You’ve seen it on the news, in social media or on the Internet: a report on some U.S. policy recently enacted relating to Israel or an Israeli policy the media deemed necessary to headline. You look at a comments page and see messages about how America sends Israel $30 billion annually to the Jewish state, funding its entire economy and health-care system, paying for Israeli settlements or some other baseless statement.
And how often, even on mainstream news sources and from government officials, have you seen comments about withholding U.S. aid to Israel for political leverage? Personally, I have seen these types of reports and comments far too often, and I think it’s time to set the record straight about U.S.-Israel aid, and why the double standards Israel is held to are unsubstantiated and dangerous.
Why is the double standard such a flagrant violation of truth and justice? Double standards clearly show the bias and subjectivity in the possessor of such opinion. Former Jewish Agency chairman and well-known refusenik Natan Sharansky famously lays out his “three Ds” of anti-Semitism regarding Israel: demonization, delegitimization and double standard.
Of these, in my opinion, the double standard is the most dangerous. It can be used to leverage an opinion that doesn’t actually come across as a double standard unless the receiver is already knowledgeable about the information. Sadly, the double standards held against Israel are numerous; one of the most commonly discussed and least understood may be the critique of U.S. aid to Israel.
What are the facts of U.S.-Israel aid? Currently, under the 2016 U.S. foreign-aid package to Israel, the United States has allocated $38 billion to the Jewish state, which comes to $3.8 billion a year for 10 years. However, this is not a blank check. Under the terms of the agreement, Israel is obligated to invest 100 percent of the direct military credits back into American military products. Notably, Israel has already purchased some 50 American made F-35 airplanes.
Is this substantial? Yes, as Israel is technically the largest annual recipient of direct American aid. But this is a good thing. Israel is one of America’s closest allies. It is a stronghold of democracy and freedom in the Middle East, a world leader in technological innovation and military expertise, and a positive financial investment.
Furthermore, despite the fact that from a black-and-white perspective, Israel may receive such a large sum, it doesn’t ask for something crucial in return: American blood. It’s vital to understand that the United States and Israel have no formal alliance and no formal agreement promising U.S. troops for Israel’s defense. This is a defining aspect of the U.S.-Israel relationship. Israel prides itself on not relying on foreign support to defend itself. Since the 1948 War of Independence, Israelis have died for their country and their freedom with no expectation of outside help. Historically, Jews have not been able to rely on anyone to protect them other than themselves, a principle upheld to this day.
The hypercriticism of a $3 billion investment further falls apart when placed into the perspective with the fact that the United States has poured billions into the defense of South Korea, Japan and Western Europe. Since World War II, the United States has held a permanent presence on bases in much of Europe, Japan and South Korea—all countries and regions with highly advanced and powerful militaries. This accounts for billions of dollars in upkeep, defense, economic boosts and, most importantly, the lives of American troops. There are no soldiers stationed in Israel—no permanent bases and no frontline U.S. troops promised for war.
As is so common when dealing with anything related to Israel, perspective is key. Holding a double standard against it for military aid it receives from the United States doesn’t show an “intellectual critique of Israel.” It simply shows a double standard, as well as a problem with the Jewish state securing itself and investing back into America.
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