Looming Sequestration Cuts Cause Split Among Israel Aid Advocates

AIPAC Pushes for Special Treatment, Others Fear Backlash

Sequester Split: The sequester cuts are threatening to undo a bipartisan consensus about aid to Israel. With major cuts looming, AIPAC, which just held its national conference, is pushing for Israel to be treated differently. But others worry about a backlash.
getty images
Sequester Split: The sequester cuts are threatening to undo a bipartisan consensus about aid to Israel. With major cuts looming, AIPAC, which just held its national conference, is pushing for Israel to be treated differently. But others worry about a backlash.

By Nathan Guttman

Published March 13, 2013, issue of March 22, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

In an effort to save aid to Israel from mandatory, across-the-board cuts now being imposed on all discretionary federal programs, pro-Israel activists are opening the door on a dramatic course of action they have rejected repeatedly in the past.

Members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the largest pro-Israel lobby, are refusing to foreclose any option — including special legislation for Israel, if necessary — to keep aid to the country from being cut.

An official from the lobby explicitly refused to rule out pursuing such legislation, even if that would enable Israel alone to escape the cuts hitting every other foreign aid recipient, not to mention those hitting domestic programs.

AIPAC officials vehemently reject labeling anything they are considering as constituting an “exemption” for Israel. But the lobby’s shift signals a possible break with AIPAC’s years-long policy of firmly embedding aid to Israel, the largest recipient of American foreign assistance, within America’s broader foreign aid program.

And while it could spare Israel from facing at least $155 million in aid cuts this year, critics warn that it could damage the cause of aid to Israel greatly in the long run.

The uniform cuts to Israel and to all other discretionary programs are mandated by “sequestration,” Washington’s term for the forced deficit reduction regime that Congress agreed to in the Budget Control Act of 2011.

Under the provisions of that law, the failure of a bipartisan panel of lawmakers to come up with a measured program of government spending reductions by March 1 now requires across-the-board cuts.

Amounting initially to some $85.4 billion in fiscal year 2013, the cuts are split evenly between defense and nondefense categories. Some major entitlement programs, such as Social Security, Medicaid and veterans benefits, are exempted.


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!
  • 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.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • 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.