Saturday, July 28, 2007

U.S. Taxpayers Paying $30.4 Billion for Bigoted Gated Community: Israel

According to the New York Times (7/28/07 A1), the U.S. will be ratcheting up its aid to Israel to $30.4 billion for military aid alone over the next ten years. Israel already tops the world in its per capita military spending. In fact, Israel's military spending is virtually off the chart, at $1,429.03 per person over 40% higher than the second country on the list, Singapore, which spends $1,009.94. Third on the list is the United States, at $935.64/person annually, a number that is stunning when one considers that, like Iceland, which spends nothing on its military, the U.S. has secure borders. Its only enemies are there as a result of the U.S. military occupation in the Middle East. If the U.S. had not put military bases in Saudi Arabia and supported Israel, Al Qaeda would not be targeting the U.S.

In other words, the high military budgets are creating conflicts for Israel and the U.S., not solving them. Think about the negotiated settlements Israel would have to contemplate without a virtually infinite military budget allowing them to assassinate and imprison Palestinians, and about the absence of a terrorist haven in Iraq if the U.S. had not overthrown the guy maintaining, if not law, at least order in that country, which posed no threat to the U.S. until the U.S. army invaded.

Challenging the idea of checkbook security is that despite (because!) of hundreds of billions spent in Iraq, the area is a disaster zone on numerous dimensions, from the hundreds of thousands of people who have been killed and maimed to the absence of running water. Even in Afghanistan, where the U.S. had a more legitimate claim to invade, military spending is not leading to anyone's safety. One reporter writes for the Boston Globe:
one thing that money can't buy these days in Afghanistan is security. Although the United States, which now has about 35,000 trained troops, members of the Taliban walk the streets openly in four provinces. Resurgent Taliban fighters recently executed a female prison warden and three men accused of being foreign spies.

Instead of giving $30.4 billion to the Israeli military, why not reduce their budget to zero until it becomes a civilized country? Israel shocks the rest of the world's conscience because they have done to Palestinians what the Nazis did to Jews in Europe under the Nuremberg laws: deny previously legal residents citizenship based strictly on criteria of heredity. I, who have spent very little time there (when I was visiting through a program designed to turn teenage Jews into Zionists--the result was my allergy to nationalism), am eligible for citizenship that has been denied to people who were born and raised there. It is appalling that the U.S. government, which claims to support civil rights and equality, would tolerate much less gild the military regime attached to this illiberal, repressive, and decidedly undemocratic country. The image is from last summer, July 28, 2006, when Israel launched a missile landing on an apartment building in Lebanon.

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