Josh Ruebner writing for TheHill.com:
Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is admirably legislating against U.S. arms sales to Bahrain, the autocratic Gulf kingdom which has killed at least 30 protesters during the Arab Spring. To suppress protests, Bahrain has arrested more than 1,600 protesters, has fired 2,500 from their jobs, and is handing down harsh jail terms to medical personnel who treated injured protesters. This brutal repression of Bahraini human rights led Wyden to introduce a resolution to prohibit U.S. weapons sales to Bahrain until it meets stringent human rights criteria, helping to generate enough political pressure so that the Obama Administration has delayed implementation of its shameful decision last month to sell $53 million of weapons to Bahrain.
“Selling weapons to a regime that is violently suppressing peaceful civil dissent and violating human rights is antithetical to our foreign policy goals and the principle of basic rights for all that the U.S. has worked hard to promote,” Wyden argued.
While this principle should apply to all U.S. weapons sales, it should be even more strictly adhered to when U.S. taxpayers are funding weapons sales through military aid. Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. military aid, scheduled to receive $30 billion in taxpayer-financed weapons between 2009 and 2018, and also violently suppresses nonviolent Palestinian protest and commits grave human rights violations against Palestinians living under its illegal 44-year military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip . . .
Given Wyden’s professed commitment to U.S. weapons not being misused to further human rights violations, the Senator should be outraged as well by U.S. military aid to Israel, for which his Oregon constituents are expected to pay more than $285 million between 2009 and 2018. Yet, instead, Wyden praises Israel as “a stable democracy and a stalwart ally” and keynotes at fundraisers for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, an outfit that lobbies for more U.S. aid to Israel to the detriment of unmet needs at home.
Wyden should not hold Israel to a different standard. If U.S. weapons should not support Bahrain’s human rights abuses, then neither should they support Israel’s denial of Palestinian freedom and self-determination.