Skip To Content
Back to Opinion

Is Israel a Special Case?

As the blunt ax of sequestration begins its crude work, chopping federal expenditures with no purpose or sense of priority, it’s no wonder that those who work to secure and protect American aid to Israel are worried. That $3.1 billion pays for more than a military shopping list every year. It’s an outward representation of the historical alliance between the United States and Israel. Not for nothing is Israel the largest recipient of American foreign support.

But as the political standoff between the White House and congressional Republicans continues, American Jews need to ask some difficult questions. Is maintaining aid to Israel more essential than any other foreign expenditure? Does it deserve to be saved when other funding falls? Is it in a class by itself?

For years, the Israel advocacy lobby, headed by the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee, has wisely resisted any special designation, theorizing that it could make Israel more vulnerable rather than more secure. Plus, as our Nathan Guttman reports, this strategy made for good politics, placing AIPAC as a defender not just of one nation but of the very notion that foreign aid — a pittance of the federal budget — is an essential tool for American diplomacy.

Now, as Guttman reports, that position may be shifting. Bolstering the move is proposed legislation to designate Israel, alone, as a “major strategic partner” of the United States, an attempt not just to demonstrate fealty, but also to potentially place Israel in a class by itself.

AIPAC says that its primary message to Congress is to restore all foreign aid, but it is hinting that it may want more if the sequestration drags on. Israel already receives unique perks, including a guaranteed level of funding each year and permission to use some of that money to buy Israeli military equipment. Anything beyond that raises serious political and moral questions that could jeopardize the very support it seeks to secure.


Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.