This I Believe

Thompson - Charlottesville, Virginia
Entered on February 27, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30

I’d like to address the relationship between the U.S. and Israel and why I believe it needs to change.

In 1949 Israel was recognized as a nation by the world at large. At this time the Western nations pledged to aid the fledgling nation take root.

60 years later t 1/3 of U.S. foreign aid goes to Israel. Estimates place U.S. aid to Israel at $114 billion. To put this in perspective think about this: with the current budget deficit much of the money sent to Israel is borrowed by the government, raising the deficit that our generation will inherit. When presidential elections are swayed by the impending social security crisis, the U.S. government spends more on each Israeli citizen than it does Americans. In 2007 the U.S. gave 20 times the amount of aid to Israel, which possesses a stronger economy than many nations, than to the Palestinians, a nation less people, many of whom have lived in refugee camps for a generation.

Why are we spending vast amounts on a nation which no longer needs it?

Of the money sent most goes to Israel’s defense budget. In addition the vast majority of American aid has been giving to Israel after 1967; the year Israel decided to ensure its continued survival through overwhelming firepower, rapidly increasing the amount of state of the art weapons purchased from America. This gave the defense industry incentive to lobby endlessly for the preservation of the current relationship because as long as Israel receives billions, they will continue to make American weapons manufacturers extravagantly wealthy. Enriching America’s armaments industry hardly seems worth sending so much money to Israel.

Here is how it affects you personally: if you’ve paid taxes then you’ve paid for weapons that have killed hundreds of Palestinians over the past 3 months.

This isn’t all about aiding the U.S.; changing America’s policy towards Israel could accelerate the peace process in the Middle East.

Much of the power that hardliners in the Israeli government wield comes from the understanding that they can access U.S. resources and support. They can refuse to compromise with Palestinian interest because America, which wields considerable influence, will continue to pour money in and defend their actions in international forums like the U.N. They can occupy foreign territory, and invade or bomb other nations, such as the campaign in Gaza or the invasion of Lebanon, with virtual impunity because America. will back them up.

If America declared to the world that we will not tolerate these actions, and that we will treat Israel with the same standard applied to other nations, it would pressure Israel to negotiate some settlement that was tolerable to all parties. Imagine what might have happened when Israel invaded Lebanon if the U.S. reacted the same way we did when Saddam invaded Kuwait.

Consider the implications for America and peace in the Middle East if the U.S. ended its practices regarding Israel and treated them like any other nation, held accountable for its actions.