Benefits to Israel of U.S. Aid
Since 1949 (As of
November 1, 1997)
Foreign Aid Grants and Loans
U.S. Aid (12.2% of
Total Benefits per Israeli
Cost to U.S.
Taxpayers of U.S.
Aid to Israel
Interest Costs Borne by U.S.
Total Cost to
Total Taxpayer Cost per Israeli
A Conservative Total for U.S. Aid to Israel: $91 Billion—and Counting
Congressional Research Report on Israel: US Foreign Assistance by Clyde
Mark (213K pdf file)
U.S. Aid To Israel:
The Strategic Functions
U.S. Aid to Israel:
What U.S. Taxpayer Should Know
U.S. Aid to Israel:
Interpreting the 'Strategic Relationship'
The Cost of Israel to U.S.
True Lies About U.S. Aid to Israel
THE STRATEGIC FUNCTIONS OF U.S. AID TO ISRAEL
By Stephen Zunes
Dr. Zunes is an assistant professor in the
Department of Politics at the University of San Francisco
Since 1992, the U.S. has offered Israel an
additional $2 billion annually in loan guarantees. Congressional
researchers have disclosed that between 1974 and 1989, $16.4 billion in
U.S. military loans were converted to grants and that this was the
understanding from the beginning. Indeed, all past U.S. loans to Israel
have eventually been forgiven by Congress, which has undoubtedly helped
Israel's often-touted claim that they have never defaulted on a U.S.
government loan. U.S. policy since 1984 has been that economic assistance
to Israel must equal or exceed Israel's annual debt repayment to the
United States. Unlike other countries, which receive aid in quarterly
installments, aid to Israel since 1982 has been given in a lump sum at the
beginning of the fiscal year, leaving the U.S. government to borrow from
future revenues. Israel even lends some of this money back through U.S.
treasury bills and collects the additional interest.
In addition, there is the more than $1.5 billion in
private U.S. funds that go to Israel annually in the form of $1 billion in
private tax-deductible donations and $500 million in Israeli bonds. The
ability of Americans to make what amounts to tax-deductible contributions
to a foreign government, made possible through a number of Jewish
charities, does not exist with any other country. Nor do these figures
include short- and long-term commercial loans from U.S. banks, which have
been as high as $1 billion annually in recent years.
Total U.S. aid to Israel is approximately one-third
of the American foreign-aid budget, even though Israel comprises just .001
percent of the world's population and already has one of the world's
higher per capita incomes. Indeed, Israel's GNP is higher than the
combined GNP of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza.
With a per capita income of about $14,000, Israel ranks as the sixteenth
wealthiest country in the world; Israelis enjoy a higher per capita income
than oil-rich Saudi Arabia and are only slightly less well-off than most
Western European countries.
AID does not term economic aid to Israel as
development assistance, but instead uses the term "economic support
funding." Given Israel's relative prosperity, U.S. aid to Israel is
becoming increasingly controversial. In 1994, Yossi Beilen, deputy foreign
minister of Israel and a Knesset member, told the Women's International
Zionist organization, "If our economic situation is better than in many of
your countries, how can we go on asking for your charity?"
U.S. Aid to Israel: What U.S. Taxpayer Should Know
by Tom Malthaner
This morning as I was walking down Shuhada Street in
Hebron, I saw graffiti marking the newly painted storefronts and awnings.
Although three months past schedule and 100 percent over budget, the
renovation of Shuhada Street was finally completed this week. The project
manager said the reason for the delay and cost overruns was the sabotage
of the project by the Israeli settlers of the Beit Hadassah settlement
complex in Hebron. They broke the street lights, stoned project workers,
shot out the windows of bulldozers and other heavy equipment with pellet
guns, broke paving stones before they were laid and now have defaced again
the homes and shops of Palestinians with graffiti. The settlers did not
want Shuhada St. opened to Palestinian traffic as was agreed to under Oslo
2. This renovation project is paid for by USAID funds and it makes me
angry that my tax dollars have paid for improvements that have been
destroyed by the settlers.
Most Americans are not aware how much of their tax
revenue our government sends to Israel. For the fiscal year ending in
September 30, 1997, the U.S. has given Israel $6.72 billion: $6.194
billion falls under Israel's foreign aid allotment and $526 million comes
from agencies such as the Department of Commerce, the U.S. Information
Agency and the Pentagon. The $6.72 billion figure does not include loan
guarantees and annual compound interest totalling $3.122 billion the U.S.
pays on money borrowed to give to Israel. It does not include the cost to
U.S. taxpayers of IRS tax exemptions that donors can claim when they
donate money to Israeli charities. (Donors claim approximately $1 billion
in Federal tax deductions annually. This ultimately costs other U.S. tax
payers $280 million to $390 million.)
When grant, loans, interest and tax deductions are
added together for the fiscal year ending in September 30, 1997, our
special relationship with Israel cost U.S. taxpayers over $10 billion.
Since 1949 the U.S. has given Israel a total of
$83.205 billion. The interest costs borne by U.S. tax payers on behalf of
Israel are $49.937 billion, thus making the total amount of aid given to
Israel since 1949 $133.132 billion. This may mean that U.S. government has
given more federal aid to the average Israeli citizen in a given year than
it has given to the average American citizen.
I am angry when I see Israeli settlers from Hebron
destroy improvements made to Shuhada Street with my tax money. Also, it
angers me that my government is giving over $10 billion to a country that
is more prosperous than most of the other countries in the world and uses
much of its money for strengthening its military and the oppression of the
"U.S. Aid to Israel: Interpreting the 'Strategic
by Stephen Zunes
"The U.S. aid relationship with Israel is unlike any
other in the world," said Stephen Zunes during a January 26 CPAP
presentation. "In sheer volume, the amount is the most generous foreign
aid program ever between any two countries," added Zunes, associate
professor of Politics and chair of the Peace and Justice Studies Program
at the University of San Francisco.
He explored the strategic reasoning behind the aid,
asserting that it parallels the "needs of American arms exporters" and the
role "Israel could play in advancing U.S. strategic interests in the
Although Israel is an "advanced, industrialized,
technologically sophisticated country," it "receives more U.S. aid per
capita annually than the total annual [Gross Domestic Product] per capita
of several Arab states." Approximately a third of the entire U.S. foreign
aid budget goes to Israel, "even though Israel comprises
just…one-thousandth of the world's total population, and already has one
of the world's higher per capita incomes."
U.S. government officials argue that this money is
necessary for "moral" reasons-some even say that Israel is a "democracy
battling for its very survival." If that were the real reason, however,
aid should have been highest during Israel's early years, and would have
declined as Israel grew stronger. Yet "the pattern…has been just the
opposite." According to Zunes, "99 percent of all U.S. aid to Israel took
place after the June 1967 war, when Israel found itself more powerful than
any combination of Arab armies…."
The U.S. supports Israel's dominance so it can serve
as "a surrogate for American interests in this vital strategic region."
"Israel has helped defeat radical nationalist movements" and has been a
"testing ground for U.S. made weaponry." Moreover, the intelligence
agencies of both countries have "collaborated," and "Israel has funneled
U.S. arms to third countries that the U.S. [could] not send arms to
directly,…Iike South Africa, like the Contras, Guatemala under the
military junta, [and] Iran." Zunes cited an Israeli analyst who said:
"'It's like Israel has just become another federal agency when it's
convenient to use and you want something done quietly."' Although the
strategic relationship between the United States and the Gulf Arab states
in the region has been strengthening in recent years, these states "do not
have the political stability, the technological sophistication, [or] the
number of higher-trained armed forces personnel" as does Israel.
Matti Peled, former Israeli major general and
Knesset member, told Zunes that he and most Israeli generals believe this
aid is "little more than an American subsidy to U.S. arms manufacturers,"
considering that the majority of military aid to Israel is used to buy
weapons from the U.S. Moreover, arms to Israel create more demand for
weaponry in Arab states. According to Zunes, "the Israelis announced back
in 1991 that they supported the idea of a freeze in Middle East arms
transfers, yet it was the United States that rejected it."
In the fall of 1993-when many had high hopes for
peace-78 senators wrote to former President Bill Clinton insisting that
aid to Israel remain "at current levels." Their "only reason" was the
"massive procurement of sophisticated arms by Arab states." The letter
neglected to mention that 80 percent of those arms to Arab countries came
from the U.S. "I'm not denying for a moment the power of AIPAC [the
American Israel Public Affairs Committee], the pro-Israel lobby," and
other similar groups, Zunes said. Yet the "Aerospace Industry Association
which promotes these massive arms shipments…is even more influential."
This association has given two times more money to campaigns than all of
the pro-Israel groups combined. Its "force on Capitol Hill, in terms of
lobbying, surpasses that of even AIPAC." Zunes asserted that the "general
thrust of U.S. policy would be pretty much the same even if AIPAC didn't
exist. We didn't need a pro-Indonesia lobby to support Indonesia in its
savage repression of East Timor all these years." This is a complex issue,
and Zunes said that he did not want to be "conspiratorial," but he asked
the audience to imagine what "Palestinian industriousness, Israeli
technology, and Arabian oil money…would do to transform the Middle East….
[W]hat would that mean to American arms manufacturers? Oil companies?
"An increasing number of Israelis are pointing out"
that these funds are not in Israel's best interest. Quoting Peled, Zunes
said, "this aid pushes Israel 'toward a posture of callous intransigence'
in terms of the peace process." Moreover, for every dollar the U.S. sends
in arms aid, Israel must spend two to three dollars to train people to use
the weaponry, to buy parts, and in other ways make use of the aid. Even
"main-stream Israeli economists are saying [it] is very harmful to the
The Israeli paper Yediot Aharonot described Israel
as "'the godfather's messenger' since [Israel] undertake[s] the 'dirty
work' of a godfather who 'always tries to appear to be the owner of some
large, respectable business."' Israeli satirist B. Michael refers to U.S.
aid this way: "'My master gives me food to eat and I bite those whom he
tells me to bite. It's called strategic cooperation." 'To challenge this
strategic relationship, one cannot focus solely on the Israeli lobby but
must also examine these "broader forces as well." "Until we tackle this
issue head-on," it will be "very difficult to win" in other areas relating
"The results" of the short-term thinking behind U.S.
policy "are tragic," not just for the "immediate victims" but "eventually
[for] Israel itself" and "American interests in the region." The U.S. is
sending enormous amounts of aid to the Middle East, and yet "we are less
secure than ever"-both in terms of U.S. interests abroad and for
individual Americans. Zunes referred to a "growing and increasing
hostility [of] the average Arab toward the United States." In the long
term, said Zunes, "peace and stability and cooperation with the vast Arab
world is far more important for U.S. interests than this alliance with
This is not only an issue for those who are working
for Palestinian rights, but it also "jeopardizes the entire agenda of
those of us concerned about human rights, concerned about arms control,
concerned about international law." Zunes sees significant potential in
"building a broad-based movement around it."
The above text is based on remarks, delivered on. 26
January, 2001 by Stephen Zunes - Associate Professor of Politics and Chair
of the Peace and Justice Studies Program at San Francisco University.
The Cost of Israel to U.S. Taxpayers: True Lies
About U.S. Aid to Israel
By Richard H. Curtiss
For many years the American media said that "Israel
receives $1.8 billion in military aid" or that "Israel receives $1.2
billion in economic aid." Both statements were true, but since they were
never combined to give us the complete total of annual U.S. aid to Israel,
they also were lies—true lies.
Recently Americans have begun to read and hear that
"Israel receives $3 billion in annual U.S. foreign aid." That's true. But
it's still a lie. The problem is that in fiscal 1997 alone, Israel
received from a variety of other U.S. federal budgets at least $525.8
million above and beyond its $3 billion from the foreign aid budget, and
yet another $2 billion in federal loan guarantees. So the complete total
of U.S. grants and loan guarantees to Israel for fiscal 1997 was
One can truthfully blame the mainstream media for
never digging out these figures for themselves, because none ever have.
They were compiled by the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. But
the mainstream media certainly are not alone. Although Congress authorizes
America's foreign aid total, the fact that more than a third of it goes to
a country smaller in both area and population than Hong Kong probably
never has been mentioned on the floor of the Senate or House. Yet it's
been going on for more than a generation.
Probably the only members of Congress who even
suspect the full total of U.S. funds received by Israel each year are the
privileged few committee members who actually mark it up. And almost all
members of the concerned committees are Jewish, have taken huge campaign
donations orchestrated by Israel's Washington, DC lobby, the American
Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), or both. These congressional
committee members are paid to act, not talk. So they do and they don't.
The same applies to the president, the secretary of
state, and the foreign aid administrator. They all submit a budget that
includes aid for Israel, which Congress approves, or increases, but never
cuts. But no one in the executive branch mentions that of the few
remaining U.S. aid recipients worldwide, all of the others are developing
nations which either make their military bases available to the U.S., are
key members of international alliances in which the U.S. participates, or
have suffered some crippling blow of nature to their abilities to feed
their people such as earthquakes, floods or droughts.
Israel, whose troubles arise solely from its
unwillingness to give back land it seized in the 1967 war in return for
peace with its neighbors, does not fit those criteria. In fact, Israel's
1995 per capita gross domestic product was $15,800. That put it below
Britain at $19,500 and Italy at $18,700 and just above Ireland at $15,400
and Spain at $14,300.
All four of those European countries have
contributed a very large share of immigrants to the U.S., yet none has
organized an ethnic group to lobby for U.S. foreign aid. Instead, all four
send funds and volunteers to do economic development and emergency relief
work in other less fortunate parts of the world.
The lobby that Israel and its supporters have built
in the United States to make all this aid happen, and to ban discussion of
it from the national dialogue, goes far beyond AIPAC, with its $15 million
budget, its 150 employees, and its five or six registered lobbyists who
manage to visit every member of Congress individually once or twice a
AIPAC, in turn, can draw upon the resources of the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, a roof
group set up solely to coordinate the efforts of some 52 national Jewish
organizations on behalf of Israel.
Among them are Hadassah, the Zionist women's
organization, which organizes a steady stream of American Jewish visitors
to Israel; the American Jewish Congress, which mobilizes support for
Israel among members of the traditionally left-of-center Jewish
mainstream; and the American Jewish Committee, which plays the same role
within the growing middle-of-the-road and right-of-center Jewish
community. The American Jewish Committee also publishes Commentary,one of
the Israel lobby's principal national publications.
Perhaps the most controversial of these groups is
B'nai B'rith's Anti-Defamation League. Its original highly commendable
purpose was to protect the civil rights of American Jews. Over the past
generation, however, the ADL has regressed into a conspiratorial and, with
a $45 million budget, extremely well-funded hate group.
In the 1980s, during the tenure of chairman Seymour
Reich, who went on to become chairman of the Conference of Presidents, ADL
was found to have circulated two annual fund-raising letters warning
Jewish parents against allegedly negative influences on their children
arising from the increasing Arab presence on American university campuses.
More recently, FBI raids on ADL's Los Angeles and
San Francisco offices revealed that an ADL operative had purchased files
stolen from the San Francisco police department that a court had ordered
destroyed because they violated the civil rights of the individuals on
whom they had been compiled. ADL, it was shown, had added the illegally
prepared and illegally obtained material to its own secret files, compiled
by planting informants among Arab-American, African-American,
anti-Apartheid and peace and justice groups.
The ADL infiltrators took notes of the names and
remarks of speakers and members of audiences at programs organized by such
groups. ADL agents even recorded the license plates of persons attending
such programs and then suborned corrupt motor vehicles department
employees or renegade police officers to identify the owners.
Although one of the principal offenders fled the
United States to escape prosecution, no significant penalties were
assessed. ADL's Northern California office was ordered to comply with
requests by persons upon whom dossiers had been prepared to see their own
files, but no one went to jail and as yet no one has paid fines.
Not surprisingly, a defecting employee revealed in
an article he published in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
that AIPAC, too, has such "enemies" files. They are compiled for use by
pro-Israel journalists like Steven Emerson and other so-called "terrorism
experts," and also by professional, academic or journalistic rivals of the
persons described for use in black-listing, defaming, or denouncing them.
What is never revealed is that AIPAC's "opposition research" department,
under the supervision of Michael Lewis, son of famed Princeton University
Orientalist Bernard Lewis, is the source of this defamatory material.
But this is not AIPAC's most controversial activity.
In the 1970s, when Congress put a cap on the amount its members could earn
from speakers' fees and book royalties over and above their salaries, it
halted AIPAC's most effective ways of paying off members for voting
according to AIPAC recommendations. Members of AIPAC's national board of
directors solved the problem by returning to their home states and
creating political action committees (PACs).
Most special interests have PACs, as do many major
corporations, labor unions, trade associations and public-interest groups.
But the pro-Israel groups went wild. To date some 126 pro-Israel PACs have
been registered, and no fewer than 50 have been active in every national
election over the past generation.
An individual voter can give up to $2,000 to a
candidate in an election cycle, and a PAC can give a candidate up to
$10,000. However, a single special interest with 50 PACs can give a
candidate who is facing a tough opponent, and who has voted according to
its recommendations, up to half a million dollars. That's enough to buy
all the television time needed to get elected in most parts of the
Even candidates who don't need this kind of money
certainly don't want it to become available to a rival from their own
party in a primary election, or to an opponent from the opposing party in
a general election. As a result, all but a handful of the 535 members of
the Senate and House vote as AIPAC instructs when it comes to aid to
Israel, or other aspects of U.S. Middle East policy.
There is something else very special about AIPAC's
network of political action committees. Nearly all have deceptive names.
Who could possibly know that the Delaware Valley Good Government
Association in Philadelphia, San Franciscans for Good Government in
California, Cactus PAC in Arizona, Beaver PAC in Wisconsin, and even
Icepac in New York are really pro-Israel PACs under deep cover?
Hiding AIPAC's Tracks
In fact, the congressmembers know it when they list
the contributions they receive on the campaign statements they have to
prepare for the Federal Election Commission. But their constituents don't
know this when they read these statements. So just as no other special
interest can put so much "hard money" into any candidate's election
campaign as can the Israel lobby, no other special interest has gone to
such elaborate lengths to hide its tracks.
Although AIPAC, Washington's most feared
special-interest lobby, can hide how it uses both carrots and sticks to
bribe or intimidate members of Congress, it can't hide all of the results.
Anyone can ask one of their representatives in
Congress for a chart prepared by the Congressional Research Service, a
branch of the Library of Congress, that shows Israel received $62.5
billion in foreign aid from fiscal year 1949 through fiscal year 1996.
People in the national capital area also can visit the library of the U.S.
Agency for International Development (USAID) in Rosslyn, Virginia, and
obtain the same information, plus charts showing how much foreign aid the
U.S. has given other countries as well.
Visitors will learn that in precisely the same
1949-1996 time frame, the total of U.S. foreign aid to all of the
countries of sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean combined
was $62,497,800,000--almost exactly the amount given to tiny Israel.
According to the Population Reference Bureau of
Washington, DC, in mid-1995 the sub-Saharan countries had a combined
population of 568 million. The $24,415,700,000 in foreign aid they had
received by then amounted to $42.99 per sub-Saharan African.
Similarly, with a combined population of 486
million, all of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean together
had received $38,254,400,000. This amounted to $79 per person.
The per capita U.S. foreign aid to Israel's 5.8
million people during the same period was $10,775.48. This meant that for
every dollar the U.S. spent on an African, it spent $250.65 on an Israeli,
and for every dollar it spent on someone from the Western Hemisphere
outside the United States, it spent $214 on an Israeli.
These comparisons already seem shocking, but they
are far from the whole truth. Using reports compiled by Clyde Mark of the
Congressional Research Service and other sources, freelance writer Frank
Collins tallied for theWashington Report all of the extra items for Israel
buried in the budgets of the Pentagon and other federal agencies in fiscal
year 1993.Washington Report news editor Shawn Twing did the same thing for
fiscal years 1996 and 1997.
They uncovered $1.271 billion in extras in FY 1993,
$355.3 million in FY 1996 and $525.8 million in FY 1997. These represent
an average increase of 12.2 percent over the officially recorded foreign
aid totals for the same fiscal years, and they probably are not complete.
It's reasonable to assume, therefore, that a similar 12.2 percent hidden
increase has prevailed over all of the years Israel has received aid.
As of Oct. 31, 1997 Israel will have received $3.05
billion in U.S. foreign aid for fiscal year 1997 and $3.08 billion in
foreign aid for fiscal year 1998. Adding the 1997 and 1998 totals to those
of previous years since 1949 yields a total of $74,157,600,000 in foreign
aid grants and loans. Assuming that the actual totals from other budgets
average 12.2 percent of that amount, that brings the grand total to
But that's not quite all. Receiving its annual
foreign aid appropriation during the first month of the fiscal year,
instead of in quarterly installments as do other recipients, is just
another special privilege Congress has voted for Israel. It enables Israel
to invest the money in U.S. Treasury notes. That means that the U.S.,
which has to borrow the money it gives to Israel, pays interest on the
money it has granted to Israel in advance, while at the same time Israel
is collecting interest on the money. That interest to Israel from advance
payments adds another $1.650 billion to the total, making it
$84,854,827,200.That's the number you should write down for total aid to
Israel. And that's $14,346 each for each man, woman and child in Israel.
It's worth noting that that figure does not include
U.S. government loan guarantees to Israel, of which Israel has drawn $9.8
billion to date. They greatly reduce the interest rate the Israeli
government pays on commercial loans, and they place additional burdens on
U.S. taxpayers, especially if the Israeli government should default on any
of them. But since neither the savings to Israel nor the costs to U.S.
taxpayers can be accurately quantified, they are excluded from
Further, friends of Israel never tire of saying that
Israel has never defaulted on repayment of a U.S. government loan. It
would be equally accurate to say Israel has never been required to repay a
U.S. government loan. The truth of the matter is complex, and designed to
be so by those who seek to conceal it from the U.S. taxpayer.
Most U.S. loans to Israel are forgiven, and many
were made with the explicit understanding that they would be forgiven
before Israel was required to repay them. By disguising as loans what in
fact were grants, cooperating members of Congress exempted Israel from the
U.S. oversight that would have accompanied grants. On other loans, Israel
was expected to pay the interest and eventually to begin repaying the
principal. But the so-called Cranston Amendment, which has been attached
by Congress to every foreign aid appropriation since 1983, provides that
economic aid to Israel will never dip below the amount Israel is required
to pay on its outstanding loans. In short, whether U.S. aid is extended as
grants or loans to Israel, it never returns to the Treasury.
Israel enjoys other privileges. While most countries
receiving U.S. military aid funds are expected to use them for U.S. arms,
ammunition and training, Israel can spend part of these funds on weapons
made by Israeli manufacturers. Also, when it spends its U.S. military aid
money on U.S. products, Israel frequently requires the U.S. vendor to buy
components or materials from Israeli manufacturers. Thus, though Israeli
politicians say that their own manufacturers and exporters are making them
progressively less dependent upon U.S. aid, in fact those Israeli
manufacturers and exporters are heavily subsidized by U.S. aid.
Although it's beyond the parameters of this study,
it's worth mentioning that Israel also receives foreign aid from some
other countries. After the United States, the principal donor of both
economic and military aid to Israel is Germany.
By far the largest component of German aid has been
in the form of restitution payments to victims of Nazi attrocities. But
there also has been extensive German military assistance to Israel during
and since the Gulf war, and a variety of German educational and research
grants go to Israeli institutions. The total of German assistance in all
of these categories to the Israeli government, Israeli individuals and
Israeli private institutions has been some $31 billion or $5,345 per
capita, bringing the per capita total of U.S. and German assistance
combined to almost $20,000 per Israeli. Since very little public money is
spent on the more than 20 percent of Israeli citizens who are Muslim or
Christian, the actual per capita benefits received by Israel's Jewish
citizens would be considerably higher.
True Cost to U.S.
Generous as it is, what Israelis actually got in
U.S. aid is considerably less than what it has cost U.S. taxpayers to
provide it. The principal difference is that so long as the U.S. runs an
annual budget deficit, every dollar of aid the U.S. gives Israel has to be
raised through U.S. government borrowing.
In an article in the Washington Report for December 1991/January
1992, Frank Collins estimated the costs of this interest, based upon
prevailing interest rates for every year since 1949. I have updated this
by applying a very conservative 5 percent interest rate for subsequent
years, and confined the amount upon which the interest is calculated to
grants, not loans or loan guarantees.
On this basis the $84.8 billion in grants, loans and
commodities Israel has received from the U.S. since 1949 cost the U.S. an
additional $49,936,880,000 in interest.
There are many other costs of Israel to U.S.
taxpayers, such as most or all of the $45.6 billion in U.S. foreign aid to
Egypt since Egypt made peace with Israel in 1979 (compared to $4.2 billion
in U.S. aid to Egypt for the preceding 26 years). U.S. foreign aid to
Egypt, which is pegged at two-thirds of U.S. foreign aid to Israel,
averages $2.2 billion per year.
There also have been immense political and military
costs to the U.S. for its consistent support of Israel during Israel's
half-century of disputes with the Palestinians and all of its Arab
neighbors. In addition, there have been the approximately $10 billion in
U.S. loan guarantees and perhaps $20 billion in tax-exempt contributions
made to Israel by American Jews in the nearly half-century since Israel
Even excluding all of these extra costs, America's
$84.8 billion in aid to Israel from fiscal years 1949 through 1998, and
the interest the U.S. paid to borrow this money, has cost U.S. taxpayers
$134.8 billion, not adjusted for inflation. Or, put another way, the
nearly $14,630 every one of 5.8 million Israelis received from the U.S.
government by Oct. 31, 1997 has cost American taxpayers $23,240 per
It would be interesting to know how many of those
American taxpayers believe they and their families have received as much
from the U.S. Treasury as has everyone who has chosen to become a citizen
of Israel. But it's a question that will never occur to the American
public because, so long as America's mainstream media, Congress and
president maintain their pact of silence, few Americans will ever know the
true cost of Israel to U.S. taxpayers.
Richard Curtiss, a retired
U.S. foreign service officer, is the executive editor of the Washington
Report on Middle East Affairs.