Israel Is a Very Costly Ally
by Charley Reese
Some people have asked for Web sites about the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. I would suggest you start with PalestineChronicle.com. You will find extensive coverage of the issue, as well as links to other sites.
There are several reasons why all Americans should be interested in this issue. First, it is embarrassing that the government of the world's so-called last remaining superpower plays the role of the tail that is wagged by Israel, a nation about the size of New Jersey. Israel's influence in both the executive and legislative branches of our government is so pervasive that Israeli politicians openly boast about it. A few years ago when Egypt threatened not to renew the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty unless Israel signed it, the Israelis told the Egyptians that if they didn't shut up about the issue, their American aid would be cut off.
Now, please note: This is a foreign country telling another foreign country that it, not the United States, has the final say over American aid.
Of course, it is also embarrassing (because of our silence) that the only nuclear power in the Middle East is Israel. The only country in the Middle East that refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is Israel.
The only country in the Middle East that refuses to allow international inspection of its nuclear facilities is Israel. Yet all we hear from Washington is criticism of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussain's weapons of mass destruction. What weapons? He didn't use any in the Gulf war. Why is there never any criticism of Israel's weapons of mass destruction, which actually exist?
And now we are getting down to the areas where the Middle East actually affects Americans. Israel, armed to the teeth thanks to American taxpayers, continues to occupy Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese lands. It, and it alone, is a threat to peace in that region, and regional war would inevitably affect America's real interest.
Second, Israel is the most expensive ally in the history of the human race. Depending on whose numbers you use, American aid to Israel has totaled $81 billion to $90 billion. There are so many monetary favors tucked away in the Defense Department budget that an accurate number is hard to come by. The $81 billion figure is the U.S. government's.
I like the way the British express big numbers. Instead of saying 90 billion, they say 90 thousand millions. That gives you a better idea of how much is involved. Let's suppose we could build a new public school for $1 million. With the money that has gone to Israel, we could have built 90,000 brand-new public schools or restored 90,000 public waterworks or bridges or any number of other infrastructure needs.
There is nothing in the Constitution that authorizes Congress to tax the labor of the American people and hand over the proceeds to a foreign government any foreign government, much less one that has blown up our diplomatic facilities in Egypt and attacked one of our Navy ships in international waters. An ally like that ought to come a heck of a lot cheaper than Israel.
Finally, our support of Israel's aggression and cruel treatment of the Palestinians is alienating not only the Arab world but the entire Muslim world. This hatred will eventually be expressed in the form of terrorism directed at Americans and at American interests. Terrorism is the poor man's way of waging war.
America's blind support of Israel's gross violations of human rights and international law will not only cost billions of tax dollars but eventually American lives as well. No lobby for any foreign country should be allowed to jeopardize American interests and American lives just to serve the selfish interests of a foreign power. America's government has only one justification for existence to protect the lives and interests of Americans. It's time to start asking Americans, including our elected officials: Which country are you loyal to?
Charley Reese is a retired columnist for the Orlando Sentinel.
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