Top US Jewish Group Defends American Military Aid to Israel After Some Democrats Tout Potential Conditions
A top US Jewish group issued on Friday a strong defense of American military assistance to Israel following comments made earlier this week by a number of Democratic presidential candidates on the possibility of placing certain conditions on such aid.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, for example, called on Monday for a portion of this aid to be reallocated toward humanitarian relief in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Sanders was one of five Democrats seeking the presidency who spoke at the annual conference of the left-wing lobby group J Street in Washington, DC.
Arthur Stark, chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive Vice Chairman and CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said on Friday, “We are deeply troubled by recent statements that would place conditions, limitations, or restrictions on the US security assistance provided to Israel, so vital for the defense and security of the country, the protection of essential US interests, and stability in the region.”
“This approach,” they added, “would harm American objectives in the Middle East and would undermine the ability of our key ally to defend itself against the threats it faces on all its borders. We agree with former Vice President Joe Biden, who said, ‘it would be absolutely outrageous’ and ‘a gigantic mistake’ to place such restrictions on aid to Israel.”
“The 10-year security assistance agreement, negotiated by then-President Barack Obama, provides stability and predictability with regard to military assistance to Israel and sends a message to Israel’s enemies of the strength of the US-Israel relationship,” Stark and Hoenlein noted. “The agreement was overwhelmingly supported by both houses on a bipartisan basis.”
“Adoption of this suggested approach would reward those who are the true obstacles to progress towards peace, engage in terrorism, and deprive the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank of the opportunities for a better life,” they asserted. “Further, it would harm the prospect of negotiations. Israelis must be assured that they will be able to defend themselves and deter those who would seek to destroy them. These threats will undermine the confidence essential for Israel to engage in negotiations and advance the prospects for the peace it has long sought.”
“A strong Israel is vital to countering Iran, its proxies, and their hegemonic goals,” Stark and Hoenlein noted. “Those who advance these misguided proposals make no mention of Hamas, a US-designated terrorist organization, which runs Gaza and is responsible for the launching of thousands of rockets at Israel, attempts to penetrate the border, and digging terror tunnels to carry out attacks against civilians. While it instigates this violence against Israel, Hamas subjugates the people of Gaza. The same is true in the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority is responsible for denying the people a better future, while its corrupt government engages in the ‘pay-to-slay’ policy that rewards and encourages terrorist attacks against Israelis. They are the true sources of instability and the obstacles to meaningful negotiations, which the United States and Israel have long sought.”
“There can be legitimate differences of opinion on particular policies,” they acknowleged, “but the assertion that US money is funding the occupation is patently false and undermines the efforts to arrive at a peaceful outcome between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. In fact, the US assistance is largely spent in the United States and creates tens of thousands of jobs. A secure Israel and a strong US-Israel relationship are vital to both countries, the region, and the prospects of a better future for all.”