House support for Israel damages prospects for peace

ActivismIsrael/PalestineUS Politics
on 42 Comments
iron dome
Israeli soldiers with and Iron Dome system,  Beersheba, Israel, 2011. Congress proposed on Monday to give Israel in 2013, $680 million for Iron Dome batteries. (Photo: UPI)

By once again demonstrating Congress’s bottomless cup of munificence for Israel, actions this week by the House of Representatives make painful across-the-board budget cuts more likely. U.S. taxpayers will be even more complicit than before in bankrolling Israel’s nearly 45-year military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip. Additionally, the American “generosity” will shred whatever little credibility the United States has left in attempting to portray itself as an “honest broker” to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on an equitable basis. And urging new weapons systems for Israel could help facilitate an attack on Iran. 

On Monday, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense released its draft 2013 budget bill, which includes an eye-popping $949 million for the research, development, and procurement of anti-missile systems to benefit Israel, including $680 million to purchase additional Iron Dome batteries.

The utility of the Iron Dome system, which is designed to intercept and destroy the crude, short-range projectiles fired by militants from the Gaza Strip, was demonstrated in March during an exchange of fire in which Israel killed 24 Palestinians and wounded 79. Iron Dome reportedly knocked down over 90 percent of missiles headed for civilian areas, resulting in no Israeli casualties.

While both Israeli and Palestinian civilians should of course be free from the fear of incoming missiles, by funding Iron Dome, the United States is largely immunizing Israeli civilians from the effects of conflict while leaving Palestinians in the Gaza Strip extremely vulnerable to Israel’s much more lethal assaults conducted with the most sophisticated U.S. missiles. While the Gaza Strip’s 1.6 million residents remain beleaguered under Israel’s blockade and collective punishment, Iron Dome perpetuates this injustice by significantly reducing the cost to Israel of maintaining this policy.

This funding comes on top of a record-breaking request from the Obama Administration to provide Israel with $3.1 billion in military aid in the 2013 budget. All told, the U.S. taxpayer is likely to be on the hook for more than $4 billion in weapons for Israel this budget cycle, at a time when the White House has proposed budget cuts for food safety inspection, water infrastructure, medical care and much more to avert the prospect of the across-the-board budget cuts from taking effect.

By dramatically increasing money for weapons to Israel — the 28th wealthiest country in the world in 2011 according to the International Monetary Fund, with a per capita income greater than Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, and South Korea — the House risks budget cuts to important social services that benefit millions of Americans for the sake of perpetuating Israel’s military occupation.

In addition, on Wednesday, the House voted 411-2 with 9 abstentions to pass the AIPAC-inspired U.S.-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act, a resolution with far-reaching implications for making the United States more complicit in Israel’s human rights abuses of the Palestinian people and for facilitating an Israeli strike against Iran. Although no price tag is attached to this resolution, by dangling before Israel even greater promises of access to U.S. weapons, the resolution sets the stage for more taxpayer largesse in the future.

Among many other problematic provisions, this ill-timed resolution urges the U.S. to provide Israel with air refueling tankers, a capability that military analysts believe the Israeli air force would need in order to launch an attack on Iran. The resolution also urges the provision to Israel of unspecified “specialized munitions” that could also be used to attack Iran. By passing a resolution that would facilitate an Israeli attack on Iran at a time when negotiators are attempting to peacefully resolve the Iranian nuclear enrichment standoff, the House unnecessarily ratcheted up tension and made the likelihood of war greater.

The resolution also includes a laundry list of items designed to deepen U.S.-Israel military ties that would only reinforce Israel’s ever-hardening grip on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, rather than provide an appropriate mixture of policy carrots and sticks to advance the prospect of Israel’s ending its military occupation as a step towards Israeli-Palestinian peace. The resolution commits the U.S. to giving Israel additional weapons from forward-deployed stockpiles of U.S. weapons already in Israel, providing additional loan guarantees, handing over additional weapons from the U.S. war in Iraq, and pushing greater Israeli participation in NATO.

Rather than routinely passing appropriations bills and resolutions that fund more weapons to Israel and deepen U.S.-Israel military ties, the House should reconsider how its military support for Israel is fueling Israeli belligerency, eroding the prospects for peace in the Middle East, and enabling a potential Israeli attack on Iran with U.S. weapons. Doing so is not to the benefit of Israelis, Palestinians, or Iranians; neither is it to the advantage of the U.S. taxpayer who will foot the bill for Israeli militarism.

About Josh Ruebner

Josh Ruebner is the National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and a former Analyst in Middle East Affairs at Congressional Research Service. He is author of Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace (Verso Books).

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42 Responses

  1. Citizen
    May 12, 2012, 12:11 pm

    And you can be sure none of subect US government spending information will be presented to the American people by any branch of government or the mainstream press, despite the daily breaking news in the press depicting the sorry state of the US economy, ever-increasing poverty of US citizens, and constant battle between the main political parties regarding what should be cut from the US budget to stop the USA’s spiral into endless debt servitude for many generations to come.

    • chet
      May 12, 2012, 2:32 pm

      And who make the decisions to control and withhold this information from the American public?

      • Citizen
        May 13, 2012, 8:28 am

        chet, such decisions come from the mainstream media, top down–as you already know unless you’ve been living in a sealed keg.

  2. CloakAndDagger
    May 12, 2012, 7:09 pm

    If we don’t do everything in our power to point out these Israel-firsters in congress to the American citizenry and prevent them from even being elected to the position of county dog catchers, we will never be able to restore our country.

    All our efforts for justice in Palestine, and yes, right here in the US, will be in vain as long as these vile humans can be manipulated by the lobby to our detriment.

    We need a strategy to displace them. Once we eliminate them and regain control of our foreign policy, the rest should be easy.

    Vote for Ron Paul.

  3. DICKERSON3870
    May 12, 2012, 8:17 pm

    RE: “Josh Ruebner is the National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation”

    FROM: US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
    SENT: Thursday, May 10, 2012 6:27 PM
    SUBJECT: Take Action Now to Help Save the Lives of 2,000 Hunger Strikers in Israeli Prisons!

    As we approach the 64th anniversary of the Nakba — the catastrophe in which more than more than 750,000 Palestinians lost their homes and lands, and thousands of others their lives during the ethnic cleansing that accompanied Israel’s creation — between 1,600 and 2,000 Palestinian prisoners have joined one of the largest hunger strikes in history.
    Two strikers — Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Diab — have refused food for 73 days. Ten have refused food for more than 50 days and are now hospitalized. The International Committee of the Red Cross has said that Halahleh, Diab, and four others are in “imminent danger of dying.” As the prisoners’ health deteriorates, the State Department has been silent.
    Please ask the State Department to help save the lives of these nonviolent protestors! Help us get 10,000 signatures before Monday when, with the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, we’ll deliver our concerns to the State Department!
    • TO SIGN PETITION – http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/641/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=10451

  4. OlegR
    May 13, 2012, 8:42 am

    Well look at it this way.
    No Iron Dome means more casualties among our civilians means the government
    is more pressured to act aggressively to stop the fire on our cities
    means Cast Lead 2/3/4 etc. means more Palestinian casualties.

    The faster Hamas understands the futility of his attempts to pressure Israel via military means the faster it will change his tactics to a more peaceful ones the better everybody will be.

    • seafoid
      May 13, 2012, 1:27 pm

      I think the Israel dependence on Iron Dome is very interesting. It tells us that Israeli policy places belligerence over diplomacy every time and that Israel believes its technological edge will last forever.
      Iron dome is like a financial option that is currently cheap- it is cheaper in the Israeli view than the cost of peace.
      And that is nuts, Israel.

    • Woody Tanaka
      May 14, 2012, 5:45 pm

      If the israeli government really wanted to stop the firing of the firecracker rockets, it would take the steps necessary for peace. But since that would mean treating the Arabs as actual human beings and kissing goodbye the Greater Israeli Empire, that’s not going to happen.

    • talknic
      May 15, 2012, 8:58 am

      OlegR
      “The faster Hamas understands the futility of his attempts to pressure Israel via military means the faster it will change his tactics to a more peaceful ones the better everybody will be”

      All peaceful means have been blocked by the US veto vote in the UNSC for far longer than Hamas has existed….

      Say…… Did Irgun et al, stop their pre-state terrorist activities?

      Did you realize: Israel was declared while Jewish terrorists were OUTSIDE of the territory slated for the Jewish State, busy razing non-Jewish villages and homes

      Did you realize: the State of Israel was recognized while it was waging a war on Palestine after Israel was declared.

      Did you realize: Israel had not recognized ANY STATE before being granted UN Membership? Which reminds me, exactly how many countries has Israel officially recognized in 64 years?

      Did you realize: the official name of “THE STATE OF ISRAEL” and no State has ever recognized Israel as “the Jewish State”

      Did you realize: Israel has never renounced violence either as a means of self defense or aggression ?

      Did you realize: The Palestinians have a right to oppose an Occupying Power by force of arms?

      Did you realize: Israel is in breech of hundreds of UNSC Resolutions. The Arab States are not.

      “Cast Lead 2/3/4 etc. means more Palestinian casualties.”

      Civilian casualties actually. Only civilians were killed by Israel preventing civilians from fleeing the war zone. A war crime — Although it gave forewarning, Israel had all the crossings closed, under the 2005 agreement with Egypt, only possible to have such an agreement as an Occupying Power, thereby preventing civilians from fleeing a war zone, BEFORE attacking, which is illegal under Geneva Convention 1V…Section II..Occupied territories..Art49…The Occupying Power shall not detain protected persons in an area particularly exposed to the dangers of war unless the security of the population or imperative military reasons so demand.

      Civilians could not even flee into the sea, because Israel controls the Palestinian territorial waters.//

      Did you know: the GCs do apply according to the UNSC

      OlegR, there is no thing in your rickety olde Hasbarrow that actually justifies ANY illegal acquisition of Palestinian territory by Israel, ANY illegal annexation of Palestinian territory, ANY illegal settlements in “territories occupied” or ANY of Israel’s demands on the Palestinians. Israeli demands and stupid justificationshave absolutely no basis in law.

      When you start with a lie, you can only admit the lie or keep lying. Israel has chosen lie upon lie upon lie in its insane attempts to justify its illegal activities. All the while screwing unwitting Israeli citizens and those to stupid to check

      The Palestinians only claim their rights under the laws Israel agreed to uphold. Israel wants to keep Palestinian territory it has absolutely no right to under the very same laws.

      Of course you can’t possibly acknowledge any of the above. There are too many loose ends dangling from the lies you need to perpetuate for a Greater Israel. Pick at one and your whole ‘Israel can do no wrong’ propaganda mantra will unravel

    • Chaos4700
      May 15, 2012, 9:23 am

      Yeah. Iron Dome. Good luck with that boondoggle, kiddo. I suppose at least you didn’t have to pay for it, Israeli — Americans did.

  5. dbroncos
    May 13, 2012, 10:50 pm

    The US went off the deep end in our support for Israel a long time ago, and the deep end just keeps getting deeper. There’s no justice or peace on the horizon and no end game in sight for the US. The mood is dark and foreboding, especially in light of what a war on Iran or the Arab Spring is going to mean for status quo US-ME policy. Oil is still the key. It’s been almost 40 years since the Saudis reminded Americans just how much we NEED them as allies. Sooner or later the Saudis may feel we need another reminder to show Americans just how dependent we are on Saudi Arabia, and how foolish we are to put American-Saudi relations in serious jeapardy over our corrupt “special relationship” with Israel, a country of no real, concrete importance whatsoever to the US.

  6. Fredblogs
    May 14, 2012, 2:18 am

    Know what, I think this is an utter lie on Josh Ruebner’s part:
    “While both Israeli and Palestinian civilians should of course be free from the fear of incoming missiles”. If he actually believed that, he wouldn’t be complaining about a purely defensive system to protect Israeli civilians. The only reason he prefaces his complaint with that lie is that he doesn’t want to admit that what he really wants is for Israeli civilians to be killed by Palestinian missile attacks because admitting that would damage his credibility with anyone who isn’t completely morally lost in their hatred of Israel.

    • OlegR
      May 14, 2012, 8:13 am

      You know Fred you are right on this one.
      Lets tranaslate this newspeak.
      /, by funding Iron Dome, the United States is largely immunizing Israeli civilians from the effects of conflict while leaving Palestinians in the Gaza Strip extremely vulnerable to Israel’s much more lethal assaults conducted with the most sophisticated U.S. missiles./

      “Immunizing Israeli civilians ” preventing them from getting killed.

      / Iron Dome perpetuates this injustice by significantly reducing the cost to Israel of maintaining this policy./
      Israeli civilians don’t get killed often enough for that to create pressure on the government to change it’s “wicked” ways.

      A very moral statement indeed.

      • hophmi
        May 14, 2012, 10:00 am

        This is the crux of the argument that compares Israeli and Palestinian casualties. It is more about not enough Israelis dying than about too many Palestinians dying.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 14, 2012, 10:21 am

        oh please! you guys just hump eachother endlessly! fred takes one sentence of josh’s, unilaterally decides it’s a lie and makes a strawman out of it and the chain reaction begins. the idea activists are imbued with the same kind of decrepit logic israel has used to bomb gaza to smithereens is absurd! after all what is “to create pressure on the government to change it’s “wicked” ways.” is exactly the excuse israel has used to bomb gaza, to pressure them to get rid of hamas!

        and now you say activists think not enough israelis have died? stop with your hasbara filth.

      • OlegR
        May 14, 2012, 10:24 am

        When no counter argument exists best to attack those who make
        the argument.
        Boring Annie.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 14, 2012, 10:33 am

        what idiot counter argues a strawman.

      • eljay
        May 14, 2012, 10:36 am

        Funny how the Zio-supremacists always manage to gloss over the fact that Israel – a oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and religion-supremacist state born of terrorism and ethnic cleansing – remains engaged in a 60+ years, ON-GOING and offensive (i.e., not defensive) campaign of aggression, oppression, theft, colonization, destruction and murder.

        And I like how the solutions to Israel’s problems always seem to involve more soldiers and weapons and oppression and destruction and murder…but never an actual end to Israel’s 60+ years, ON-GOING and offensive (i.e., not defensive) campaign of aggression, oppression, theft, colonization, destruction and murder – even though Israel has the power to end its campaign immediately and completely.

      • OlegR
        May 14, 2012, 11:24 am

        I think eljay answered that question below / or above (this site acts funny regarding comment placement)…

        But seriously Annie.Thinks about it for a moment.
        You don’t see the moral flaw in Joshe’s line of argument?

      • Fredblogs
        May 14, 2012, 1:29 pm

        @eljay
        Funny how you always cut and paste the same offensive (i.e. not defensive) paragraph all the time. Get over yourself and come up with new stuff for each post. Your cutting and pasting just makes you boring.

      • Fredblogs
        May 14, 2012, 1:31 pm

        @Annie Robbins
        Considering that this whole website is about you anti-Israel guys agreeing with each other, or “humping each other endlessly” as you so crudely put it, I can’t see why you complain when people who disagree with you agree with each other.

      • eljay
        May 14, 2012, 3:19 pm

        >> Funny how you always cut and paste the same … paragraph all the time.

        I don’t cut-and-paste it – I type it out every time. Pointing out just how hateful and immoral are the Jewish State and its Zio-supremacist supporters is worth the extra effort. :-)

        >> Get over yourself and come up with new stuff for each post.

        Says the guy whose posts routinely contain hateful and immoral Zio-supremacist dogma, propaganda and apologetics. Too funny.

        >> Your cutting and pasting just makes you boring.

        Boo-hoo! The hateful and immoral Zio-supremacist called me ‘boring’! :-(

      • eljay
        May 14, 2012, 3:28 pm

        >> I think eljay answered that question below / or above …

        Zing! But seriously OlegR, since I did not write my post in response to any challenge from you, I wasn’t actually “counter arguing a strawman”, so the title of “idiot” remains firmly in your possession. :-)

      • American
        May 14, 2012, 3:32 pm

        “hophmi says:
        May 14, 2012 at 10:00 am
        + Show content
        This is the crux of the argument that compares Israeli and Palestinian casualties. It is more about not enough Israelis dying than about too many Palestinians dying.

        Well you know that wasn’t what he said or meant….although there is logic to what you are saying he said……Israelis should be as exposed to dying as Israel has made Palestines then they’d have some incentive to end it.
        As it stand Israelis get benefits from continuing it.

      • Woody Tanaka
        May 14, 2012, 5:41 pm

        “It is more about not enough Israelis dying than about too many Palestinians dying.”

        No, the problem is that this system strips the possbility of deterrence.

      • Chaos4700
        May 15, 2012, 9:25 am

        It is more about not enough Israelis dying than about too many Palestinians dying.

        Abridged hophmi: A thousand Palestinian lives aren’t worth a single Jewish fingernail. (Wow, I guess rabbis are fonts of Jewish wisdom!)

    • MarkF
      May 14, 2012, 2:59 pm

      Actually, the crux of his point, which Fred and Oleg avoid, is that we Americans are paying for it, and not Israel.

      When a Jewish state cannot afford to sustain itself and requires welfare from another country, doesn’t it cease to exist as a Jewish state? Shouldn’t we Jews bear the financial responsibility to support the state? Why is it that Israel must be on the dole for it’s survival from a Christian nation?

      That’s not self determination, but it is a pretty nice deal if you can get it. Luckily we can have austerity here to continue to pay for a state that cannot exist without our tax dollars.

      • Fredblogs
        May 14, 2012, 4:01 pm

        The U.S. is a secular nation, it has no state religion. The U.S. benefits from the R&D since it is a chance to practice shooting down missiles in a real environment rather than a simulated one.

      • Elliot
        May 14, 2012, 4:36 pm

        This is why the U.S. cannot afford to let Israel make peace with the Palestinians. The only thing of value that Israel can give us if we are not religious is endless war.

      • Hostage
        May 14, 2012, 4:51 pm

        The U.S. benefits from the R&D since it is a chance to practice shooting down missiles in a real environment rather than a simulated one.

        Wrong! Although we’ve provided hundreds of millions in funding for Iron Dome already, and have committed to spend 680 million more in 2013, we do not yet have any rights to the Israeli R&D yet. The members of a House Subcommittee have recommended that be made a condition in this years bill: http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/procurement/223705-house-lawmakers-want-rights-to-iron-dome-weapon-tech-

        FYI, the US Military has several missile test ranges where it can practice shooting down missiles that are launched without prior notice in a real environment. We benefit directly from that R&D without having to bother to ask another country’s permission.

      • Fredblogs
        May 14, 2012, 6:22 pm

        Yeah, except that those tests are often run under unrealistic limitations. Or are done “without prior notice” wink wink. And in any case costs extra because both attack and defense are paid for by the U.S.

      • Hostage
        May 15, 2012, 3:24 am

        Yeah, except that those tests are often run under unrealistic limitations.

        LOL! It sounds like you are talking about tests against a few Qassams and Iron Dome. Israelis were already trying to sell systems to other countries long before they had ever fielded the system – and then the IDF put its own system in storage rather than deploy it. http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htada/20101111.aspx

        The astronomical costs of shooting down dime store Qassams and Grads and its less than stellar reliability have been nothing to brag about. The system has experienced plenty of malfunctions and misses.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 15, 2012, 3:38 am

        The U.S. benefits from the R&D since it is a chance to practice shooting down missiles in a real environment rather than a simulated one.

        and who provides that real environment? as hostage has already pointed out, it is not the r&d the us gets for it’s money..it is the captives. it’s the real deal israel provides. the test cases. a human petri dish via our bros the israelis. israel sells their captives for our experiments. how groovy is that?

        chance to practice shooting down missiles in a real environment on palestinians. wow fred, sell it. or should i say them? after all that’s what israel has to offer, their captives for experimentation. impressed yet?

      • Citizen
        May 15, 2012, 3:43 am

        Yeah, Annie–my own first thought was the Palestinians are guinea pigs. Not Dr Mengale, but not so far off.

      • MarkF
        May 15, 2012, 9:44 am

        “The U.S. benefits from the R&D since it is a chance to practice shooting down missiles in a real environment rather than a simulated one.”

        So by that logic, it is in our best interest for the conflict to continue so we can use and abuse Israel for the benefit of R & D at 3 billion+ a year.

        Hmm. I would think that U.S. compamies can set up and test they’re goods without having to soak the tax payer and continue to kill innocent Israelis.

        So Israel needs a secular state’s money to exist. That’s sad for Israel. I would think Israel would rather exist based on it’s own abilities. But I guess that’s the crux of the socialist support for Israel. Maybe somedy Israel will be able to exist on it’s own, but I hear you Fred. Until then they need to be our live test case for our weapons manufacturers.

      • Fredblogs
        May 15, 2012, 4:38 pm

        @Annie Robbins
        Perhaps English is not your first language? “Shooting down missiles” does not mean shooting missiles at people, it means shooting at and destroying missiles that are heading toward you (or an area you are defending). If the Palestinians don’t want to be used as a test case for iron dome, the solution is simple. Stop firing missiles at Israel.

      • Fredblogs
        May 15, 2012, 4:42 pm

        @MarkF
        Israel doesn’t need the money, but it does come in handy. Also, the savings from cutting Israel off from aid would be partly offset by the inevitable extra subsidies that would be paid to American weapons manufacturers to compensate for the drop in sales to Israel.

      • Citizen
        May 16, 2012, 6:18 am

        Fredblogs, a substantial number of us Americans want savings resulting from cutting aid funds to Israel (plus interest) to be used to help fund help for needy and jobless Americans, college educations, and/or our collapsing roads and bridges, etc. And we don’t want our weapons companies to be subsidized with those funds, but rather we want spending on the war machine business to be cut way back–we distinguish between actual defense needs and greedy interventionism abroad. We don’t like our modern version of Krupp Steel Inc.

      • Bumblebye
        May 16, 2012, 7:51 am

        @Fredfrog
        HAHAHAHAHA!
        “Israel doesn’t need the money”!!!
        So why have they made such a big production out of demanding over 30% increase this year, totalling $4bn (and interest) to the US taxpayer?
        Is it just Bibi playing games of control, demostrating that he, not the US, owns Congress? That should be a massive cause for concern around the whole world, let alone the poor misguided US voters!

      • MarkF
        May 16, 2012, 9:09 am

        “Israel doesn’t need the money, but it does come in handy”

        Mmm, that seems like a lie. Israel lobbies our government pretty hard for that money.

        So Israel, America’s #1 friend, doesn’t need the money, but takes it anyway. I guess it does come in handy to help offset universal healthcare, something Israelis would surely give up if they had to pay for their own defense, yes?

        “Also, the savings from cutting Israel off from aid would be partly offset by the inevitable extra subsidies that would be paid to American weapons manufacturers to compensate for the drop in sales to Israel.”

        You’re twisting like a pretzel with that one. We could simply use the money to buy the weapons for OURSELVES. You see, it’s better to apply our own tax dollars to purchase goods and services for ourselves, especially since it’s not needed by Israel.

        Reality check – Israel cannot financially survive without us. They need money from a Christian nation to survive. Pretty sad we can’t support a Jewish nation without handouts and welfare from a Christian nation.

      • talknic
        May 18, 2012, 1:34 am

        Fredblogs

        “If the Palestinians don’t want to be used as a test case for iron dome, the solution is simple. Stop firing missiles at Israel.”

        Israel’s illegally acquisition of Palestinian territory began way before any home made rockets were fired at Israel….

        The down fall of colonialist empires is the expense of protecting their ill gotten gains. USSR, Spanish, Brits, Portuguese, Romans …. Kingdom of David

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