Even though the analysis of Ellen Singer (a member of the executive board of American for a Safe Israel) (letter of February 9), according to which "Israel gets only about $800 million to bolster its economy," is, at best, questionable, and, at worst, completely erroneous, let us, just for the sake of argument, suppose it is right. Ms. Singer's line of reasoning is that "more than 80 percent" of the military aid to Israel is "spent largely in the United States" and thus "responsible for creating thousands of jobs for Americans at U.S. corporations."
In 1985, Israel mobilized its U.S. lobby to block F-15 aircraft sales to the Saudis. They turned to the U.K. to buy instead the Tornados. In the same period, U.S. unwillingness (guess why?) to sell the short-range Lance missile led directly to Saudi purchase of the intermediate-range DF-3A (CSS-2) ballistic missile form China. Not only, because of Israel, did the United States lose billions of dollars and "thousands of jobs for American at U.S. corporations" but, more importantly, it lost whatever leverage it might have had since the Saudis purchased more dangerous equipment with fewer constraints attached.
As for the concept of Israel as a "strategic ally in the Middle East," if it had ever been true, it will soon be obsolete or irrelevant when the process of democratization in Eastern Europe becomes a permanent reality. In any case, the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza by Israel reduces its ability to be a strategic asset.
The main purpose of foreign aid is to promote and serve U.S. interests in the world, not that of the Saudis or the Israelis. U.S. and Israeli interests cannot possibly be identical; if they were, Israel would have been the 51st state of the Union.
March 1, 1990