Israel Faces $250 Million Slash in Aid

AIPAC Keeps Quiet as Supercommittee Collapse Triggers Cuts

No Deal: The failure to reach a deficit deal means automatic across-the-board cuts. That includes aid to Israel.
getty images
No Deal: The failure to reach a deficit deal means automatic across-the-board cuts. That includes aid to Israel.

By Nathan Guttman

Published December 02, 2011, issue of December 09, 2011.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

The failure of the supercommittee appointed by Congress to reach a deficit-reduction deal on the federal budget could cost Israel a cool $250 million a year.

For the first time in decades, Israel could be facing a reduction in United States aid, due to automatic across-the-board budget cuts scheduled to take effect in January 2013 as a result of the supercommittee’s failure.

Despite this dire forecast, Israel’s strongest defender in Washington, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, has yet to publicly speak out against the cuts. Sources say that the Israel advocacy lobby may fear a backlash if Israel is singled out for special treatment in the face of broad cuts favored by both Democrats and Republicans.

MORE ON DEFICIT DEAL COLLAPSE: Could Automatic Cuts Cripple Domestic Programs?

The November 21 announcement by members of the congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction that they had failed to reach agreement on a plan to cut the national debt by $1.5 trillion over the next decade set in motion an automatic process called sequestration.

It requires Congress to make cuts, divided equally between defense and nondefense spending, in order to reach the required debt reduction.

In practice, this means an estimated 8% to 9% cut in all government budget items, except some social safety net programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Cuts are scheduled to kick in during January 2013 and will be in place for nine years. Government agencies will not have discretion over where to impose the cuts, and all programs will be subject to an equal budget reduction.

Under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by Israel and the United States, Israel is scheduled to receive $3.1 billion in Foreign Military Financing in fiscal 2013. The financing is used primarily for the purchase of American-made defense systems. The MOU is subject to congressional appropriation, meaning that it would be overruled by the across-the-board cuts.

Although the aid is used for military needs, it comes under the State Department budget and is therefore seen as a nondefense-spending program under the sequestration rules. According to current estimates, Israel faces a cut of roughly $250 million a year beginning in 2013 and continuing at the same level until 2021.

Supporting aid to Israel has been a cornerstone of the pro-Israel community in the United States for decades. Spearheading the effort is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which has cultivated throughout the years a close relationship with key lawmakers involved in the appropriation process.

The lobbying of AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups has ensured that aid to Israel is safe even in times of austerity and that Israel receives preferred terms, such as early disbursement of the annual aid and the right to spend nearly a quarter of the money on local defense products.

In advocating for aid to Israel, AIPAC has been stressing the importance of Israel as a regional ally and as a strategic asset for America. A memo issued in March by the lobby argued for the need to maintain foreign aid at current levels as a means of helping Israel address increasing threats. AIPAC also pointed to Israel’s need to increase its defense spending because of turmoil in the Middle East and the growth of neighboring countries’ military investments.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.