Monday, November 19, 2012

It Is time To Let Israel Stand On Its Own

Editor's note:  this article was first posted in Feb. 2009 on "World Impulse," the author's foreign affairs blog. Regrettably, it is even more relevant today.

Today, Amnesty International called for the United States to end foreign aid to Israel. The Author concurs, it is time to let this wealthy, nuclear-armed nation stand on its own.

Amnesty specifically called for a US reappraisal following the extensive and disproportionate use of American weapons in the recent Gaza operation which killed and injured countless civilians. It is, in fact, very likely that American weapons were used in the commission of war crimes.  Read the article here.
The US has long been the largest arms supplier to Israel; under a current 10-year agreement negotiated by the Bush administration the US will provide $30bn (£21bn) in military aid to Israel.

"As the major supplier of weapons to Israel, the USA has a particular obligation to stop any supply that contributes to gross violations of the laws of war and of human rights," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa programme director. "To a large extent, Israel's military offensive in Gaza was carried out with weapons, munitions and military equipment supplied by the USA and paid for with US taxpayers' money."
The Author, however, is concerned with the over $80 billion of direct aid provided since 1949. It is important to acknowledge up-front that our national interests were well served by this support during the Cold War. Times have changed, and our continuing, one-sided support of Israel is costly in the region and the Muslim world. Further, Israel has not reciprocated our support like most loyal allies. It continues to authorize illegal settlements, conduct disproportionate military operations, collectively punish innocents and occupy disputed lands. The continuous flow of American taxpayer dollars have also not prevented Israel from spying on the U.S. on multiple occasions; attacking an American Naval vessel killing 34 (image above), and harboring terrorists accused of murdering American citizens.

That has been the subject of previous posts, it it not the focus of this one - which is to pose a single question.  Should the U.S. continue to pour taxpayer dollars into Israel? First some background.
According to an October 27 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, cumulative aid to Israel from 1949 through fiscal year (FY) 2000 was $81.38 billion. This number is too low because it omits "hidden" funds. While it includes the $1.2 billion promised to Israel in the Wye River Memorandum, the old Food for Peace program, and the current subsidy for "refugee resettlement," it omits money from the DOD budget on the grounds that those funds are for research and development projects that benefit both the United States and Israel-a questionable premise. The CRS total also excludes estimated interest on the early disbursement of aid.

The Congressional Research Service report states that from FY 1994 through FY 1998, Israel received $29 billion in waived loans. (source)
According to Wikipedia, the U.S. currently has increased its annual military aid to Israel to the whopping sum of over $3 billion. We give this to a wealthy country with nuclear weapons. Our unconditional support for Israel was cited, among several other grievances, as grounds for the 9/11 attacks. We need to protect ourselves from terrorists, but we sure need to have a smart foreign policy that demands sacrifice from our friends whom we've supported for decades and offers all parties an honest path to peace. Perhaps reassessing our military aid to the state of Israel would make that position clearer to all the players concerned.

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