Your tax dollars fund ‘violent crackdowns on dissent’

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 22 Comments
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Tear gas canisters collected in Silwan, 2010. (Photo: LisaG)

Earlier this week on “Tax Day” Tuesday, Anna Lekas Miller for Alternet covered the business of U.S. foreign aid used to purchase less-than-lethal weapons for the Israeli military. Lekas Miller focused on extended-range tear gas canisters manufactured by Combined Systems Inc. in Jamestown, PA. These canisters and others produced by different U.S. manufacturers are responsible for dozens of deaths in Bahrain over the past year, and five in Palestine over the past decade. Anna Lekas Miller writes:

Here’s how this system generally works: a foreign government requests a certain amount of military assistance from the United States government. If the US government chooses to accept this request, Congress appropriates the amount into the budget, and once the budget is passed, the recipient can use the money to purchase weapons from US manufacturers. Israel is a case in point.

The United States has given foreign aid to Israel since 1949. In the beginning it was only used for economic development. It wasn’t until 1959 that the United States began a modest military loan program to Israel. By 1962, this money was used to fund the purchase of US weaponry, forming the foundation of the relationship between the US government and Israeli military.

Due to an Israeli economic crisis during the 1980s, military loans to Israel were eliminated and replaced with grants. In 2008, all economic aid was eliminated and replaced exclusively with military aid.

Today, Israel receives about $3.1 billion annually from the United States in foreign military financing, or more simply, military aid. Since this form of foreign assistance is part of the congressional budget, this collective amount is financed entirely by the US taxpayer.

Despite proposing drastic cuts to domestic programs, President Obama’s most recent budget proposal suggests increasing US military aid to Israel by $25 million. Aside from this increase, the Israeli government has recently requested an additional $700 million to construct more Iron Dome and Magic Wand missile and rocket defense batteries.

Once President Obama submits a budget request, Congress reviews—and in the case of military aid to Israel—will most likely appropriate the proposed changes into the budget. Within 30 days of the budget’s passing, Israel receives the lump sum of $3.1 billion in an interest-bearing account. This is an anomaly, as any other country receiving US military aid can only receive the grant in quarterly installments.

As soon as Israel receives the grant, it can begin to purchase weapons and other military devices from US manufacturers.

According to a recently released report from the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, US aid to Israel financed the transfer of over 600 million weapons in 500 different categories to the IDF from 2000-2009. These weapons and military devices include the technologically equipped spy towers that monitor checkpoints along the separation barrier, advanced missile systems and the highly toxic white phosphorous dropped on Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in 2009.

But it is more than just these direct agents of war that US taxpayers subsidize. It is also the teargas canisters, flash-bang grenades and other “non-lethal” methods of crowd control that have been used to violently break up nonviolent demonstrations in Palestine for years. In more recent months, non-lethal weapons have also enabled police crackdowns on pro-democracy demonstrations in other parts of the Middle East. These supposedly non-lethal weapons have killed five unarmed Palestinian civilians and permanently injured two US citizens in the Palestinian territories alone in the past decade. These devices are seen most vividly in the empty teargas canisters that litter the West Bank village of Bil’in once a week after the weekly demonstrations protesting the separation barrier are broken up.

About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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22 Responses

  1. radii
    April 20, 2012, 4:27 pm

    our tax dollars fund violent crackdowns right here in America too … the answer for israel is so simple: end ALL aid (military/other) to israel and watch how quickly they fall in line with U.S. strategic goals for the region (including creation of a Palestinian state)

  2. justicewillprevail
    April 20, 2012, 5:37 pm

    Israel is an arms junkie, addicted to more hits every year, as the US taxpayer buys their fix for them. A country awash with military hardware gets out the begging bowl and whines for more cash as the US taxpayer struggles to make ends meet. It’s not only the Palestinians they are robbing blind.

  3. DICKERSON3870
    April 20, 2012, 6:20 pm

    RE: “Lekas Miller focused on extended-range tear gas canisters manufactured by Combined Systems Inc. in Jamestown, PA.” ~ Deger

    PHOTO: Combined Tactical Systems headquarters in Jamestown, PA flies the American and Israeli flags.http://mondoweiss.net/2011/01/party-building-on-fire-shots-fired-at-demonstrators-army-pouring-into-streets.html

  4. eljay
    April 21, 2012, 4:11 pm

    >> Lekas Miller focused on extended-range tear gas canisters manufactured by Combined Systems Inc. in Jamestown, PA. These canisters and others produced by different U.S. manufacturers are responsible for dozens of deaths in Bahrain over the past year, and five in Palestine over the past decade.

    I think it’s important to note that, without these canisters, the glorious Jewish State and its Terrorist Forces would not be able to maintain their 60+ years, ON-GOING and offensive (i.e., not defensive) campaign of aggression, oppression, theft, colonization, destruction and murder.

    And if that campaign were to falter or fail, Palestine would very likely see a rise in the number of unarmed foreign cyclists on its roads. These cyclists would not have to worry about some JSTF thug smashing them in the face with an assault rifle!

    Think about that, people! Just think about that.

  5. OlegR
    April 22, 2012, 9:42 am

    /As soon as Israel receives the grant, it can begin to purchase weapons and other military devices from US manufacturers./

    Key word US manufacturers
    ie the US Tax Payer money in the sum of about 3.1 billion dollars goes right back into the US economy system.Cancel this “aid” and give me a guess how many Americans
    loose their jobs?

    • OlegR
      April 23, 2012, 7:40 am

      Anybody wants to give me an answer?
      Phil maybe?
      Annie?

      • marc b.
        April 23, 2012, 9:02 am

        brilliant, oleg. so what’s to stop the US government from directly investing the 3.1BUSdollars in another american industry, creating new jobs or funding other existing jobs? or simply giving the money to the same US defense contractors for R&D? or to make and stockpile the tear gas canisters. (then the government can pay them another 3.1B ten years from now to dispose of the canisters.) or send it to canada for canadians to buy the same crap being sold to israel? or put the 3.1B into further extending unemployment benefits. a pretty simple fix, i’d say, bypassing israel. the US doesn’t ‘need’ israel to come up with a way to reroute the pork to other jobs, or re-invest the money in the same jobs.

      • eljay
        April 23, 2012, 10:35 am

        >> the US doesn’t ‘need’ israel to come up with a way to reroute the pork to other jobs …

        Is it kosher to say “reroute the pork”? :-D

      • OlegR
        April 23, 2012, 10:35 am

        /rilliant, oleg. so what’s to stop the US government from directly investing the 3.1BUSdollars in another american industry,/
        I have no idea but you aren’t answering my questions.

      • Sumud
        April 23, 2012, 9:21 am

        An answer to what?

        You can do basic maths right?

        Why not just give the $3 billion back to Americans as tax breaks or invest in a little public infrastructure, or education, or health care?

        The only entities that win when the US decides to give Israel $3 billion in free weapons each year is Israel and a few weapons contractors who are already rolling in cash anyway.

        Many many *many* more jobs would be created for Americans with tax breaks or government spending where the product isn’t shipped overseas and used to oppress, terrorise and kill Palestinians.

      • OlegR
        April 23, 2012, 10:37 am

        /Why not just give the $3 billion back to Americans as tax breaks or invest in a little public infrastructure, or education, or health care?/

        That is a great question why not stop investing in the military and diverting all the money to fix internal problems but that’s not what i asked.
        How many Americans will lose their jobs if this money is not given to Israel to buy American goods.Has anybody checked that?

      • marc b.
        April 23, 2012, 10:43 am

        no, sumud, he can’t perform any calculation that doesn’t include ‘israel’ as the first step in the equation. just like the catholic dolts who couldn’t conceive of a universe without the earth at its center, oleRg’s medieval narcissism is an impediment to any conception of a world that doesn’t revolve around israel.

      • marc b.
        April 23, 2012, 10:45 am

        How many Americans will lose their jobs if this money is not given to Israel to buy American goods.Has anybody checked that?

        we’ve already responded to the question. you just don’t like the answer. nobody has to lose their job. in fact, if you knew anything about economics, you’d know that the defense industry is typically a poor investment if you’re looking at the creation of jobs as a byproduct of the investment. there are much more efficient ways to create jobs than through defense expenditures. (3.1B$ spent on highway repair, for example, would likely create many more jobs, in the depressed construction industry, than are created through the production of tear gas.) so since you’re intent on demanding answers of people, why don’t you go find out how many american jobs could be created if the 3.1B$ were invested in other industries?

      • eGuard
        April 23, 2012, 10:55 am

        OlegR: How many Americans will lose their jobs if this money is not given to Israel to buy American goods.

        Depends on what happens with the money. If you set fire to it, it would be very bad indeed. US government can give it directly to the US factories and throw the products in the ocean. Maybe spend it on education. Whatever they do with the money, Israel is not needed in the equation to spend it.

      • Woody Tanaka
        April 23, 2012, 11:03 am

        “How many Americans will lose their jobs if this money is not given to Israel to buy American goods.”

        None. Just have the American government use the money over a period of years, to phase out the old industries and phase in new ones.

      • eljay
        April 23, 2012, 11:05 am

        >> That is a great question why not stop investing in the military and diverting all the money to fix internal problems but that’s not what i asked.
        >> How many Americans will lose their jobs if this money is not given to Israel to buy American goods.

        Your concern for American workers is touching. Thankfully, the answer is simple: Divert the money to the Palestinians to buy American goods. No Americans will lose their jobs. Problem solved.

      • OlegR
        April 23, 2012, 11:32 am

        So you suggest Americans fund Palestinians with a 31 billion a year military aid.
        Ok no problem.
        They can get themselves armed and will have a ball beating the crap out of each other on a more level playing field.
        It only took Egypt 3 wars to clam down maybe that’s the price we will have to pay…

      • marc b.
        April 23, 2012, 11:36 am

        How many Americans will lose their jobs if this money is not given to Israel to buy American goods.Has anybody checked that?

        yes, oleRg, i’ve just checked. the money is going to be taken from israel and given to kyrgyzstan to buy american goods, so no american jobs will be lost.

      • eljay
        April 24, 2012, 8:17 am

        >> So you suggest Americans fund Palestinians with a [3.1] billion a year military aid.

        You posed what you thought was a clever question:
        >> How many Americans will lose their jobs if this money is not given to Israel to buy American goods[?]

        I provided a straightforward answer. That disappointed you. :-(

        So you changed tack:
        >> Ok no problem.
        >> They can get themselves armed and will have a ball beating the crap out of each other on a more level playing field.

        To this, I reply: I don’t believe that arming the Palestinians to the same level as Israel so the two sides can “duke it out” is the right approach.

        Sorry to disappoint you again. :-(

  6. Les
    April 22, 2012, 5:58 pm

    Apparently Egypt will no longer continue to contribute part of the foreign subsidy.

    Egypt cancels deal to supply natural gas to Israel
    By Agence France-Presse
    Sunday, April 22, 2012

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/04/22/egypt-cancels-deal-to-supply-natural-gas-to-israel/

    • OlegR
      April 23, 2012, 7:39 am

      A nice shot in the leg of Egyptian economy.

      • Les
        April 23, 2012, 9:14 pm

        When Egypt stops selling natural resources at a discount to Israel, it should indeed help ordinary Egyptians.

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