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Briefing: Strains in US 'special relationship' with Israel

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From Civil War officers who helped Egypt establish a modern army that later preserved its independence to missionaries who sought to free Muslims from a religion they saw as crushing “all independence of thought and action,” Americans long sought to bring to the region the ideals that today many see Israel as upholding.

Mr. Oren, who grew up in America and now serves as Israel’s ambassador to the United States, reportedly said recently that ties between the two countries are at a 30-year low.

What does Israel get out of it?

The most tangible benefits are guns and money. Annual US aid averages around $3 billion, most of which goes to weapons such as US fighter jets and components for Israeli tanks. The US also provides an annual subsidy for Israel’s defense industry, a benefit given to no other country. All this helps preserve Israel’s military advantage in the region.

“If the US were to limit the delivery of weapons, it would have a severe effect on the Israeli military capability,” says Gerald Steinberg, political science professor at Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel.

In addition, the US funds joint development of defense systems such as the Arrow II Missile interceptor. While Israel’s military is formidable in its own right, US support adds an extra deterrent to would-be attackers such as Iran.

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