Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

The Cost of Israel to U.S. Taxpayers: Israel Ties Golan Pull-Out to Doubling of U.S. Aid

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

The Cost of Israel to U.S. Taxpayers: Israel Ties Golan Pull-Out to Doubling of U.S. Aid

Article excerpt

The Cost of Israel to U.S. Taxpayers: Israel Ties Golan Pull-Out To Doubling of U.S. Aid

By Lucille Barnes

"Israel may ask for up to $5 billion in supplementary aid if the negotiations with Syria make significant progress," writes Washington correspondent James D. Besser in the May 13-19 issue of The Jewish Week of Queens, NY. "That would be in addition to Israel's regular $3 billion annual allotment."

Besser reports that "discussions about a new injection of aid have reportedly involved only top officials of the Rabin government and the Clinton administration." Although Besser, who covers Washington for a number of Jewish weeklies, is generally well informed, he understates present U.S. aid to Israel by limiting his total to the traditional $1.8 billion in military aid and $1.2 billion in economic aid in the foreign assistance budget. For the current and previous fiscal years, however, additional assistance for Israel in other parts of the U.S. government budget have brought grant aid to an annual total of approximately $4.3 billion, exclusive of an additional annual $2 billion in U.S. government loan guarantees.

Besser says the new request would be tied to withdrawal of Israeli troops from Syria's Golan Heights and "would include sophisticated new weapons systems designed to enhance Israel's military edge, as well as pre-positioned U.S. military supplies that could be tapped by Israel in the event of a new war." The new request would almost double annual U.S. aid to Israel, as compiled in the box on this page.

"An Effort to Educate Congress"

"Pro-Israel groups and members of Congress are taking a wait-and-see attitude to the prospect of a new aid request," Besser reports. He quotes "a leading pro-Israel activist" as explaining: "It's all in the most preliminary stages but we do understand it's being discussed at the highest levels between the two governments. If Syria and Israel really do move forward, we can expect an effort to educate Congress about how important American help will be in making this whole thing work."

Perhaps someone also can educate Congress about what the current $6.321 billion total annual aid to Israel, which breaks down to $17,317,808 per day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, could do to help "make American work" at home, or help American objectives overseas.

The Clinton administration is asking $14.3 billion for its entire NASA budget for 1995, but probably will get less from Congress to cover the space station program, shuttle flights, the planned Mars surveyor program and other vital science and technology projects within the agency. The U.S. therefore spends almost half as much on Israel as it spends on its entire space program, and the difference will shrink further if Israel sells its plan to tie withdrawal from Golan to a near doubling of U.S. aid.

There was much grumbling inside and outside Congress at the $40 million spent by independent prosecutor Lawrence E. Walsh to investigate the Iran-Contra scandal. Since that's equal to the cost of aid to Israel for two days and eight hours, it might be useful to ask the American public which they think is the bigger waste of money.

Another outcry followed revelation of the fact that the U.S. government spent $487 million in fiscal year 1991 on bonuses for federal employees, ranging from bonuses awarded to 18 percent of the Department of Agriculture work force to 73 percent of employees of the Agency for International Development. …

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