Tuesday, October 29, 2019

  • Tuesday, October 29, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon
Jeremy Ben Ami of J-Street said on Sunday night:

Clarify that US assistance to Israel is to be used solely for the country's defense and that the United States will not foot the bill for annexation or pay for... a one state outcome. An important conversation has been started in this campaign about American policy regarding the uses for which American assistance to Israel can be put. Already in this presidential campaign we are hearing real conversations, real proposals, from several leading candidates, around ensuring that our assistance isn't being put to uses that actually deepen Israel's security challenges, whether it's annexation or settlement expansion. Current law is actually explicit as to the purposes that US security assistance can and can't be put by recipient countries including Israel. Our aid is not intended to be a blank check. Congress and the next administration at a minimum should take the necessary steps to gain visibility into how our assistance is being used, how our dollars are being spent, and to ensure that all existing laws regarding those uses are being followed.
Ben Ami is right about one thing: existing US laws allow for only certain uses of foreign aid.

But what he is demanding - and what some candidates are happily parroting from him - already exists. There are already audits as to how American money is being spent.

The US looks closely at how its aid is used, and when it finds a violation, it calls it out. The last time this happened for Israel was in 2006 when, as a recent Congressional Research Service report says,

After Israel’s 2006 war in Lebanon, the State Department issued a preliminary report to Congress concluding that Israel may have violated the terms of agreements with the United States that restrict Israel’s use of U.S.-supplied cluster munitions to certain military targets in non-civilian areas.
No violations have been found since then.

In 2016 - during the Obama administration - some members of Congress formally asked for an investigation into whether Israel used American funds to allegedly extrajudically kill some specific Palestinians. The State Department investigated and found that no American money was involved in the incidents.

Similarly, the CRS report says that there is some aid to Israel that is specifically meant to be used within the Green Line - for immigrant absorption and for some binational foundations, such as the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation, and this is audited as well.

99.8% of US aid to Israel is earmarked for specific military purposes - the vast majority for missile defense systems, F-35s and anti-tunnel defense systems. None of that money can be repurposed. The remaining 0.2% goes to immigrant absorption and homeland security - research into technologies for first responders and early warning systems that can be used in the US.

This demand by J-Street to further investigate that which is already being carefully vetted is a straw man to imply that Israel has been misusing US aid. As such, it is a slander. It is also a slander against the US government by saying that the existing extensive audit mechanism is not adequate, and that Israel can somehow pull the wool over the eyes of the US.

If that is true, then aid to other countries really need to be looked at more closely as well. But J-Street doesn't care about whether US aid to Jordan or Egypt is audited and money secretly going to terrorists. They only accuse Israel of using American money to break the law.

This is reprehensible. But then again, this is J-Street.

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