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In Brookings poll, most Dems say $38 billion aid package to Israel is ‘way too much’ while the GOP is split

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Most Democrats think the $38 billion dollar aid package the U.S. signed with Israel last week—the highest in U.S. history—is “too much or way too much” money, while Republicans are split on the amount, according to a survey conducted by the Brookings Institute.

Polling more than 1,500 in May, Brookings asked Americans along party lines what they thought of the U.S.-Israel relationship, in terms of dollars and cents. The question about the balloon payment read:

“The Obama administration is reportedly offering Israel a 10-year military aid package total[ing] approximately $40 billion. Israel is reportedly balking as it feels it needs more to maintain its ‘qualitative edge’ in the Middle East. Do you believe that what the Obama administration is offering is: way too little, too little, just about the right amount, too much, or way too much?”

(Graph: The Brookings Institute)

(Graph: The Brookings Institute)

Fifty-seven percent of Democrats answered Israel’s aid at $40 billion rolled out over ten years was too high, compared to 40 percent of Republicans. Another 40 percent of Republicans thought the package was too low.

The division between the GOP and Democrats on Israel remained consistent throughout the poll. Fifty-three percent of Democrats “think that the Israeli government has too much influence” in the U.S., while only 27 percent of Republicans said Israel exercises undue influence.

The issue where the two camps are most split is on settlements.

Republicans overwhelmingly back Israel’s settlements in the West Bank with 73 percent pledging the U.S. should “do nothing” to “limit opposition to” Israeli construction in the occupied Palestinian territory. Yet Democrats are divided. Fifty-three percent said they want the U.S. to impose economic sanctions on Israel if it does not freeze settlement building.

Among Republicans, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is popular, even more so than Ronald Reagan.

In a write-in question, more Republicans responded the “national or world leader that they admire most” is Netanyahu over any other official. For Democrats and Independents, both said Barak Obama was their favored leader, with Pope Francis trailing behind in second place.

The U.S. first began giving large sums to Israel in 1974 following the peace agreement with Egypt. Israel became the largest recipient of U.S. overseas aid, followed by Egypt in second place. But nothing dramatically positive has occurred in Israel’s foreign relations recently to warrant another fiscal boost wrote senior Brookings fellow Shibley Telhami who drafted the questionnaire. 

“In this case, Israel is making no major strategic decision to attract this level of aid—and certainly not one over the Palestinian-Israeli or the broader Arab-Israeli conflicts,” Telhami said.

Following the aid agreement, President Obama will meet in New York with both Netanyahu and the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in talks on the sideline of the United Nations General Assembly about kick-starting a renewed round of peace talks. The last negotiations broke down in 2014, ending a few months before Israel went to war with Gaza. Since then, Russia has also extended an offer to broker Israeli-Palestinian talks.

Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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13 Responses

  1. annie on September 20, 2016, 2:13 pm

    “In this case, Israel is making no major strategic decision to attract this level of aid …..” Telhami said.

    hmm, really? does anyone really believe this?

  2. wondering jew on September 20, 2016, 4:28 pm

    Israel signed a peace treaty with egypt in 1979 not 1974. I assume the large influx of aid in 1974 was forgiveness of debt for the massive infusion of arms during the course of the October 73 yom kippur war. Israeli cooperation regarding separation of forces agreements with egypt in January 74 and with Syria later that year, could have been instrumental in the forgiveness of that debt.
    And the second separation agreement with egypt which was signed in 75, involved pressure of various sorts. The steady aid to israel began after the egypt israel peace treaty was signed in 79.

    • Citizen on September 24, 2016, 4:13 pm

      Yes, basically the US bribed Egypt and Israel to stay peaceful with each other, which allowed Israel not to have to worry about their shared border. The formula was Israel got X$ amount of aid each year, and Egypt got a much smaller % of that number, so together, they drained about 20%+ of TOTAL US aid to the world. Now That Israel is getting $38 billion for the next decade package, I don’t know if that formula respecting Egypt still holds–I have not heard anything about it, have you?

      And btw, other countries getting big sums of such foreign aid are countries we attacked, devastated, occupied for a long duration, e.g., Iraq.

  3. [email protected] on September 20, 2016, 9:38 pm

    I think a bit more info about the brooking institute and its “center for middle east policy” should be included in this article. This center formerly known as the “saban” center is funded by Mr. Haim Saban. He recently was instrumental in getting a certain Hillary Clinton on board against BDS. I don’t know if the numbers in the poll are correct, but when Mondoweiss publishes things from an organization that clearly has a stake in the results of its own poll, relevant info regarding the taker of the poll needs to be included.

  4. yourstruly on September 21, 2016, 1:18 am

    The Green Party’s Jill Stein and the Republican Party’s Gary Johnson haven’t been invited to participate in the forthcoming debates. One reason for shutting them out may be that both nominees might speak out forcefully against this 38 billion aid package, which, given the above poll results, very well might peal off voters from both the major party nominees, but more so from the Democratic standard bearer. If polls suggest this is happening, Trump might change his mind & oppose the aid, but on this issue the public might not let him get away with it. Clinton, however, is so tangled up with the Israel Lobby that even if she came to her senses vis-a-vis Palestine-Israel, no way would the public believe her.

  5. silamcuz on September 21, 2016, 1:57 am

    But why is it way too much? What is the benchmark from which the magnitude of excess aid is judge?

    Secondly, let’s consider the source of the aid money itself. The billions of dollars was generated from the continued military occupation of Turtle Island and exploitation of its resources by the white supremacist government. That in itself is already a major crime even before we consider how it is being used to finance occupation of Palestine.

  6. ritzl on September 21, 2016, 2:20 am

    I really like Telhami/PIPA/WPO/UMaryland use of specific, informational questions in their polling. They really frame the opinion “fulcrums” in specific terms and generate immediately relevant and transferrable (if there ever came a desire) policy commentary/suggestions.

    His polling also consistently shows the the US public isn’t stupid or unhinged. When presented with enough info to make a decision they seem to make a rational one.

    It’s also a bit puzzling (or something) that he works for Haim Saban’s shop at Brookings and still produces such accurately representative (imho) polling data – usually negative and/or contrary – on Israel.

  7. Kay24 on September 21, 2016, 7:00 am

    Here are the responses in the twitter world. No one is happy with this unacceptable amount of charity going to what someone referred to as a supremacist nation.

    We are rewarding an occupation and the building of illegal settlements. Something is wrong here. If naive Americans are informed about this, they would not be happy either.

    • inbound39 on September 23, 2016, 8:21 pm

      Not sure if I am correct here but I believe the American Supreme Court could maybe intervene here to stop the American Government endangering the American economy by giving out money that only serves to make its financial position worse. The American Government is guilty of gross malfeasence.

      • Citizen on September 24, 2016, 4:24 pm

        We can’t even get the US government to stop indirect aid to illegal or at least “problematic” settlement expansion via US charitable NGOs though which American Jews fund said settlements at general US taxpayers additional expense via income tax deductions. Not to mention, it’s technically against US law to fund any state violating US law constricting all funding of gross civil rights violators and state’s using US supplied weapons to abuse the locals.

  8. Dmesh on September 21, 2016, 12:11 pm

    Aid to israel is illegal under US law because of their undeclared nuke program. Thats about $100B at least in illegal payments. Who will be arrested? No one. Meanwhile, unarmed black man shot for reading book, or because his car broke down, etc

    Isrsel doesnt even let us use their country as a base to “fight terror” from. We are there to fight and “defend” israel, and to enact israels yinon plan, and we cant even resupply in israel? We fly missions from turkey, gulf states, jordan, etc…but NEVER israel. Theyre hiding something they dont want us to know about, like a teenage kid who always keeps his bedroom door closed, lol

  9. K Renner on September 23, 2016, 3:28 pm

    How much they should really be giving Israel: $0.00.

    The 40 billion ought to be going to the Palestinians and Lebanese, particularly when it comes to economic improvement and allowing for the Palestinians and Lebanese to obtain a qualitative military advantage in the Levant, particularly over the so-called “Jewish state”. Palestine and Lebanon need such an advantage so they can defend themselves effectively against the shiftless, perfidious state that refuses to define official borders.

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