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    Why the U.S. helps pay for Israel's military

    en-usJune 05, 2024

    Podcast Summary

    • US-Israel aidThe US provides Israel with approximately 1% of its budget each year as economic and military aid through the Foreign Military Financing Program, making Israel the largest recipient. The continuation of this aid is subject to debate amidst rising tensions and concerns over potential use in conflicts.

      The United States has been providing Israel with significant economic and military aid for decades, amounting to about 1% of the US budget each year. This aid, totaling around $3.5 billion annually, is utilized through the Foreign Military Financing Program, allowing Israel to purchase US-made weapons. However, as tensions rise in the Israel-Hamas conflict and the death toll increases, there is growing scrutiny of this arrangement. President Biden recently paused a shipment of US bombs to Israel, expressing concerns over their potential use. This episode of The Indicator from Planet Money delves into the reasons behind Israel's status as the largest recipient of US aid and the ongoing debate over its continuation.

    • US-Israel relationship evolutionThe US-Israel relationship evolved from neutrality to a special military alliance due to regional tensions and Cold War concerns, leading to major arms sales and a stronger Israel

      The United States' relationship with Israel, as reflected in US aid, has evolved significantly over the decades. Initially, after Israel's declaration of statehood in 1948, the US maintained a neutral stance, recognizing Israel but avoiding direct involvement due to the volatile regional situation. However, as tensions escalated in the early 1960s, with the Cold War adding a new dimension to the conflict, the US began to shift its stance. Under President Kennedy, the US established a closer military relationship with Israel, marking the beginning of a special relationship that included major arms sales. This shift was driven in part by concerns over Soviet influence in the region and the belief that a strong Israel would help maintain a balance of power.

    • US-Israel relationshipThe US-Israel relationship is rooted in geopolitical, moral, cultural, and religious dimensions, with the US providing significant military aid to ensure Israel's security and maintain a strategic partnership against common adversaries like Iran.

      The special relationship between the United States and Israel is rooted in a complex mix of geopolitical, moral, cultural, and religious dimensions. During the Cold War era, bolstering Israel's military was seen as a way to counter Soviet influence. However, there was also a strong moral imperative, as many politicians and American Jews were deeply affected by the recent history of the Holocaust and the desire to ensure Israel's security. Additionally, evangelical Christians saw Israel's return to its biblical homeland as a precursor to the second coming of Christ. After the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the US shifted its policy to ensuring Israel maintains a qualitative military edge over its neighbors, leading to significant military aid that continues to this day. This policy, formalized in 2008, is based on Israel's strategic value as a partner against adversaries like Iran.

    • US-Israel military aidThe US historically provides military aid to Israel for its military edge, but some argue Israel no longer needs it due to its economic and military advancements. The US could offer security guarantees and technology sharing as alternatives.

      The US has historically provided military aid to Israel to ensure its military edge in the Middle East, but some argue that Israel no longer needs this aid due to its advanced economy and military capabilities. The US policy involves making Israeli-bought fighter jets slightly better than those sold to other countries, but this practice is being questioned by some policymakers who believe Israel can afford its own defense. Israel, with a GDP per capita of about $52,000 in 2022, is economically advanced and militarily capable. Instead of military aid, the US could provide security guarantees and technology sharing agreements as alternatives. However, the US currently has a deal to provide military aid to Israel through 2028, with constraints on how the weapons can be used. The definition of "defensive purposes" is debated, and once weapons are delivered, the US cannot control their use.

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