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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/23/16

Inside The U.S. $38 Billion 10-Year Gift to Israel

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It is no surprise that the guaranteed $38 billion gift from U.S. taxpayers to Israel over the next 10 years was not discussed Wednesday when President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu met at New York's Lotte New York Palace Hotel.

The $38 billion gift was not discussed in the meeting because it was already a done deal, which Netanyahu hated.

Because the U.S. mainline media does such an ineffective job of covering anything to do with what Israel likes or dislikes, the $38 billion 10-year deal was made to look like Obama had caved in to Netanyahu.

That was not the case. Nehemiah Shtrasler wrote in an opinion piece in Ha'aretz that far from being an Israeli triumph, the $38 billion agreement was not that big a deal. It was, instead, filled with caveats Netanyahu fought against.

Shtrasler explains that both leaders were smiling through their pro forma meeting, "but Obama will be enjoying the last laugh. He has waited a long time for this moment, and now he's ready to serve his revenge to Netanyahu, cold as ice."

"[Obama] can't -- and doesn't want to -- forget Netanyahu's insults, from failing to fulfill his promises to resume negotiations with the Palestinians, to continuing to build in the territories in order to torpedo any possibility of a two-state solution, to that boorish speech in Congress last year against Obama's Iranian nuclear deal. Now Netanyahu is paying for all of that, big time."

To an American public fed a steady pro-Israel diet, this sounds, well, impossible.

Anticipating this incredulous response, Shtrasler writes:

"Let's start with the numbers. In the last 10 years, Israel has received $3.1 billion a year from the United States, plus the cost of developing anti-ballistic missiles. Altogether, the aid has come to $3.5 billion a year. The new amount, $3.8 billion a year, is significantly lower in real terms.

"It's not worth more than $3.2 billion a year, according to a capitalization rate of 20 percent over 10 years. Therefore, in real terms American aid to Israel has diminished, not increased -- in contrast to what Netanyahu says."

Israel was not getting the massive payout the U.S. media claimed, with stories that sent conservatives into ecstasy and progressives into apoplexy. Netanyahu was demanding a much larger annual gift, which his rich Daddy would not give him.

Then there was an even heavier blow. Netanyahu and his negotiating team delayed accepting the U.S. 10-year offer because of a more obviously distressing clause that affected Israel's arms industry, a major money-maker for Israel's economy.

"The bigger blow lies in the exclusion of Israel's defense industries. Until now, Israel could convert 26 percent of the aid into shekels (which worked out to about $800 million a year) and use the money to order equipment from Israeli military companies. The new agreement phases out that agreement, which is a rough deal for the big defense companies, and a deathblow for dozens of smaller companies and the subcontractors of the big companies."

The third clause that angered Netanyahu is the one that Shtrasler describes as the one "designed to be personally anti-Netanyahu: the humiliation."

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James Wall served as a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois, from 1999 through 2017. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Many sources have influenced (more...)

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