Last week the Jerusalem Post reported that former Israeli defence Force (IDF) Commander-in-Chief Gabi Ashkenazi told a conference that U.S. taxpayers have contributed more to the Israeli defence budget than Israeli taxpayers in the past three years.This comment has been passed around everywhere.
Alison Weir of Veterans News Now pointed out it was the first instance of an Israeli leader saying that U.S. taxpayers contribute more money to Israel’s defence budget than Israeli taxpayers.
But the claim seemed fishy to us.
Given that U.S. military aid to Israel was $2.775 billion in 2010, $3 billion in 2011, $3.07 billion in 2012 (and $3.15 billion per year from 2013-2018) while Israel’s defence budget is around $15 billion, it made us wonder how much Israeli taxpayers contribute and where the other $12 billion non-U.S. aid comes from.
We emailed Shmuel Even, an expert of Israel’s defence at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, who told us that Israel’s up-to-date defence budget for 2012 is $15 billion, with 70 per cent contributed by Israeli taxpayers, 21 per cent coming from U.S. aid and 9 per cent coming from defence Ministry income.
That would put the Israeli taxpayer contribution at $10.5 billion, compared to $3.15 billion from the U.S. (Even added that the U.S. aid in 2011 was $3.1 billion and that most of the aid comes in weapons as opposed to cash.)
So was Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi—who served as the IDF supreme commander from 2007 to 2011—simply mistaken? Or is he alluding to something that one of Israel’s top researchers doesn’t know?
Shmuel Even watched the video of Ashkenazi’s speech and said the former IDF chief “said it, but I don’t know why.”
Even added that Ashkenazi “also said that the U.S. military aid is $3B. So he knows the numbers.”
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