Somewhere in Central Israel, at a secret IDF Intelligence Base: It was the summer of 2003. Corporal “A.” as part of a top secret mission for which he was chosen by his commander, unlocked a dark, poorly ventilated storage room. He attempted to enter the room quietly, but it was nearly impossible, because of his clunky US-made combat boots. He then reached for the light switch to switch on the single incandescent bulb.
Upon illuminating the room, Corporal A. was shocked by what he saw. From floor to ceiling, boxes were piled upon boxes. In one corner was the Shoprite® brand tuna fish. The room must have had at least 2,000 cans. In the opposite corner was the Shoprite® brand tea. Dozens of boxes, each containing hundreds of tea-bags. (The author of this post is Corporal A., in case you haven’t guessed.)
What were Shoprite® brand tuna fish and tea doing in an IDF base’s pantry? Excellent question, considering that neither Shoprite® stores nor Shoprite® brand products are available in the Israeli market. The answer is that the US gives billions of dollars of military aid to Israel annually, but there are many strings attached.
One of the strings involves Israel’s obligation to buy US products using the Israeli aid. Although the IDF could most probably procure combat boots, tunafish and tea from local, Israeli manufacturers or non-US manufacturers at higher quality and/or lower price, the IDF had a surplus of credit of US military aid dollars which needed to be used for military purposes. Feeding soldiers is clearly a military purpose. What was true in 2003, when I served in the IDF is almost true today. The difference is that the current military aid package being negotiated requires Israel to spend all US aid in the US, as opposed to a large fraction of it.
The US foreign aid has negatively impacted Israeli military and aircraft industries. One example in the 1980’s was the Lavi Fighter Jet program. The program was an attempt to develop and manufacture a fighter jet in Israel, which would have brought thousands of Israeli jobs. The project was halted because of American pressure to purchase a US made fighter instead of the Lavi.
But this is merely one of the strings attached. Another dangerous effect of accepting US foreign aid is that it severely limits Israel’s freedom to act. Israel finds itself bullied by the US and condemned whenever plans for construction in Jerusalem, Judea or Samaria are approved.
Does the US intervene in domestic policy of any other country as it does in Israel?
Does the US State Department interfere in elections in any other free, democratic country as it does in Israel?
Perhaps the US takes the liberty to regularly pressure Israel because of the dependence that the foreign aid has generated, making it difficult for Israeli leaders to refuse US pressure.
As a proud Israeli-American citizen, I am planning to vote for Israeli independence in the 2016 US Presidential election. I will vote for Gary Johnson, who has promised to severely limit US foreign aid, including aid to Israel. He is the only candidate who recognizes Israel’s right for independence. Johnson, in 2012 said when asked about the US role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “I think it’s a mistake for us to think we’re going to dictate to them actions when it comes to Palestinian statehood. It’s just a mistake on our part. It’s not reality. They’re the ones who have to deal with this, and they will.”
The US foreign aid to Israel amounts to about 1% of Israel’s GDP. In Israel, we’ve been fighting and making sacrifices for our independence for the last 68 years. Sacrificing the tea bags and tuna fish will be relatively easy.