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September 18, 2016 7:57 am

A New York Times Editorial Calls for Cutting US Aid to Israeli Military

avatar by Ira Stoll

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Just how far out of the American political mainstream is the anti-Israel editorial position of the New York Times?

The latest outrage from the newspaper is an unsigned staff editorial criticizing as excessive the 10-year, $38 billion aid agreement signed last week between Israel and the United States. That deal was approved by President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry, and praised by Hillary Clinton. Congressional Republicans, if anything, want to make it bigger.

Standing outside that bipartisan consensus, the Times editorial, representing the paper’s official, institutional opinion, asserts, “It is worth asking whether the ever-increasing aid levels make sense, especially in the face of America’s other pressing domestic and overseas obligations.” The editorial even goes beyond that, not just “asking” but answering in the negative: “In truth, the aid package is already too big.”

One sign of the anti-Israel bias of the Times is that it uses a different standard to measure military aid to Israel than it uses to measure spending on other things. The Times’ characterization of the aid as “ever-increasing” fails to take into account inflation. The White House fact sheet on the deal states that the money, covering 2019 to 2028, “will be disbursed in equal increments of $3.3 billion in FMF and $500 million in missile defense funding each year for the duration of the understanding.”

When congressional Republicans try to constrain the growth of welfare or entitlement spending programs like food stamps or Medicare by holding spending growth to less than the inflation rate, let alone level in nominal terms, the Times editorialists and columnists work themselves into a furor denouncing “cuts.” Yet when it comes to Israel’s aid, somehow only nominal dollar figures get mentioned, with no adjustment or understanding of the idea that $3 billion in 2007, when the last memorandum of understanding was signed, is worth something different than $3.3 billion in 2028, which will be the final year of aid covered under the new memorandum.

If the Times editorial writers have trouble understanding this point, let them perform a thought experiment with keeping their own salaries constant every year for 10 years straight, without any increase for inflation. Do you think they’d describe that as “ever-increasing”? Or let them imagine a federal budget for college financial aid, or for health care for the poor, or some other favored Times cause, that featured an amount locked in at a constant number for 10 years straight, with no increase or adjustment for inflation from year to year. Why, the Times’ own single-copy newsstand price in New York City has skyrocketed to $2.50 today from the 60 cents it cost in 1999. Home-delivery prices have also steadily climbed. Would the Times commit to a decade-long subscription price freeze?

Using the federal government’s own online inflation calculator, $3 billion in 2007 dollars has the buying power of $3.48 billion in 2016. So the aid levels to Israel are not “ever increasing,” they are decreasing in real terms. It’s not in many people’s interest to point this out. It makes the pro-Israel lobbying groups look even more impotent than they did after they failed to stop the Iran deal. It makes Mr. Obama look anti-Israel, and it makes Prime Minister Netanyahu look like he got a lousy deal. If you look at what the dollar can buy in gold, the dollar in 2007 bought roughly twice as much gold as one today will buy. So, far from “ever-increasing,” the dollar-denominated aid is worth about half what it was worth a decade ago. It’s no wonder that the last time around Israel’s representative in these negotiations was a central banker, Stanley Fischer; the deal is as much about the present discounted value of dollars as it is about military hardware, a point that seems totally lost on the Times.

What’s more, the Times editorialists carping about a $3.8 billion a year military aid deal to Israel that doesn’t even keep pace with inflation — it would be accurate to characterize it as a “cut,” in real terms — are the same ones who have been loudly cheerleading for the Iran nuclear deal that will provide the terror-sponsoring Islamic Republic with $150 billion in sanctions relief, including billions in cash already airlifted in cargo planes on wooden pallets to Tehran as hostage ransom.

The Times doesn’t say, if the $3.8 billion a year in aid to Israel is “already too big,” what its preferred aid level is. But imagine the changes in relative strategic strength that would be wrought by following the Times-proposed pattern and funneling billions of dollars to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps — for funding the Hezbollah and Hamas terrorist groups to kill Jews in Israel and elsewhere — while at the same time cutting US military aid to Israel to even lower levels than the new depths (in real terms) endorsed by President Obama.

The Times, as is typical of a newspaper with a post-Holocaust Holocaust obsession, surrounded its weekend editorial calling for defunding the Israel Defense Forces with a scrim of fulsome Holocaust-related coverage. The paper carried an adoring profile of Phillipe Sands focusing on his status as the grandson of a Holocaust survivor. And then there is a Nicholas Kristof column provocatively headlined “Would You Hide a Jew From The Nazis?” The Times editorial writers may imagine that they would have hidden a Jew from the Nazis 75 years ago, but right now, with the Iranian-funded terrorists aiming missiles, bombs, and rockets at Israeli civilians and at Jewish community targets outside Israel, the Times editorial writers want to send $150 billion to Iran while cutting American aid to Israel to new lows.

One final observation: The Times editorial about the Israel aid deal was published on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. The newspaper has an ugly habit of using the Jewish Sabbath and holidays — when observant Jews refrain from writing or using computers — as moments to attack Jewish interests, with the effect of making it more difficult for organized Jewish groups to mount a rapid response. In the past I have called the practice “Kind of an opinion journalism version of the Yom Kippur War.” One hopes the Sabbath publication date of this Times editorial won’t prevent both the American Jewish leadership and the government of Israel from meeting it with the sharp and forceful rebuttal that it deserves.

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here. 

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • Barry O’B Canope

    Dear New York Times,
    If the Democrat Party didn’t need Jewish support for the November election all of US foreign aid money would go straight to Iran, and you can take that to the bank, er, to Iran, on pallets of cash and gold.
    Your Pal,

  • nat cheiman

    Israel has already made friends with Russia. So far, and because of Obama, that friendship is worth more to Israel than the USA.
    Don’t forget, Obama’s brother, Malik, is a big sponsor and donor of the muslim brotherhood, which explains why Barak Obama hates Israel

    • ♕ Moderator ♕

      Russia is a dictatorship, unfortunately. We should always give preference to free-er countries if we can.

  • Bill Keys

    Just another reason to use the nyt as birdcage liner.I stopped reading it 35 years ago when it became apparent it was a liberal, progressive shill.

  • Reform School

    NY Crimes writers can go to Syria in US Army uniforms to save the world. They prefer ISIS IDs? No argument here!

  • I don’t usually agree with the Times however since Israel gets aid equivalent to 1 percent of its gdp on s yearly basis it should take the next ten years to plan a disengagement from American aid and start building ad much defense equipment as it can on its own.

  • I have said it many times before and I am saying it again. The New York Times is a terrorism tool of Islam. Stop buying the rag and shut it down. The NYT is assisting in the WAR OF TERROR against all decent people not only Israelis but Americans too.

  • What is surely interesting is that the New York Times is published and thrives in the city which holds the greatest concentration of Jews outside Israel. Jews comprise a hefty percentage of the city’s population.

    A newspaper usually knows its readership. This suggests that the anti-Israel stance of the New York Times is not without Jewish support. Otherwise the newspaper, in this environment, simply would not sell.

    This suggests that it is time to analyse the New York Jewish community. It may be that many basic assumptions will not be validated.

  • Mark Mandell

    Nicholas Kristof’s column about “Would you Hide a Jew,” is rather ironic given that we know that what the New York Times hid was the story of the Holocaust. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger apologized in 1996 for the Times’ coverage of the Holocaust, but in truth, nothing much has changed.

  • robert borns

    dont expect sound thinking from these fellows. they were once the leader of what to say by all the newspapers,magazines,radio and tv stations. they blew it all. they had to sell their other newspapers,magazines, cable tv outlets and their real estate to stay alive. then they needed $250 million from carlos slim to keep the doors open. smart folks with great thoughts? i dont think so.

  • SteveHC

    It is for this reason that I stopped suppirtung the NYT financially in all ways.

  • This UNSIGNED editorial is another stab in the back of Israel. The Times don’t have the guts for the authors to sign their name. What a sham. Are you the Times Editorial Board a SHILL for the Arabs ????????????

  • NYT desperate! Mad cow disease?
    Kristof may be referring to Soros????
    Most of the package benefit tremendously the US! So NYT is trying to undermine the US. A typical far left position.

  • The Times, The Guardian, AL Jaereza, Der Sturmer. …no difference….wallowing in antisemitism is their raison d’etre.

  • Martin Bookspan

    The time is fast approaching when The New York Times will fade away as a distant, reprehensible memory of CORRUPT “journalism”. Subscribers: Cancel your subscriptions immediately…….

  • Mayven

    The NY TIMES struggles on a daily basis.
    Israel openly appreciates Obama’s decision to generously support the security of the State of Israel.

    A work in progress. ..

  • The NYT has fallen into the hands of people who systematically dislike Jewish people and Israel.Nothing new,the world has always found reasons to persecute and vilify Jews,but paying the NYT for spreading such hatred is a bit too much.


    My complaint is that the aid package is not tied to Israeli phased withdrawal from the Palestinian territories and equal rights of its citizens.

  • shloime

    the new york times is an important part of the white house’s “echo chamber”.