It was billed by President Obama as “the single largest pledge of military assistance in U.S. history,” a gift from the American taxpayer to the Israeli taxpayer, totaling $38 billion over 10 years, complete with squadrons of F-35 fighter jets.
But in Israel, the deal inked in Washington last week between the closest of allies has been met not with big love, but with mostly a collective “So what?”
Leaders in the Israeli defense establishment said the deal should have ushered in a new era of cooperation, but did not. They said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in his mutual antagonism with Obama, blew it. Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak called the pact for the most advanced weaponry ever a failure and a sign of the withering relationship between the United States and Israel.
Several defense analysts pointed out that, after factoring in inflation and previous supplemental bumps in funding for Israel by Congress, the new assistance package represents less money than the past 10-year deal. Yair Lapid, a leader of an Israeli centrist party, warned that the White House demand in the pact that Israel buy military hardware from U.S. contractors–and not the Israeli defense industry–would backfire. Lapid said last month, “The only thing Israelis will remember from the deal is the unemployment line” in the nation’s economically hard-pressed cities.
Yet there are other views. David Horovitz, editor of the Times of Israel, published a column headlined, “Ungrateful Israel owes the US a simple thank you.”