The Price of US “Security Guarantees” for Israel
During the last few decades, the threat of losing American aid has become one of the key arguments wielded in Israel’s internal political discussions. It is used to explain countless steps taken by the government which are all too obviously detrimental to our security, or simply to our national dignity. Taking into account our neighbors’ Eastern mindset and mentality, this last is tantamount to a further lowering in the level of our security (note the thinking along the lines of: “He who is humiliated is he who is weak, so finish him off!”).
Using the threat of depriving us of this aid, our current political elite demand that we proceed strictly according to the course outlined for us in 1992-95 (as part of the failed so called Oslo “peace” process).
Let us take a glance at the most frequently mentioned component of American aid: military support.
1. Assistance for us is conditioned by assistance for our enemies.
According to the data available through the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which regularly publishes statistical figures for military spending, in 2008, Israel received $2.4 billion in real military aid.
In 2009, the US also anticipated making grants of military aid (p. 800):
$2.4 billion to Israel (in 2008-2009 this made up 1.5% of the Gross Domestic Product of the country, and approximately 20% of the military expenses); $1.3 billion to Egypt, and $300 million to Jordan. In addition, $415 million civilian aid to Egypt (p. 798), while the amounts allotted to the Palestinian National Authority run in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Of course, this is far from all as far as what is due to our neighbors. I want to avoid overburdening the reader with figures, but the general conclusion should be clear enough. The total allotted in military and civilian aid to the Arabs (where this last item simply stands in for what should be minimal spending by the Arab leadership on the needs of the general populace, one whom the leadership actually is not all that concerned about) is at least as high as the aid allotted to Israel. At the same time, Israel has a military industry of its own, while the Arabs do not. It follows that the real significance of aid received from the outside is different for us and for them. For neighboring Arab countries this aid is an all-or-nothing factor determining their military potential. By contrast, for Israel it is a noteworthy buttress, but not more than that. Even these, the most obvious aspects of the situation, are far from all that we get as part of the “loading” of the aid issue.
The decision about what specifically Israel will or will not purchase with the allotted funds (purchase from the United States, naturally enough, and not on the open market) are reached in accord with the US government. The sales are thus conditioned by the interests of some certain groups within the American leadership. These interests result in that even weapons purchased from such a “closed distributor” instead of being bought at an enormous shopping mall where a large range of choices is available, have politically motivated limitations. That is, we are given assignments as to whom we may aim and shoot at, but not overly powerfully or directly, and who may not be taken aim at all.
2. Blockage of Growth of Israeli Arms Producers
Based on the terms of the cooperation, Israel’s entire Ministry of Defense budget becomes open and accessible to the formally friendly state government. This latter’s interests, however, may well be represented by an official who is none too friendly to the Jewish People.
This, in turn, means that the actual usefulness of the granted total in the amount of $2.4 billion is in fact much lower than the figures indicating the nominal amount. This is the point we arrive at before we even bring up the opportunities which American competitors have of blocking possibilities of growth and development for Israeli arms producers, using state support as a means of leverage. Considerable quantities of ink have already been spilt devoted to this; think back at least to the closing of the well known “Lavi” aircraft project.
3. The IDF with Its Hands Tied
The most significant and dangerous consequence of accepting aid when this is inseparable from the activity of internal interest parties, are the limitations foisted upon us in connection with ways of taking military action. This set of limitations impinging upon courses of action open to the State and the Army of Defense sharply lowers the efficacy of the ENTIRE military machinery of the country. Imagine the “dream army” of our left: a “smart military” outfitted with the newest high precision arms. Add to this, nuclear weapons, real or imaginary. What profit is possibly to be derived from all this, if both we and our enemies are clearly aware that putting any of our military advantages to use is something that we cannot do. Cannot, by virtue of a perverted morality and lacerated and distorted military jurisprudence and law enforcement practices. Even standard weapons or just a clenched fist can provide grounds enough for an accusation of excessive or some other illegal use of force. Terms along these lines are obviously an attainment of doubtful worth.
A special task force tough fighter, pumped up and armed to the teeth, can easily become the victim of three aggressive teenagers if, faced with the threat of criminal prosecution, he hesitates to use force against his attackers. And a wimpy little old man with a gun, not burdened by any doubts or apprehension about what is right, ready to shoot without waiting for a beating, has a fair chance of emerging the victor from such a confrontation. So, too, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) will get no mileage out of arms received from the US, when these weapons are used only to tie its hands. Standard tanks and automatic rifles will suffice to bring enemies to their knees if only the resolve to use these weapons is not limited, but well known to the opposing side.
This consequence of the “terms of the grant” of assistance has been abundantly discussed as far back as the ‘90s. Refusing American military aid was an item on the list of reforms ultimately never decided upon by Netanyahu; but the measure under consideration occupied a line far from the last on the list.
This is well understood by those in the Israeli self-dubbed “elite,” who continue to keep the military’s hands tied. They are the ones, apparently, who are concerned about something thoroughly different than the security of the average citizen, which is what you and we are in fact concerned about.
Who in Israel Stands to Benefit from an American Aid Program?
These are, first of all, of course, the individuals employed as part of the implementation of the program. They are not numerous, but this does not mean that their impact upon the country as a whole is insignificant. These are flesh of the flesh of our leftist Ashkenazi establishment, before whom all doors are open. They resolve all and any questions regardless of the political party affiliation of the Prime Minister. The courts and the prosecutors are on their side. The plethora of “peace loving” mass media and telecommunications labor for all they are worth to advance their interests, with the lion’s share of the effort financed by the taxpayers. They have a powerful instrument at their disposal: they can always reach an agreement behind the Government’s back about having the American side put any requisite amount of pressure on a recalcitrant Prime Minister.
A more extensive special interest group by far is made up of people who may themselves well be exempt of dependence on aid programs, but who are all too often involved in special binding relationships with other generous programs, such as grants from European state governments for steps taken to ensure the protection of the Left.
To be coarse, but frank: these are success stories from the same milieu which brought up Anat Kam, the classified information thief. The noted woman activist managed to obtain secret military information bearing upon methods of neutralizing terrorists, a feat she performed for the purpose of publication. To convey the same message in a more generalized way: these are people for whom values of freedom find their expression not in the precedence of the interests of the individual citizen over the interests of the machinery of the state, but rather in the precedence taken by their own private interests over the interests of their fellow citizens. This conception is slightly masked by the mantra reiterating the notion of “the archaic nature of a national state” (meaning that the state, considering that it is somehow archaic, does not deserve or need to remain the object of anybody’s loyalty; while in the eyes of certain judges, or in the eyes of the same Anat Kam, who refers to such a judge in revealing state secrets, the interests of the killer terrorist, left alone rather than being finished off, clearly occupy a slot no lower than the need of protecting your lives or ours.)
Money Sources Independent of Taxpayers: Foreign Aid and Democracy in Israel
History abounds with cases of problems that arise when the state has sources of funding independent of the taxpayers. The government of such a state develops the ability to disregard its constituents (the oil monarchies are a classic instance; typical also is Russia’s all too recent example, when petroleum rent revenue served to advance the demolition of democratic institutions).
The poor condition of democracy in Israel today is indicated by:
- the Israeli courts’ permanent leftist ideological bias;
- reinforcing this are the leftist leanings of Israel’s special interest groups sustained by the media, with the media market’s leftist bias encouraged by the courts’ intervention in its favor; in addition, the leftward-tending media often enjoy the support provided by the state-financed TV and Radio programming, such as the “Public” TV Channel, Galei Tzahal, and so on, or by means sponsored in additional ways, for instance, via the budget covering ads in the daily Haaretz;
- the irregularities and scandals typical of Israel’s leading parties’ primary elections, unmatchable by any political disorder in the US.
Thus, the Leftist oligarchy seems thoroughly “voter-proof” thanks to court and media dominance, and well able to afford behavior patterns unacceptable in a regular Rule of Law Democracy (see some examples and relevant data in Appendices 2 and 3).
Nine years ago, Yuval Levin published a detailed study describing the specific stimuli which provoke hostile behavior toward society, and which are generated by the perennial program of American aid, in his “American Aid to the Middle East: The Tragedy of Good Intentions.”
Constant appealing by special interest groups to the threat of losing US support, in combination with calls to the US government not to hesitate to use this aid as a means of leverage and pressure, bring out yet another component of the political price which we pay for “assistance.” By accepting the aid, we reduce our allied partner relationship to an allied relationship based on dependence. We can get a sense of to what an extent “senior partners” are likely to appreciate such an ally from a comparison with Czechoslovakia and Finland. The first had a powerful, excellently armed military and pledges from its allies. The second had practically neither of these things. But the first let go, giving in to the pressure of its allies – the guarantors. While the second struggled desperately for all it was worth against Soviet aggression. Nobody even seriously considered attacking Germany when it faithlessly invaded Czechoslovakia, trampling all Munich agreements along the way in a single act of violation. But aid to Finnish troops was being discussed in good earnest in 1939 and early 1940 by the governments of Great Britain and France. Quite probably, these very discussions became a factor in Stalin’s offer of peace to Finland at the moment when the tiny peace loving nation had, for all intents and purposes, exhausted its military potential.
This should teach us a very important lesson. With all the goodwill toward us in the world, the Americans are still not going to go to war on our behalf. What that means is that their “security guarantees” are worth no more than the worth of the Anglo-French guarantees once issued to Czechoslovakia.
Rumors, “Aid,” and Reality
In taking leave of each other, let us remind ourselves how many times the Israeli mass media have spread what was, let us put it this way, not entirely accurate information about the benefits awaiting Israel:
– such as the rewards for implementing the “peace” accords with the PLO;
– for gestures of goodwill, for instance, for handing gas deposit sites over to the PLO;
– for implementing unilateral disengagement,
and so on, and so forth.
In none of these cases did the reward materialize; nor was this even foreseen or expected. This example shows how simple a construction it is that proves to be yet another mechanism for using foreign aid as a political lever. To operate, the mechanism does not even require the aid itself.
Aid from the USA is, first of all, that aid which is provided by American bureaucrats for Israeli special interest parties or groups. These last use the aid, or, more precisely, the threat of its stoppage as an instrument for pressuring the people and their democratically elected government. The damage resulting from this is obvious and, it appears, is greater by far than the benefits, which only at first glance seem to be considerable. Simultaneously discontinuing the aid to Israel and to our hostile neighbors is a measure which is quite realizable politically; it can be potentially quite popular, as well as attractive for the US Congress, and a measure worth fighting for, first of all, from the point of view of the Jews themselves. The measure will considerably augment Israel’s advantages, especially if combined with the long discussed economic reforms, which our Prime Minister continues to be unable to decide in favor of, partly out of sheer fear of the same special interest groups, trade unions, and small traffickers fed along the way by the state budget.
 For details, see Appendix 1.
 Countries, whose governments finance hate propaganda, incitement against Jews, terrorist propaganda, and the like, may be referred to as “moderate” until Doomsday. But that does not change the fact that the regimes in question are openly hostile to us. This is especially true of the authorities of the Autonomy and “Hamas-land” in the Gaza area.
 US Budget for 2009, http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy09/browse.html Appendix; Department of State and other International Programs.
 http://elyon1.court.gov.il/files/99/310/010/E14/99010310.e14.pdf : the Supreme Court (SC) decision overturning Knesset legalization of the conservative radio station “A7” (Channel 7, in Hebrew; English commentaries: http://www.offshore-radio.de/israel/column.htm ). SC reasoning is based on the government’s right to license discretionary radio broadcasting (which derives from a ruling dating back to the British Mandate) and the Israeli Freedom of Occupation Basic Law with its guarantees of fair competition (which means that discretionary unauthorized broadcasters may violate the rights of a discretionary authorized broadcaster if permitted by the overturned law; the logic of the decision: any improvements in business regulations and any market entry barriers removal should be prevented to avoid harming an incumbent firm’s interests).
 http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3599629,00.html on Kadima and Livni’s claim “to govern Israel by a one-vote victory”: a ballot box destroyed in a polling station in a heavily pro-Mofaz (Livni’s leading rival) area contained 430 voters’ paper ballots; Livni won by 431 votes; http://www.jpost.com/LandedPages/PrintArticle.aspx?id=125400 : the Likud retroactively (!) changed voting outcome registration rules to prevent right-wing candidates from joining the Knesset.