Our uniquely massive support for Israel has cost trillions of dollars and multitudes of lives. It has diminished our moral standing in the world, lessened our domestic freedoms, and exposed us to unnecessary and growing peril.
The majority of Americans – as well as our diplomatic and military experts – oppose this unique relationship. Yet, the lobby for Israel continues to foment policies that are disastrous for our nation and tragic for the region.
If we are to have Middle East policies that serve the national interest, that represent the highest values of our founders and our citizens, and that work to sustain a nation of honor, decency, security, and prosperity, then it is essential that all Americans become active and informed. Below are the facts:
American taxpayers give Israel over $8 million per day
(See report from Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress):
This to a nation, at its peak, of 7.4 million people – smaller than New Jersey. Israel has received more American money than any other nation on earth. It is more than we give to all the starving countries of Africa put together.
From 1950-53 Israel’s financial influx from the U.S. was one billion dollars; Israel at that time had 1.6 million inhabitants
In the past ten years, American taxpayers have given Israel approximately $200,000 per family of five.
This costs us even more:
US aid to Israel is given in a lump sum at the beginning of the fiscal year.
- Since the US is operating at a deficit, this means that we borrow the money, give it to Israel, and then pay interest on it long after it is gone.
Israel, on the other hand, makes interest from it. Congress has mandated that Israel’s aid be immediately deposited to an interest bearing account with the Federal Reserve Bank.
Additional financial costs: $3 trillion
- About $1.5 billion to Egypt and $843 million to Jordan is dispensed annually under arrangements made to induce these countries’ friendly relations with Israel.
- Billions of dollars have been lost to U.S. manufacturers because of the Arab boycott engendered by Israeli actions.
- Enormous and continuing costs to U.S. consumers of petroleum, which surged to such heights that it set off a world-wide recession during the Arab oil boycott imposed in reaction to U.S. support of Israel in the 1973 war.
There are a multitude of such costs.
A report by an economist commissioned by the Army War College in 2003 to analyze the situation in full found that the total cost to Americans over Israel’s 60+ years has been $3 trillion.
On top of this are the costs of the Iraq war: hundreds of thousands of lives & over $3 trillion
The war added trillions of dollars to the federal debt, and this doesn’t include future health care and disability payments for veterans.
Economists report that the global financial crisis was due, at least in part, to the Iraq war.
The same parties are pushing for a similar attack on Iran.
The Lobby for Israel overrules US experts
U.S. policies in the Middle East rarely reflect U.S. interests and values.
Instead, over the objections of a multitude of State Department and Pentagon analysts, they are largely driven by a variety of factors:
1. Special-interest lobbying. Fortune Magazine rates one of the many lobby organizations working on behalf of Israel, AIPAC, as the second most powerful lobby in Washington. Many analysts consider the pro-Israel interest group the most powerful lobby in our nation.
Senator William J. Fulbright aimed to bring a little more knowledge, a little more reason, and a little more compassion into world affairs and thereby increase the chance that nations will learn at last to live in peace and friendship — (wiki)
By the late 1960s Senator William Fulbright found that U.S. aid to Israel was being secretly funneled back to lobbyists in the U.S., who would use it to lobby for still more U.S. money to Israel.
The U.S. justice department and other agencies have often attempted to enforce U.S. laws
2. Israel partisans in the U.S. government and media: The efforts of a growing number of individuals with close ties to Israel (some are neoconservatives, others are neoliberals) who often hold key positions in U.S. administrations, the State Department, Pentagon, and media.
The US Ambassador to Israel stated that all US Middle East policies are predicated on their effect on Israel. This is a highly inappropriate practice and one that is replicated in no other region. US policies should be based on American interests and priorities, not those of a foreign nation.
3. Campaigns by pro-Israel funders to engender Islamophobia: to create fear and hatred of Muslims, a highly diverse population of 1.5 billion people whose faith is one of the three Abrahamic religions and who worship the same God as Christians and Jews.
4. Israeli-centric news reporting by the U.S. media consistently misportrays the current situation and the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
5. Hollywood movies and television shows, which often play a significant role in shaping attitudes and beliefs. These shows, frequently produced by individuals with ties to Israel, depict Arabs and Muslims almost always negatively, Jews and Israelis almost never negatively, and Christians both positively and negatively.
[Interestingly, the oil and weapons industries are not responsible for our relationship with Israel. In fact, at times these industries have lobbied against U.S. support for Israel, which undermines their ability to do business in the region.]
Jonathan Pollard — Israel granted Pollard citizenship in 1995, while publicly denying, until 1998, that he was an Israeli spy. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has voiced particularly strong support for Pollard, visiting the convicted spy in prison in 2002.
Israel promotes its own interests, which is the right of any nation.
However, this is done at the expense of Americans who fund it.
There is considerable evidence that Israel is not the close ally many Americans believe it to be:
- The GAO has reported that Israel conducts the most intense spying operation against the U.S. of any of our presumed allies.
- Intelligence experts consider Jonathan Pollard the most damaging spy in US history. For years Israel denied any connection to Pollard; now it actively lobbies for his release.
- Israeli forces have killed and injured numerous Americans. Rarely, if ever, have there been significant consequences.
- Israel has stolen U.S. technology, and passed it on to other nations, some of them U.S. adversaries.
The Israeli attack on the USS Liberty
In 1967 Israeli forces attacked a U.S. Navy ship, the USS Liberty, killing or injuring over 200 American servicemen.
An independent commission in 2003 by extraordinarily high-ranking U.S. military officers and officials found that
Israel had commited an act of war against the United States,
the US President had recalled rescue aircraft, and that
the President had ordered a cover-up on the incident.
These statements, recorded in the Congressional Record, were not reported by U.S. news media.
Israeli ethnic expansionism has caused regional misery, instability, and continual conflict.
Israeli aggression (Israel initiated all of its wars except one) and its violations of international law, human rights conventions, and UN resolutions, have created enormous hostility against it throughout the world.
The US, as Israel’s number one funder, is increasingly imperiled by hostility created by Israeli actions.
Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons poses considerable danger both to the region itself and far beyond.
it has refused to sign the nuclear proliferation treaty and the British American Security Information Council has found that in Israel “nuclear weapons are being assigned roles that go well beyond deterrence.”
While US intelligence agencies have so far found no indication that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, Israel’s possession of these weapons, combined with its history of aggression, create a compelling motivation for other nations in the region to acquire them for deterrence.
Israel frequently uses American weapons in violation of US laws, killing and maiming large numbers of civilians, women, and children.
Since this is funded by American tax payers, and shielded by the U.S. government, it is causing dangerous hostility toward the U.S.
Damage to civil liberties and the American way of life
This dangerous and unnecessary peril (diplomats note that before Israel the US had no enemies in the region) has caused Americans to tolerate dangerous infringements on our liberty and violations of our Constitution.
This is causing deep damage to our character as a nation.
Deeply intrusive and potentially carcinogenic airport scanners, offensive “pat-downs” of our women and children, abrogations of our nation’s most fundamental legal principles are just a few of the direct and indirect results of our Israel policies.
A secure, prosperous, and honorable America
We would be far safer and our nation far healthier by heeding the wisdom of George Washington, the father of our nation:
“…nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave.”
ABOUT CNI: The Council for the National Interest (CNI) is a 501 (c) 4 non-profit, non-partisan organization that advocates for Middle East policies that serve the national interest; that represent the highest values of our founders and our citizens; and that work to sustain a nation of honor, decency, security, and prosperity.
CNI seeks to encourage and promote a U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East that is consistent with American values, protects our national interests, and contributes to a just solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is CNI’s goal to restore a political environment in America in which voters and their elected officials are free from the undue influence and pressure of foreign countries and their partisans.
Alison Weir is also Executive Director of If Americans Knew. Org
AIPAC: The Voice of America — Part 1: The Orange and the Pea