Military Aid To Israel Must Be Cut For Regional Stability
27 September 2015
By Kristin Szremski
Much has been written about how Israel and its supporters in the United
States, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), suffered a blow
when they were not able to stop the Iran deal this month.
Despite threats, tantrums and a congressional visit last March that defied
presidential official protocol, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was
unable to sway Congress to defeat the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a
pact that avoids war in part by allowing for international inspections of
Iran's nuclear sites. AIPAC and its newly created Citizens for a Nuclear Free
Iran spent nearly $40 million on television ads and funding trips for US
congressmen to Israel, but they came away empty-handed.
Israel may end up being the biggest winner after all, at the expense of
regional stability and peace for the Palestinians. If President Barack Obama
and Congress move forward on promises of appeasement by, among other things,
increasing the sale of F-35 aircraft, delivering "bunker busters" and
increasing US aid to Israel to $4.5 billion annually beginning in 2018, they
will enable Israel to unilaterally attack Iran as well as ensure Israel's
military occupation of Palestine for decades to come.
To be sure, Israel is not the only country clamouring for increased military
aid because of the Iran deal. The Gulf states, too, will receive increased
assistance. But American law ensures that Israel maintains a qualitative
military edge. In other words, American handouts to Israel go above and
beyond anything we give all other countries in the Middle East.
Furthermore, several former Israeli intelligence officers say the Iran deal
is ''their best option'' and is in their ''national security interests''. Israel
is the region's only nuclear power, a fact it once hid from the United
States, despite securing American aircraft to protect the Dimona nuclear site
in the Naqab in the 1950s. A variety of analysts estimate Israel has between
80 to several hundred nuclear warheads, but it has never signed the Nuclear
Non-proliferation Treaty nor allowed international inspections.
Israel's budget is fungible, so our funds allow it to spend its own money in
other areas, such as in supporting settlement construction, subsidising
settler mortgages, building the apartheid wall and so many other aspects of
US foreign military financing accounts for 25 percent of Israel's defence
budget. More than one quarter of those funds can be spent on
Israeli-manufactured equipment, known as off-shore procurement, definitely
helpful in building its own military industrial complex. Our largess, unique
to Israel, has allowed it to grow into the world's sixth largest arms
Israel is not a tiny country surrounded by hostile neighbours as its
propaganda continues to suggest. It is a powerhouse that not only has the
most advanced military capability in the Middle East but has a nuclear
arsenal as well.
$28bn to Israel
So why the demands for ''bunker busters'' and increased military aid, including
funds for missile defence systems?
Simply put, with the newly reconstructed 30,000-lb ''massive ordnance
penetrators,'' Israel would be able to attack Iran on its own with bombs
powerful enough to reach fortified bunkers well below the earth's surface.
Currently, the US is near the end of a 10-year, $30-billion aid package to
Israel. It expires in 2017 and already President Obama has pledged to renew
the Memorandum of Understanding at the increased level of $45 billion through
2028. It's true that this is separate from appeasement deals currently being
cut. But taken as whole, it is clear Israel will continue to exploit the Iran
deal until it gets what it wants.
Time and again, international studies, such as the Goldstone Report, the UN's
Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict, and reports by
Defense of Children International – Palestine section, among others, have
shown that in contravention of international law Israel uses its weapons
against a civilian population; that it has used chemical weapons such as
white phosphorus; and that military forces routinely subject children to
arrests, abuse and torture, for example. The US Arms Export Control Act
forbids a recipient of US foreign aid from using American weapons or weapons
purchased with American money against a civilian population.
Israel violates these laws with impunity. Until the United States ties its
rhetoric on human rights, settlement expansion and ending the occupation with
an economic incentive - that is, withholding US aid until Israel complies
with international and American laws - things won't change and, in fact,
could get worse. Throwing more weaponry and money at Israel to quiet its
anger over the Iran deal will just inflame the situation.
A diverse group of 11 social justice organisations in the United States is
trying to avert new weapons and funds transfer to Israel. To date, nearly
50,000 people have signed the #NoWeapons4Israel petition targeting President
While coalition members realise it will likely not stop a process already in
motion, the hope is that by gathering such a significant number of signatures
the Obama administration will have to accept the fact vast numbers of
Americans do not want to pay for the military subjugation of the Palestinian
people or for Israel's war on Iran. And as the grassroots says ''no weapons
for Israel,'' tens of thousands of people also are saying the only way toward
peace and regional stability is to end the occupation by stopping the
transfer of US aid and military assistance to Israel.