Can some courageous reporter please directly ask some members of Congress why, in the middle of this crisis, they are giving Israel $500,000,000 to buy a new weapons system? Or is this something journalists think would be rude to bring up and does not require a justification?
— Nathan J Robinson (@NathanJRobinson) December 23, 2020
The degree of malice and misinformation within the tweet is something to behold.
First, the idea that it would take “courage” for a reporter to query members of Congress about US aid to Israel is absurd, and evokes the canard that the pro-Israel lobby is so powerful that journalists generally don’t dare to challenge them.
Additionally, the $500 million allocated towards Israel he refers to echoes an internet lie which was exposed and refuted before Robinson’s tweet, one which claimed that the $900 billion pandemic relief bill passed by Congress on Dec. 22 contained $500 million for Israel.
However, as JNS editor Jonathan Tobin demonsrated in an article yesterday, the aid bill did no such thing. The lie seems to have been based on the fact that Congress passed a separate $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill to close out the year so that they could then take their holiday recess. Within that omnimus spending bill was the annual spending authorization bill for the Defense Department.
That bill – which, again, is separate from the pandemic relief bill – did contain foreign aid funding for various countries, including Israel and, of note, the Palestinians, who received $250 million in peace-building and development aid. Also, as blogger Elder of Ziyon pointed out, the bill included aid to other Arab countries, such as Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt.
In fact, the $500 million was specifically for US-Israel missile defense cooperation – which is simply part of the agreement Jerusalem concluded with the Obama administration in 2016, in which Israel gets a total of $3.8 billion per year for the next 10 years.
Additionally, what Robinson and other critics of US aid to Israel typically ignore is that every dollar of military assistance Israel gets must be spent on US defense contractors, like Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. What this means is that all funds allocated to Israel represents an annual stimulus package for the US economy, serving, in effect, as a jobs program for American workers.
Evidently, the Guardian columnist didn’t bother researching the details of the spending bill, nor attempt to understand that framing Washington’s assistance to Jerusalem as a diversion of money away from US domestic needs is counter-factual – but decided instead that such facts were far less important than the opportunity to vilify Israel and its US supporters.