Meme Busters: Israeli aid and US domestic policy

In the pursuit of the Truth, sometimes it is necessary to commit some truly sordid acts. Dirty, humiliating work, like doing the backstroke through a cesspool. Like drawing the short straw to find out who gets to clean the toilets on Taco Tuesday. This is defending President Obama.

There is not much to defend when it comes to Obama and Israel. For eight years, he degraded relations with the only true US ally in the region. He supported a terrorist organization in Hamas, giving rise to a whole new militant brand of anti-Semitic politics within the Palestinian Authority.

And then there was the Iran nuclear deal

 

Image courtesy Rough & Ready Media
Image courtesy Rough & Ready Media

Obama’s dislike for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is well known. He has been caught on open mic disparaging Netanyahu.  The U.S. President made Netanyahu leave the White House through a side door so as not to enrage his Arab friends, and he even actively campaigned against the Israeli PM’s reelection bid by sending organizers to Israel. This latter point is interesting, given Obama’s recent statements regarding Russia’s attempts to influence the US election via email leaks.

But we are not here-today-to bash Obama’s ineffectual leadership and horrendous foreign policy. There will be plenty of time for that later. As this is the inaugural “Meme Busters” post on a website that prides itself on authenticity in reporting, the defense of the Left in some instances should serve to validate the subsequent dismantling of all things liberal in future posts.

Let’s get started…

America found $38 billion dollars for Israel’s largest aid package ever

Without some context, this figure is extremely misleading. The $38 billion aid package is not an unrestricted gift to the state of Israel to spend as they see fit; rather, the agreement mandates that these funds are exclusively allocated towards US arms manufacturers. Moreover, these funds are awarded over a ten year period at $3.8 billion annually.

But to truly grasp President Obama’s commitment to the defense of Israel requires some understanding of previous aid efforts for the Jewish state. In 2007,  President George W. Bush signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Israel that promised to provide $30 billion over ten years.

The Bush-era deal allowed the Palestinians to spend 26 percent of these funds on Off Shore Procurement; in layman’s terms, this means that the Israelis could use about a quarter of the $3 billion in annual aid on military goods coming from within Israel. Under Obama, the ability for Israel to spend a portion of the aid at home would be phased out completely.

Many Israelis actually felt that are larger aid package was warranted. Former prime minister Ehud Barak feels that the aid is, “…far less than what could have been obtained before the prime minister [Netanyahu] chose to blatantly interfere with US politics.”

Initially, Israelis hoped that the aid would be around $5 billion a year. Barak notes that the cost of arms has risen by 20 percent since the 2007 agreement was signed.

The market rise in the cost of defense goods and inflationary increases are not the only reason that Israel is in need of more aid than Obama has pledged. In 2005, Israel made overtures to peace by surrendering the city of Gaza entirely to Palestinian Authority control. Palestinians responded to this landmark concession by electing a militant political party to control the PA and firing over 11,000 rockets at Israeli civilians from 2005-2014.

meme-1-1

Image courtesy idfblog.com

With Iran waging proxy wars across the region, while Syria is carved up by extremist factions, and ISIS resists Western efforts from Libya to Iraq, Israel is an endangered state in dire need of sponsorship from abroad. A key portion of this support, though, comes in the form of missile defense technologies. Unfortunately for Israel, Obama has also greatly limited Israel in this regard, as well.

Under the previous MOU, Israel could lobby Congress every year for increased funding for missile defense programs. In 2015, for instance, Israeli envoys bypassed presidential channels and went straight to Congress with requests for a total of $475 million in missile defense.  These funds were reportedly for use in engineering the “David’s Sling” missile defense network, a system instrumental to countering Hezbollah’s Katyusha rockets and Iranian Shihab III ballistic missiles.

Under Obama’s MOU, though, Israel was compelled to promise that they would not seek annual funding from Congress for enhancements to its missile defense. Obama’s insistence in this provision likely originates from Netanyahu’s meeting with Congress during the Iran nuclear deal in a last minute effort to encourage American lawmakers to stand up to Obama and squander the arrangement. Obama has ensured that all future funding to Israel must pass through the executive office.

While the US “found” $38 billion for Israel to use in its defense, this hardly amounts to a significant increase over previous years, and it actually hamstrings genuine attempts by Israel to defend itself from its most manifestly dangerous threat: a veritable storm of rockets emanating from Gaza and the Golan Heights.

Image courtesy unitedwithisrael.org
Image courtesy unitedwithisrael.org

can’t find money for Detroit

 

Image courtesy

The city of Detroit does, in fact, receive aid money from the federal government. The US Department of Treasury created the Hardest Hit Fund in 2010, setting aside $2 billion nationwide for “…foreclosure prevention and neighborhood stabilization efforts.” The program has since grown and spread to help struggling homeowners and dilapidated neighborhoods in 18 states, and Michigan has received $761 million for similar projects. Detroit (and Flint) have been the greatest recipients of this aid.

However, this is an insignificant portion of the $14 billion that Detroit and its outlying areas received in fiscal year 2013. Once social security, Medicaid, and other forms of non-targeted aid are assumed, the amount of aid allocated to Detroit begins to dwarf the $3.8 billion annual Israeli dispensation.

Additionally, consider the auto industry bailouts that benefited Detroit more than any other city in the nation.

From a purely demographic standpoint, Detroit’s populations is less than ten percent of that of  Israel. Of course, this is an incomplete analogy that fails to elucidate the need for federal dollars; Detroit has not had any schools, offices, or neighborhoods targeted by deadly rockets.

can’t find money for Flint’s water

You can bet that there is money leaking through the faucets in Flint, Michigan.

Although it was the incompetence of local lawmakers that ultimately caused the water crisis, federal dollars have largely paid for the huge variety of services and maintenance required to stabilize the city of Flint. As Obama declared a state of emergency for Flint in January, he also earmarked an initial $55 million to start replacing lead pipes that contaminated resident’s water sources.

Image courtesy Krzysztof (Kriss) Szkurlatowski
Image courtesy Krzysztof (Kriss) Szkurlatowski

 

A White House fact sheet details the vast array of programs organized by an equally diverse set of government entities, from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Small Business Administration, Department of Labor, Commerce, and Education…the list is exhaustive. With this many government bureaus involved, it is easy to understand how a town like Flint is transformed into a burgeoning receptacle of government dollars.

It is also easy to understand, then, how a water contamination problem turned into $3.6 million to fund the Head Start program in Flint. This money was used to open three new classrooms, extend the school year by three weeks, and enroll 24 students in home-based preschool. There are numerous programs in Flint that are similarly wasteful.

The costs associated with rebuilding the crumbling infrastructure of Flint falls exceedingly short of the billions of dollars required to arm and equip Israeli Defense Forces. Though it is doubtful that the Israelis are as wasteful as American social service departments charged with reacting to a political hot-button issue.

can’t find money for education

Image courtesy Anissa Thompson
Image courtesy Anissa Thompson

In the 2012-2013 school year, the US spent $1.15 trillion on education for grades k-12. American tax payers did not spend that much from 2001-2010 in Iraq and Afghanistan.

can’t find money for homeless veterans

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Image courtesy Cavell L. Blood

Since President Obama took office, money going to homeless veterans programs have tripled, and the government spent $1.4 billion on these projects in fiscal year 2015. Obama has an admirable record in this regard, requesting $200 million more than Congress ultimately approved for 2015.

The government has allocated sufficient money towards fighting veteran homelessness. The numbers indicate that  homelessness among veterans was reduced by one-third from 2009-2015. Cities like New Orleans have all but eradicated this human crisis by reaching a state of veteran homelessness referred to as “functional zero.”

Melissa Haley, director of supportive services at Volunteers of America in New Orleans, says that,  “Homelessness is a continuous process. There’s a veteran right now who is in a home who could very well be homeless tomorrow. Functional zero is defined as having a process and the resources in place where we can immediately house a veteran.”

Federal government funding promises that cities across America are equipped to respond to the needs of America’s finest citizens. Finding homes for 50,000 homeless vets is not a project requiring the kind of investment that defending Israel necessitates.

BUSTED

Although President Obama has used the aid to Israel for his own political purposes, the amount is actually less than appropriate given the consequences associated with an outgunned Israel. Israel relies on this aid for the defense of its citizens. The entire region, including a large part of Israel’s own citizenry, remains in a perpetual state of war. This aid to Israel actually provides jobs and prosperity for many American families, given the mandate to purchase arms from the US.

While it is inappropriate to weigh the importance of, for instance, homeless veterans in proportion to funding Israel’s security, it is quite clear that lawmakers are giving significant attention to all of the policy issues presented in this meme. In fact, in the case of Flint, reactionary, impulsive over-spending has created a disproportionate response to a state emergency. Therefore, this meme should be considered meaningless liberal commentary.

 

Benjamin Baird

The Grand Master of Truth, Benjamin Baird is a veteran infantryman of Iraq and Afghanistan with over 1000 days in combat settings. He graduated with honors from the American Military University, studying Middle Eastern affairs with a concentration on Iraq. Ben is a freelance journalist, a proven military leader, and conservative super hero, responding to liberal villainy wherever it rears its ugly head.