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

(page 2 of 2)

The lobby, however, has yet to issue any memo or talking points regarding the looming sequestration and its potential impact on American aid to Israel. In part, this reflects the problem facing supporters of Israel as they experience the challenge of across-the-board cuts.

Singling out Israel as being immune to any cuts at a time when all other government programs will face painful cuts may be useless at best, or even counterproductive.

History says it will be difficult if not impossible to prevent the cuts. The 1985 Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget Act required all government agencies to cut spending in order to meet the goal of a balanced budget. As a result, aid to Israel took a hit, and Israel was forced to return part of the annual assistance.

This example makes clear that little can be done to fight sequestration and that if legislation is not changed, aid to Israel is facing its biggest financial setback ever.

Political and economic developments, however, could provide last-minute relief. The cuts are scheduled to begin shortly after the 2012 elections, and with a new Congress and possibly a new president, plans for sequestration could be altered.

The cuts also coincide with the expiration of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts and with the expected need to raise the national debt ceiling once again. A deal that would incorporate all these factors could, experts believe, eliminate the need for automatic budget cuts.

The automatic across-the-board cuts may be the immediate hurdle facing American aid to Israel. But a greater challenge in the long run is a growing distaste among Americans in general and Republicans in particular for foreign aid. Republican presidential candidates, despite pledging their support for Israel, have gone on record promising to begin any discussion on foreign aid “from zero.”

The pro-Israel lobby has taken on the cause of advocating for foreign aid as a means of increasing America’s global clout and as an extension of its diplomacy. On its website, AIPAC features a video clip produced by American Global Leadership, a bipartisan group led by former administration officials, in which young children speak of the importance of foreign aid.

In the viceo, one girl says, “Actually, we’re not spending that much money.” She is followed by a boy holding a jar of marbles. The boy states, as he lifts one marble, “Just 1% of our national budget goes to the international affairs budget.”

A November 21 focus group discussion, organized by The Israel Project, illustrated the challenges the concept of foreign aid faces. The participants, likely Republican voters from Virginia, were asked to give their opinion about foreign aid. The unanimous response around the table: “Too much.”

One woman added, “It’s time we started to take care of ourselves.”

Contact Nathan Guttman at guttman@forward.com


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!
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • In the six years since Dothan launched its relocation program, 8 families have made the jump — but will they stay? We went there to find out:
  • "Jewish Israelis and West Bank Palestinians are witnessing — and living — two very different wars." Naomi Zeveloff's first on-the-ground dispatch from Israel:
  • This deserves a whistle: Lauren Bacall's stylish wardrobe is getting its own museum exhibit at Fashion Institute of Technology.
  • How do you make people laugh when they're fighting on the front lines or ducking bombs?
  • "Hamas and others have dredged up passages form the Quran that demonize Jews horribly. Some imams rail about international Jewish conspiracies. But they’d have a much smaller audience for their ravings if Israel could find a way to lower the flames in the conflict." Do you agree with J.J. Goldberg?
  • How did Tariq Abu Khdeir go from fun-loving Palestinian-American teen to international icon in just a few short weeks? http://jd.fo/d4kkV
  • 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.