Opinion: How America benefits from US aid to Israel

What America receives from Israel in return for its military aid package is a “steal” compared to other countries.

By Bill Mehlman, World Israel News

Voodoo arithmetic has never been more blatantly on display than in the oft-heard whine that Israel, riding the crest of a supposedly predatory  “Capitol Hill lobby,” is the unjust recipient of an out-sized share of  America’s annual military aid package.

A look at the half-truths – always more insidious than outright lies – underlying these scholarly manipulations of the real figures, shows that Israel received $3.1 billion, or 55 percent of “direct” U.S. military aid in 2017, compared to 23 percent for Egypt and lesser percentages for Germany, Japan and South Korea.

The operative word here is “direct” – i.e. military equipment and associated services – which, as Hillel Frisch, Bar-Illan University political science professor and BESA Center senior research associate is at pains to point out, renders the $3.1 billion Israel gets “almost meaningless, compared to the real costs of U.S. military aid, above all, boots on the ground in the host states.”

David Vine, a professor at American University in Washington and author of How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World, reports that there are currently 160,000 U.S. troops stationed in 70 countries around the globe at an annual cost to the American taxpayer of $85-$100 billion. Every 800 to 1,000 American military personnel  stationed abroad  represent $565-$665 million in aid to the country in which they’re located.

The biggest recipients of that largesse are Japan with 49,000 American military uniforms in house at an annual cost of $27 billion; Germany with 38,000 at a yearly cost of $21 billion and South Korea with 28,000 in residence at around $15 billion  per annum.

There are no U.S. boots on the ground in Israel. Israel defends its own turf on its own dime with its own blood. What it receives in U.S. aid, all of which is ultimately recycled in the purchase of American military equipment and services and jobs for taxpaying American workers, is a  “steal” alongside the  payback accorded America by its “sole ally between Cyprus and India,” Frisch observes, with a “strategic air force and  rapid force deployment capability to counter major threats to vital U.S. interests.”

He invites us to envision potential threats like an Iranian move on Bahrain with its Shiite majority at odds with the ruling pro-Western Sunni government, or a combined Iranian-Syrian bid to destabilize Sunni Jordan. Who else but Israel could be “depended on completely to provide bases and utilities for a U.S. response and to participate in the effort if needed?”

In his drive to curb “free-riding by large recipients of ‘real’ U.S. aid,” Frisch expresses the hope that “businessman-president” Donald Trump appreciates the “security bargain the U.S. has with Israel – a country that not only shares many common values with the U.S., but can make a meaningful contribution to American vital interests with no trip-wires attached.” That should be an easy one.