Photo Credit: Basel Awidat/Flash90
Israeli tank delivered to the Israel-Syria border on the Golan Heights, May 10, 2018.

President Donald Trump is about to sign into law a $2.3 trillion spending bill that was passed by Congress Monday night, which includes $1.4 trillion to fund the government, and $900 billion in relief for Americans who were affected by the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the annual foreign aid to Israel—and that last part immediately raised the ire of Israel’s enemies.

Journalist Walker Bragman tweeted in response: “The new COVID relief bill contains $500,000,000 for Israel.” To which Twitter user LibrulAzzole responded: “A whole bunch of that looting is directed to Israel’s Military-Industrial Complex Companies Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries… The war machine abroad consumes our basic needs in addition to the MIC here…”


Tablet’s senior editor Yair Rosenberg explained: “The Covid relief bill did not, in fact, contain $500 million for Israel. Congress passed a suite of bills, including Covid relief *and* the bill funding the Defense Department for 2021, which includes foreign aid. This isn’t hard unless you know nothing about Congress.”

To which journalist Glenn Greenwald responded: “As Yair Rosenberg points out, the $500,000,000 to Israel is not technically part of the COVID bill, but a separate bill passed with foreign aid – still at the same time Congress said they can’t afford more than $600 in a one-time payment to Americans.”

Greenwald continued: “Israel has universal health care while Americans – transferring yet more of your money to that foreign country – do not. (they also have an excellent Lobby that wields more power than you do in the halls of Congress).”

So the left used this opportunity to attack once again the fact that the US annually gives Israel military aid worth close to $4 billion – this time using the angle of the admittedly chintzy, $600 relief checks that will be sent to Americans (instead of the originally planned $1,200, or $2000 that President Trump prefers) – to show up Israel.

Each time this nasty bit of political chicanery comes up, yours truly feels obliged to mention that, 1. The US aid to Israel was used back in 1978 to lure the Begin government into giving up the entire area of the Sinai (twice the size of Israel and a considerable buffer against Egyptian attacks) in exchange for a piece of paper signed by the Egyptians that promised not to try to annihilate the Jewish State ever again; and, 2. The US Congress has set aside the aid to Israel as an extra-budgetary expense which does not depend on the size or allocation of any other budget. But, naturally, reason is not the stuff you bring to a confrontation with anti-Semites.

But the new spending bill contains not only nice gifts for America’s most loyal friend in the Middle East, it also includes some coals for the hanging socks of some of America’s enemies in the same region. So here goes:

There’s straight-forward Military aid: the bill includes $3.3 billion in military assistance to Israel, to be dispensed in the next 30 days to purchase only weapons and defense systems sold by US companies. In addition, the bill allocates $500 million to Israel-Pentagon cooperative development of missile defense systems.

There’s nothing new here, this annual, $3.8 billion is part of a 10-year package worth $38 billion which was signed and delivered by the Obama administration. It was a democratic package, supported by a large majority of the Democrats in both houses of congress. And yet, last summer, a group of US lawmakers led by Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) issued a statement saying “Members of Congress should not be expected to support an undemocratic system in which Israel would permanently rule over a Palestinian people denied self-determination or equal rights.”

But there are parts of the new budget bill that punish the enemies of Israel: it calls for withholding US funds from the UN Human Rights Council unless it takes “significant steps to remove Israel as a permanent agenda item.” Back in 2018, President Trump pulled the US out of the UNHRC over its “bias against Israel.”

Incidentally, during the election campaign, Joe Biden’s pick for Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, said that the Democratic White house would also oppose the UN agencies’ singling out of Israel for criticism and attacks.

One more nice gift, possibly the last one Israel will receive from the Trump administration: the bill bans aid to the PA if it unilaterally seeks a member-state status in UN agencies, or files charges against Israel in the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The bill also states: “Not later than 90 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees detailing steps taken by the Palestinian Authority to counter incitement of violence against Israelis and to promote peace and coexistence with Israel.”

Happy holidays to all and to all a good cheer…


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