US Aid to Israel’s Enemies

What exactly is it good for?

In a previous article, this writer initiated an inquiry into the topic of US aid to Israel.  As adumbrated there, it is clear that the USA and Israel enjoy a special relationship, a tight alliance based on more than mere political expediency.  The USA gives Israel political support and c. $3 billion per year, and Israel gives the USA political support, financial reciprocity and very significant benefits in the areas of military intelligence, ordnance and operations.  Many of our most outstanding political leaders agree. Yet critics of Israel, most prominent among them being the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (WRMEA) and Professors John Mearscheimer and Stephen Walt, complain that the USA gives too much money to Israel and that the special relationship is in reality a liability for the USA.

But these critics fail to take into consideration the proverbial other side of the coin. On one hand, the USA reaps the enormous benefits of financial reciprocity as Israel spends most of  its US aid money in the USA, Israeli military intelligence worth more than “five CIAs,” and operational support which has been likened to a US aircraft carrier which cannot sink and which requires no American military personnel.  And this was no exaggeration.  See here, here, here and here for a detailed assessment of Israel’s military support for the USA in the Eastern Mediterranean; and for the history of Israel’s intelligence support see Wolf

Blitzer’s Between Washington and Jerusalem (New York, Oxford University Press, 1986).  A few examples, among many, are the Soviet MiG 21 that the Mossad smuggled out of the former USSR, and a variety of Soviet weapons systems (including the 122-mm. and 130-mm. artillery and T-72 tanks), all offered free of charge to US military intelligence.

Maj. Gen. George J. Keegan, former head of U.S. Air Force intelligence, stated that America’s military defense capability “owes more to the Israeli intelligence input than it does to any single source of intelligence.” While a dollar figure on such benefits is hard to pin down, Keegan put the number at somewhere between $50 billion and $80 billion: a balance of trade very much in America’s favor.  A. F. K. Organsi, professor of political science at the University of Michigan, offers a bit more conservative estimate in his _The $36 Billion Bargain: Strategy and Politics in the U.S. Assistance to Israe_l (New York, Columbia University Press, 1990).

On the other hand, what benefits does the USA reap from its financial and political support of Muslim countries, especially those which are the avowed enemies of Israel?  It is important to recall that the goals of billions of US dollars to foreign countries is to advance pro-US policies, to constrain anti-US elements, to promote regional stability, to prevent terrorist armies from establishing operational bases, and to prevent WMD proliferation. A brief review of the past decade’s US aid to Muslim countries will demonstrate the frightening degree to which those goals have not been achieved.

The most extreme case is Pakistan.  Zalmay Khalilzad, former US Ambassador to Pakistan, recently reported that Pakistan helps the Taliban!  In fact, Pakistani support is a major reason why the Taliban have been successful in outmaneuvering our troops and carrying out a series of high-profile assassinations of senior Afghan officials.  Pakistani military and intelligence services (ISI) assist the Taliban, while the Pakistani government offers “implausible denials” of its complicity in Taliban military operations against the USA.  Pakistani support for the Taliban could well deal America a “major strategic blow” in its war in Afghanistan.  Pakistan’s support for American enemies in Afghanistan could be “the difference between victory and defeat” according to Mr. Khalilzad.

Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, went even further. On September 21 he told the Senate Armed Services Committee (and  on September 28 he told the world, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal) that the Taliban’s supreme military and political command, and other terrorist organizations, not only operate with impunity against US troops from within Pakistan, but they are in reality Pakistan’s proxies, carrying out Pakistani orders when they attack Afghan and American troops and civilians.  Both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta have recently made similar accusations.  And this is not a new issue.  Although unnoted in western mainstream media, the Pakistani army itself has carried out a number of attacks against Afghan troops and police in Afghanistan since February of this year.  John Brennan, counterterrorism advisor to the White House, defined Pakistan as an enemy of the U.S.A. back in 2001, during a live interview on CBS.

Pakistan receives almost $2 billion in US aid annually and uses some if that money to kill our troops and support our enemies. What kind of trade balance is that?

Egypt is another example of a negative imbalance of trade.  Over the past 30 years, America has given Egypt almost $40 billion, $10 billion of that in the last 5 years as the annual sums rose to about $2 billion a year. Yet, former President Hosni Mubarak supported Sadam Hussein in the first Gulf war, undermined US war efforts by uniting Arab opposition and supporting French and German anti-US initiatives, and by violating post-war sanctions on Iraq.  During the last decade of his rule, Mubarak worked with Russia to expand Egypt’s nuclear technologies, undermined US peace-making strategies in Sudan, exacerbated the Eritrea-Ethiopia conflict, and opposed US sanctions on Iraq prior to the 2nd Gulf war.  Despite Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, Mubarak has led anti-Israel initiatives at the UN and has provided safe passage for terrorists and weapons smuggled into the Gaza Strip.

Professor Fuad Ajami summarized the mood in Egypt after 9.11.01:

“On September 11, 2001, there was an unmistakable sense of glee and little sorrow among upper-class Egyptians for (the USA) – only satisfaction that America had gotten its comeuppance….The United States could grant generous aid to the Egyptian state, but there would be no dampening of the anti-American fury of the Egyptian political class….There would be no open embrace of America, and no public defense of it….”

And this is a country that we long considered our chief ally in the Muslim world.

Things don’t look much better now that Egypt has enjoyed its “Arab Spring.”  If the Muslim Brotherhood comes out on top in the promised elections, it is likely that the USA, despite its tens of billions of dollars of aid, will see Egypt become its chief enemy in the Muslim world.  None the less, President Obama recently unveiled a plan to forgive over $1 billion in Egyptian debt, on top of an additional $2 billion in direct aid. It is important to recall that the Muslim Brotherhood has direct ties to numerous Arab terror groups and its Egyptian branch founded Hamas in 1988.  This is another obvious case of good billions after bad.

The situation is similar in other Muslim countries.

In 2009 the USA distributed about $45 billion to more than 180 countries, 41 of which are Muslim countries.  Seven of the top eleven recipients were Arab or Muslim countries: Afghanistan was #1 with $8.8 billion, then Iraq with $2.3 billion, and Egypt tied with Pakistan for $1.8 billion each.  Sudan received $1.2 billion, the Palestinian Authority received $1billion, and Jordan received $816 million.  The total to the top eleven was of $17.7 billion.

Over the past ten years, the seven Muslim countries listed above received more than $136 billion.  Almost two-thirds of American aid money for 2012 is earmarked for Muslim countries, and about one-half of that goes to Arab countries.

America has been amazingly generous to many Arab and Muslim countries over the past few decades. Yet America is still viewed quite unfavorably in almost all of the Arab world, and in much (but not all) of the Muslim world; and Arab governments routinely vote against the USA in the UN.  On average, Muslim countries vote against the USA c.75% of the time.  The worst offenders are Syria (87%), Lebanon (80%), Egypt (79%), Libya (76%), Pakistan (75%), and Saudi Arabia (73%). Even Jordan, perhaps the most westernized of all Muslim countries, voted against the USA 60% of the time; yet it will be the happy recipient of $4.5 billion in US aid in 2012.

And speaking of Libya, Admiral James Stavridis, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, and the commander of the U.S. European Command told the U.S. Senate that el-Qaeda and Hezbollah fighters are among the Libyan rebels currently receiving support from the US and its NATO allies.  This was confirmed by one of the Libyan rebel officers, Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, who leads one of the el-Qaeda units.

And then we have the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas.   Since the 1993 Oslo Accords, the PA has received over $4 billion in direct US aid.  American taxpayers’ money, thoroughly documented by the Congressional Research Service and others, along with funds from the UK, EU, Japan, India, and the World Bank, flow directly into the PA’s general fund.  Once there, its uses cannot be traced.  Cash is fungible, corruption is rife, and Arafat kept the records in a little black book (literally) in his shirt pocket!  Under Abbas things have improved; but even if American dollars are not being used directly to support terrorist activities or enrich the personal bank accounts of terrorists or government officials, they are most assuredly freeing up other money elsewhere in the PA and Hamas budgets to go directly to the costs of fielding various terrorist armies.

One example of the very troublesome possibility that American aid is funding Palestinian terrorism is the case of American support for Palestinian universities.

Millions of dollars in U.S. foreign aid have been given in the past several years to two Palestinian universities, one of them controlled by Hamas, which have participated in the advocacy, support or glorification of terrorism. The funding, principally in scholarships to individual students, is being eyed by several members of Congress and their aides, including Rep. Gary Ackerman (Dem. NY), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, who says that this aid may violate U.S. law.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided more than $140,000 in assistance to the Hamas-controlled Islamic University in Gaza, including scholarships to 49 of its students, since Congress changed the law in 2004 to restrict aid to entities or individuals “involved in or advocating terrorist activity.”

USAID also gave $2.3 million last year to the Al-Quds University, in Gaza City, which is controlled by Hamas and has student groups affiliated with Hamas and other designated terrorist organizations on campus.  This university was founded by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, former leader of Hamas, who used it as a base of operations; and it is now serving in that same capacity for Ismail Haniyeh, Prime Minister of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.  For details on USAID’s indirect support for terrorism see here, here, here, and here.

But perhaps most outrageous of all, almost half of the aid received by the PA this year will go to pay the salaries of almost 5, 500 terrorists held in Israeli prisons.

Over the past decade, billions of American tax-payer dollars flowed into the coffers of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to indirectly support Palestinian terrorists, and to directly fund universities where Hamas operatives recruit and have bases of operations.  This year the lion’s share of American largesse will enrich the bank accounts of incarcerated terrorists and mass murderers.  Yet, the Obama administration is lobbying Congress to unblock the $ 200 million in aid for the PA that was frozen when President Abbas asked for UN recognition.

American aid to Israel saves American lives, enhances our ability to confront our enemies, improves our military intelligence, and supports our only stable and reliable ally in the Middle East; even as the majority of that aid flows back into the American economy.

American aid to Muslim countries supports our enemies, assists them to kill our own soldiers, funds the countries that seek our destruction, and pays the salaries of terrorists and mass murderers.  There is no evidence that a penny of that aid is ever spent for American goods or services.  As Cal Thomas put it: “U.S. aid to Muslim nations is not paying us any dividends.”


[1] The most infamous of late being Walt and Mearsheimer, (and see for a very thorough rebuttal); and Thomas Stauffer in The Christian Science Monitor,  Dec. 9, 2002, (and see for a very thorough rebuttal); Stephen Zunes in The Jerusalem Fund, Feb., 2001,; Scott McConnel, “The Special Relationship with Israel: Is it worth the Cost?,” Middle East Policy Council Archive,; and a variety of articles over the last few years condemning Israel and urging the USA to end its support, financial and political, for Israel in The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (WRMEA), and especially the August, 2008 edition,