Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, February 2012
The 2013 US Budget:
Difficult Cuts for Americans, Gravy for Israel
By Josh Ruebner
Redress, Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, February 27, 2011
As part of its budget request, the White House released a 205-page document detailing the cuts, consolidations and savings the Obama administration is proposing. These proposed cuts include 5 million dollars to the US Department of Agriculture to analyse food-borne pathogens, potentially making the US food supply even less safe than it already is after 30 people died last year as a result of eating listeria-infected cantaloupe; a 359-million-dollar cut to the Environmental Protection Agency to provide grants to states for water infrastructure projects when an estimated 1.7 million Americans shockingly lack access to basic water and sanitation services, according to the Water Infrastructure Network; and a whopping 360-billion-dollar cut over 10 years in Medicare, Medicaid and other health programmes, even though the World Health Organization rates the US health system as only 37th globally in health care performance.
Given these “difficult cuts” to the budget, it is easy to agree with
Israeli journalist Ran Dagoni, who
wrote last year in the Israeli business newspaper Globes,
that the “time has come to bid goodbye to the military aid that the US
extends to Israel, that generous package that enables the Israeli taxpayer
to share the cost of procuring equipment for the IDF [Israel Defense
Forces] with the US taxpayer”. After all, Israel – the 28th wealthiest
country in the world in 2011, with a per capita gross domestic product
greater than South Korea and Saudi Arabia, according to the
International Monetary Fund – hardly needs US charity more than we need
safe food, clean water and health care.
Were Israel using these weapons for legitimate purposes and to further US foreign policy objectives, then perhaps a persuasive case could be constructed for why the United States does not need to make any budgetary “tough choices” when it comes to Israel. However, Israel misuses US weapons, in violation of US laws, to commit grave and systematic human rights abuses against Palestinians in furtherance of its 44-year military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, and its illegal colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. From 2000 to 2009, the United States provided Israel with more than 24 billion dollars of military aid and delivered more than 670 million weapons, rounds of ammunition, and related military equipment. During that same period, according to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, Israel killed at least 2,969 Palestinians “who did not take part in the hostilities and were killed by Israeli security forces (not including the objects of targeted killings)."
Israel often kills Palestinians with these same US weapons provided at
taxpayer expense. Such was likely the case last December when an Israeli
soldier fired a
high-velocity tear gas canister at 28-year-old Mustafa Tamimi, a
resident of the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, who was protesting
against Israeli settlers seizing land on which his village’s natural
spring is located. The canister, fired from an Israeli armoured vehicle,
struck the activist in the face. He died the next day from his wounds.
Strong evidence exists that the tear gas canister that killed Mustafa was
made by Combined
Systems, Inc. of Jamestown, Pennsylvania, and likely could have been
one of more than 595,000 tear gas canisters and other “riot control”
equipment, valued at more than 20.5 million dollars, which were funded by
US taxpayers and given to the Israeli military between 2000 and 2009.
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.
Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent Al-Jazeerah & ccun.org.
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