April 2013 Archives

0

Samer Issawi (born December 16, 1979) is a Palestinian member of the group Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
On 15 April 2002, Samer was captured by the Israeli army in Ramallah during the invasion of multiple West Bank cities, dubbed by Israel “Operation Defensive Shield”. Samer was sentenced to 26 years in prison after being convicted of charges of possessing of weapons and forming military groups in Jerusalem.

Nearly 10 years later, in October 2011, Samer was released along with 1027 Palestinian prisoners as a result of an Egypt-brokered deal between Hamas and the Israeli government for the return of Gilad Shalit. However, on 7 July 2012, he was re-arrested near for violating the terms of his release. He was convicted of an 8 months sentence, which includes a possible reinstatement of his original 26 year sentence.

Issawi has been on a hunger strike since August 1, 2012

Samer Issawi

Samer Issawi

source: hyas.ps/en/index.php/en/k2-category/palestinian-affairs/item/148-hunger-speech-by-samer-issawi…

Hunger Speech by Samer Issawi

Israelis:

I am Samer Issawi on hunger strike for eight consecutive months, laying in one of your hospitals called Kaplan. On my body is a medical devise connected to a surveillance room operating 24 hours a day. My heartbeats are slow and quiet and may stop at any minute, and everybody, doctors, officials and intelligence officers are waiting for my setback and my loss of life.

I chose to write to you: intellectuals, writers, lawyers and journalists, associations, and civil society activists. I invite you to visit me, to see a skeleton tied to his hospital bed, and around him three exhausted jailers. Sometimes they have their appetizing food and drinks around me.

The jailers watch my suffering, my loss of weight and my gradual melting. They often look at their watches, asking themselves in surprise: how does this damaged body have an excess of time to live after its time?

Israelis:

I’m looking for an intellectual who is through    shadowboxing, or talking to his face in mirrors. I want him to stare into my face and observe my coma, to wipe the gunpowder off his pen, and from his mind the sound of bullets, he will then see my features carved deep in his eyes, I’ll see him and he’ll sees me, I’ll see him nervous about the questions of the future, and he’ll see me, a ghost that stays with him and doesn’t leave.

You may receive instructions to write a romantic story about me, and you could do that easily after removing my humanity from me, you will watch a creature with nothing but a ribcage, breathing and choking with hunger, loosing consciousness once in a while.

And, after your cold silence, Mine will be a literary or media story that you add to your curricula, and when your students grow up they will believe that the Palestinian dies of hunger in front of Gilad’s Israeli sword, and you would then rejoice in this funerary ritual and in your cultural and moral superiority.

Israelis:

I am Samer Issawi the young “Arboush” man according to your military terms, the Jerusalemite, whom you arrested without charge, except for leaving Jerusalem to the suburbs of Jerusalem. I, whom will be tried twice for a charge without charge, because it is the military that rules in your country, and the intelligence apparatus that decides, and all other components of Israeli society ever have to do is sit in a trench and hide in the fort that keeps what is called a purity of identity – to avoid the explosion of my suspicious bones.

I have not heard one of you interfere to stop the loud wail of death, it’s as if everyone of you has turned into gravediggers, and everyone wears his military suit: the judge, the writer, the intellectual, the journalist, the merchant, the academic, and the poet. And I cannot believe that a whole society was turned into guards over my death and my life, or guardians over settlers who chase after my dreams and my trees.

Israelis:

I will die satisfied and having satisfied. I do not accept to be deported out of my homeland. I do not accept your courts and your arbitrary rule. If you had Passed over in Easter to my country and destroyed it in the name of a God of an ancient time, you will not Passover to my elegant soul which has declared disobedience. It has healed and flew and celebrated all the time that you lack. Maybe then you will understand that awareness of freedom is stronger than awareness of death.

Do not listen to those generals and those dusty myths, for the defeated will not remain defeated, and the victor will not remain a victor. History isn’t only measured by battles, massacres and prisons, but by peace with the Other and the self.

Israelis:

Listen to my voice, the voice of our time and yours! Liberate yourselves of the excess of greedy power! Do not remain prisoners of military camps and the iron doors that have shut your minds! I am not waiting for a jailer to release me, I’m waiting for you to be released from my memory.

0

This is indeed a landmark decision, even if it was only “a low-level proceeding at an employment tribunal”.

The separation of Jewish identity from political support for the state of Israel is at the heart of the confusion between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. As has been said, only two types of persons insist that all Jews are the same – Nazis and Zionists.  All Jews are not the same. They do not all share the same political perspectives. They do not all support the actions of the state of Israel. Indeed, an ever-increasing number of Jews around the world are becoming vocally opposed to the actions of the state that presumes to speak in their name!

Father Dave

source: www.haaretz.com…

British Jewry in turmoil after tribunal blasts pro-Israel activist for bringing harassment case

By Anshel Pfeffer

Ruling in case brought by mathematics lecturer was meant to be culmination of 11 years of pro-Israel activism, but ruling that ‘attachment to Israel… is not intrinsically a part of Jewishness’ has caused shock waves in the Jewish community.

LONDON − It was only one private citizen suing Britain’s largest academic union, but it seemed as if all the country’s Jewish establishment was standing behind him in court. It was only a low-level proceeding at an employment tribunal, not a high court adjudicating on matters of state, but the judgment seemed to be trying to say something profound about what it means to be Jewish − that love for the State of Israel is not an intrinsic trait among all Jews in Britain, or anywhere else for that matter.

Delivered two weeks ago on the eve of Passover, the ruling in the case of one Ronnie Fraser against the University and College Union soured the holiday mood for a number of influential British Jews, and it has been slowly causing shock waves in the community’s upper echelons.

The case was to have been the culmination of 11 years of pro-Israel activism by Fraser, a mathematics lecturer who had been fighting against what he saw as a virulently anti-Israel tide, with a distinct tinge of anti-Semitism, rising in the union to which he belongs.

Alongside him was Anthony Julius, one of the most prominent Jewish lawyers in Britain and a tireless opponent of anti-Semitism. Supporting the two were a cast of witnesses including Jewish and sympathetic non-Jewish activists, academics and politicians.

The lawsuit was backed both financially and in terms of considerable research resources by organizations linked to the central British Jewry leadership forums, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council.

The case against UCU was complex, including 10 separate complaints, but the gist was that the officers of the union representing more than 120,000 staff members at Britain’s universities and colleges had allegedly exhibited “institutional anti-Semitism” and caused its Jewish members to feel harassed in a way considered illegal according to Britain’s anti-racism legislation.

They had done so, the complainants claimed, through their relentless campaign over the years calling for a boycott of Israel in general and of Israeli academic institutions and trade unions in particular.

UCU has long been identified as one of the main bastions of anti-Israeli activism in the British mainstream. Both as a trade union and as an organization representing academics, it is a hub for supporters of boycotts targeting Israeli universities as well as Israel’s business and social sectors.

The case assembled by Fraser and Julius was impressive. It challenged, among other things, the way supporters of Israel were treated at union conferences, the way anti-Israel and anti-Semitic remarks on the UCU members’ private Internet forum were moderated, the union’s rejection of the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia’s working definition of anti-Semitism (which includes disproportionate criticism of Israel), and an invitation extended to a known anti-Jewish trade unionist from South Africa to speak at a union conference.

UCU denied any anti-Semitism within its ranks, and responded that its officers had not conducted themselves in any way that could be construed as harassment of Jewish members.

But beyond the factual disputes in the case, the fundamental basis of the Fraser’s accusations was that Jews possess a strong feeling of affinity toward Israel that is an intrinsic part of their Jewish identity. Therefore, he claimed, when an organization to which they belong constantly attacks Israel in a manner they deem unfair, it constitutes a direct attack on their identity.

Among the long list of witnesses Fraser called were two non-Jewish members of parliament who testified about the manner in which UCU had rejected the EU definition of anti-Semitism, which they had championed.

The defendants also had their own Jewish supporters. Fifty Jewish UCU members signed an open letter praising their union and denying that there was any sort of institutional anti-Semitism within its ranks. Julius responded that it was simply a standard anti-Semitic ploy of dividing Jews into good-Jew/bad-Jew categories.

But the well-built and detailed case was shattered by the tribunal’s ruling. The panel, headed by Judge A.M. Snelson, accepted UCU’s version of all the events in question, and found that most of the claims were no longer valid in any case, due to a change in the laws.

Beyond that, it fundamentally disagreed with the central claim underpinning the complaints. The tribunal wrote in its judgment that “a belief in the Zionist project or an attachment to Israel or any similar sentiment cannot amount to a protected characteristic. It is not intrinsically a part of Jewishness.”

And while many Jews would agree with that ruling, the tribunal did not stop there. At the end of its 45-page ruling, it launched into an extraordinarily hostile invective against the very nature of the case brought before it. Though the panel was generally sympathetic to Fraser himself, it stated that as an activist “he must accept his fair share of minor injuries. … A political activist accepts the risk of being offended or hurt on occasions.”

With regard to his lawyer, Julius, the ruling scathingly referred to the case’s “magnificent prose” and its “gargantuan scale.” And it blasted the two members of parliament, whom it described as “glib,” as well as the chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, Jeremy Newmark, who took the stand as a witness.

In fact, Newmark’s testimony about his attempt to enter a UCU conference was “rejected as untrue.” His claim that he was being stereotyped as a “pushy Jew” was called “preposterous.” And his characterization of the UCU as “no longer a fit arena for free speech” was found by the tribunal to be “not only extraordinarily arrogant but also disturbing.”

UCU, meanwhile, received only very mild admonishments from the tribunal for inviting a known anti-Semite to a conference, and for referring a case in which a pro-Israel union member complained about online censorship to a pro-Palestinian activist. The tribunal otherwise found the union had acted in an honorable manner.

The claimants, on the other hand, were criticized for having filed the suit at all, which the tribunal described as an “impermissible attempt to achieve a political end by litigious means.” Underlying the case, it said, was “worrying disregard for pluralism, tolerance and freedom of expression.”

A more damning indictment of Fraser and his supporters’ motives could not have been written, and UCU was quick to celebrate its total exoneration.

General secretary Sally Hunt said in a statement that she was “delighted that the tribunal has made such a clear and overwhelming judgment in UCU’s favor” and that it “upholds our and others’ right to freedom of expression.”

She made sure to add that the union will “remain opposed to discrimination of any kind, including anti-Semitism.”

Within the Jewish community meanwhile, as Passover ended and the implications of the ruling sunk in, the finger-pointing began.

In Friday’s Jewish Chronicle, prominent Jewish lawyers lined up to say it should have been clear from the start that the case wasn’t legally strong enough to have been brought, and that the ruling should have been foreseen.

“To be honest, we weren’t extremely confident,” said one executive in a central Jewish organization, “and we would have preferred to go to court with a different case. But when Fraser and Julius decided they were going to do it, we had no choice but to give them all the support. It would have been a scandal had the Jewish community not supported them.”

Julius declined to comment.

A spokesman for Fair Play, a body set up by the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council to fight anti-Israel boycotts, said that “When Ronnie and his legal team decided to bring their case against UCU, we felt that it deserved whatever support we were able to provide. Years of campaigning inside UCU had convinced us and many union members that the union was incapable of fairly tackling complaints of anti-Semitism by itself.”

Regarding the judge’s accusations against Newmark, the Jewish Leadership Council said that his “evidence was backed up by a leading non-Jewish trade unionist who witnessed the incident.”

And so it was left to Fraser, who had championed the case for so long, to respond to his critics. He called them “armchair critics [who have] no idea what it’s like to be out there,” and added, “They were silent when I was fighting and I don’t have to justify myself to them.”

Fraser said he will probably not appeal the judgment to a higher court, so as not to risk making it a legal precedent. But he called upon the leadership of British Jewry to establish “a definition of anti-Semitism that includes belief in Zionism and an attachment to Israel which should amount to a protected right of Jews. It’s what we have been praying for for 2,000 years.”

0

This is an insightful and well-written article. Certainly negotiating with Hamas is the only way forward. 

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that if there is a radical faction and a moderate faction you should always negotiate with the radical faction first. If you can reach agreement with the radicals, the moderates will join you too. If you only reach agreement with the moderates, you still have the radicals to deal with.

It is true that Hamas’ charter is horribly anti-Semitic. Even so, as the author points out, Mashal has shown himself to be a pragmatist and does not seem to be bound by the charter. My first martial arts instructor taught me “Your mouth can lie but your body can’t lie”. It’s true. Regardless of the words of any charter, the important thing is what Hamas actually does, and there is every indication that Hamas is willing to be realistic about accepting a tw0-state solution within the pre-1967 borders. The real question is whether Israel is willing to accept this.

Father Dave

Khaled Meshaal

Khaled Meshaal

source: www.policymic.com…

Khalid Mishal and Hamas Are Keys to the Israel-Palestine Conflict

Earlier this week, the Shura council of Hamasre-elected Khalid Mishal as the political head of their organization for a fourth straight time. Last year Mishal had vowed to step down from his post which many criticized within the party, asserting that he stay at the helm.

With the election of Khalid Mishal, Hamas has shown its willingness to be more pragmatic, further asserting the need to include it in future negotiations on the decades long conflict.

Mishal’s ascendancy to the highest office was sparked by Israel’s attempt to assassinate him back in 1997. Under direct orders from then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mossad planned a hit on Mishal while he was residing in Jordan at the time. The incident caused an international uproar, requiring a direct intervention by President Bill Clinton. Ever since, Mishal’s repute amongst Palestinians has reached new heights with every passing year.

While Mishal has been leading the organization since a good part of the last decade, he returned to Gaza last year for the first time in 45 years, welcomed by thousands of his supporters, displaying the height of his unquestionable popularity. Prominent analysts and critics have highlighted Mishal’s unique role in brandishing the image of Hamas from one consisting of an army of suicide bombers to a democratic entity that deserves a say in the future of its fellow Palestinians.

While many now see Hamas’s rise and evolution as promising, prospects of negotiating with the group has been futile. The Israeli government has had a zero tolerance policy towards Hamas, who they consistently accuse of seeking to destroy Israel, citing Hamas’s manifesto. Following cue, the Americans have shut any doors to including Hamas regarding negotiations on Israeli settlements and Israel-Palestine peace deals.

Mishal has never moved away from the position that resistance, and armed resistance is a right for Palestinians as long as the occupation continues. Mishal has supported suicide bombings and rocket launches into Israel, justifying the attacks as a legitimate source of opposition to the brutal tactics of the Israeli state. Many in Hamas describe it as an act of desperation in the face overwhelming Israeli military power.

However, since Hamas’ rise to power, and especially after their election win in 2006, it has readily abandoned the practice of suicide bombing in the past years, citing it to be detrimental to their cause. Nevertheless, in November last year, they threatened to renew the practice in retaliation to the highly provocative killing of one their top commanders by the Israeli establishment. Mishal and Hamas have also successfully negotiated and maintained several ceasefires with the Israeli state. Before the Gaza war started in December 2008, Hamas had respected the ongoing ceasefire for around six months before it was broken, its cause remaining disputed.

read the rest of this article here: www.policymic.com…

0

I was impressed by Norman Finkelstein’s latest book – “Knowing Too Much” – in which he predicts that the ‘romance’ between Israel and the US is about to end in an acrimonious breakup.

Finkelstein’s reasoning had little to do with the economic impact of the foreign aid budget but was more to do with the growing distance between the policies of the Israeli government and the values of American Jews. Even so, the enormous economic cost of Israel to the US can only accelerate the speed of the relationship breakdown.

Father Dave

source: ifamericansknew.org…

The Staggering Cost of Israel to Americans

by Pamela Olson

–   Israel has a population of approximately 7.8 million, or a million fewer than the state of New Jersey. It is among the world’s most affluent nations, with a per capita income similar to that of the European Union.[1] Israel’s unemployment rate of 5.6% is much better than America’s 9.1%,[2] and Israel’s net trade, earnings, and payments is ranked 48th in the world while the US sits at a dismal 198th.[3]

Yet Israel receives approximately 10% of America’s foreign aid budget every year.[4] The US has, in fact, given more aid to Israel than it has to all the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean combined—which have a total population of over a billion people.[5] And foreign aid is just one component of the staggering cost of our alliance with Israel.

Given the tremendous costs, it is critical to examine why we lavish so much aid on Israel, and whether it is worth Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars. But first, let’s take a look at what our alliance with Israel truly costs.
Before the Iraq War in 2003

Direct Foreign Aid

According to the Congressional Research Service , the amount of official US aid to Israel since its founding in 1948 tops $112 billion, and in the past few decades it has been on the order of $3 billion per year.[6](In 2011, for example, this amounted to over $8.2 million every single day.)

But this money is only part of the story. For one thing, Israel gets its aid money at the start of each year, unlike other nations.[7] This is significant: It means Israel can start earning interest on the money right away. And it costs the US more than the typical year-end disbursements because the US government operates at a deficit, so it must borrow this money to pay Israel and then pay interest on the amount all year.

Israel is also the only recipient of US military aid that is allowed to use a significant portion annually to purchase products made by Israeli companies instead of US companies. (The costs to Americans caused by this unique perk are discussed below.)

In addition, the US gives roughly $2 billion per year to Egypt and Jordan in aid packages arranged largely in exchange for peace treaties with Israel. The treaties don’t include justice for Palestinians, and are therefore deeply unpopular with the local populations.[8]

On top of this, the US gives roughly half a billion to the Palestinian Authority each year,[9] much of it used to rebuild infrastructure destroyed by Israel and to bolster an economy stifled by the Israeli occupation.[10] This would be unnecessary if Israel were to end the occupation and allow the Palestinians to build a functioning and self-sustaining economy.

Yet there’s still much more to the story, because parts of US aid to Israel are buried in the budgets of various US agencies, mostly the Department of Defense. For example, since at least 2006, the American Defense budget has included between $130 and $235 million per year for missile defense programs in Israel.[11]

In all, direct US disbursements to Israel amount to approximately 10% of all U.S. aid abroad, even though Israelis only make up 0.001% of the world’s population. In other words, on average, Israelis receive 10,000 times more US foreign aid per capita than other people throughout the world, despite the fact that Israel is one of the world’s more affluent nations.[12] And that number rises significantly when one considers disbursements to Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority and Defense spending on behalf of Israel.

Additional Ad hoc support for Israel

Dr. Thomas Stauffer, a Harvard economist and Middle East studies professor who twice served in the Executive Office of the President, wrote a comprehensive report about all components of the alliance with Israel’s cost to American taxpayers for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs in 2003. He wrote:

“Another element is ad hoc support for Israel, which is not part of the formal foreign aid programs. No comprehensive compilation of US support for Israel has been publicly released. Additional known items include loan guarantees… special contracts for Israeli firms, legal and illegal[13] transfers of marketable US military technology, de facto exemption from US trade protection provisions, and discounted sales or free transfers of ‘surplus’ US military equipment. An unquantifiable element is the trade and other aid given to Romania and Russia to facilitate Jewish migration to Israel; this has accumulated to many billions of dollars.”[14]

Israel has often used its privileged access to US military technology against both the US government and US corporate interests. According to the Associated Press in 2002, “In France, Turkey, The Netherlands and Finland, Israeli companies have edged such U.S. firms as Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and General Atomics out of arms deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years. The irony, experts say, is that tens of billions of U.S. tax dollars and transfers of American military technology helped create and nurture Israel’s industry, in effect subsidizing a foreign competitor.”

The AP article quoted a vice president at the Aerospace Industries Association of America, who bluntly said, “We give them money to build stuff for themselves and the U.S. taxpayer gets nothing in return.”[15]

Meanwhile, according to the Christian Science Monitor , Israel has also “blocked some major US arms sales, such as F-15 fighter aircraft to Saudi Arabia in the mid-1980s. That cost $40 billion over 10 years.”[16]

Even worse, Israeli weapons “buttress the arsenals of nations such as China that the United States considers strategic competitors, alarming US military planners,” the Associated Press article went on to report. “[In 2001] US surveillance planes flying along China’s coast were threatened by Chinese fighter jets armed with Israeli missiles… Had Chinese fighter pilots been given the order to fire, they could have brought down the US planes with Israeli Python III missiles… US defense chiefs say Israel sold China the missiles without informing the United States.”[17]

Lost jobs, trade, and standing

One of the most devastating indirect costs of the US alliance with Israel was the Arab oil boycott of 1973. The Arab states imposed the boycott in protest of US support of Israel during the 1973 war, in which Arab countries attacked Israel to try to reclaim lands Israel had invaded and occupied in 1967.

“Washington’s intervention triggered the Arab oil embargo which cost the U.S. doubly: first, due to the oil shortfall, the US lost about $300 billion to $600 billion in GDP; and, second, the US was saddled with another $450 billion in higher oil import costs,” wrote Stauffer in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.[18]

Then there’s the cost in lost jobs. “US policy and trade sanctions reduce US exports to the Middle East about $5 billion a year, costing 70,000 or so American jobs,” Stauffer estimates. “Not requiring Israel to use its US aid to buy American goods, as is usual in foreign aid, costs another 125,000 jobs.”[19]

But perhaps the most damaging cost to the US has been its loss of standing in the Arab and Muslim worlds, where US largesse towards Israel as it commits human rights violations[20] provokes deep resentment. “To many of the world’s Muslims, it places the US taxpayer on the Israeli side of its conflicts with Arabs,” observed the Associated Press article.[21]

According to Harvard professor Stephen Walt, “The 9/11 Commission reported that 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s ‘animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experiences there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with US foreign policy favoring Israel.’ Other anti-American terrorists—such as Ramzi Yousef, who led the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center—have offered similar explanations for their anger toward the United States.”[22]

There are many more potential categories of costs that are even more difficult to quantify. All in all, Stauffer estimates that Israel cost the US about $1.6 trillion between 1973 and 2003 alone—more than twice the cost of the Vietnam war.[23]
Costs since Stauffer’s study in 2003

Israel’s cost to American taxpayers has remained high since Stauffer’s 2003 study. The US currently gives Israel an average of $3 billion a year in military aid, under an agreement signed by the Bush administration to transfer $30 billion to Israel over ten years, starting in 2009.[24]

All of the other extras and costs remain and in some cases have increased since 2003. For example, “Despite a tough economic climate and expected US budget cuts—including drastic cuts to the US military budget—US lawmakers will provide $236 million in fiscal 2012 for the Israeli development of three missile defense programs,” reported Israeli newspaper Haaretz.[25]

In addition, the US government “has provided $205 million to support the Iron Dome, manufactured by Israel’s state-owned Raphael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. The system uses small radar-guided missiles to blow up in midair Katyusha-style rockets with ranges of 3 miles to 45 miles, as well as mortar bombs… Legislation moving through the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives would give Israel additional $680 million for the Iron Dome system through 2015.”[26]

And if, as many experts believe, the US would not have invaded Iraq without intense and sustained pressure from Washington insiders who advocate actively on behalf of Israel,[27] this adds yet another dimension of staggering cost to the equation: “hundreds of billions of dollars, 4,000-plus U.S. and allied fatalities, untold tens of thousands of Iraqi deaths, and many thousands of other US, allied, and Iraqi casualties,” according to retired US foreign service officer Shirl McArthur.[28]

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard professor Linda Bilmes put the cost of the Iraq War at over $3 trillion, and incalculably more if you take into account the opportunity costs of the resources spent on this unproductive war. For example, higher oil prices due to the war have had a devastating impact on America’s economy, and so have the surging federal debt and the servicing of that debt. Without the war, the 2008 financial crisis almost certainly would not have been as severe, and the Afghanistan war most likely would have been shorter, cheaper, and more effective.[29]

The Israel lobby and partisans are currently gunning for a war with Iran with the same zeal they showed in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[30] By all estimates, the costs of a war with Iran will be much higher than the Iraq war. In addition to the loss of life, analysts predict, for example, that if Iran’s oil production were taken out of the world market, gas prices would rise 25-70 percent.

If the Straits of Hormuz (straits adjacent to Iran through which 20% of the world’s oil production passes on a daily basis) were attacked or blockaded, the cost of oil would skyrocket to a level never seen before, and the economic recession or depression that followed would be nothing short of “apocalyptic,” according to Matthew Yglesias writing for Slate .[31]
Reasons and Consequences

So now we are back to the question of why America continues to pour money into a state that commits daily human rights violations, defies US strategic interests,[32] provokes rage and resentment among billions of people,[33] competes with and crowds out US interests using technology subsidized by US taxpayers, and sells America’s military secrets to its enemies.[34]

The answer is simple and summed up well by professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer in their ground-breaking article in the London Review of Books , “The Israel Lobby,”[35] and their book The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy .[36]

“Why has the US been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state?” the article asks. “One might assume that the bond between the two countries was based on shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives, but neither explanation can account for the remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the US provides.

“Instead, the thrust of US policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the ‘Israel Lobby.’ Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of the other country—in this case, Israel—are essentially identical.”[37]

AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, is consistently ranked in the top two most powerful lobbies in Washington.[38] And it is only one arm of the much larger, multi-faceted, and well-financed Israel lobby.[39]

According to Congressman Jim Moran, “AIPAC is very well organized. The members are willing to be very generous with their personal wealth. But it’s a two edged sword. If you cross AIPAC, AIPAC is unforgiving and will destroy you politically. Their means of communications, their ties to certain newspapers and magazines, and individuals in the media are substantial and intimidating. Every [Congress] member knows it’s the best-organized national lobbying force.”[40]

Senator Joseph Lieberman proudly stated, “Any attempt to pressure Israel, to force Israel to the negotiating table by denying Israel support, will not pass in Congress… Congress will act against any attempt to do that.”[41]

It’s true: The US Congress, along with the executive branch, overwhelmingly support virtually any action or wish of the Israeli government, no matter how at odds with US national interest or security,[42] primarily because of the power of the Israel lobby.[43]

Even when two AIPAC employees were indicted on espionage charges in 2005, and it was determined that they had obtained classified US government information illegally and passed it to Israeli agents, the charges were quietly dropped on technicalities.[44] AIPAC fired both employees and issued a statement that they were fired because their actions did not comport with AIPAC standards.[45] One of the fired employees, Steven Rosen, filed a lawsuit for defamation, claiming his actions were, in fact, common practice at AIPAC.[46]

When Israel attempted to sink a U.S. Navy ship, the USS Liberty , in 1967, killing 34 Americans and injuring over 170, it still failed to put a dent in aid to Israel.[47] Indeed, aid quadrupled the following year.[48]

Though Congressmen receive payments and support from the lobby in exchange for their loyalty, the American taxpayer is left footing the bill. As detailed above, the total cost has run from a bare minimum of $112 billion since 1948 (the cost of foreign aid alone) to $1.6 trillion or more, factoring in Defense appropriations, oil crises, the sinking of the USS Liberty , the heightened risk of terrorism, lost trade and co-opted technology, and countless other factors. If the Iraq war and the increased risk of a war with Iran are factored in, the cost skyrockets even higher.

Critics point out how much brighter our future would be if we had invested these billions or trillions in veteran rehabilitation and care, education, job creation, social security, housing, environmental clean-up and prevention, roads, bridges, health care, and scientific and health research. Or if Americans had simply held onto their tax dollars and used them as they saw fit, in our own economy. If some of the higher estimates are closer to the mark, our support for Israel could easily have covered the $700 billion TARP bailout with a great deal left over for massive stimulus spending and/or tax breaks.

If Israel were using these funds for a good purpose, one could debate whether the price was worth it. But Israel uses most of the money to prolong a 45-year military occupation (which regularly involves gross violations of international law),[49] commit egregious human rights violations,[50] and destroy billions of dollars worth of Palestinian homes and infrastructure[51] (resulting in still more U.S. tax money being sent to Palestinians to rebuild demolished homes, hospitals, and schools), while building illegal Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land.[52]

It makes the prospect of peace ever more distant, creates dangerous hostility to the US, placing Americans in peril, and puts the US Congress in violation of the Arms Export Control Act,[53] all for the sake of campaign contributions.

There is no good reason to keep throwing good money after bad in a failed, ill-founded policy. It’s long past time for a fundamental rethinking of the American government’s blank check to Israel.
This report was produced by If Americans Knew analysts, particularly Pamela Olson, a President’s Scholar at Stanford University 1998-2002 with a major in Physics, a minor in Political Science. Before coming to IAK, Olson lived and worked in the West Bank; worked as a researcher in Moscow, Siberia, and China; and was a research analyst at the Institute for Defense Analysis. She is the author of Fast Times in Palestine.

This analysis updates the groundbreaking 1998 work by Richard Curtiss, The Cost of Israel to U.S. Taxpayers,” published in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Mr. Curtiss, following military service in World War II, served for 30 years as a career Foreign Service Officer. He received the U.S. Information Agency’s Superior Honor Award and the Edward R. Murrow award for excellence in Public Diplomacy, USIA’s highest professional recognition. Upon retirement, Mr. Curtiss co-founded and the American Educational Trust, which produces the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. He is also the author of two books on U.S.-Middle East relations. A more extensive bio can be read here.


[1] “Country Comparison: GDP Per Capita (PPP),” CIA World Factbook, 2011. www.cia.gov…

[2] “Country comparison: Unemployment rate,” CIA World Factbook, 2011. www.cia.gov…

[3] “Country comparison: Current account balance,” CIA World Factbook, 2011. www.cia.gov…

[4] US Department of States, “FY 2012 State and USAID – Core Budget,” February 14, 2011. www.state.gov…

[5] Richard Curtiss, “The Cost of Israel to the American People,” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, 1998. www.councilforthenationalinterest.org…

[6] Jeremy Sharp, “US foreign aid to Israel,” Congressional Research Service , September 16, 2010. www.fas.org…

[7] Clyde R. Mark, “Israel: US Foreign Assistance,” Congressional Research Service, April 26, 2005www.fas.org…

(Particularly noteworthy is the subsection of this report entitled, “Special Benefits for Israel.”)

[8] Jeremy Sharp, “U.S. Foreign Assistance to the Middle East: Historical Background, Recent Trends, and the FY2011 Request,” Congressional Research Service , June 15, 2010. www.fas.org… Most of this money goes to elites rather than the general population, adding to the resentment about these policies.

[9] Jim Zanotti, “US foreign aid to the Palestinians,” Congressional Research Service , November 9, 2011. www.fas.org…

[10] “Sustaining Achievements in Palestinian Institution-building and Economic Growth,” World Bank, September 18, 2011. unispal.un.org… Quote from the report: “Ultimately, in order for the Palestinian Authority to sustain the reform momentum and its achievements in institution-building, remaining Israeli restrictions must be lifted.” See also: Dan Murphy, “Amid Palestinian statehood push, a grim World Bank report on the West Bank, Gaza,” Christian Science Monitor , September 14, 2011. www.csmonitor.com… Quote from the article: “The World Bank says that recent economic growth in Gaza and the West Bank has been almost entirely thanks to foreign aid, that a slowing of foreign aid delivery has presented the PA with a possible fiscal crisis, and that Israeli policies continue to stand in the way of sustainable economic improvement in the territories.”

[11] Jeremy Sharp, “US foreign aid to Israel,” Congressional Research Service , September 16, 2010. www.fas.org… For the 2012 budget of $235 million, see John T. Bennett, “U.S., Israeli Military Cooperation Remains Strong,” US News and World Report, March 2, 2012. www.us…

[12] US Department of States, “FY 2012 State and USAID – Core Budget,” February 14, 2011. www.state.gov…

[13] ‘Illegal transfers’ refers to several instances in which Israel has been accused of violating the Arms Export Control Act, which prohibits the use of US military assistance for purposes other than legitimate self-defense. For example, during Israel’s invasions of Lebanon in 1982 and 2006, the Israeli air force dumped tens of thousands of cluster bomblets over wide civilian areas, resulting in horrific and long-lasting civilian casualties with dubious military utility. That’s not even to begin to touch on daily Israeli violations of human rights in the Palestinian territories. Despite overwhelming evidence of Israeli violations of international law using US-supplied weapons, the US Congress has done little to comply with its own laws against funding such violations.

[14] Thomas Stauffer, “The Costs to American Taxpayers of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: $3 Trillion,” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June 2003. ifamericansknew.org… Stauffer’s original paper, prepared for the conference: “The United States and the Arab World: Challenges and Opportunities” at the William S. Cohen Center for International Policy, University of Maine, and the US Army War College in October 2002, is posted here: www.solargeneral.com… (PDF) and here: www.scribd.com…

[15] Jim Krane, “U.S. Aid to Israel Subsidizes a Potent Weapons Exporter,” Associated Press, June 20, 2002. ifamericansknew.org…

[16] David Francis, “Economist tallies swelling cost of Israel to US,” Christian Science Monitor , December 9, 2002. www.csmonitor.com…

[17] Jim Krane, “U.S. Aid to Israel Subsidizes a Potent Weapons Exporter,” Associated Press, June 20, 2002. ifamericansknew.org…

[18] Thomas Stauffer, “The Costs to American Taxpayers of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: $3 Trillion,” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June 2003. ifamericansknew.org… Stauffer’s original paper, prepared for the conference: “The United States and the Arab World: Challenges and Opportunities” at the William S. Cohen Center for International Policy, University of Maine, and the US Army War College in October 2002, is posted here: www.solargeneral.com… (PDF) and here: www.scribd.com…

[19] David Francis, “Economist tallies swelling cost of Israel to US,” Christian Science Monitor , December 9, 2002. www.csmonitor.com…

[20] For a small sampling of Israeli human rights violations, see Amnesty International’s “Annual Report: Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories 2011” www.amnestyusa.org…, Human Rights Watch’s most recent reports www.hrw.org…, and the publications of B’Tselem (the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories) www.btselem.org…

[21] Jim Krane, “U.S. Aid to Israel Subsidizes a Potent Weapons Exporter,” Associated Press, June 20, 2002. ifamericansknew.org…

[22] Stephen Walt, “Whiff of Desperation,” Foreign Policy, April 25, 2011. www.foreignpolicy.com…

[23] David Francis, “Economist tallies swelling cost of Israel to US,” Christian Science Monitor , December 9, 2002. www.csmonitor.com…

[24] Shirl McArthur, “A conservative estimate of total direct US aid to Israel: almost $114 billion,” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, November 2008. ifamericansknew.org…

[25] Natasha Mozgovaya, “Obama signs bill that includes added U.S. military assistance to Israel,” Haaretz, December 24, 2011. www.Haaretz.com…

[26] “U.S. eyes funding boost for Israel’s ‘Iron Dome’ shield,” Reuters, May 17, 2012. www.reuters.com…

[27] John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, “The Israel Lobby,” London Review of Books , March 23, 2006. www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n06/john-mearsheimer/the-israel-lobby… See also: Stephen J. Sniegoski, “The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel,” Ihs Press, September 1, 2008.

[28] Shirl McArthur, “A conservative estimate of total direct US aid to Israel: almost $114 billion,” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, November 2008. ifamericansknew.org…

[29] Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes, “The true cost of the Iraq war: $3 trillion and beyond,” Washington Post , September 5, 2010. www.washingtonpost.com…

[30] See articles at www.councilforthenationalinterest.org…

[31] Matthew Yglesias, “War for No Oil,” Slate , March 7, 2012. Link

[32] See, for example: Mark Landler, “Obama Presses Netanyahu to Resist Strikes on Iran,” New York Times, March 5, 2012. www.nytimes.com… And: “Biden condemns new Israeli settlement plan,” USA Today, March 9, 2010. www.us…

[33] Andrew Sullivan, “Why Continue to Build the Settlements?” The Daily Beast, March 30, 2012. andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com… Excerpt: “The deliberate population of occupied lands violates the Geneva Conventions. The occupation itself enrages the Arab and Muslim world and creates a huge drag on the US’s strategic need to build up allies among emerging Arab democracies, and defuse Jihadism across the globe.” See also: Philip Weiss, “Former State Department official says Obama calls for human rights and democracy are ‘undercut’ by position on Palestinians,” Mondoweiss , April 2, 2012. mondoweiss.net…

[34] Jim Krane, “U.S. Aid to Israel Subsidizes a Potent Weapons Exporter,” Associated Press, June 20, 2002. ifamericansknew.org…

[35] John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, “The Israel Lobby,” London Review of Books , March 23, 2006. www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n06/john-mearsheimer/the-israel-lobby…

[36] John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy , Farrar, Straus and Giroux, August 2007.

[37] John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, “The Israel Lobby,” London Review of Books , March 23, 2006. www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n06/john-mearsheimer/the-israel-lobby… An earlier book by former Congressman Paul Findley, They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby, first exposed this in 1985. Findley and others founded the Council for the National Interest to try to counter this.

[38] Jeffrey Birnbaum, “Washington’s Power 25: which pressure groups are best at manipulating the laws we live by?” CNN Money , December 8, 1997. money.cnn.com… Other top contenders include the American Association of Retired Persons, with over 40 million members, and the National Rifle Association.

[39] “Introduction to the Israel lobby,” Council for the National Interest , August 19, 2011. www.councilforthenationalinterest.org…

[40] Michael Lerner, “The Israel Lobby,” Tikkun Magazine , September/October 2007. www.tikkun.org…

[41] Jeremy Sharp, “US foreign aid to Israel,” Congressional Research Service , September 16, 2010. www.fas.org…

[42] Max Fisher, “Should U.S. Veto UN Measure Condemning Israeli Settlements?” The Atlantic Wire , January 20, 2011. www.theatlanticwire.com…

[43] “Even if Democrats and Republicans bicker on every other issue, AIPAC leaders seemed constantly eager to stress that one thing on which the parties can come together is unswerving devotion to Israel.” Gregory Levey, “Inside America’s powerful Israel lobby,” Salon , March 16, 2007. www.salon.com… Just recently has there been some high-level pushback against AIPAC’s hegemonic power in Washington. See, for example: Robert Dreyfuss, “AIPAC: Still the chosen one?” Mother Jones , September/October 2009. motherjones.com… And: Alex Kane, “Sunlight on the lobby: AIPAC’s push for war exposed in ‘Atlantic’ magazine blog,” Mondoweiss , February 24, 2012. mondoweiss.net…

[44] Wikipedia, “Steven J. Rosen.” en.wikipedia.org…

[45] Nathan Guttman, “AIPAC Gets Down and Dirty in Pushback vs. Defamation Suit,” The Forward, November 16, 2010. forward.com…

[46] Jeff Stein, “Ex-AIPAC official got at least $670,000 from donors,” Washington Post , November 19, 2012. voices.washingtonpost.com…

[47] The findings of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty , the Recall of Military Rescue Support Aircraft while the Ship was Under Attack, and the Subsequent Cover-up by the United States Government can be read at ifamericansknew.org…

[48] Jeremy Sharp, “US foreign aid to Israel,” Congressional Research Service , September 16, 2010. www.fas.org…

[49] Jeremy R. Hammond, “Rogue State: Israeli Violations of U.N. Security Council Resolutions,” Foreign Policy Journal, January 27, 2010. www.foreignpolicyjournal.com…

[50] For a small sampling of Israeli human rights violations, see Amnesty International’s “Annual Report: Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories 2011” www.amnestyusa.org…, Human Rights Watch’s most recent reports www.hrw.org…, and the publications of B’Tselem (the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories) www.btselem.org…

[51] See, for example, “Frequently Asked Questions,” The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. www.icahd.org… And Rory McCarthy, “Hamas offers $52m handouts to help hardest-hit Gazans,” The Guardian, January 25, 2009. www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/26/hamas-payout-gaza-infrastructure…

[52] “Israeli Settlements on Palestinian Land,” If Americans Knew, May 2002. www.ifamericansknew.org…

[53] The Arms Export Control Act prohibits the use of US military assistance for purposes other than legitimate self-defense. Despite overwhelming evidence of Israeli violations of international law using US-supplied weapons (a few of them outlined in citations above), the US Congress has done little to comply with its own laws against funding these violations.

1

Did anyone really expect Kerry to achieve anything (apart from Kerry himself perhaps)?

The ‘peace process’ has been accurately caricatured as two persons negotiating over how to divide up a pizza while one party is eating the pizza. The recent demand from the Palestinian side – that before negotiations can be restarted Israel outlines their vision for a two-state solution – is entirely reasonable. In the terms of the pizza analogy, they haven’t even demanded that the other party stop eating but only that they outline their plan to stop eating!

Israel refuses to offer any outline of their own vision for a future Palestinian state, and this is obviously because they don’t have one! Kerry plays along with the Israeli charade and expects the Palestinians to come on board by offering them a few economic incentives. How insulting!

It seems that Kerry has adopted the Zionist mindset wherein Arabs are not seen as being fully human. Kerry throws a few crumbs and expects the Palestinians to scamper up and sit obediently at his feet. No. America has done its dash as a potential broker for peace between Israel and Palestine. 

Father Dave

John Kerry

John Kerry

source: www.globalpost.com…

Kerry fails to secure Palestinian talks in Israel, Israeli official says

US Secretary of State John Kerry promised “constructive talks” between Israel and Palestine, but both sides say that’s not happening anytime soon.

Just a few days ago, US Secretary of State John Kerry made a promising trip to Israel to rekindle Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

By Tuesday, Kerry was already announcing he had held “very constructive talks” with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders, hopefully to pave the way one day for the two sides to talk directly with each other.

“Each of them made very serious and well-considered, constructive suggestions with respect to what the road forward might look like,” Kerry told reporters on Tuesday.

Unfortunately, his attempt at peace talks appears to have floundered so far. A senior Israeli official told the country’s media they weren’t budging.

“There will be no response to any demand where the purpose [of the demand] is to supply appease [sic.] the Palestinians and make them come to the table,” an unnamed Israeli senior official told Ynet.

“Ministers are unanimous over the decision of not giving in to any pre-condition. They present conditions in order to make the process of renewing direct talks difficult. There will be no gestures, especially not land withdrawals,” the anonymous source added.

The reports came hours after Palestinians said they would only negotiate peace in exchange for “a clear formula” concerning borders and the release of detainees in Israeli jails, the Times of Israel reported.

Ha’aretz’s diplomacy correspondent pointedly writes: “A senior Israeli official, who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the subject, expressed considerable skepticism regarding Kerry’s steps, and made cynical, slightly scornful comments regarding his attitude. ‘Kerry believes that he can bring about the solution, the treaty and the salvation,’ he said. ‘He thinks that the conflict is primarily over territory … and that is wrong.'”

The bad news came as President Barack Obama’s special envoy to the Middle East, Philip Gordon, is reportedly carrying out an intense series of under-the-radar meetings with high-level Israeli government officials. And it’s 10 days before a planned visit to the country by US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

GlobalPost’s senior correspondent in Israel, Noga Tarnopolsky, says some skepticism is not surprising.

“There does seem to be fear in Jerusalem that Kerry somehow ‘misunderstands’ the principles at stake, and is trying to push a territorial and security-based solution,” she said.

Washington’s top diplomat is seen as seeking pragmatic steps forward “without taking into account issues important to the Israeli government that are much harder to quantify,” she said, “such as the demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish homeland and the abandonment of the Palestinian demand for their refugees’ right of return.”

However, that’s not so clear cut, she explained.

Just this week Tsippi Livni, the justice minister who’s in charge of negotiations on the Israeli side, said recognition of Israel as a Jewish homeland is not a necessary precondition for negotiations.