Our Taxes At Work For Israel
The brutal conflict between the state of Israel and the occupied Palestinians is now in its 42nd year. Innumerable times, U.S. presidents and Congresses have assured the Israelis of our unshakable friendship and our undying determination to strengthen them militarily and financially. Yet, we have failed to help Israel make peace with the Palestinians, even though the mighty U.S. is Israel’s main source of economic and political support.
The most crucial help we have given our Israeli friends is devastating military equipment, second in quality only to our own. Israel's recent reckless bombing and invasion of the Gaza Strip is being fueled in large measure by American weapons based upon American technology, such as paid for with American taxpayers’ dollars.
Since 1973, our level of military support for Israel far exceeded the amounts provided to any other country. Israel has been the largest annual recipient of direct U.S. economic and military assistance since 1976 and the largest recipient of such aid since World War II. Direct annual assistance to Israel amounts to about $3 billion. Total direct U.S. aid now adds up to well over $140 billion. That has been roughly one-fifth of our entire foreign aid budget. In per capita terms, we give each Israeli citizen a direct annual subsidy of about $500. It is also no secret that we are giving Israel generous access to U.S. military intelligence.
Over the past eight years, the Bush administration provided Israel with some $21 billion in military assistance, of which $19 billion was came out American pockets, according to the Arms and Security Initiative of the New York-based New America Foundation. In addition to outright military aid, we have sold Israel more than 22 billion dollars in arms in 2008 alone. This includes a proposed deal for 75 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, nine C-130J-30 military transport aircraft, and four combat ships. We also have long been permitting Israel to produce U.S.-designed military technology under license.
Mr. Bush frequently asserted that the Israelis have a right to defend themselves against any Palestinian opposition to the Israeli occupation, but he never allowed for a Palestinian right to self-defense. Neither he nor Congress ever objected when the Israeli government pleaded self-defense while its military perpetrated collective punishment and massively disproportionate retaliation on Palestinians. We routinely denounce the anti-Israeli resistance movements of Hamas and Hezbollah. Yet, they would never have arisen had Israel ever decided to end its oppressive occupation of the Palestinian territories.
In a letter to Secretary Rice, Congressman Kucinich (D.-O) recently pointed out that Israel's disproportionately heavy and often indiscriminate use of U.S. weapons may have violated the Arms Export Control Act of 1976 which allows the wartime deployment of U.S. weapons only for "legitimate self defense" and "internal security." "Israel is not exempt from international law and must be held accountable," he added.
For better or worse, our usually unconditional support of Israel, particularly in the United Nations, is only too well known among Palestinians and their hundreds of millions of allies in the Muslim world. Routinely, they conclude that we Americans have no intention to use our economic, military, and diplomatic clout upon Israel’s leaders by demanding that they end the occupation and give the Palestinians their own sovereign state free from the permanent threat of Israeli domination.We want to be their friends but we cannot forever be the chief apologists for their intransigence.