Monday, August 27, 2018

The High Cost of Israel

Our political leaders keep telling us that we just don’t have the money to fund health care for all Americans, provide college level education for our brightest young students or repair our crumbling infrastructure. We just don’t have the money you understand.

But, we borrow billions of dollars on which we will pay interest, to give to Israel, who in turn “loans” it back to the U.S. on which we pay interest.  No wonder Israel, with a population of less than the state of New Jersey, is among the world’s most affluent nations.

Got an extra $115 billion dollars? That’s what the U.S. has “given” to Israel since 1948. That’s about 3 billion a year, or 8.5 million every day.

But Oh, some will say, the U.S. gives $400 million to the Palestinian Authority, which is true. But most of it is used to rebuild the infrastructure destroyed by Israel.

In addition to cash handouts, there are hidden and indirect cost for our blind support of Israel such as the Arab oil boycott of 1973, imposed in protest of our taking Israel’s side against the Arab attempt to reclaim of territory lost to Israel in 1973.

More difficult to tabulate is the hidden cost of getting involved with Israel in a “war” with Iraq.

Iraq was no threat to the U.S.  We engaged ourselves in that war strictly on behalf of Israel which has cost us not only the respect of the world’s leaders, but the lives of 4,000 U.S. service men and women.  According to economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard professor Linda Bilmes, the cost to the U.S. for the Iraq war is now over $3 trillion dollars.[i] 

Critics point out how much brighter our future would be if we had invested these billions or trillions in veteran rehabilitation and care, education, social security, housing, environmental clean-up and prevention, roads, bridges, health care, and scientific and health research.[ii]

Well, some say, “That’s all water over the dam.” Nothing can be done about it now. Except, the same crowd that rushed us into war with Iraq are now trying to push us into a war with Iran.

It’s crazy. In the first place, Iran offers no threat to America. In the second place, Iran is much stronger then Iraq was. And if we do not want another 9/11, why provoke a nation that has no grip with us?

Let Israel fight its own wars for its own interest.  But for goodness sake, let us not get suckered into fighting another war on Israel’s behalf.

So now we are back to the question of why America continues to pour money into a state that commits daily human rights violations, defies US strategic interest, provokes rage and resentment among billions of people, competes with and crowds out US interest using technology subsidized by US taxpayers, and sells America’s military secrets to its enemies.[iii]

Beats me. Fear of AIPAC is my first guess.

Thomas Are
August 27, 2018

[i] The Staggering Cost of Israel to Americans, The New observer on, May 8, 2013.
[ii] The New Observer, The Staggering Cost of Israel to Americans, The New observer on, May 8, 2013
[iii] The New Observer, The Staggering Cost of Israel to Americans, The New observer on, May 8, 2013

Monday, August 20, 2018

How Long Will Israel Last

How long? Not long. I used to think one of its neighboring states would get enough of Israel’s bullying and invade with force significant to cause a down-fall. I no longer think that will happen, for two reasons.

One – any criticism, charge or attack on Israel brings the mighty America into play. The U.S. has demonstrated total and blind support for Israel for 70 years and there are no signs among our political leaders that any change is forthcoming.

But, there is a more logical reason that no power is going to invade Israel. It will be unnecessary. Israel is crumbling from inside in ways that even the U.S. cannot control.  There are at least eight factions grappling for power.[1]

Ashkenazi elites, mostly from Europe are on top, at least right now. Their power stems from the fact that they control the military. Israel has fought more than a dozen wars with its neighbors since 1948.  Most would not call the 2014 bombardment of  the mostly unarmed people of Gaza a “war.” It was more like a massacre.

As victories go, this was a dubious one. More than 2,100 Palestinians had been killed during seven weeks of fighting, and even Israeli officials admitted that a majority of them were civilians. Tens of thousands of homes were destroyed, 25 per cent of the strip’s population was displaced, and basic infrastructure was shattered. Aid agencies estimated that it will take decades to repair the damage.[2]

Ashkenazis definitely oppose establishing a constitution which might impose limits on its power or insist on equal treatment for all.

Drueze, accounting for about 2% of Israel’s population,   are a unique religious and ethnic group incorporating elements of Islam, Hinduism and Greek philosophy. They fight in the Israeli army with respect and distinction.  But complain that as soon as they take off the uniform, they are treated as second class citizens again. And this was before Israel declared its democracy is for “Jews only.”

Settlers struggle with a different set of feelings. In spite of the Fourth Geneva Convention’s ban on moving civilians into occupied territories they live in the middle of another people’s home lands. Thus, they constantly assert their “right” to be there precisely because they know no such right exist. They cope with this feeling of guilt which hangs on just below the surface by constantly treating Palestinians as a sub-human race, not deserving basic human rights. Their record of strong handed violence is astonishing. Guilt finds mysterious ways to express itself.

Ultra Orthodox are frowned upon by the majority of Israelis who see them as backward, uneducated draft dodgers.  They contribute nothing while living on government stipends. All they do is study and interpret biblical text, proclaiming that working on the sabbath is the worst possible sin. When David Ben-Gurion granted them special exemption from military service, there were only about 400 claiming this privilege. Today, they make up about 12 percent of Israel’s 9 million citizens. Needless to say, there is little love lost between Benjamin Netanyahu and this small but troublesome minority in its midst.

Non-Jewish citizens  add to this mix. Most are angry over the discrimination experienced every day. Carlstrom writes:

Half a century after the occupation, there remains a vast disparity between east and west. Among East Jerusalem residents, 75 percent live below the poverty line, and one third of children do not complete a full twelve years of school…Basic services are scarce, from health care to sewage to post offices. One refugee camp had no running water for three months.[3]

How does Israel justify such abuse? By claiming that GOD wanted Jews to have this land, not them.

Add to this mix, about a million Russian immigrants with their special interest, 130,000 Falasha from Ethiopia and the entire Palestinian nation in the West Bank and Gaza, Israel is standing on very shaky ground. It survives by not having a constitution. All it can see now is that “might makes right”. But, for how long?  How long can Ashkenazi control all these factions by might (the army) alone?  How long? Not long.

Thomas Are
August 20, 2018

[1] - Most of this information I gleaned from a book, Gregg Carlstrom,  How Long Will Israel Survive, the Threat from Within. (Oxford University Press, 2017) Great book, only he takes 260 pages to make his case. I try to do it in one.
[2] Carlstrom,  page 59.
[3] Carlstrom, page 40.