RE: Greg Johnson on dropping the alliance with Israel

From: Barbara Lamar (
Date: Sun Sep 16 2001 - 10:49:32 MDT

 Alejandro Dubrovsky wrote:

> >
> history is definitely not my field, but AFAIK, there was no
> governmental US
> support for the first dozen years or so of israel's history.

> i would like someone with more knowledge
>on the matter to comment.

Okay, here are comments from people with more knowledge. I have no direct
personal knowledge of US aid to Israel, only what I've read or heard. I do
have direct personal knowledge that some expenditures of the US government
don't appear in official budget statements, so I don't find it difficult to
believe the sources below that say aid to Israel has been even higher than
reflected in official reports.

I've used several sources here to minimize error. I think I've used a fairly
comprehensive range of viewpoints, and they all seem to agree on the basic
point that Israel has always received aid from the US government. shows an average of $74 million per
year 1949 - 1969


Unquestionably, Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. aid since
World War II. Estimates for total U.S. aid to Israel vary, however, because
of the uncertainties and ambiguities described above. An Oct. 27, 2000
Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, using available and verifiable
numbers, gives cumulative aid to Israel from 1949 through FY 2000 (which
ended Sept. 30, 2000) at $81.38 billion. On the other hand, last year the
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs estimated total aid to Israel
through FY 2000 at $91.82 billion.

The CRS number surely is too low, because, although it does include such
things as the old food-for-peace program, the $1.2 billion from the Wye
agreement, and the current subsidy for “refugee resettlement,” it does not
include money from the DOD budget, on the grounds that those funds are for
joint research and development projects. Nor does the CRS figure include
estimated interest on the early disbursement of aid funds. Last year’s
Washington Report estimate imputes an amount for “other aid” (including the
DOD) that may no longer be valid, based as it is on a thorough study of
three representative years. While this year’s estimate is more conservative,
the results are still shockingly high.

To the CRS number of $81.38 billion through FY 2000 can be added (with
details to follow):

• $4.28 billion from the DOD; and

• $1.72 billion in interest from early disbursement of aid, for a total of
$87.38 billion through Sept. 30, 2000. To that can be added the $3.22
billion detailed above, giving a grand total of $90.6 billion total aid to
Israel through FY 2001. Approval of Clinton’s special request for $450
million more in military aid would push the number over $91 billion

======================= Orthodox Union
(Jewish organisation)

Unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security: Despite the Oslo peace
process, Israel today faces severe existential threats, in addition to daily
security problems that affect the lives of every Israeli. The violent
Palestinian uprising, instability on Israel’s border with Lebanon as a
result of Hezbollah’s growing military presence, vocal threats by Iran and
Iraq, in addition to the very real dangers posed by their acquisition of
weapons of mass destruction, create a dangerous instability that could
easily lead to a rapidly escalating conflict. U.S. military assistance
provides Israel the wherewithal to meet these growing threats and
symbolizes, more than anything else, the unshakeable commitment the United
States has to Israel’s security.


Truman's commitment was quickly tested after Israel's victory in its War of
Independence when she applied to the U.S. for economic aid to help absorb
immigrants. President Truman responded by approving a $135 million
Export-Import Bank loan and the sale of surplus commodities to Israel. In
those early years of Israel's statehood (also today), U.S. aid was seen as a
means of promoting peace.

In 1951, Congress voted to help Israel cope with the economic burdens
imposed by the influx of Jewish refugees from the displaced persons camps in
Europe and from the ghettos of the Arab countries. Arabs then complained the
U.S. was neglecting them, though they had no interest in or use for American
aid then. In 1951, Syria rejected offers of U.S. aid. Oil-rich Iraq and
Saudi Arabia did not need U.S. economic assistance, and Jordan was, until
the late 1950s, the ward of Great Britain. After 1957, when the United
States assumed responsibility for supporting Jordan and resumed economic aid
to Egypt, assistance to the Arab states soared. Also, the United States was
by far the biggest contributor of aid to the Palestinians through UNRWA, a
status that continues to the present.

U.S. economic grants to Israel ended in 1959. U.S. aid to Israel from then
until 1985 consisted largely of loans, which Israel repaid, and surplus
commodities, which Israel bought. Israel began buying arms from the United
States in 1962, but did not receive any grant military assistance until
after the 1973 Yom Kippur War. As a result, Israel had to go deeply into
debt to finance its economic development and arms procurement. The decision
to convert military aid to grants that year was based on the prevailing view
in Congress that without a strong Israel, war in the Middle East was more
likely, and that the U.S. would face higher direct expenditures in such an

Israel has received more direct aid from the United States since World War
II than any other country, but the amounts for the first half of this period
were relatively small. Between 1949 and 1973, the U.S. provided Israel with
an average of about $122 million a year, a total of $3.1 billion (and
actually more than $1 billion of that was loans for military equipment in
1971-73) . Prior to 1971, Israel received a total of only $277 million in
military aid, all in the form of loans as credit sales. The bulk of the
economic aid was also lent to Israel. By comparison, the Arab states
received nearly three times as much aid before 1971, $4.4 billion, or $170
million per year. Moreover, unlike Israel, which receives nearly all its aid
from the United States, Arab nations have gotten assistance from Asia,
Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union and the European Community. Congress first
designated a specific amount of aid for Israel (an "earmark") in 1971.


The common argument that the United States gives Israel $3 billion per
year-$1.2 billion in economic aid and $1.8 billion in military aid-is
misleading. This figure is impressive enough, since it represents about
one-sixth of total U.S. foreign aid. Yet the true figure is even more
remarkable, with estimates ranging as high as $5.5 billion per year.
Calculating the exact amount of U.S. aid to Israel, however, is difficult.
One has to make estimates because much of the aid is buried in the budgets
of other government agencies, mostly the Department of Defense (DOD). Aid is
also allotted in a form that is not easily quantifiable, such as the early
disbursement of financial aid which allows Israel to gain (and the U.S.
taxpayer to lose) the interest on the funds that have not yet been spent.

Aid to Israel from 1949 to 2001:
According to an October 27 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report,
cumulative aid to Israel from 1949 through fiscal year (FY) 2000 was $81.38
billion. This number is too low because it omits "hidden" funds. While it
includes the $1.2 billion promised to Israel in the Wye River Memorandum,
the old Food for Peace program, and the current subsidy for "refugee
resettlement," it omits money from the DOD budget on the grounds that those
funds are for research and development projects that benefit both the United
States and Israel-a questionable premise. The CRS total also excludes
estimated interest on the early disbursement of aid.

Building up from the amount listed in the CRS, I have included-with details
to follow-$4.28 billion from the DOD and $1.72 billion from interest accrued
due to early aid disbursement. This comes to a total of $87.38 billion
through September 30 of this year (the end of FY 2000). Add to this amount
the $3.98 billion for FY 2001: This number includes $840 million in economic
aid, $1.98 billion in military aid, $60 million for refugee resettlement,
$250 million from the DOD budget, and $85 million in interest. The resulting
grand total of the above calculations is $91.36 billion in aid to Israel
through FY 2001.

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