Struggling U.S. Gives Israel Largest Aid Package Ever
With more unemployed people than at any time in U.S. history, President Obama next week is scheduled to sign the most lavish foreign aid package in the country’s history – $3.1 billion in military assistance to Israel – raising an urgent question: can the U.S. afford it?
The United States already transfers $3.1 billion in taxpayer money to Israel every year, far more than any other country, but the deal that will be signed into law next week will guarantee foreign aid to the country until the year 2027, a decade after Obama has left office. In Monday’s edition of The Intercept, the journalist Glenn Greenwald notes that Israeli living standards already surpass those in the U.S. in some critical areas.
While Israeli citizens enjoy universal health care, 33 million citizens in the United States don’t have coverage, Greenwald notes. Israelis also have a higher life expectancy, 82.27 years, compared to 79.68 years in the U.S. And Israel’s infant mortality rate – one of the best indicators of human development – is one of the lowest in the world, at 3.55 deaths for every 1,000 live births. Conversely, in the United States, 5.87 babies die before their first birthday.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last year that the number of Americans 16 years and older who were not in the workforce eclipsed 93 million people, an all-time high and nearly a third of the total US population of 321 million.
A 2012 Congressional Resources Service report, as reported by The Intercept, found that “U.S. military aid [to Israel] has helped transform Israel’s armed forces into one of the most technologically sophisticated militaries in the world.” Despite that aid, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly demanded as much as US$5 billion in aid a year.
What’s more, he has also opposed U.S. requirements that some of that money is spent with U.S. military contractors rather than Israeli ones. With the U.S. presidential elections just three months away, both political parties are campaigning to restore the once-vaunted middle-class prosperity in the country, but Israeli aid is all-but-sacrosanct in the electoral discourse. Early in the campaign Trump had suggested that he might not oppose the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS, against Israeli-made products – but has since reversed his position.