|Benefits to Israel of U.S. Aid
Since 1949 (As of November 1, 1997)
|Cost to U.S. Taxpayers of U.S.
Aid to Israel
|Foreign Aid Grants and Loans
|Other U.S. Aid (12.2% of Foreign Aid)
|Interest Costs Borne by U.S.
Interest to Israel from Advanced Payments
|Total Cost to U.S. Taxpayers
|Total Taxpayer Cost per Israeli
|Total Benefits per Israeli
Congress Watch: 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
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. Taxpayers: 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
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 Palestinian people.
"U.S. Aid to Israel: Interpreting the 'Strategic Relationship"'
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 region."
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
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 country's future."
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 to Palestine.
"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 Israel."
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
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
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 $5,525,800,000.
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
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 year.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 $83,204,827,200.
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
True Cost to U.S. Taxpayers
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
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 was created.
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 Israeli.
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.