Israel has a political problem. It’s the same one faced by the United States: There are political leaders on the national stage that care more about progressive welfare policies than national security.
Often constitutional conservatives argue against foreign aid because, without a treaty obligation, it is illegal. WND Editor Joseph Farah and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., have made this argument. They are right. Others argue that Israel is manipulated by the United States because of Israel’s dependency on the foreign-aid package. It’s the last charge that deserves scrutiny. Beyond whether or not the senator from Kentucky is positioning himself to run for the presidency, it’s clear that the United States needs to be realistic about its negative influence on its most important ally.
Israel is a unique democracy. The Hebrew nation-state is comprised of a people with an ancient history but a relatively young government. This government, like all governments in the West, is under the growing strain of its self-imposed welfare state. But unlike the much larger, wealthier and powerful United States, little Israel, with seven million people, has a smaller margin of error. Israel must choose between guns and butter on a much tighter budget than the United States. And that is where foreign aid comes in: American foreign aid subsidizes the Israeli welfare state.
Consider all the problems associated with bloated, inefficient, government-run social programs. Why would an American supporter of Zionism wish that on Israel? If government programs are abused by American leftists for their political ends, do I believe Israel’s leftists are somehow resistant to the same temptations? The temptation to irresponsible behavior in a democracy is not limited to leftists. Religious groups also receive disproportionate benefits from the Israeli government, much to the chagrin of their fellow citizens, who identify with different strains of Judaism.
What role should American money play in this debate?
While the U.S. Department of State has wrongly manipulated Middle East policy against Zionist interests – and American interests – many of Israel’s biggest detractors are the progressives within its borders. These Israelis benefits from the assumption by many American Zionists that Israel’s worst policies usually originate in Foggy Bottom.
Unfortunately, Israel does not lack a significant – and naïve – intelligentsia that undermines Israeli security by placing a disproportionate amount of blame on Israel for the Israeli-Arab conflict. It is important that Americans realize that undermining Israeli security undermines American security.
The Israeli shekel has performed well as a world currency. The 2011 Israeli budget of NIS 348 billion was equal to approximately $93 billion. The U.S. foreign aid package to Israel is roughly NIS 11 billion or $3 billion. If the United States were to follow its Constitution, Israel would have to readjust just over three percent of its budget to make up the difference. It could do so, but the political elite would have to scale back other programs. Whether they are in Jerusalem or Washington, D.C., politicians hate budget cuts.
The United States is in the midst of an internal political change that will determine whether it will remain a strong nation or a weak one. Foreign aid is an expenditure that takes money out of the country. In times like these, do I need to write more? Further, Israel is in the midst of its own budget crisis, and it should be encouraged to make the tough choices now. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come under fire for risking Israel’s financial future, despite the fact has already enacted budget cutting measures. How much blame should the Labour and wider left-wing movements take for this situation? In any event, an insolvent Israel is an indefensible Israel.
To support Israel, the United States must be strong. An insolvent America is an irrelevant America. After all, what’s the point of being allied to a bankrupt superpower 6,000 miles away?