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Letters to the Editor

Israel receiving excessive amounts of foreign aid

Foreign aid to Israel goes well beyond the few billion in annual funds that we hear about in the media. In the fiscal year of 1997 alone, the complete total of U.S. grants and loan guarantees to Israel was $5,525,800,000. No, that 10-digit figure you just read was not a typo.

However, this is far from the whole story. Israel, with a population of under six million, received $62.5 billion in foreign aid from fiscal year 1949 through fiscal year 1996, just a few million short of the total U.S. foreign aid to all the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, whose combined population exceeds one billion. This historically unprecedented amount of money is going to a country with a per capita gross domestic product of $15,800, just above Ireland and Spain. Shouldn’t the majority of our foreign aid go to poor countries?

Still, this is not the whole story. Israel receives extras and special privileges not offered to other countries. Using reports compiled by Clyde Mark of the Congressional Research Service, it was discovered that there is a 12.2 percent hidden increase over the years that Israel has received aid. Furthermore, by receiving its annual foreign aid appropriation during the first month of the fiscal year, instead of in quarterly installments as do other recipients, it enables Israel to invest the money in U.S. Treasury notes. We essentially pay Israel interest on the money that we give them. Taking the true cost of our foreign aid to Israel into account brings the grand total to $84,854,827,200. It is an understatement to say that this figure dwarfs the $20 million the Bush administration gave to the Palestinian Authority last year. If aware of this information, how can anyone claim that the United States is an impartial broker in the peace process? The reasons that Israeli citizens receive more of our money from our treasury than our own families is complex, and for an explanation one must delve deep into the inner workings of politics in this country. As a tax-paying American, I have to wonder whether this astounding amount of my money would be better spent on the many things needed at home.

Mark Jreisat is a senior majoring in business administration.