Why we urge the U.S. government to suspend military aid to Israel until it ends its 37-year occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem.
U.S. military aid to Israel has a dramatic effect on Israel's policies towards the Palestinians. It has increasingly been used not to pay for defense but to finance the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. It keeps Israel from facing the difficult but necessary challenges of building a more democratic society, and encourages solving deep-rooted problems by military rather than peaceful and more effective means.
The U.S. funding that pays for the guns and ammunition, F-16 bombers, and Apache helicopters that are used to carry out Israel's occupation of Palestinian land and people serves neither Israelis, Palestinians, nor Americans.
In short, Israel cannot build a society based on the principles of democracy, human rights, and compliance with international law while brutally occupying another people and their land. The United States is currently paying for that occupation with its annual aid. That's why Jewish Voice for Peace urges the U.S. government to suspend military aid to Israel until Israel ends its 37-year occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem.
They also provide a discussion of the "top five things you should know about U.S. military aid to Israel, including:
1. Harm to Palestinian civilians
A large part of U.S. military aid to Israel goes to purchase tanks, helicopter gunships, machine guns, and bullets that are used against Palestinian civilians. Our tax dollars have been used to destroy homes; uproot trees and crops; seize land from its lawful owners; close all access to food, medicine, and the outside world for small towns in the West Bank and Gaza; staff checkpoints that cut off ambulances and other civilian traffic; and carry out assassinations that kill children in addition to summarily executing political leaders.
2. Harm to Israelis
In addition to the devastation it visits on Palestinians, the occupation threatens the democratic values Israel seeks to uphold. Massive military aid promotes militarism, which has led to a reliance on military, rather than diplomatic means to work for a solution to this ongoing conflict. More and more Israelis question the moral decay that accompanies the criminal actions of the military and the dehumanization of the Palestinian people. A peace rally at the height of Israel?s reoccupation of the main towns of the West Bank in April 2002 drew 15,000 protestors in Tel Aviv. Currently nearly 1,200 Israeli army reservists refuse to serve in the Occupied Territories because the occupation corrupts Israeli society and endangers, rather than enhances, the security of Israelis.
For those who may still question my comment yesterday about the declining morality of Israeli society, read this post, which discusses and reprints an article by Zeev Sternhell, an Israeli professor, authority on fascism, and Holocaust survivor. Sternhell asserts that "the political reality and moral climate in Israel are beginning to be far too reminiscent of Europe between the two World Wars."
And, on the topic of what friendship really means, consider the following by Akiva Eldar in Haaretz:
The peace circus roving the world's capitals would not have any success without the cooperation of the acrobats in Ramallah, headed by Mahmoud Abbas. So long as the Palestinian Authority exists, Israel has a partner in the peace dance. One step forward, two backward, until Hamas or demography wins in the end. Meanwhile, the citizens of Europe pay the teachers' salaries in the West Bank, instead of the military government, and the Japanese pay to rebuild public buildings Israel bombed in the Gaza Strip.
If the U. S. is serious about its declarations of friendship with Israel and its commitment to ending the conflict, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton needs to pass up on some of the makeup. Her declaration that Israel is the one who must decide whether it supports a two-state solution is obviously deceptive. This principle has not been an Israeli matter, or even a regional one, for some time now.