Israel and Palestine

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My feeling is that it is Abbas who should have resigned rather than Fayyad.

Abbas lost whatever credibility he had left when he kowtowed to Obama and Kerry in delaying Palestine’s application for membership to the International Criminal Court (ICC)! He is not the democratically elected leader of the Palestinian people and has no reason to delay an election beyond his unwillingness to let go of power.

Father Dave

Mahmoud Abbas

Mahmoud Abbas

source: english.alarabiya.net…

Deep-seated animosity trumps Palestinian calls for unity

After Prime Minister Salam Fayyad resigned, Palestinian politicians immediately called for elections and a national unity government to reconcile bitter rivals Fatah and Hamas.

But entrenched animosity between the two sides, stretching beyond disagreement over Fayyad, suggested that any thaw in relations between Fatah and Hamas, which control the West Bank and the Gaza Strip respectively, would be slow.

In Fayyad’s first weekly radio address after resigning, the now caretaker premier called for “a general election as the only way to rebuild our political system and achieve our national goals,” namely statehood, which would first require intra-Palestinian reconciliation.

“Just as there is no state without Jerusalem as its eternal capital, there is no state without the Gaza Strip, a part that cannot be partitioned from it,” Fayyad said.

Hamas leaders met Friday in Doha, the base of the Islamist movement’s exiled leader Khaled Meshaal, saying they would discuss “Palestinian reconciliation and developments in the Palestinian arena following Fayyad’s resignation.”

A senior member of President Mahmoud Abbas’s secular Fatah party, meanwhile, called on his leader to “hold consultations with Palestinian movements to form a national unity government and set a date for elections.”

Azzam al-Ahmed said Fayyad’s resignation a week ago, after an announcement by the elections commission that it was ready to carry out elections should they be called, was “favorable to… forming a national unity government.”

But Abbas’s Thursday pledge to launch talks “in the near future” on forming a new cabinet, despite what officials say is a two-week deadline to do so, avoided giving an exact date as the president prepared for a tour to Turkey and Europe.

In Turkey for two days from Saturday, Abbas will meet Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is set to visit the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in May.

Fatah has openly criticized the Erdogan trip as fostering intra-Palestinian divisions.

“Any official, Arab, Muslim or foreign, who visits Gaza without reference to the legitimate Palestinian leadership is blessing and consolidating the division between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,” Ahmed said in a separate interview with official Voice of Palestine radio on Monday.

And in a march in Gaza to mark Palestinian Prisoners’ Day on Wednesday, a speech by a Fatah-affiliated politician and an animated retort by a Hamas member underlined the root of the division between the movements.

Palestinian People’s Party member Talaat al-Safadi called for Hamas’s Gaza premier Ismail Haniya to step down also, prompting Hamas member Ashraf Abu Zeida to seize Safadi’s microphone and shout “Fayyad was an impostor, Haniya was chosen by the people!”

After Hamas won a landslide victory in a January 2006 Palestinian general election, the West mounted a boycott of the movement.

Bickering with Fatah culminated in the formation of a unity government in 2007 but that collapsed in bloody street fighting in Gaza just months later.

Hamas never recognized Fayyad’s authority as Palestinian premier, continuing instead to recognize Haniya.

The two movements signed a reconciliation deal in Cairo in 2011, pledging to set up an interim consensus government of independents that would pave the way for legislative and presidential elections within 12 months.

But implementation of the accord stalled over the make-up of the interim government, and a February 2012 deal signed by Abbas and Meshaal in Doha intended to overcome outstanding differences was opposed by Hamas members in Gaza.

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History is repeating itself!  Berkeley University of California played a central role in the Civil Rights movement, the Free Speech movement, and in protests against the Vietnam War. These young people have a history of leading their country in matters of social justice, and now they are spearheading the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign (BDS) against the Israeli government!

This story also reveals how seriously the Zionist lobby considers this development. Despite the fact that one university’s divestment is only a drop in the bucket, enormous amounts of money and energy are being poured into opposing the move, and the University’s Student President is understandably feeling the pressure!

source: www.sfbg.com…

UC Berkeley Student Senate passes divestment measure, but pro-Israel opponents pushing hard for veto

The UC Berkeley Student Senate has passed a bill that calls upon the university to withdraw nearly $12 million in investments from corporations that do business in the Palestinian West Bank, including Caterpillar, Cement Roadstone Holdings, and Hewlett Packard Company. The bill, SB 160, passed at 5am April 18 by a slim 11-9 margin after 10 hours of emotional debate.

When the final vote count was announced, some students cheered and others broke down in tears. While the measure is largely symbolic and unlikely to change university policy, Israel’s biggest supporters take such divestment votes very seriously and they were actively trying to influence the outcome of this measure.

The fate of the bill is now in the hands of student President Connor Landgraf, a senior bioengineering major who promised student leaders during his campaign that he would not veto any divestment measure. But now, with the bill sitting on his desk, Landgraf is waffling and supporters of the measure say that may be partially because a pro-Israel group appears to have sponsored his trip to Israel last year.

“During my campaign I did say I wouldn’t veto, but now I have different responsibilities,” Landgraf told the Bay Guardian. Since Thursday’s vote, Landgraf said his phone has been ringing off the hook. “I’ve received literally hundreds of emails, and I’m under a lot of pressure.”

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

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The following article from Haaretz speaks for itself. It staggers the mind to think that (once again) a case is being made for exempting Israel from the requirements levied against every other country in the world! How long will the American people put up with this sort of double-standard?

Father Dave

source: www.haaretz.com…

U.S. visa waiver bill stymied over Arab Americans entering Israel

The legislative effort being pushed by AIPAC would allow visa-free entry for Israelis, but the government is unable or unwilling to reciprocate, insisting on the right to refuse entry to certain U.S. citizens due to security concerns.

A legislative effort led by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to enable Israelis to enter the United States without visas may be stymied by the government – Israel’s government.

The hitch is Israel’s inability or unwillingness to fully reciprocate, something required for visa-free travel to the United States. Israel, citing security concerns, insists on the right to refuse entry to some U.S. citizens.

AIPAC is pushing for an exemption for Israel from this rule. But congressional staffers say Israel is unlikely to get such an exemption, which U.S. lawmakers view as an attempt to bar Arab Americans from freely entering Israel.

“It’s stunning that you would give a green light to another country to violate the civil liberties of Americans traveling abroad,” said a staffer for one leading pro-Israel lawmaker in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The exemption AIPAC is pushing for appears in the Senate version of the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act, one of the key issues for which AIPAC urged supporters to lobby after its policy conference last month.

The language in that bill, proposed by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), requires that the Homeland Security secretary grant Israel visa waiver status after certifying with the secretary of state that Israel “has made every reasonable effort, without jeopardizing the security of the State of Israel, to ensure that reciprocal travel privileges are extended to all United States citizens.”

House staffers say that lawmakers, pro-Israel leaders among them, have raised objections to the clause, “without jeopardizing the security of the State of Israel,” because it appears to validate what they see as Israel’s tendency to turn away Arab Americans without giving a reason.

None of the other 37 countries currently in the visa-free program has such a caveat written into law.

Israel’s government has made clear that it likely would not join the visa waiver program without such language in the law, JTA has learned. Israeli officials told JTA that U.S. citizens already are free to travel to Israel and that there is no need for holders of American passports to obtain a tourist visa before traveling.

But there have been numerous reports in recent years that Israel routinely turns away or makes difficult the entry of Americans with Muslim and Arab names, often without explaining why. The State Department, in its Israel travel advisory, warns that “U.S. citizens whom Israeli authorities suspect of being of Arab, Middle Eastern, or Muslim origin” may be denied “entry or exit without explanation.”

James Zogby, the president of the Arab American Institute, which has lobbied against the Senate language, said passage of such a law would codify discriminatory treatment.

“It is ratifying Israel’s position of creating two classes of citizen,” said Zogby, who said he has been subject to long waits when entering Israel.

One recent case that made headlines was that of Nour Joudah, a Palestinian American who was teaching at the Friends School in Ramallah. Joudah, who had traveled to Jordan for Christmas, was denied reentry to Israel although she had a one-year multiple entry visa, and despite the fact that the Israeli Embassy in Washington had advocated for her reentry.

The Ramallah school receives U.S. funding, promotes non-violence and teaches about the Holocaust, noted a congressional staffer. “This is the model of coexistence,” the staffer said.

Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, told Haaretz earlier this year that Joudah had not cooperated during security questioning. Joudah told Haaretz that the encounter with Israeli security at times had been argumentative but said she answered all questions.

Critics of Israel’s entry practices say authorities appear to turn away Americans for political, not security reasons. Joudah told Haaretz that Israeli security officials had asked her about her published writings. While in Ramallah, she had blogged for Electronic Intifada, an anti-Zionist website. In one post, she sharply criticized Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for intimating that it was time to relinquish a Palestinian “right of return” to Israel.

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

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The following press release from the ‘We Divest Coalition’ reflects how seriously many Zionists take the ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ (BDS) campaign.

If the recent case heard in London is anything to go by, the legal fraternity is ruling increasingly in favour of the right of individuals and companies to express their opposition to the Palestinian Occupation through this non-violent avenue, and it’s hard to imagine any court forbidding shareholders the right to vote on a matter of company policy.  Even so, the question is whether the threat of legal action will be sufficient to intimidate the company into taking the BDS proposal off the agenda.

Father Dave

Israel Law Center Threatens Suit Against TIAA-CREF
If It Doesn’t Deny Vote To Shareholders

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 12, 2013

Press Contact: info@wedivest.org…

Pension fund giant TIAA-CREF is seeking permission from the Security and Exchange Commission to allow it to deny shareholders the opportunity to vote on what would be the largest Israel/Palestine referendum to date in the United States. The resolution, filed by 200 CREF shareholders, urges TIAA-CREF to divest from companies that substantially contribute to or enable egregious violations of human rights, including companies whose business supports Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territory.

It was recently disclosed that CREF is being threatened with a lawsuit by Shurat HaDin (Israel Law Center) if CREF should submit the shareholder proposal for a democratic vote. Shurat HaDin claims that the resolution violates U.S. and New York state anti-boycott laws even though these laws have no application to human rights-inspired boycotts or to divestment resolutions. These peaceful forms of political pressure, central to the U.S. civil rights movement, have long been understood to be protected by the First Amendment’s free speech provision.

Shurat HaDin is using a practice known as “lawfare.” This is a tactic of intimidation, using threats of legal action to coerce students, and now also TIAA-CREF, to refrain from using democratic processes to resolve issues. Shurat HaDin seeks to bar discussion of the serious human rights abuses associated with Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands. It is deeply disappointing to see TIAA-CREF embrace that same perspective.

Steve Tamari, a Palestinian-American educator and member of the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee, on behalf of hundreds of CREF filers who signed onto the resolution said:
“TIAA-CREF has not only ignored our moral concerns, but now refuses to let us vote or have any voice on the issue. We are hundreds of investors who are deeply troubled that we are forced to support segregation and other abhorrent human rights violations in order to maintain our retirement accounts.”

We Divest Campaign National Coordinator Rabbi Alissa Wise said:
“As in earlier campaigns to end human rights abuses by Sudan, South Africa, and the southern U.S., shareholders should be able to vote on whether their company should be profiting from Israel’s subjugation of Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Commitment to such shareholder participation is assumed in a company, such as CREF, that is proud of its corporate transparency and democratic governance.”

We Divest National Coordinating Committee member, Riham Barghouti of Adalah-NY said:
“This resolution is one example of dozens of such discussions taking place in conferences, corporate meetings, and on campuses around the country. The Methodists and Presbyterians have voted on resolutions similar to the one CREF shareholders filed. Student governments are taking up this question on campuses across the country. What is it that TIAA-CREF is so afraid of?”

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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.