Step up Diplomacy not more Aid to Israel

President Barak Obama is asking Congress to approve an additional $205 million to help Israel speed up deployment of a new short-range rocket defense system called the "Iron Dome." The system is meant to intercept rockets fired from Gaza and Lebanon.

The request will be formally sent to Congress within days as an addition to the administration’s budget request for fiscal year 2011, which begins in October. It will be funded by offsets approved by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Yes, you heard me right. The funds will come from the Department of Defense after it was able to make some welcomed defense cuts, but instead of helping the American economy, it will be used to help Israel. This $205 million is in addition to the already $3 billion given to Israel each and every year by the American taxpayer and will await Congress approval. But Congress approval is a sure thing because seldom, if ever, does Congress deny Israel’s demands. After all, the Israeli lobby has been in the pockets of our Congress for decades. Just ask Phil Gingrey, Tom Price, and many other Georgia Congressmen who have spent luxury vacations in Israel paid for by the powerful lobby, American Israel Public Affairs Committee ( AIPAC ).

The United States government doesn’t have the money to repair its own infrastructure or enough money to keep schools from closing, or enough money to rescue its own banks, or keep homes from being foreclosed, or enough money to feed millions of hungry children, but it seems we always have enough money for Israel’s military, the sixth most powerful military on this planet. And not only is Israel’s military powerful, it is also savage. The savagery of Israel’s December 2008 attack on Gaza, which saw the use of illegal white phosphorus shells and witnessed the deliberate targeting of civilians (many waving white flags), United Nations food-storage facilities, mosques, schools, bridges, ambulances, police stations, and in effect the entire civilian infrastructure, does not need repeating. The reports of U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk, and Judge Richard Goldstone, head of the U.N. Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict have concluded overwhelmingly that Israel not only committed human rights violations but war crimes as well.

Needless to say, the aftermath was catastrophic: more than 1,400 killed–”the vast majority civilians and a third children; 100,000 displaced; 500,000 with no access to clean water, 4,000 homes totally destroyed and 45,000 damaged; 1,500 destroyed factories and commercial buildings as well as 50 U.N. facilities (including four schools), and nearly 50 percent of agricultural land laid to waste (from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and various NGOs, February 2009 figures).

And now President Obama wants to give Israel another $205 million. Not only is military aid to Israel a "wasteful or bloated" program; it’s also illegal and immoral. It’s illegal because Israel uses this military aid in violation of the Arms Export Control Act and Foreign Assistance Act to commit human rights violations. It’s immoral because the Israeli siege and occupation of Palestinians–and the humanitarian crises they are causing–are enforced with U.S. weapons, making every single U.S. taxpayer an accessory to Israel’s crimes.

Since 1967, Israel has demolished more than 20,000 homes of innocent Palestinians. It was just last week that the Israelis announced plans to demolish more of the remaining Arab homes in East Jerusalem in order to build more Jewish settlements. This new demolition order comes just a few days after the beginning of new peace talks by both sides and brokered by the U.S. Although the U.S. verbally condemned this order Israel ignored such criticism and plans to go forward with their demolition plans. This is the way its been for the past 43 years and this is why there is no peace deal today. The United States tries to be a peace broker but when it comes time to getting tough with Israel, the U.S. never succeeds. American politicians understand that criticizing Israel is hazardous to their careers.

That is the process; that is the dynamic. The United States from the beginning has been the principle arms financier and the entire movement of Israel’s brutal and illegal occupation. The American people are paying for it in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and even on its own land. We witnessed it on September 11, 2001. Remember, it was Osama Bin Ladin who gave the primary reason for the attack on 9-11. He stated, "For over half a century, Muslims in Palestine have been slaughtered and assaulted and robbed of their honor and of their property. Their houses have been blasted, their crops destroyed."

If President Obama was serious about peace in the Middle East he would immediately withhold any more military aid to Israel and demand that it relinquishes its control of the occupied Palestinian territories, stops building and expanding illegal Jewish settlements, accedes to the Palestinians right to self determination, end the inhumane siege on Gaza, and give back to Syria the land of the Golan Heights. These actions would do more for Israel’s anti-missile defense than any military assistance we could give. It would also restore the U.S. to the position of respect and honor it once held among all Muslim and Arab nations.

President Obama has the power to end the reign of terror right now if he is willing to break clean from the stranglehold of Israel’s lobby. Politically, it is a hard choice, but ultimately a sensible and realistic one that would bring about true peace and justice in the Middle East and American security both here and abroad.