Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Americans - you ARE involved

When I talk to fellow citizens about the situation in the Middle East, I often get the response that it's a mess over there, both sides are to blame and it's a hopeless hate-fest that is impossible to untangle.

The logical conclusion? The person doesn't want to get involved for either side.

This sounds like a safe position but it relies on a fallacy.

Americans, though they may think they are being impartial, are not. The United States government that represents them internationally is entirely on the side of Israel and has been firmly in that position since the 1967 six-day war.

Despite the formal policy statements that do not support the settlement project, the reality is that the United States has never stopped the flow of billions of dollars to Israel in the face of the fact that Israel pursues the settlement project with deliberate subsidies and government endorsement.

Words mean nothing when not backed by action. Israel knows quite well that it can do as it pleases because the money from the U.S. will keep on coming and coming in a variety of ways.

Don't believe it? Read this story from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz from which I took this excerpt. Boldface is mine.

The F-35 purchase deal is the largest in Israel's history. The defense establishment is afraid to mortgage most of the American defense aid earmarked for purchases in the United States for this deal, especially when the Defense Ministry's budget is expected to be cut.

If the budget is slashed, the defense establishment will have to use some of the American aid money to buy ammunition and bombs (to renew the supplies diminished by the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead) in the U.S. instead of buying them in Israel.
Remember that the Israeli Air Force is only one part of the Israeli forces that receive U.S. funding. So also does the Israeli army, the IDF, that uses military force at will in the occupied territories. In Operation Cast Lead over 1200 Palestinians died. U.S. weapons routinely kill Palestinians. American F-16's and Apache and Blackhawk helicopters attack them.

So the U.S. is no "honest broker". Rather, the U.S. and Israel are continually doing deals that benefit Israel financially and secondarily, U.S. arms manufacturers. The U.S. gives money to Israel only to have it return for arms purchases. Could things be any more cozy than that?

But that's only part of it.

Did you know that U.S. money built the settlers-only roads that run through the West Bank - roads on Palestinian land that Palestinians cannot use? It's true. The money came out of the Oslo Accords and the roads were to eventually be used by the Palestinians. It hasn't happened and there is no sign that it will, but has there been even a peep from the U.S.? No.

So, my fellow Americans, if you wanted to be even-handed, you would have to tirelessly work for the Palestinians and even then you wouldn't be able to come close to what your government does against them in your name.

How does this happen?

It happens because of the very apathy that I mentioned at the start of this post. The Israel lobby relies on American citizens as a whole to do nothing to influence their Congress. This frees the Israel lobby to work the levers of money, with the help of the arms industry lobby, and political clout made possible by a dedicated corps of pro-Israel voters to make the United States into a vending machine (that provides its own coins!) for Israel as well as a shield for it at the United Nations.

A sweet deal for Israel and infuriating to the Palestinians. It's gone on for decades while Americans continue to believe they are being fair by being aloof.

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