Op-ed: American foreign aid to Israel
On May 14, 1948, Israel declared its independence. The day had come for the Jewish people to be liberated from the anti-Semitism rampant in the Jewish Diaspora which existed for more than two millennia. The Jewish people finally had a bayit.
However, right as the Jewish liberation began, they were attacked by seven different Arab armies—simultaneously! Israel’s neighbors did not believe that a Jewish state in the ancestral Jewish homeland had a right to exist, so they tried to wipe Israel off the map. Throughout Israel’s young 70 years, Israel’s neighbors have attacked Israel repeatedly, including an attack on Yom Kippur, the most sacred day for the Jewish people. People living in Israel’s neighborhood, including members of the country’s governments, maintain these beliefs and their violent actions today. Since Israel’s founding, America has provided Israel its largest foreign aid donations as a means of supporting the only democracy in the Middle East and maintaining Jewish liberation. It is imperative that the U.S. maintains its foreign aid donations to Israel.
Israel is surrounded by terrorism on all fronts. Hezbollah, a United Nations-designated terrorist group, has huge influence north of Israel in Lebanon. Syria is in the middle of a violent civil war. In Gaza in the southeast, Hamas, another terrorist organization, has political power and consistently launches rockets into Israel. All of these different violent actors border Israel. If these countries and many others in the region could wipe Israel out, they would. Luckily for Israelis, they can’t.
Israel devotes 6 percent of its GDP to the military, a comparatively large percentage. The resilient Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) protected Israel in 1948, 1967, 1973 and during other violent occurrences. They continue to protect Israel.
Additionally, Israel provides foreign assistance in other countries which are experiencing hardships like Mexico after its devastating earthquake. However, Israel’s defense spending comprises more than 6 percent of Israel’s GDP.
Israel developed the world’s most advanced anti-ballistic missile technology, the Iron Dome and David’s Sling; one of the world’s most advanced Intelligence Agencies, Mossad; and Israel became the first air force aside from the United States to develop an operational stealth jet. This technology was created out of necessity due to the consistent attack Israel finds itself under.
Tangentially, giving foreign aid to Israel does not only benefit their country; it greatly benefits ours. In the words of National Security Advisor Susan Rice, foreign aid for Israel “is not just good for Israel, it’s good for the U.S. Our security is linked. When allies and partners like Israel are more secure, the U.S. is more secure.”
In addition to the military benefits the U.S. receives from Israel, investment in Israel is also an investment in U.S. industry. To develop such advanced technology, Israeli military engineers need supplies. The Israeli government purchases 75 percent of these supplies from the U.S. Israel’s investment in the U.S. supports our GDP, our jobs and our industry. If we were to stop investing such money in Israel, they would no longer be able to invest their money in us.
Though we give to Israel our second largest amount of foreign aid, after Afghanistan, it is still an insignificant portion of U.S. GDP. We invest less than 1 percent of our GDP in foreign aid for the entire world, and Israel is a tiny portion of that 1 percent. It is far less expensive to invest in Israel and safety in the Middle East than to fund another war there. Moreover, again, most of the money is reinvested in the U.S. economy.
An investment in Israel is an investment in peace, civil rights and liberty. It is true that Israel has many flaws and needs to improve; however, this foreign aid helps Israel to defend its citizens and contribute to the greater world economy through its innovation. Additionally, women have equal rights, Tel Aviv is ranked the fourth best city for LGBTQIA* people, religious autonomy and individualism is supported and universal education is enforced. People are stoned to death and pushed off buildings for being gay in Iran. Women barely have the right to drive, let alone make their own decisions in Saudi Arabia and tens of thousands of children are murdered at the hands of Syria’s civil war. As she turns 70, Israel remains a shining beacon of hope for many, not just for Jews. It is imperative that America maintains its alliance, and foreign aid is one way in which we can express our support for the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel.