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Detached from Reality

Posted on March 8 2011 3:58 pm
Carl in Jerusalem runs the popular Web site
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And you thought Shimon Peres was our only politician who is detached from reality…. Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the Wall Street Journal on Monday that Israel may seek another $20 billion in assistance from the United States to cope with the fallout from the democratization of Arab countries that’s currently going on in the Middle East.

Israel will need to boost military spending and may seek an additional $20 billion in U.S. security assistance to help it manage potential threats stemming from popular upheavals in the Arab world, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Monday.

Still, he said Israel shouldn’t fear changes in the region or the risk of offering bold concessions in a renewed bid to achieve peace with the Palestinians.

“It’s a historic earthquake…a movement in the right direction, quite inspired,” Mr. Barak said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, surveying the youthful revolts in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and the Gulf. “It’s a movement of the Arab societies toward modernity.”

In the short term, however, Israel worries that adversaries Iran and Syria “might be the last to feel the heat” of regional unrest, he said, and that public pressure could push new leaders in Egypt away from that country’s 1979 peace treaty with the Jewish state.

“The issue of qualitative military aid for Israel becomes more essential for us, and I believe also more essential for you,” said Mr. Barak, a former prime minister. “It might be wise to invest another $20 billion to upgrade the security of Israel for the next generation or so….A strong, responsible Israel can become a stabilizer in such a turbulent region.”

Look, I’m grateful for any assistance the United States gives us, and I certainly wouldn’t call for it to be reduced unless we were getting a lot of freedom of action in terms of defense spending and armament sales (some of you may have sensed my ambivalence about this subject when I blogged Caroline Glick’s call for Israel to give up its aid money ten days ago). But to believe that there is any chance that the US is going to increase aid by $20 billion (!) when the American economy is suffering a jobless ‘recovery’ and annual deficits in the trillions of dollars is simply delusional!

There’s a flip side to this, and that’s the silver lining in the cloud: Aside from the $20 billion that Barak claims we need for our security, he’s also calling for ‘bold concessions’ in dealing with the ‘Palestinians.’ Any ‘bold concessions’ would involve expelling Jews from their homes. There’s no money for that either and we can’t ask the American people to pay for it.

A year ago, a Knesset study found that the government spent NIS 3,162,500 for each Jew expelled from Gaza in 2005. (And even with all that spending, most of those Jews still have no homes and no jobs – but now they also have no savings or assistance money left). Extrapolating from that number a year ago brought a total of NIS 408,750,000,000 as the cost of expelling Jews from their homes in Judea and Samaria (God forbid). If you follow that last link, you will see that it gives a dollar total of $110 billion. But that’s based on the exchange rate at the time, which was close to NIS 3.72 to the dollar. Today’s exchange rate is around NIS 3.6 to the dollar, which leads to a total of $113,542,000,000 – and that assumes that no Jews in ‘east’ Jerusalem are expelled from their homes! We can’t pay that (it’s more than our annual budget!), and we cannot and should not ask the United States to pay it, especially given its current economic conditions.

So let’s skip the ‘bold concessions,’ stop acting like a bunch of schnorrers, live within our means, and let our friends in the United States get their economy back on its feet. Let’s live in a way that’s grounded in reality. The world cannot afford a ‘Palestinian state’ financially or in any other way.

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