Footing Israel’s Bill

It’s tax season again. How about a little accounting?

Every year, Washington sends $3.1 billion of taxpayers’ hard-earned money to Israel. It’s only fair to ask what Americans are getting in return.

That seems especially appropriate now.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is busy badmouthing the tentative nuclear deal with Iran, a major diplomatic achievement for the United States. And a few weeks ago, he declared his opposition to a Palestinian state, a longstanding U.S. priority.

Bibi has tried hard to sabotage President Barack Obama’s efforts to head off another Middle East war. He didn’t just give a speech to Congress against the negotiations. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Israel also spied on the nuclear talks and spoon-fed bits of out-of-context innuendo to Obama’s GOP foes.

It’s not big news that friendly countries snoop on one another. The Obama administration is guilty of this practice, too. But using the intelligence to meddle in your ally’s domestic politics is beyond the pale.

Netanyahu’s subsequent campaign pledge to reject Palestinian statehood flew in the face of not only his previous (if grudging) acceptance of a two-state solution, but also decades of stated U.S. policy.

Don’t take my word for it.

When President George W. Bush signed off on Israel’s $3-billion-a-year aid package several years ago, State Department official Nicholas Burns called the funds “an investment in peace” and in “the creation of an independent Palestinian state.”

Obama now says it’s “hard to envision” how the United States can broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians if the stronger side — Israel — doesn’t want it. There have been intimations from the White House that Washington won’t automatically side with Israel at the UN Security Council any longer.

In response, Netanyahu tried to walk back his electioneering bluster.

But he’s still campaigning against the nuclear accord with Iran. And he looks likely to form a coalition government of right-wing parties that will thwart a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in word and deed.


Maybe it’s because in the same breath as its jabs at Netanyahu, the White House promises to keep dropping that $3-billion chunk of taxpayer change into Israel’s coffers.

Last year, that money constituted more than half of all U.S. military aid worldwide — and nearly a quarter of Israel’s arms budget. This boodle forms the core of the U.S.-Israeli “special relationship.” And as long as the White House considers it sacrosanct, Israel won’t take U.S. criticism seriously.

Want to see if Israel will halt the construction of Israeli settlers’ homes and shopping malls in occupied Palestinian land? Or stop its attempts to thwart the peace process with Iran? Put that military aid on the chopping block.

If Israel thumbs its nose, as it very well might, then at least Americans will no longer be footing the bill. It’s scandalous that we’ve kept this up for so long.

Chris Toensing is the editor of Middle East Report, published by the Middle East Research and Information Project (merip.org).

This commentary is a joint publication of Foreign Policy In Focus and OtherWords.org

More articles by:

February 20, 2019
Anthony DiMaggio
Withdrawal Pains and Syrian Civil War: An Analysis of U.S. Media Discourse
Charles Pierson
When Saudi Arabia Gets the Bomb
Doug Johnson Hatlem
“Electability” is Real (Unless Married with the Junk Science of Ideological Spectrum Analysis)
Kenneth Surin
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Another Boondoggle in Virginia
John Feffer
The Psychology of the Wall
Dean Baker
Modern Monetary Theory and Taxing the Rich
Russell Mokhiber
Citizens Arrested Calling Out Manchin on Rockwool
George Ochenski
Unconstitutional Power Grabs
Michael T. Klare
War With China? It’s Already Under Way
Thomas Knapp
The Real Emergency Isn’t About the Wall, It’s About the Separation of Powers
Manuel García, Jr.
Two Worlds
Daniel Warner
The Martin Ennals and Victorian Prize Winners Contrast with Australia’s Policies against Human Dignity
Norman Solomon
What the Bernie Sanders 2020 Campaign Means for Progressives
Dan Corjescu
2020 Vision: A Strategy of Courage
Matthew Johnson
Why Protest Trump When We Can Impeach Him?
William A. Cohn
Something New and Something Old: a Story Still Being Told
Bill Martin
The Fourth Hypothesis: the Present Juncture of the Trump Clarification and the Watershed Moment on the Washington Mall
February 19, 2019
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Troublesome Possibilities: The Left and Tulsi Gabbard
Patrick Cockburn
She Didn’t Start the Fire: Why Attack the ISIS Bride?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Literature and Theater During War: Why Euripides Still Matters
Maximilian Werner
The Night of Terror: Wyoming Game and Fish’s Latest Attempt to Close the Book on the Mark Uptain Tragedy
Conn Hallinan
Erdogan is Destined for Another Rebuke in Turkey
Nyla Ali Khan
Politics of Jammu and Kashmir: The Only Viable Way is Forward
Mark Ashwill
On the Outside Looking In: an American in Vietnam
Joyce Nelson
Sir Richard Branson’s Venezuelan-Border PR Stunt
Ron Jacobs
Day of Remembrance and the Music of Anthony Brown        
Cesar Chelala
Women’s Critical Role in Saving the Environment
February 18, 2019
Paul Street
31 Actual National Emergencies
Robert Fisk
What Happened to the Remains of Khashoggi’s Predecessor?
David Mattson
When Grizzly Bears Go Bad: Constructions of Victimhood and Blame
Julian Vigo
USMCA’s Outsourcing of Free Speech to Big Tech
George Wuerthner
How the BLM Serves the West’s Welfare Ranchers
Christopher Fons
The Crimes of Elliot Abrams
Thomas Knapp
The First Rule of AIPAC Is: You Do Not Talk about AIPAC
Mitchel Cohen
A Tale of Two Citations: Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” and Michael Harrington’s “The Other America”
Jake Johnston
Haiti and the Collapse of a Political and Economic System
Dave Lindorff
It’s Not Just Trump and the Republicans
Laura Flanders
An End to Amazon’s Two-Bit Romance. No Low-Rent Rendezvous.
Patrick Walker
Venezuelan Coup Democrats Vomit on Green New Deal
Natalie Dowzicky
The Millennial Generation Will Tear Down Trump’s Wall
Nick Licata
Of Stress and Inequality
Joseph G. Ramsey
Waking Up on President’s Day During the Reign of Donald Trump
Elliot Sperber
Greater Than Food
Weekend Edition
February 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Matthew Hoh
Time for Peace in Afghanistan and an End to the Lies
Chris Floyd
Pence and the Benjamins: An Eternity of Anti-Semitism