Want Peace? Stop Aid to Israel

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Most Americans are not aware of how much money is poured from the US Treasury into Israel. According to former Congressman Paul Findley, “Each year, US aid to Israel exceeds that given to any other country. Since 1987 direct economic and military aid has annually totaled $3 billion or more. In addition, financial arrangements worked out solely for Israel bring the total to about $5 billion a year. This does not include such generous programs as the $10 billion loan guarantee granted Israel in 1992. US law provides for the termination of all aid, economic and military, to any nation that develops nuclear weapons or ‘engages in a consistent pattern of gross violation of internationally recognized human rights.’ For years, the US government has been aware of Israel’s development of a nuclear arsenal and its persistent human rights violations. But no president or Congress has ever taken steps to terminate aid, as required by law, or even reduce it….”

According to information obtained by West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, the total direct aid to Israel (again not counting many special deals, loans that are never paid back, tax breaks, etc.) by the end of 1991 added up to $53 billion. Adjusted for inflation, that figure would be much higher. From 1979 on the amount of money directly given to Israel totalled $40.1 billion. The amount given to Egypt, which in a way can also be considered aid to Israel since it is essentially a payoff to the Egyptian government in return for their subservience to Israeli domination in the Middle East, is the second largest amount given to any recipient. You may be surprised to learn that the total aid given to these two countries is more than that given to all other countries combined!

Now none of these figures include special low-interest loans made to Israel, many of them guaranteed by the US government. The $10 billion in loan guarantees made by US taxpayers to Israel is just one example of these loans. Now some of you might not know just what a loan guarantee is. What it means is this: If the government of Israel can’t pay back its creditors on time, then the US taxpayer – that’s me and you, my friend – foots the bill.

According to Paul Findley, “Since 1985 all US aid to Israel has been a grant, meaning that not a penny of it has to be repaid. [And w]hen Israel pays interest and principal on loans given before 1985, it does so with US tax dollars. This curious process began in 1984 when Democratic Senator Alan Cranston of California sponsored what became known as the Cranston amendment. It stipulates that economic aid to Israel each year will be at least equal to its annual repayments (principal and interest) of its debt to the United States. In the wry words of then Secretary of State James A. Baker III in testimony before the Senate in 1992, …’we can always pay ourselves back with the money that we appropriate for Israel to do so.’

“The effect of this amendment is to guarantee that Israel will always receive enough US aid to cover its debt obligations. In actual practice, Congress always awards Israel funds far in excess of these obligations. No other country enjoys such an arrangement.”

James J. David is a retired Brigadier General, and a graduate of the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College, and the National Security Course, National Defense University, Washington DC. He served nearly 3 years of Army active duty in and around the Middle East from 1967-1969.

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