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Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein and ZOA Director of Research and Special Projects Liz Berney, Esq. released the following statement:
The ZOA criticizes Vivek Ramaswamy’s urging reducing aid to Israel; downgrading the U.S.-Israel special relationship; and calling for giving equal aid to Israel’s neighbors. Ramaswamy’s statements ignored present-day Middle East realities; the enormous threats Israel faces today on multiple fronts; U.S. commitments to and benefits from our key ally Israel; and the historic, military, security and legal imperatives for U.S. cooperation with and support for Israel, and for Israel’s “qualitative military edge” (QME) over its neighbors.
Ramaswamy Ignored U.S. Commitments and the Enormity of Israel’s Contributions and Sacrifices: Although Ramaswamy briefly acknowledged that “our relationship with Israel has advanced American interests,” Ramaswamy then incongruously asserted that Israel should not receive preferential treatment from the United States. Ramaswamy ignored U.S. commitments to its ally, Israel, for which Israel gave more than it received; downplayed the enormity of Israel’s contributions to U.S. security and Middle East stability; and ignored that the U.S. must keep its commitments in order for nations throughout the world to trust America’s word in the future. U.S. commitments to Israel include:
- In 2015, Obama administration officials assured Jewish leaders that the $150 billion of sanctions relief given to Iran would be countered by increased military aid to Israel. (The ensuing MOU increased aid by $0.8 billion from the previous $3 billion per year, but due to inflation and increased threats that necessitated higher Israeli defense budgets, the Obama 10-year MOU reduced U.S. aid from 18.5% of Israel’s defense budget in 2016 to 16% of Israel’s defense budget in 2023. The Obama MOU also phased out the previous provisions allowing Israel to spend up to 26.3% of the assistance in Israel.)
- In order to procure the Israel-Egyptian peace treaty (which President Carter negotiated on Egypt’s behalf on terms that were unfavorable to Israel) and convince Israel to give up the Sinai, early warning stations, airfields, Jewish settlements in northern Sinai, the Alma Oil Fields developed by Israel and billions of dollars of infrastructure), the U.S. guaranteed Israel’s oil supply and made defense commitments to Israel. Congress further found that those commitments served U.S. national interests. 22 USC Ch. 49, §3401 et. seq.
- Since 2008, pursuant to U.S. law (22 USC § 2776(h)), the U.S. has guaranteed Israel’s qualitative military edge.
- Since 1987, the U.S. has designated Israel as a “major non-NATO ally” (MNNA). 22 U.S.C. § 2321k(b). MMNA status provides MMNA nations with defense trade and security cooperation benefits.
- Even the hostile Obama administration State Department acknowledged in 2011 the enormous contributions to U.S. security provided by U.S.-Israeli military cooperation and assistance. This included learning from Israel’s counterterrorism experience; using Israeli armor plating equipment on U.S. vehicles; using Israeli bandages to treat U.S. troops; and using Israeli sensor, UAV and other advanced technologies. The State Department concluded that “ensuring Israel’s military strength and its superiority in the region, is therefore critical to regional stability and as a result is fundamentally a core interest of the United States.” (“Ensuring Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge,” Address by Andrew Shapiro, Assistant Secretary for the U.S. State Dep’t Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Nov. 17, 2021, White House Archive.) Since then, Israel has also been “providing the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) with full access to what had been proprietary [Israeli] Iron Dome technology.” (CRS 2023 report.)
How to Ultimately Reduce Israel’s Defense Needs: The real ways to ultimately reduce Israel’s defense needs include: Cut all funding to the Palestinian Arabs until the Palestinian Authority ends anti-Israel incitement in media, schools, and government-controlled mosques and ends “pay to slay” rewards to Arab murderers of Jews; Cut all funding to Hamas-allied UNRWA; Stop pressuring Israel to make concessions to the Palestinian Arabs that endanger Israel’s security; Stop sending billions of dollars to Iran; Provide Israel with the equipment Israel needs to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities and support any Israel action against Iran and Reinstate maximum sanctions against Iran.
Ramaswamy’s “Abraham Accords 2.0” Concept is Unlikely to Radically Reduce Israel’s Defense Needs: Ramaswamy naively asserted that his proposed “Abraham Accords 2.0” with four non-neighboring countries (Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman), would make Israel “more integrated” with its neighboring countries, and then Israel should be able to stand “on its own two feet” financially.
Even if, by some miracle, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman all made peace deals with Israel, Israel would continue to face existential Iranian nuclear, missile and terror threats; 200,000 Hezbollah missiles in Lebanon, many of which are precision-guided; Iranian and Syrian missiles in Syria; Iranian missiles in Iraq; thousands of Hamas and Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) missiles in Gaza – all pointed at Israel. Israel would continue to face the ongoing huge wave of 20 terror attacks a day against Israeli civilians by terror groups in Judea/Samaria (as well as by Israeli Arabs), abetted by the Palestinian Authority’s nonstop incitement and “pay to slay” payments to Arab terrorists to murder Jews.
In other words, Israel’s defense needs are likely to increase regardless of whether or not Ramaswamy’s unlikely “Abraham Accords 2.0” is achieved.
Ramaswamy’s “Abraham Accords 2.0” moreover seems unlikely. For instance:
Indonesia: has the world’s largest Muslim population and is extremely antisemitic. AJC reported that hatred and suspicion of Jews is prevalent. Judaism is not even a recognized religion, and life is precarious for Indonesia’s 200 Jews (out of a population of 273 million). Indonesia has only two tiny synagogues, after a third was forced to close in 2009, and then demolished. There were demonstrations against the opening of a little Holocaust museum last year; and demonstrations against the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem and against U.S. defensive operations in Gaza.
Oman: In January 2023, the Omani parliament criminalized all relations with the “Zionist entity,” including any persons or entities residing in Israel. In addition, in February 2023, Oman promised Palestinian Authority dictator Mahmoud Abbas that Oman would not even begin the process of normalizing relations with Israel. Oman’s increased ties with Syria and Iran also bode ill for any peace agreement with Israel. During a February 2023 meeting in Muscat, Oman, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and Omani Sultan Haitham bin Tariq restored relations, and looked forward to Syria’s ties with all Arab nations returning to normal. Already in 2020, Oman reinstated its ambassador to Damascus. And in July 2023, Oman and Syria held a high-level forum to boost trade and economic relations.
Saudi Arabia: The Saudi rapprochement with Iran in March 2023; Iranian opposition to a Saudi-Israeli peace deal; and Saudi demands for dangerous concessions to Palestinian Arabs that undermine Israel’s security and sovereignty would make a Saudi-Israeli peace deal difficult to achieve. Moreover, concessions to the Palestinian Arabs would result in more anti-Israel terror, and more Israeli defense needs.
Qatar: Iran and Qatar also deepened ties, in meetings in June 2023, and bilateral agreements last year, making an Israeli-Qatari deal difficult.
As also Mark Levin aptly told Ramaswamy, no one would enter into the Abraham Accords if that means that the U.S. will then walk away. Mark Levin also explained to Ramaswamy: “You miss the point entirely. Israel is an ally in a very dangerous part of the world. We need Israel as a counterweight to Iran, Syria, terrorist organizations, etc. You seem oblivious to America’s need to have strong and reliable allies throughout the world to help our own security needs. Foreign policy should be based on prudence not flip ideological comments. You’re not ensuring our security you’re ensuring we will need a much larger military, many more service personnel, bigger intelligence operations, more ships and aircraft, etc., if we do as you suggest. Our allies benefit from our support, but we benefit from them being our first line of defense in certain parts of the world. . . . Respectfully, you need to bone up a bit on this subject.”