is unwittingly aiding foreign competitors vying for sales in the international arms market. A former assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs during the George W. Bush administration (2007-2009), Mary Beth Long, said it was long past time to “rethink Israel’s offshore procurement exception.”
Ms. Long believes: “America has a strategic and moral obligation to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge,” what she said is a defense concept that requires America to “sell Israel more advanced defense technology than its regional rivals receive.”
“The information sharing, the tactics, techniques and procedures, the things we have learned from the Israelis particularly as to asymmetric confrontation, and their visibility into the region is absolutely critical to our national security.”
But, she also concluded that the special relationship regarding military aid has gone off the rails in recent years. “It doesn’t make sense for Israel to come back and ask for supplemental projects if they can’t make the case of why they didn’t spend their own budget and the normal $3 billion in [American] aid on a critical item. If it’s critical, and therefore we have to subsidize it, then why didn’t you find your own money for this?”
America has “gifted” over $1 billion extra since 2010 to increase Israel’s “Iron Dome” defense systems, and that is in addition to the annual billions America gives Israel in military aid.
President Obama opposed the extra gifts at the time they were first demanded by Israel and remarked that Israel should find its own money for the Iron Dome; especially when America’s economy was still reeling from the 2008 financial crisis.
To many, in the U.S. and around the world, President Obama is right in holding up negotiations for even more military aid to Israel until that “special procurement” program is ended because it is one thing to help defend America’s allies, but it is abominable that the military aid is enriching a foreign nation’s defense industry at American taxpayers’ expense.