Why Does America Spend So Much on Israel?

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Dec 3, 2018

With so much that must be done at home in the United States, why does America send so much of its resources to Israel? It’s a fair question, but according to U.S. Gen Chuck Wald, America doesn’t spend enough on Israel. Watch to understand why.

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Every dollar America spends on Israel is a dollar spent, in effect, in our own defense. 

  • America’s ties with Israel are premised on promoting Israel’s defensive self-reliance, rather than requiring U.S. troop stations, as is the case in many U.S. agreements with other countries.View Source
  • In contrast, many of America’s treaties, like with South Korea, are premised on mutual defense agreements and often require U.S. troops on the ground.View Source
  • Israel is well-equipped for a war, with 2,760 tanks, 252 fighters, and 170,000 active military personnel.View Source
  • WATCH: “The Middle East Problem” – Dennis PragerView Source

We don’t give too much to Israel—we give too little. U.S. aid to Israel strengthens our national defense and benefits our economy. 

  • In 2016, the U.S. agreed to provide Israel $38 billion in defense assistance over ten years, “the largest such aid package in U.S. history,” Reuters notes.View Source
  • Financial aid not only gives Israel the funds to purchase the weapons it needs, it also benefits the American economy. Under the agreement, Israel must spend these funds on U.S. products.View Source
  • WATCH: “Israel: The World’s Most Moral Army” – Colonel Richard KempView Source

With the rising danger presented by Iran and its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas, the U.S. should strengthen its support of Israel.

  • The U.S. has long supported Israel, but more should be done. To acquire the capability to permanently destroy Iranian nuclear facilities, Israel would need 5000-lb. or 30,000 lb. penetrator bombs.View Source
  • An accelerated timetable would allow Israel to acquire critical capabilities like more F-35 air attack squadrons.View Source
  • In 2016, the U.S. agreed to provide Israel $38 billion in defense assistance over ten years.View Source
  • WATCH: “Iran and the Bomb” – Dennis PragerView Source

A formal treaty between the U.S. and Israel would send a strong message to the region: You mess with Israel, you mess with the U.S.

  • While the U.S. has several agreements with Israel, it has no formal treaty.View Source
  • A formal treaty with Israel would send a loud strategic signal to Israel’s enemies that if you mess with Israel, you mess with the U.S.View Source
  • It would be strategically advantageous for the U.S. to give Israel the resources they need to help stabilize the region against the efforts of terror-supporting regimes.View Source
  • An alliance would be beneficial to America in other ways, including allowing the U.S. to share in Israel’s weapons technology.View Source

More venture capital is spent per capita in Israel than in any other country—and much of the R&D in Israel has benefited the U.S.

  • More venture capital is spent per capita in Israel than in any other country.View Source
  • Companies like Microsoft, IBM, Motorola, and Intel have R&D facilities in Israel.View Source
  • Israel has the third most companies listed on the NASDAQ in a country of just 8 million people.View Source
  • When America sells Israel military gear, they adapt it to their own special needs. America benefits from these innovations.View Source
  • President Obama’s Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said, “There's no question that [American] lives have been saved by [Israeli] help.”View Source
  • There are many cutting-edge projects America and Israel can work on together, such as directed-energy weapons.View Source
  • Directed-energy weapons will be needed to counter the spread of cheap, deadly and plentiful mortars and drones from Iran and other bad actors.View Source

Anti-Israel movements don’t want Americans to know about the strategic benefits of the U.S. providing support to Israel. 

  • Many young Americans support anti-Israel groups like BDS – Boycott, Divest, Sanction – that want to weaken and ultimately dismantle Israel.View Source
  • Young Americans are more likely to blame Israel than Hamas for the violence in the Gaza Strip.View Source
  • According to a 2018 Pew Research Center poll, Democrats are “about as likely to sympathize with Palestinians as with Israel.”View Source
  • Israel is on the front line of terror. They, not the U.S., are within missile-range of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas.View Source

Why do we spend so much money on Israel?

Over my decades of military service, as the Deputy Commander of United States European Command and now as a security advisor, I’ve often heard people make this complaint.

The truth is we don’t spend enough. We should spend more. And for purely selfish reasons.

Every dollar we spend on Israel is a dollar spent, in effect, in our own defense. As a value proposition, it’s all in America’s favor.

Let me explain, but before I do let me say this:

I can easily defend why America supports Israel on moral grounds alone.

I’ve been there on numerous occasions. It’s a good and decent country. Given the neighborhood it lives in, I find that both remarkable and admirable.

But I will make this argument solely on the basis of America’s security.

Our partnership with Israel is unique.

Unlike most of our current treaty alliances -- say with South Korea -- our ties with Jerusalem are not premised on American troops serving as tripwires on Israel’s frontlines.

This is because Israel takes care of itself.

America, for good reason, remains wary of any further military engagement in the Middle East. And this only strengthens the case for giving Israel the tools it needs to defend its borders.

Here are three things we can do – again, all in our own self-interest.

First, the United States should front load its financial commitment to Israel.

We have agreed to provide Israel $38 billion in defense assistance over ten years. That’s a big number, but it’s also a great deal – for America.

In addition to giving Israel the financial wherewithal to purchase the weapons it needs, it also benefits the American economy. Under the agreement, Israel must spend these funds on U.S. products. And it’s happy to do so. Without adding a cent to the total, the United States should “front-load” this assistance to reflect the changing strategic situation in the Middle East, specifically the rising danger presented by Iran and its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas.

An accelerated timetable would allow Israel to acquire critical capabilities like more F-35 air attack squadrons, more air refueling tankers and more precision munitions. It will need this hardware to defend itself and American interests against these persistent, and growing, threats.

Second, the United States should enhance our alliance with Israel.

It may surprise you to know that the United States does not have a defense treaty with this essential ally  – lots of agreements, but no treaty.

We should. 

Why is this so important? Because it will send a loud strategic signal to Israel’s enemies that if you mess with Israel, you mess with us.

Israel is not going to ask us for troops. But we should be giving them anything else they need – intelligence, weapons technology and other vital information. And we know this is a two-way street. Israel gives a lot in return.

Which leads me to the third point. 

The United States and Israel should build on their already close collaboration in research and development. Israel is one of the most high-tech economies in the world. American investors understand this. More venture capital is spent per capita in Israel than in any other country. Nine out of the ten largest companies have R&D facilities there. This is in a country of just 8 million people.

When we sell them military gear, they adapt it to their own special needs. The American military, in turn, benefits from these innovations, especially in the area of desert warfare. Indeed, President Obama’s Defense Secretary Ashton Carter made this point. “There's no question that American lives have been saved by Israeli technology.”

There are many cutting-edge projects we can work on together, such as directed-energy weapons. This new form of cannon emits highly-focused energy to neutralize targets. Such weapons will be needed to counter the spread of cheap, deadly and plentiful mortars and drones from Iran and other bad actors.

All this explains why I find it so infuriating to see Americans, especially young Americans, support anti-Israel groups like BDS – Boycott, Divest, Sanction –that want to weaken and destroy Israel. Putting aside the perverse logic of these groups – that we should punish a free and open democracy –  it's self-destructive.

Israel is on the front line of terror.

They, not us, are within missile range of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas. To the extent these enemies of freedom are held in check, they are held in check by Israel. And, they ask from us not one US soldier – only for military aid, which they spend on American defense products to help defend American interests.

We should give them that aid without reservation. Sure, it costs us treasure. But it saves us blood. Our blood.

It’s also the right thing to do.

I’m General Chuck Wald, United States Air Force, for Prager University.

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