American military aid to Israel – leave it be!

Prof. Peter Beinart of the City University of New York and Senior Columnist at The Forward, penned an anti-Israel screed this week published on line calling for America to end its “blank check military aid to Israel.”

(To view the full article see here )

Beinart, as is his wont, used 10 pages of single spaced type to decry all of the wrongs he sees with the government of Israel, how it treats the Palestinians, how it avoids dealing honestly with the option of a two-state solution and how it never “pays the price” for America’s largesse. He then concludes by recommending that military aid to Israel should stop until all of these “wrongs” are addressed.

While the article is seemingly about its title subject, 90% of it deals with his personal frustrations about the political situation in Israel and virtually glosses over the value that America realizes from its now $3.8b annual military aid package to Israel. Permit me to set the record straight, yet again.

For those who do not know, the aid package concluded during the last year of the Obama administration and later ratified by the current congress, provides Israel $3.8b a year for 10 years for the purchase of advanced military equipment needed to keep Israel safe, given that it lives in a very dangerous neighborhood.

In previous years, when the allocation was $3b annually, a quarter of those funds could be used to buy materiel from Israeli companies. So, there is certainly truth in Beinart’s position that this assisted Israel to build its own military industrial sector. No doubt about that and it is a reason why Israel is among the 10 largest arms exporters in the world.

For the record, the Israeli arms industry operates in close cooperation with its bigger sister in the U.S. The military aid the U.S. gives to Israel ensures this cooperation, and every conflict in the Middle East contributes more to the profits of U.S. arms giants (such as Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon) than to the Israeli arms companies.

But, the new agreement posits that by 2024 100% of such purchases must be from U.S. manufacturers. The effect of providing this aid and mandating that it be spent in the U.S. is actually a job creator in America, a fact that is neither mentioned by Beinart nor by most other recent critics of this aid such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She, too, has said this aid is “something that can be discussed” and she does not mean that in a positive way, to be sure.

Looking at the situation from a neutral position, the aid package has two specific results. It allows Israel to maintain its position of being the strongest military force in the Middle East with the most sophisticated weaponry while creating a significant amount of business volume for America’s arms suppliers.

We Jews have learned that our long-term survival is as dependent on maintaining our covenant of faith as it is in having the ability to protect ourselves in our own land. Israel’s ability to create a framework with a trusted ally that enables us to accomplish this goal while simultaneously bringing economic benefit to our ally is something that should be celebrated not criticized.

As for Beinart, clearly he has not learned the lessons of history. I hope that the day will not come when Beinart and his fellow citizens will feel the need to flee America in order to survive.  However, should that day come we will welcome him with open arms. And I have no doubt that then he will be incredibly grateful that we have the most sophisticated and technologically developed weaponry in the world with which to protect him from harm.

About the Author
Sherwin Pomerantz is a native New Yorker, who lived and worked in Chicago for 20 years before coming to Israel in 1984. An industrial engineer with advanced degrees in mechanical engineering and business, he is President of Atid EDI Ltd., a 33 year old Jerusalem-based economic development consulting firm which, among other things, represents the regional trade and investment interests of a number of US states, Ontario and Hong Kong. A past national president of the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel, he is also Chairperson of the Israel Board of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. His articles have appeared in various publications in Israel and the US.