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Chutzpah X 20 Billion

March 8, 2011

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:

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Carolyn-Rodham permalink
    March 8, 2011 11:21 am

    Not only will I not accuse you of being anti-Israel, I want to write someone, anyone, to vehemently protest extending any more aid. Absolutely ludicrous.

    • Thain permalink
      March 8, 2011 11:44 am

      Woo hoo, Carolyn’s joined the Dark Side of the Force ;). Just kidding.

      I heard some of the usual suspects start hinting a while back that aid for Israel needed to be increased because of the unrest in the Arab world. Glenn Greenwald actually debated David Frum about this on bloggingheads. It’s a good debate- Frum makes no really good arguments and tries to claim that increasing aid isn’t really a big deal b/c the US really doesn’t give Israel all that much money anyway.

      Just know that if you watch the debate- which is only about 15 minutes or so, they talk about other things and I actually think increasing aid to Israel is the last thing they discuss.

      It never fails to amaze me how Israel just screams more, more and when we ask them to do something they essentially tell us to f*ck off. Bibi has treated this admin. like they are his hired help or something.

      • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
        March 8, 2011 2:59 pm

        “Woo hoo, Carolyn’s joined the Dark Side of the Force.”

        More like I’ve seen the light. 😉

    • Zion permalink
      March 8, 2011 2:36 pm

      Well Carolyn if you are not going to accuse her of being anti-Israel, I will. Criticism of Israel is hatred of Israel and hatred of Jews, period. Lets call it what it is.

      Staceyx is comparing apples and oranges when she compares aid to Israel with cutting social programs.

      Israel deserves our support because they are our greatest ally and they will stem the tide of hate and radicalism in the middle east. Your just too stupid to know that.

      • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
        March 8, 2011 3:10 pm

        Zion, there is something fascistic about your staunchly nationalistic stance that brooks no criticism and dismisses the legitimacy of all opposing points of view — with ad hominem attacks, to boot.

        • March 8, 2011 3:31 pm

          Yup, that’s how it works. Sadly, it’s not just drive-by commenters like Zion who label any disagreement about Israeli-US policy “anti-Israel”- sadly, our own US government feeds into this propaganda. Even Secretary Clinton throws the word “delegitimization” to describe criticism of Israel. The U.S. media also has a tendency to label anyone critical of Israel as potentially anti-Israel. That, or they describe anyone or any group which demands unquestioning support of everything Israel does “pro-Israel” creating the impression that there is only one right way to be pro-Israel. It drives me nuts. Even J-Street has been labeled anti-Israel for daring to question some Israeli policies even though their views are supposedly in line with what U.S. policy regarding settlements, etc. I say “supposedly” because after reading the Palestine Papers I think we have one policy regarding the I-P peace process in public and a very different one in private. For example we say publicly we oppose settlements but in practice we really don’t.

  2. Pilgrim permalink
    March 8, 2011 11:58 am

    Nothing anti-Israel about your remarks. That anyone could, and probably would, think so says much about the inability to think reasonably upon this subject.

  3. Steve permalink
    March 8, 2011 1:25 pm

    Oh, and it gets better- Bibi told the press that he wants Israeli troops to remain in parts of the West Bank/Jordan Valley and that he expects Israel to be “compensated” for any land it eventually “gives” (ie. returns that which it stole) back to the Palestinians. I think that means the United States will have to economically subsidize the transfer of some settlers to new homes- that was part of Oslo but given Bibi controls our Congress, I think he’s thinking of an even bigger money/power grab.

    This is the pathetic state of the diaspora community in the US- to sit back silently while this asshole spouts this nonsense. Not only does Israel not do anything the US asks, it expects the U.S. taxpayer to pay for Israel’s illegal land grabs and the resolution of the conflict. Do you get the irony? The US wants settlements to stop, Israel says “fuck you” and then later, if there ever is a peace agreement (there probably won’t be), the US has to compensate Israel for it’s the removal of illegal settlements we didn’t want them to build in the first place.

    There is only one reason for this- the power of the I-Lobby. Such arrogance from any other country would not be tolerated.

    In fact, Congress will act as a cheerleader for all of this, you watch.

    My Israeli wife is right- Israel will never change and victimhood has become their national bird.

  4. rachel permalink
    March 8, 2011 2:42 pm

    Really quite ironic on how all the republicans are crying that states are broke, the federal government is broke yet will can probably find another 20 billion to just hand over to Israel. How about send some of that money to Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin.

  5. Steve permalink
    March 8, 2011 3:21 pm

    OT, sort of- not only has Abe Foxman of the ADL not spoken out against the upcoming Peter King hearings on radical Islam in America but not a single major Jewish org. has spoken out. So much for leadership. I guess the message is “hey, discrimination against ME is wrong, but it’s ok if it’s against YOU.” If anyone knows where this kind of thing leads, it’s us and we should speak up, loudly.

  6. March 8, 2011 3:43 pm

    Ok, someone help me out here.

    This administration has instituted unprecedented security cooperation/military cooperation and given more economic aid to Israel than any other admin. in history. We killed the Goldstone Report. We backed off our demand that Israel halt all settlement construction. We are working to kill any just resolution of what happened on the Mari Manarva, despite a US citizen being gunned down. Then we offer something like 50 million dollars for a couple extra months on the partial settlement freeze and Israel says no.Then we veto the security council resolution on settlements, putting us at odds with the entire rest of the world. Then Israel announces it wants an extra 20 billion. And now this:

    Bibi is putting a huge amount of pressure on this admin. to release the traitor and spy for Israel, Jonathan Pollard.

    What exactly has Israel done for this administration that would make them want to keep giving Bibi things?

    It’s no secret Bibi is biding his time dragging things out in the hopes Obama doesn’t get re-elected and the GOP also takes over the Senate. Members of the Knesset have called Obama the biggest threat to Israel and said he’s really a supporter of Muslim extremists. Can you imagine someone in Congress saying that about an Israeli leader? No, you can’t.

    Bibi has let his advisers leak that he thinks Obama is overly sympathetic with the Palestinians because of his Muslim father. He’s also made it clear he thinks Obama is not a friend of Israel and has successfully tried to triangulate Congress, the Israel Lobby and Jewish organizations so they criticize and pressure Obama to do whatever Bibi wants.

    It’s beyond dysfunctional.

  7. SirJohn permalink
    March 8, 2011 8:11 pm

    Hey, happy international women’s day to the Palestinian women! I’m sure Secretary Clinton loses A LOT of sleep about these women. Not. Now remember, according to Hillary, these women should NOT be able to have their rights protected or even validated at the UN. No, only the US and Israel can be the arbiter of this conflict. If the Palestinians ask the Israelis to stop the harassment, illegal demolitions and violence against them and the Israelis say “fuck you” Hillary and O’Bambi want to make sure everyone knows that the UN is NOT the place to seek redress.

    Shame on you Obama and Hillary! So selective about who should and shouldn’t have rights.

    • March 9, 2011 7:54 am

      It’s really very upsetting. These women are totally forgotten and treated as not even human or worthy of any consideration or international intervention. THESE are the people’s whose rights are at issue- these are the people whose rights were effectively vetoed at the UN by the US because the US won’t stand up for our principles. We say the only proper venue for matters of international law or the abrogation of Palestinian rights is not the United Nations- created for such a purpose- but the negotiating table overseen by the US and Israel? I’m sorry, but that rationale makes no sense and it pains me to see Hillary be a part of this.

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