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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Politics - The True Cost Of Supporting Israel

Before anyone accuses me of anti-Semitism, I've been pro-Israel all my life. My attitude towards Israel has taken a long time to change. I used to be rabidly pro-Israel and fairly anti-Arab. Over the past 7 years, as Israel's behaviour towards Palestine and Lebanon becomes ever more egregious, I have slowly weaned myself away from my blind pro-Israel stance and started looking for the facts.

I was raised on stories of the Holocaust and the terrible crime perpetrated against the Jewish people. And when it became clear to me that the State of Israel was perpetrating similar crimes against the people of Palestine, I began to question my support for Israel.

Then one of my dearest friends moved to Jerusalem for two years with her partner. She came back with stories of life in Jerusalem and a mixture of love and revulsion for what was going on there. When the State of Israel began to construct a wall through Palestinian lands, driving poor farmers off their land, destroying their trees, bulldozing their homes and refusing them compensation or the right to return to their ancestral lands, I began to feel betrayed. How could the Israelis, remembering their own treatment at the hands of others, do this to anyone else? They have turned Gaza into a giant concentration camp, and are committing genocide against the Palestinians, the children of Abraham and Hagar, their own brothers, their fellow-Semites. Unconscionable!

I still have many Israeli friends, and I'm happy to say that many Israeli people do not agree with the actions of their government. I suppose they are in the same position as those of us who are horrified by Bush's actions in Iraq.

Today, I came across this article in the Christian Science Monitor, which made me very uncomfortable. It totals up the true cost of American support for Israel. Set aside the fact that the Israel that the U.S. supports is not the Israeli mothers working for peace and dialogue in conjunction with the Palestinian mothers. It is not the Israel of the refuseniks and the courageous antiwar marchers who have turned out in the hundreds of thousands to protest Israel's attacks on Lebanon and Palestine. It is the Israel of the hawks, the ugliest face of Israel, Israel the warmonger, Israel the racist, Israel the genocidal, Israel the wrongdoer.

It is simply not right that America should pay so much of her wealth to support a group of people who do not represent the totality that is Israel, a group of people who are no better than those who carried out pogroms upon their ancestors. It is simply not right that each and every American, even those who do not want a warlike Israel inflaming the Middle East, should start life with a debt of $5,700 when many of those Americans cannot afford health care or repair of their roads and bridges.

AIPAC, and the hawks it supports, are pushing a dangerous policy indeed. They want to attack others without restraint and so long as the American taxpayer pays their bills, they can afford to do so. And to that end, they have no problem working against the best interests of Israeli citizens, Palestinian citizens, and American citizens. The time has come to cut the cord. Israel must make greater efforts to engineer a lasting peace in the name of its precious children.

Pertinent points from the article:
Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign aid. It is already due to get $2.04 billion in military assistance and $720 million in economic aid in fiscal 2003. It has been getting $3 billion a year for years.

Adjusting the official aid to 2001 dollars in purchasing power, Israel has been given $240 billion since 1973, Stauffer reckons. In addition, the US has given Egypt $117 billion and Jordan $22 billion in foreign aid in return for signing peace treaties with Israel.


One huge cost is not secret. It is the higher cost of oil and other economic damage to the US after Israel-Arab wars.

In 1973, for instance, Arab nations attacked Israel in an attempt to win back territories Israel had conquered in the 1967 war. President Nixon resupplied Israel with US arms, triggering the Arab oil embargo against the US.

That shortfall in oil deliveries kicked off a deep recession. The US lost $420 billion (in 2001 dollars) of output as a result, Stauffer calculates. And a boost in oil prices cost another $450 billion.
It does not benefit Israel to be used as a cat's-paw in the endless conflict of the Middle-East. As long as Israel continues to be a conduit for America's military-industrial complex, selling arms to Third World countries, it will be, like the Jews of medieval Europe, blamed for the disasters that result. It is time to negotiate a lasting peace and reap the benefits of the peace dividend. Not to walk arm-in-arm with fundamentalist loons who believe that the utter destruction of Israel is what will rapture them to Heaven.

Read the article. It's well worth it.

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