Last week, I explained some of the mechanics of U.S. aid to Israel and why a president would find it difficult to use aid as leverage against Israel. I also explained why the traditional theoretical targets of leveraging aid—settlements and a two-state solution—were no longer relevant and their futility meant supporters of the Israeli right would be delighted to see those targets in the center of a fierce debate over U.S. aid.
Those ideas raised other questions. While my original focus was U.S. military aid to Israel, what about loan guarantees? Might that be a more fruitful path to pursue? Does a president’s relative inability to use military aid as leverage mean it is a dead issue, or might there be other avenues? Is it pointless to even discuss U.S. military aid to Israel? These are some of the questions raised in response to my article, and they lead to some important answers.
Withholding loan guarantees has worked in the past. Couldn’t it work again? Read more at LobeLog
Not so long ago, a presidential candidate showing any hint that she would consider reducing aid to Israel was considered political suicide. Those days are over. This week, both Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg said they would consider using aid to Israel as leverage to get Israel to stop building settlements. The response has been almost total silence from Israel’s supporters in the United States.
The lack of response is somewhat surprising. While polls indicate that Americans support the idea that Israel’s disregard for Palestinian rights should impact the aid it gets from the United States, the numbers don’t indicate a sea change in public opinion. Many polls over the years reflected the willingness of the American public to use aid to press Israel to make concessions it did not want to make.
I suspect the reason there has been so little reaction to Warren’s and Buttigieg’s statements is indifference. It isn’t that pro-Israel groups which see any gains for Palestinian rights as a dangerous loss for Israel don’t care if the U.S. cuts aid to Israel. Rather, they see no danger of it happening any time soon, regardless of the outcome of the 2020 election. In many ways, seeing the United States continuing to quibble over settlement expansion and grasping on to an increasingly ephemeral two-state solution serves right-wing Israeli interests very well. Read more at LobeLog
On Wednesday Israel and the United States finally signed a new Memorandum of Understanding(MOU), committing the United States to provide Israel with $38 billion in military aid over the ten years spanning 2019-2028. The sum includes $5 billion for missile defense, which Israel had previously had to lobby Congress for each year for a $200 million per year increase in basic aid. The MOU makes some changes to the system by which the US provides aid to Israel, and was also unusually difficult to negotiate. Here are five takeaways: Read more at Facts On The Ground, An FMEP Blog
During the summertime war in Gaza, the two most progressive members of the US Senate stirred up controversy among their backers with expressions of uncritical support for Israel. At a town hall meeting, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the lone Senate independent, responded to a questioner that Israel had “overreacted” with its 52-day bombardment and ground incursion, but then proceeded to justify Israel’s actions with the usual pro-Israel talking points about “missiles fired from populated areas” and “sophisticated tunnels.” An audience member began to shout objections, to which Sanders said, “Shut up.”
Elizabeth Warren, the Democrat from Massachusetts, went further in her defense of Israel at a meeting with constituents on Cape Cod. She said it was right for the United States to send $225 million in aid to Israel, a “democracy controlled by the rule of law,” as the bombing continued. She ventured no criticism at all of the extensive damage to civilian lives and livelihoods in Gaza. When another constituent suggested that future US aid be conditioned on Israel halting settlement construction in the West Bank, Warren replied, “I think there’s a question of whether we should go that far.” Read more at the Middle East Research and Information Project
Israel, AIPAC and their fellow travelers are already hard at work on the next 10-year aid package, which would start in 2017. Aid to Israel is sacrosanct in Washington, but the request for an upgrade faces some new challenges this time. But AIPAC has a powerful tool in a 2008 law passed by Congress. I explore at Inter Press Service.
Many of you who follow me here know that I have been working for several years as writer, Associate Editor and, most recently, Publisher of Souciant, an innovative and groundbreaking online magazine. Today, we launched a new feature, a blog which will feature shorter articles on a variety of topics, much like the diverse content of Souciant.
My first blog post is up there, Israel’s New Frenemies. In it, I take a look at some of the implications of the shifts taking place in the region and what they mean for Israel. Check it out, and keep following us. Oh, and make sure you tell your friends about Souciant.
ABC News has reported on the use of US-made tear gas against protesters in Egypt. Great, it is important for Americans to know the use our aid to Egypt has been put to.
But it’s worth asking where ABC was when Israel has injured unarmed civilians with similar tear gas cannisters. Worse, in the case of Israel people have been killed because Israeli soldiers or border patrolmen have fired the cannisters directly at protesters, which is a violation of both IDF rules of engagement and of the proper procedures specified by manufacturers for thee use of these cannisters.
In April, 2009, Bassam Abu Rahmeh (whose sister, Jawaher recently died after inhaling tear gas at a protest) was killed under those circumstances. Another incident where American citizen Tristan Anderson was hit in the head and spent many months in a coma by a tear gas cannister was also scantily reported in the US and never investigated by any American agency.
Combined Tactical Systems, Inc. makes these tear gas cannisters. It’s an American corporation, but is obviously deeply involved with Israel. How can we know that? Well, this picture sure tells us something:
From Mondoweiss, American and Israeli flags flying outside CTS
I’m not knocking ABC; covering the use of the gas in Egypt is important. But isn’t it also time that we ask how our money is being used in Israel too? I support Israeli security and the US helping in this regard. But we shouldn’t be allowing our help to be perverted into use for violations of human rights. Ask the Abu Rahmehs and Tristan Anderson if that’s happening.