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U.S. Aid To Israel — We Asked, You Sounded Off. Here’s What You Had To Say

Have Your Say is your chance to tell us what you think. Yesterday, we did a Twitter poll to get your take on whether the U.S. should place any conditions on aid to Israel. In under 24 hours, we got thousands of responses and hundreds of passionate Facebook comments from each side.

In the end, the “No” votes won, but we’re sharing are some of the answers from each side:

“Absolutely not, they are a great ally to the United States and I pray to God they stay that way. We need them over there today.” — Becky Dolin Fisher

“As an Israeli, I say yes. This money doesn’t go to good causes at the moment. The U.S. should intervene and push forward for reform. Israel needs values not just money.” —Matan Sandler

“There are already conditions on it. The ‘aid’ to Israel requires them to spend it on US military industries. It can only be spent in the US.” —Helene Sicherman

“No more or less than with any other major ally that is a Western-style democracy, and with which we have a reciprocal relationship.” —JJ Meis

“I would hope we have certain conditions and criteria on aid to each country, no matter or relationship with them. No one should just get a blank check with no criteria.” —Jonathan Rosenberg

“There have always been conditions on aid, as there have been on all other nations that we aid.” —Serena Koss

Aid to Israel has been a hot topic in U.S. politics since Democratic presidential candidates suggested making major policy changes at the J Street Conference in late October. Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders openly discussed making the already-pledged money contingent on Israel fulfilling concrete obligations to revive the two-state solution.

Forward columnists weighed in earlier this month were not all on the same page as to what, if any, hypothetical strings Americans should tie on aid, but they all agreed that even discussing making the aid conditional was a game-changer, that came about relatively suddenly.

“Using American aid as a lever to change Israeli policy has become a mainstream Democratic position almost overnight,” Peter Beinart wrote in his analysis. “To understand how dramatic that is, it’s worth revisiting recent history.”

Gaza-based columnist Muhammad Shehada also wrote that, to understand the significance, we have to look at the last U.S. Presidential election.

“Historically, presidential candidates on both sides of the political spectrum have been deaf to Palestinian grievances, blind to Israel’s injustices and defensive of Israel’s transgressions. In the 2016 race, for example, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton seemed to be engaged in a competition over who could be friendlier to Israel and harsher on the Palestinians.”

He later wrote of how he was viscerally moved while watching Bernie Sanders break new ground in the Israel-aid conversation.

“My eyes filled with tears as I watched Bernie Sanders demand that Israel ‘fundamentally change [its] relationship to the people of Gaza,’ my home.

Daniel B. Shapiro, Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel during the Obama administration, fleshed out recent policy history even further, and also urged caution on placing too many conditions on aid.

“It wasn’t as though the idea of conditioning aid, or conditioning the conclusion of a new deal, was never heard,” he wrote earlier this week. “Advocates outside the administration urged Obama to adopt that approach. But he disagreed.”

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