There are two constant fears in the Russian Jewish community.Â The first is that daughters will sit at the corners of tables and, thusÂ will never get married. The second is that Obama will never let the administration support Israel because he isÂ quite obviously, a Muslim (Hussein.Â Duh!).Â This worry happens pretty much any time we have a new president.Â Actually concerns about Israel’s security and U.S. support of Israel was the primary reason I voted for Bush in 2004.Â But that was when I was young, stupid, and still drank Vlady.Â Please don’t hurt me.Â The Vlady was punishment enough.
When you dig a bit deeper, however, it turns out that, no matter who is in charge, American foreign policy implicitly supports Israel (rah!).Â The most telling statistic is this one, from the Congressional Research Service, a non-partisan research service for Congress members, from the Library of Congress.Â When I think about CRS, I think goblins at Gringotts.
Anyway, in their 2005 report on American assistance to Israel (PDF), they write,
Israel is not economically self-sufficient,Â and relies on foreign assistance and borrowing to maintain its economy.Â Since 1985, theÂ United States has provided $3 billion in grants annually to Israel.Â Since 1976, Israel has beenÂ the largest annual recipient of U.S. foreign assistance, and is the largest cumulative recipient since World War II.
So much for Republicans and Democrats contributing different amounts and discouraging Israeli policies.Â Â Also, so much for Zionist self-reliance.
From 1949 through 1965, U.S. aid to Israel averaged about $63 million per year, over 95% of which was economic development assistance and food aid.
From what’s been going on so far, this isn’t going to change anytime soon, even though Obama, may possibly apply lots of pressure to Israel regarding settlements and the two-state solution,Â so have others.Â But, while he postures, the money will still be coming in regularly.
Israelâ€™s ambassador to Washington thanked the Obama administration for maintaining assistance levels to Israel. A commitment to $2.775 billion in defense assistance in 2010 and to joint defense development projects such as the Arrow anti-missile system appeared in the detailed budget proposal the White House submitted last week to Congress.
Oh, and this year?Â StillÂ $2.5 billion.Â Now, it doesn’t take an economist (although I am one, so ha!) to draw the trend line between 1949 and today.Â Trend line still positive.
This whole US aid to Israel question is one I struggle with on a regular basis.Â Not because I don’t think the United States shouldn’t be giving Israel aid, particularly in the military sector.Â Global neighbors got to help each other out.Â Especially when your other neighbors are CRAZY and maybe planning to kill you a little bit.Â But, because, it really undermines the point of the State of Israel, which is to be a self-sufficient Jewish state.Â You know, the hoeing and the planting and the self-made Davidka guns?Â I mean, all this showering in U.S. money is great, but what happens if, suddenly, the United States no longer has Israel on its agenda and decides that it doesn’t need us as an ally?Â Not that that’s ever happened to Jews before.
I realize it’s hard for a small country with only 7 million people (one million of which, are at any given time, watching Russian tv serials and eating sunflower seeds) to maintain a military the size of Enrique Iglesias’ mole and still continue to contribute to technological and infrastructure growth, which, as every good classical economist knows, are the key to GDP growth, which is the key to self reliance. I’m not judging. If we didn’t have the military, we’d be somewhere between Crete and Istanbul in the deep city of Atlantis. The problem is critical and the solution not imminent.Â If I figure it out, I’ll get back to you.Â Don’t wait up for my call.