Foundation Blog
Foreign Policy US & Global Policy

The Myth of Israel’s Dependence on the United States

So long as Israel believes it’s dependent on the U.S. for its survival, Washington will continue to mediate the Israel-Arab conflict to the disadvantage of the Jewish state.

  1. American and Israeli politicians are ever saying that the shared moral values the U.S. and Israel is the basis of their friendly relationship. Ariel Sharon often said that his friendly relationship with President George W. Bush was Israel’s greatest strategic asset. No wonder Sharon repeatedly engaged in unilateral concessions to Israel’s Arab enemies! But this obviously renders Israelis servile and undermines the security of their country.


  2. Now, contrary to conventional wisdom, Israel’s military and economic dependence on the U.S. is a myth. Some years ago Joseph Sisco, former Assistant Secretary of State, told Israeli author Shmuel Katz, “I want to assure you, Mr. Katz, that if we were not getting full value for our money, you would not get a cent from us.” American foreign policy-makers are pragmatists, not moralists. U.S. aid to Israel is animated by national self-interest—pious platitudes to the contrary notwithstanding. Israel is and has been America’s biggest strategic bargain.
  3. According to Gen. George Keegan, former chief of U.S. Air Force Intelligence, while Israel annually received $1.8 billion in military grants from the U.S. between 1974-1990, Israeli aid to America was worth between $50-80 billion in intelligence, research and development savings, Soviet weapons systems captured and transferred to the Pentagon, and testing Soviet military doctrines up to 1990, when the USSR collapsed.
  4. Moreover, the bulk of the $1.8 billion Israel currently receives in military aid must be spent in the U.S., where it provides jobs for an estimated 50,000 American workingmen. It should also be noted that Israel would not need this amount of military aid were it not for huge American arms sales to Saudi Arabia and Egypt. U.S. military aid to Israel creates a demand for, and the purchase of, tens of billions of dollars worth of U.S. weaponry by these and other Arab states.
  5. American arms manufacturers have a vested interest in opposing any reduction of military aid to Israel—and so do their representatives in Congress. Directly and indirectly, Israel has enriched a welter of American corporations. For this reason alone, American congressmen, irrespective of their attitude toward Israel, will oppose cuts in military aid to the Jewish state. And as world leader in software and avionics, Israel has many corporate friends in the USA.
  6. Mention should also be made of Israel’s medical research contribution to the U.S. And then there are the thousands of Israeli-educated engineers and scientists that live and work in the U.S. and have contributed countless billions of dollars to the American economy!
  7. As for the $1.2 billion Israel receives from the U.S. in “economic” assistance, it does not go into building up Israel’s economy. Most of the money is used to repay pre-1974 loans for military hardware. It has been reduced by $120 million a year beginning in 1998, so that it is now negligible. By the way, Israeli economists across the political spectrum agree that U.S. aid to Israel has reduced the productivity of this country. Israel would have its own fighter aircraft were it not for myth of its dependence on the USA.
  8. But now consider Israel’s strategic contribution to the U.S.
    • Ever since 1971, when Israel first received significant amounts of aid from the U.S., the Jewish state has helped secure NATO’s southern flank.
    • In 1970, at Washington’s behest, Israel prevented a Syrian invasion of Jordan. By protecting Jordan from this client of the former Soviet Union, Israel thwarted Moscow’s ambitions in the Middle East. (By the way, it would be naive to think that Russia has permanently abandoned its historic objectives in this region.)
  9. Furthermore, Israel would not have been financially indebted to the U.S. had she not withdrawn from the Sinai. By so doing Israel lost a $17 billion infrastructure, including her most sophisticated air bases, as well as Israeli-developed oil fields which, by now, would have made the country energy-independent. Israel has had to spend more importing oil than she has thus far received in U.S. “economic” assistance. It was as if the United States beggared Israel to display American “charity.”
  10. The question arises: What prevents Israel’s political leaders from telling the truth about this grotesque state of affairs? Do they fear the loss of $1.8 billion in military aid? Perhaps this was true in 1985, when Israel’s Gross Domestic Product was $24.5 billion. But today, when Israel’s GDP is almost $150 billion, the $1.8 billion is only 1.2% of its GDP. Given even a much smaller GDP, $1.8 billion can’t be deemed indispensable for Israel’s survival. Indeed, if Israel had a government that was not steeped in corruption, it could dispense with American “charity” entirely! All it would have to do is clamp down on tax-evasion. Or if the government granted a moratorium to big tax evaders and lowered taxes, this would increase capital investment and make Israel another Singapore!
  11. But all this is known to Israeli politicians. If so, why do they perpetuate the myth of Israel’s dependence on the U.S.?
  12. According to contemporary political science, the dominant motivation of politicians is the desire for power and prestige. (This is precisely how nine out of ten Israelis view Israeli politicians!) It follows that Israel’s ruling elites may have a personal interest in fostering the myth that their country’s survival depends on U.S. aid. This conclusion gains credence from the fact that no Israeli government has undertaken serious steps to liberate Israel from its supposed dependency.
  13. Like other political elites, Israel’s want the people to feel dependent on the government. Influenced, no doubt, by Israel’s precarious situation, many people in this country want a strong leader, even if he is corrupt. Sharon exploited this tendency. As already mentioned, he repeatedly said that his friendly relationship with President Bush is Israel’s greatest strategic asset. This could not but make the people feel all the more dependent on Sharon himself. Stated another way: by fostering the myth of Israel’s dependence on the U.S., Israeli prime ministers can the more readily manipulate and control the people.
  14. At the same time, the myth of Israel’s dependence on the U.S. is also used by Israeli prime ministers as an excuse for their caving in to American pressure.
  15. All this substantiates what I have long called for—regime change. This will require the compete overhaul of Israel’s system of governance, beginning with democratizing the mode of electing the legislature; replacing the corrupt system of multi-cabinet government with a popularly elected president; and democratizing the method of appointing the Supreme Court. These democratic reforms will empower the peoplethe key to making Israel a truly independent and sovereign stateyes, and even a Jewish one!

Related Articles

Filipinos in 1904 and Muslims Today


A Matter of Courage


Iranian, American, and Israeli Grievances: A Question of Revolution