Chutzpah X 20 Billion
Israel is thinking of asking for another 20 billion dollars in aid from the U.S. due to the pro-democracy, largely peaceful (except Libya) Arab uprisings. For Ehud Barak to already be saying this publicly means the U.S. is already aware and Congress is already likely on board:
Israel may request an addition $20 billion in military aid from the United States in light of the unrest sweeping the Arab world, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published Monday.
Barak deemed the changes in the region a “movement in the right direction”, and said that in the long run, Israel should not fear the “movement of Arab societies toward modernity.”
While Israel did not face an immediate threat to its security, Barak told the WSJ, “The issue of qualitative military aid for Israel becomes more essential for us, and I believe also more essential for you [the U.S.].
“It might be wise to invest another $20 billion to upgrade the security of Israel for the next generation or so,” he said, adding: “A strong, responsible Israel can become a stabilizer in such a turbulent region.”
So, while Middle America is being screwed economically, while we are claiming that teachers, nurses and the people that keep American running (ie. unions) get paid waaaaaay too much money, while we remain bogged down in wars costing in the trillions, Israel, whose economy has been doing outstanding with better-than-expected growth last year, immediately assumes that it’s up to the United States to flip the bill because Israel is afraid of the ramifications of democracy spreading through the Middle East? Here’s an idea- how about stopping illegal settlement expansion in occupied territory, creating the conditions for a viable, contiguous Palestinian state based on just and fair borders with swaps and security guarantees, thus bringing about normalization with the member states of the Arab League? Wouldn’t that be good for security? Nah, why do that when you can have your cake and eat it too, right? Continue to gobble up land to ensure the Palestinians will never end up with anything other than loose, non-contiguous pockets of land all the while demanding more money and weapons because of the potential for conflict- conflict largely (but not entirely) rooted in the failure of both sides to create a viable Palestinian state.
Omar Rahman has an interesting article up over at Foreign Policy discussing that one of the other big obstacles to peace is the fact that Occupation is Big Business, but no one wants to talk about that.
By the way, lest anyone come to the comment section and accuse me of being anti-Israel, I totally support providing aid and military assistance to Israel. I just think it’s preposterous to request $20 billion more from the American taxpayers when we are still barely treading water economically. As it stands now, Israel already gets more economic aid from the U.S. than any other country in the world, despite Israel being a developed country with a growing economy and a huge military, security, research and tech sector. Is it really anti-Israel to suggest that maybe just like middle-income and lower-income Americans, Israel may have to also start weaning from the U.S. money tree? At the very least, can’t we have a public discussion about this? No, we can’t. Because it’s Israel and to even suggest such a thing is…what’s the word? Delegitimization? No it’s not, it’s called thoughtful debate in a democracy.
UPDATE: This issue was raised in December and then again the other day at the State Dept. press briefing. The State Dept. continues to not want to talk about the ongoing detention of Palestinian prisoner of conscience Abdallah Abu Rahma. The United States has been calling on Palestinians to renounce violence but when they do, we turn our eyes away when their peaceful protests result in them being “disappeared”, detained and in some cases, killed. If we are going to turn a blind eye to this, what is the point of calling on them, or anyone, to use nonviolent means of protest? Or do we just have a double standard? Some people just don’t have any rights, ever. Perhaps decades ago we called for them to use nonviolent forms of protest thinking they would never do it and now that they have, we either ignore their plight altogether or claim they are “delegitimizers” (or dangerous stone-throwers!) Talk about damned if you do, damned if you don’t! Is it lost on the administration that this plays right into the hands of violent groups like Hamas, who claim that Palestinians will only get the world’s attention and obtain rights if they use violence against their occupiers?
Here is the video from December- note the clip at the end from Obama’s Cairo speech where he lectures the Palestinians on the importance of their using nonviolence to get their message out and yet this is how his administration deals with the issue of the repression of peaceful Palestinian activists: