August 18 / 19, 2007
Tossing Fuel on a Fire
By DAVE LINDORFF
According to a new Associated Press report, the US is offering Israel a record $30-billion 10-year military aid package.
Let's ignore for a moment the AP story's irony-free comment that "Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns said the package was meant to back peace-seeking countries like Israel and moderate Arab states in the region to counter U.S. adversaries such as Iran." (Israel is a "peace-seeking" country?) We'll just focus on the amount of money that's being promised here.
Israel is a land of only 6 million people. That works out to about $5000 in arms aid per man, woman and child, and of course, since nearly a third of the people in Israel are Palestinian, and won't see a penny's (or bullet's) worth of that aid, it's really closer to $7500 per person. And remember, this is no basket case nation; this is one of the most technologically developed and wealthiest countries on earth we're talking about here.
Looked at another way, this aid to Israel represents a gift of $100 worth of money and weaponry from every man, woman and child in America to the people of Israel.
Think about that the next time you are scraping together the money to make your next mortgage payment or rent check.
Then think about the additional $20 billion that the U.S. is offering to the so-called "moderate" Arab states around Israel, by which we mean Saudi Arabia (you know, the country that gave us most of the 9-11 bombers and that is the prime country of origin of the foreign fighters we hear so much about in Iraq attacking US troops), Jordan and Egypt. the US has to offer that military aid if it's going to give weapons to Israel, or risk losing the friendship of those countries.
So that's $50 billion in weapons aid to a region that is a perpetual powderkeg. It makes about as much sense as giving a gift of matches and lighters to a rehab center full of pyromaniacs and convicted arsonists.
Viewed another way, the new military aid to Israel, which represents a 25 percent increase over last year (a reward for Israel's brutal and pointless invasion of Lebanon, perhaps?), which comes to about $3 billion per year, is ten times the entire US aid budget to fight AIDS in Africa.
So not only is this aid offer stupid in the extreme, giving Israel no reason whatsoever to work to achieve some kind of just and abiding settlement with its neighbors and with the Palestinians inside and outside its borders, but it's immoral for the reason that it shortchanges those who really need the aid.
I mean, this military aid to Israel is also equal to or greater than all US aid to Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean region.
But the news isn't all bad. At least in Latin America and the Caribbean, Venezuela is picking up the slack (and the rewards in terms of public acclaim) by providing the aid that the US is skimping on while it bankrolls Israel's war machine.
Is this how you want your tax dollars used?
Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His n book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can't be Happening!" is published by Common Courage Press. Lindorff's newest book is "The Case for Impeachment",
co-authored by Barbara Olshansky.