update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

Former envoy defends US aid to Israel after his former boss, Trump, says loans only

“Israel’s enemies are America’s enemies and in defeating and deterring them, Israel provides intelligence and deterrence that keeps Americans more safe at home,” David Friedman wrote.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman at a prayer rally for the release of Israelis held hostage by Hamas in Gaza, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, Oct. 19, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman at a prayer rally for the release of Israelis held hostage by Hamas in Gaza, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, Oct. 19, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.

David Friedman, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel during the Trump administration, defended U.S. aid to the Jewish state on Wednesday after his former boss said that Washington should only give money out as a loan.

“The financial assistance provides an essential return on investment,” Friedman wrote. “Israel’s enemies are America’s enemies, and in defeating and deterring them, Israel provides intelligence and deterrence that keeps Americans more safe at home. The coordination between America’s and Israel’s military and intelligence capabilities is extraordinary.”

Friedman added that the return on investment is particularly true with respect to barring Iran from nuclear capabilities, “something which threatens America every bit as much as Israel,” he wrote. “Almost all the financial assistance is spent by Israel in the United States, providing jobs to many Americans.”

Friedman’s social media post came as former U.S. President Donald Trump pressed Republicans to reject the foreign aid supplemental package, which the Senate passed on Tuesday and which includes $14.1 billion for Israel. 

“From this point forward, are you listening U.S. Senate? No money in the form of foreign aid should be given to any country unless it is done as a loan, not just a giveaway,” Trump wrote, in all-caps, ahead of the vote on Saturday. 

“It can be loaned on extraordinarily good terms, like no interest and an unlimited life, but a loan nevertheless,” Trump added. “We should never give money anymore without the hope of a payback or without ‘strings’ attached.”

Trump said that loans should be paid back if the country “ever turns against us” or “strikes it rich.” He didn’t specify how that would be enforced.

Friedman wrote on Wednesday that in addition to the strategic and economic benefits, there is also a religious interest in providing aid to Israel.

“Many tens of millions of people rely on Israel to maintain and provide public access to the Judea-Christian holy sites that animated the founding of the American republic,” he wrote. 

“Without Israel, these sites likely are inaccessible if not destroyed,” he added. “Many also believe that America will receive God’s favor by supporting Israel.”

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