U.S. President Joe Biden decided to not only link military aid to Israel to a giant package of aid, more than $60 billion, to Ukraine, but also to a huge package of other priorities, including getting illegal aliens processed faster, spending in the Pacific and “humanitarian aid” to the “Palestinians.”
Meanwhile, the media feels free to run headlines like this one from NPR: “The White House is asking for almost $106 billion for Israel, Ukraine and the border.”
In order of priorities, the money is mostly going to Ukraine.
The White House’s breakdown runs something like this: $61.4 billion for military and economic assistance to Ukraine; $14 billion to hire more border patrol officers, asylum processors and judges; $4 billion for foreign aid in the Pacific; and $14 billion for Israel. The Israel figure however seems to be inflated by rolling in embassy security expenditures.
The military aid for Israel is around $10 billion, with an additional “$3.7 billion for the State Department to strengthen Israel’s military and enhance U.S. Embassy security.” I’m not sure how the State Department is strengthening Israel’s military. Securing U.S. embassies in the region is obviously a vital priority, but it’s not aid to Israel.
Rolling embassy security funding in and pretending it’s part of an aid package to Israel is dishonest, and yet virtually the entire media has quoted a $14 billion aid to Israel figure.
The official budget letter admits “the request will also help the Administration enhance embassy security by sustaining Mission Israel and our embassies in neighboring countries.”
Strengthening security on embassies in Egypt, Jordan, and, say, Libya, is a good idea. It’s not foreign aid to Israel.
Even that $10 billion figure creates the impression of a huge check being sent to Israel. What it actually means is the allocation of military equipment and ammo from American defense contractors. And in some cases, it just means money sent to defense contractors to improve their functionality.
“For an additional amount for ‘Operation and Maintenance, Defense-Wide,’ $4,400,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2025, to respond to the situation in Israel and for related expenses: Provided, That amounts made available under this heading shall be available for transfer to accounts under the headings ‘Operation and Maintenance,’ ‘Procurement,’ ‘Research, Development, Test and Evaluation,’ and ‘Revolving and Management Funds’ for replacement, through new procurement or repair of existing unserviceable equipment, of defense articles from the stocks of the Department of Defense, and for reimbursement for defense services of the Department of Defense and military education and training, provided to or identified for provision to Israel or to foreign countries that have provided support to Israel at the request of the United States.”
More than $800 million would be used to build up local capacity.
“This request would provide $801 million to the Procurement of Ammunition, Army account in the Department of Defense. Funds would be used to: improve ammunition plants and equipment in order to increase capacity; and accelerate the production of equipment in order to more rapidly replenish defense stocks.”
So it’s $800 million that’s going to build up U.S. ammunition plants and make them readier to produce at a more rapid capacity. (This will more likely benefit Ukraine than Israel. We’ve been running out supplying Ukraine, not Israel.)
I support improving our production capacity, but this is not what comes into people’s minds when they think of foreign aid to Israel.
There’s another $200 million being similarly utilized.
“This request would provide $199 million to the Defense Production Act Purchases Account in the Department of Defense. Funds would be used to mitigate industrial base constraints to allow for faster production of weapons and equipment.”
Again, this will help Israel. It’ll help Ukraine. It’ll help us if we get into a war. But it’s money being used to improve the capacity of defense contractors here.
There’s $4 billion here to resupply Iron Dome. And $1.2 billion to fund research on Iron Beam, a system to stop short-range rocket attacks.
Those provide direct military benefits to Israel.
This isn’t unusual. It’s how foreign aid to Israel works. Unlike a lot of countries, aid to Israel mostly means aid to American defense contractors, spending credits that Israel can use, equipment and weapons transfers and ammo resupply. All of those are useful, but they’re not the giant check for $10 billion that some people envision.
When you hear about $X billion a year in foreign aid, that’s what it actually looks like.