The U.S. has promised $38 billion to the state of Israel over the next 10 years, the largest sum that the U.S. has ever promised to any country in its history.
President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Wednesday, September 7 to finalize the deal between the two countries. The $38 billion will amount to about $3.8 billion a year. Much of the money given to Israel is for defense against terrorist threats such as Hamas and Hezbolah.
Natanyahu initially argued for funds up to $45 billion, but Obama refused to meet those requests, according to the New York Times. An agreement was also struck between the two parties saying that Israel would not seek more aid from the United States over the next decade unless both nations agree that it is necessary.
Israel is currently the country that receives the most aid from the U.S, with the other top four being, in order, Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan, and Pakistan.
Daniel Bennett, professor of political science at John Brown University, says that the U.S. has best interests in supporting a strong, democratic nation in an unstable region.
“I think, in reality, the two countries know they need each other. People like to criticize Obama for reneging on Israel, for abandoning them, but really the support’s always been there. We’re selling them weapons, we’re giving them aid. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship,” Bennett said.
According to Bennett, Israel is a stabilizing factor in an unstable region, and Israel has the benefit of having the US as an ally.
“From the United States’ position, it’s important to have a stable democratic country in the Middle East, where we can have military presence if we need to. From a geopolitical stand point, it helps to have a stabilizing factor in the region. For Israel, it helps to have a friend in the United States when you’re surrounded by people who really don’t care for your existence.” Bennett said.
Bennett also addressed the amount of aid given to other Middle Eastern countries such as Pakistan and Jordan; “From the US’s perspective, it may be trying to stabilize a region that’s been traditionally unstable over the years. If we’re thinking about it from a strictly self-interested perspective, and I think that’s most of foreign policy, it’s about keeping people we like in power, and people we don’t like out of power.”
David Vila, professor of philosophy and religion, who spends most every summer in the Middle East says that other Middle Eastern countries see the US as supporting an enemy.
“Putting it bluntly, most Middle Eastern countries feel that the US and Israel are allied against them,” Vila said.
“I’ve met many, many people from Turkey to Egypt and most countries in between. Most people over there feel like the US government is a puppet of the Israeli interest groups and that they can’t get a fair hearing,” Vila said.
Though these countries feel as though the US is against them by supporting Israel; Vila says that the US and other countries have legitimate interests in supporting Israel. “The interests the US has in the Middle East are legitimate, and other countries see this as well. Israel receives millions of dollars in aid from private foundations and other countries around the world.”
“There is a strong desire to support the only liberal democracy in the region, with the hope that democratic ideals will spread,” Vila said.