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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.

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Certainly he is no Yasser Arafat. Even so, John Taylor’s analysis of Abbas is a bit harsh. Certainly the President of the Palestinian Authority has done his best to gain ground for the Palestinian people, even if his efforts have been largely inconsequential.

The problem in many ways did begin with Arafat, who promised to pursue Palestinian statehood only through non-violent means. Abbas, his successor, has remained true to the commitment to non-violence, and this has gained the Palestinian people absolutely nothing!  Israel has continued to build settlements, withhold monies owed, imprison Palestinians without trial, demolish homes, etc., and gives absolutely nothing in return for Abbas’ quiet compliance. Hamas, on the other hand, fires rockets from Gaza and refuses to disavow militant resistance. Hamas seems to acheive results!

Surely this is a lose-lose situation for Israel and the US, and yet President Obama only confirmed the status quo in his recent visit, offering absolutely nothing to Abbas and the Palestinian people beyond his formal greetings! God knows what Abbas can do for his people now beyond making a quiet exit from the political scene.

Father Dave

Mahmoud Abbas

Mahmoud Abbas

source: original.antiwar.com…

Mahmoud Abbas: Obama and Bibi’s Man in Palestine

Palestinian Authority boss Mahmoud Abbas has no self-respect and no respect for his constituents. Although the US has rarely shown much sympathy for the Palestinians under Israeli occupation, Obama’s visit to Israel reached a new low. After saying the US-Israeli alliance is “eternal, it is forever,” visiting the grave of Theodor Herzl and pontificating about the Dead Sea Scrolls, looted by the Israelis from the Rockefeller Museum in east Jerusalem, the President proceeded to abandon all official US efforts to halt Israeli settlement construction on the West Bank. Was all this a problem for Mahmoud Abbas? No it wasn’t! “Welcome Mr. President! Welcome to Ramallah! Welcome to our ever shrinking fragment of Palestine!”

How can any Palestinian, Israeli or anyone else for that matter, respect Abbas when he puts aside his role as the guarantor of his peoples’ lives and property and welcomes the man who just acquiesced to Israeli colonization in what remains of Palestine? Obama even promised the Israelis that the US would continue to oppose any Palestinian effort to find international legal redress for their plight, a pledge consistent with a US boycott earlier in March of a UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva.

If Abbas had the least bit of personal or political courage he would have said firmly to Obama: “You are not welcome here.”

Only a fool doesn’t recognize that Obama values Mahmoud Abbas only because he is a willing tool of the Israelis. The Palestinian Authority’s major role these days seems to be restraining resistance to the Israeli occupation while ignoring Israel’s galloping land seizures, settlement construction, check points, closures and house demolitions. Israel holds hundreds of Palestinian political prisoners without charge and the Palestinian Authority now also locks up those opposed to political cooperation with Israel, particularly Hamas supporters.

By now it must be clear to every resident of the West Bank that Uncle Sam has nothing meaningful to offer the Palestinian Authority except money to buy its corrupt leadership and to pay its security forces, but only if the Authority functions as an adjunct to Israel’s West Bank security apparatus. No Israelis were killed on the West Bank in 2012. But what did protecting Israeli settlers get the Palestinians? Nothing! West Bank colonization was not derailed by Palestinian passivity. In fact, the absence of an armed resistance to Israel settlement building actually facilitated construction; meanwhile the Israeli military continued to employ lethal force against unarmed Palestinian protestors.

In a speech to a select group of Israeli young people Obama stated, “Israelis must recognize that continued settlement activity is counterproductive to the cause of peace…” Fair enough, but the problem with Obama’s new stance on Israeli settlement construction is that it places the decision to build or not to build firmly in the hands of the Israeli government. And further, and even more outrageous, Obama promised Uncle Sam’s best efforts to keep illegal settlement construction beyond the reach of the International Criminal Court. Obama seems to have learned an important lesson from the horse whipping Netanyahu gave him in the Oval Office a few years ago: official US opposition to Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories is a policy no one in the US government wanted to take responsibility for.

What can Abbas and the Palestinians expect from the new Israeli government? No letup in settlement building, that’s for certain: Appointed to the Economics and Trade portfolio in Netanyahu’s new cabinet was Naftali Bennett, former chief of the Yesha Settlers Council. Bennett’s view of the West Bank is simplicity itself, “…there is no such thing as an occupation of one’s own land.” Uri Ariel, the new Housing and Construction Minister, a man who built his political career advancing Israel’s colonization of the occupied territories, stated his Ministry’s goal will be “many more” settlers and that “there can be only one state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea-Israel.” Avigdor Liberman, the incumbent Foreign Minister and ex Moldovian night club bouncer, has already stated his opposition to a settlement freeze as has Netanyahu’s Defense Minister, Moshe Yaalon, no surprises in either case.

Abbas now finds himself in an impossible position: He can no longer pretend to his constituents that the Obama Administration will restrain Israeli settlement building. But if Abbas takes Obama’s advice and returns to direct negotiations without preconditions, Palestinian weakness preordains failure. A child can’t bring a child molester to justice alone.

In fact the Palestinians have achieved nothing negotiating within the Oslo framework. As the leaked Palestine Papers reveal, when the Palestinians began negotiating with the Israelis more than twenty years ago they offered numerous territorial concessions in the Old City of Jerusalem and on the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority even agreed to limit the Right of Return of Palestinian refugees to a mere 10,000 out of five million. Negotiation results? No political settlement and 500,000 Israeli settlers in 200 illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Those figures alone show the extent of the disaster which has befallen the Palestinians since the start of the “peace process.”

Abbas’ strategy of throttling the Palestinian resistance with the hope of receiving something in return from the Israelis and the Americans has clearly failed. Abbas’ regime has been so subservient to American and Israeli interests that it even refused to forward the Goldstone Report on war crimes during the Israeli bombardment of Gaza to the UN Human Rights Council for action.

Abbas has brought the Palestinians to the edge of another great tragedy, second only to the Nakba of 1948, which will likely see Israeli colonization preclude the establishment of a Palestinian state and squeeze the indigenous population into ever smaller Bantustans. Events have entirely discredited Mahmoud Abbas and senior members of the Palestinian Authority. Their democratic mandate expired years ago and their shameful collaboration with Israel has profited the Palestinians nothing. They should resign immediately.

The Palestinians need to recognize that cooperation with the American government is a dead end. Obama’s trip to the Holy Land shows, if additional evidence were needed, that the US is wholly in Israel’s camp and that Uncle Sam has absolutely no intention of providing the Palestinians with the kind of leverage which would enable them to negotiate a fair settlement with Israel. The US will continue to ignore international law as it pertains to colonization of the occupied Palestinian territories. It will also ignore the reprehensible and outrageous Israeli policies which have caused untold suffering to 1.5 million people in Gaza.

The Palestinians should pursue Israeli human rights violations in the occupied territories through the International Criminal Court and in every other venue they can access. Security cooperation with Israel should end forthwith-unless settlement activity is terminated. Products made in Israel should join the boycott the Palestinians already have in place against goods produced in Israeli settlements-unless Israel lifts the siege of Gaza. Palestinians abroad should support local BDS efforts. Unarmed resistance of every sort should be organized recognizing, however, that it is likely that such efforts will likely be met with deadly force. All political prisoners should be released, especially members of Hamas. The armed forces of the Palestinian Authority should prepare themselves to defend Palestinians, not protect Israeli settlers.

Is resistance the correct course? It is certainly a recipe for further, potentially much greater, Palestinian suffering and death. Is there any other choice? What is best for the Palestinians is not for me to decide. I can only observe that the right to resist a foreign occupier is both a natural and legal right and that history celebrates those who fight to free their countries from foreign occupations while the Quislings, Lavals and Petains are rightly consigned to the dust bin of history.

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The press release featured below from the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s ‘Department of Culture and Information’ is dated March 26. It features Dr Hana Ashrawi’s bold rebuke of the US for its predictable failure to support four resolutions brought before the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) condemning Israel for ongoing human rights abuses in occupied Palestine.

Obama has made his visit to Israel/Palestine and his position is clear: US support for Israel is unconditional and no pressure is being put on the Netanyahu government to end the Palestinian occupation or even to slow the rate of settlement expansion!  Now the gloves are off and the PA is telling it like it is! As Ashrawi says, “The United States, ostensibly a champion of ‘liberty and justice for all’, voted against freedom and democracy, and for racism, oppression and apartheid.”

Will this press release receive any attention in the US?  We’ll see. Will these prophetic protests from Palestine make any difference to US policy? Not likely!

Father Dave

Dr Hanan Ashrawi

Dr Hanan Ashrawi

Dr. Ashrawi on the adoption by the UNHRC of four resolutions regarding the situation in the Occupied State of Palestine

On 19 March 2013, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), in its 22nd session, voted nearly unanimously to adopt four texts regarding the situation in the Occupied State of Palestine, including East Jerusalem.

In relevant part, the texts warned that ongoing Israeli violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, particularly as regards the illegal settlement enterprise, constituted ‘a major obstacle to the establishment of a just and comprehensive peace and to the creation of an independent, viable, sovereign and democratic Palestinian State’. They demanded that Israel respect international human rights and humanitarian law and comply with its legal obligations thereunder. They condemned ‘all acts of violence, including all acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction’; and called upon Israel to implement serious measures to prevent and punish acts of violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians and properties in the Occupied State, including East Jerusalem. They demanded that ‘Israel, the occupying power, cease all practices and actions that violate the human rights of the Palestinian people, including the killing and injury of civilians, the arbitrary detention and imprisonment of civilians and the destruction and confiscation of civilian property’. They demanded that all parties concerned implement and ensure the implementation of the all of the recommendations found in the Report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission to Investigate the Implications of Israeli settlements on the Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and urged their assistance in the early realization of ‘the inalienable, permanent and unqualified right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including their right to live in freedom, justice and dignity, and to establish their sovereign, independent, democratic and viable contiguous State’.

Only the United States voted against any of the four texts, and it voted against them all.

In response, PLO Executive Committee member, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi said:

“On behalf of the Palestinian people and leadership, I would like to express great appreciation and gratitude to the Council Members who stood up for human rights, peace, and justice in the Occupied State of Palestine. We appreciate your support and value your courage to stand behind your convictions.”

Dr. Ashrawi stressed, “In this context, the United States once again demonstrated a total disregard for Palestinian rights and the requirements of peace. In this 22nd session of the UN Human Rights Council, it willfully voted against the fundamental human rights of people and against the very core values upon which the United States claims to be founded.”

“The United States, ostensibly a champion of ‘liberty and justice for all’, voted against freedom and democracy, and for racism, oppression and apartheid. It voted against justice, and for impunity, in the face of the most egregious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. It voted against peace. There can be no justification for this double standard.”

“Rather than respecting human rights and the rule of law, the United States has chosen to politicize them, and to continue to isolate itself with its unwavering support for the illegal policies and practices of the Israeli occupation.”

“It is therefore incumbent upon the international community to stand strong and united in upholding the rule of law and the established principles and values that govern the international system and individual states,” concluded Dr. Ashrawi.

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This report just in! What is the Israeli government up to? This is outright provocation?

If the IDF is barring access to Al-Aqsa Mosque from Palestinian worshipers, the order must have come directly from the top!  Al-Aqsa (literally ‘the farthest Mosque’) is the third holiest site in Islam and is located in the old city of Jerusalem. By barring Muslims from accessing a sacred site, the Israeli government must know that the Palestinians will not stand for this!

Is Netanyahu trying to bring on the third Intifada and have it well underway by the time US President Obama makes his visit? Is this all designed to undermine any attempt by the US to build closer ties with the Palestinian government in Ramallah? 

God knows what the Israeli Prime Minister is up to, but certainly he is playing with fire!

Father Dave

Al Aqsa Mosque

Al Aqsa Mosque

source: http://www.worldbulletin.net/?aType=haber&ArticleID=104583

Israel denies Palestinians access to Al-Aqsa

Israeli police on Monday denied Palestinian worshippers access to Al-Aqsa Mosque for prayer, eye witnesses told The Anadolu Agency.

Israeli police also prevented a number of Palestinian students from entering the mosque compound where they learn how to recite the Quran, Muslims’ holy book.

Israeli officials have yet to make a statement over the incident.

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‘Palestinians for Dignity’ have a point! President Obama’s two terms in office have thus far given the Palestinian people absolutely nothing to celebrate!

While the proposed trip to the West Bank might be interpreted as an indication that the American President takes the Palestinian people seriously, the US did indeed vote against statehood for Palestine at the UN last year and have repeatedly declared that they are the Occupier’s staunchest ally!

If Obama does enter Palestine accompanied by an Israeli security team he will not be coming as a friend but as a symbol of the Empire that powers the Occupation!

Father Dave

Obama in Cairo in 2009

The days of promise: Obama in Cairo in 2009

source: http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=305821

Palestinian activists: Obama non grata in Palestine

By KHALED ABU TOAMEH

Group called “Palestinian For Dignity” plan demonstrations in protest of Obama’s planned visit to the West Bank.

Palestinian activists said over the weekend that they would hold demonstrations in protest against US President Barack Obama’s planned visit to the West Bank later this month.

A group called “Palestinian For Dignity” called for “huge demonstrations” against Obama and US policies “supportive of the occupation.”

The group said that Obama was “persona non grata in Palestine” because of US military, financial and diplomatic aid for Israel.

“We call upon our people to demonstrate against receiving he who considers himself Israel’s No. 1 ally,” the group said in a statement. “We also call for demonstrations against the idea of returning to the negotiations [with Israel.”

The group said that Obama’s planned visit to Ramallah “comes at a time when our prisoners are on hunger strike and weeks after the death of prisoner Arafat Jaradat in interrogation cells.”

The group said that it was naive to think that US policy toward Israel has changed during Obama’s term.

It also reminded Palestinians that the US had voted against the PA request for upgrading the Palestinians’ status to nonmember observer at the UN in November last year.

In a related development, Hamas and Islamic Jihad called on Palestinians to prevent Obama from visiting the Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem.

The two groups said they were opposed to Obama’s visits, especially if he is accompanied by Israeli security officials.99