The Santa Clara
February 7, 2019
May 14, 1948 marks the founding of the state of Israel and the beginning of the United States’ largest overseas aid mission to date.
This ardent support of Israel is summed up by two astonishing statistics. The Congressional Research Service reports that since 1948, the United States has given over $134 billion in military and economic aid to Israel, and within the next 10 years that support is meant to increase by an additional $38 billion.
After reading these numbers, one may wonder why American taxpayers are funding Israel’s army. Some government officials will say we are supporting a beacon of democracy in a fractured Middle East. Others might say it is in America’s best interest to have a strong Israel as an ally. And still others in the lobbying community will insist that is simply the way it is and how it will continue to be. But I question the validity of all of these answers.
Upon examining some of the ways in which Israel utilizes American aid, the most troubling is Israel’s building of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.
After the 1967 war, Israel built scores of illegal settlements in the West Bank. Peace Now, a watchdog group, reports that there are 238 sanctioned and unsanctioned Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
For the 400,000 Israelis living illegally in the West Bank, thousands of Palestinians were evicted and watched their homes get bulldozed or were killed.
The United Nations calls the settlements “a flagrant violation under international law.”
Equally as shameless is Israel’s indiscriminate killing of Palestinians.
Human rights organization Amnesty International reports that since 1967, Israel has unlawfully killed over 15,000 Palestinian civilians, 2,000 of whom were children. These murders are perpetrated against refugees struggling to survive and are justified under dubious military actions. The most prominent example of this are over one dozen Israeli invasions of the Gaza Strip.
The argument that our aid supports a democratic Israel is unfounded because for one-fifth of those living in Israel, democracy is a far cry from reality. Palestinian refugees living in the Gaza Strip and West Bank are denied the right to vote, to move freely, to assemble or to have many other basic human rights.
In occupied territory, the Israeli military patrols freely and arrests and imprisons Palestinians for months without trial. If this is the democratic system the United States supports, then there are far greater moral and ethical questions that need answering.
Our alliance with Israel has furthered some American interests in the past, but today it hurts America. Israeli influence was instrumental in the decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, which in fact was in America’s best interest.
Additionally, our unquestioning support of Israel and the use of American arms to kill innocent civilians has created countless armed groups united in their hatred of the U.S.
I do not argue for total withdrawal of aid to Israel, but I implore Americans to question how their government spends their tax dollars. Do Americans want their money backing an apartheid state? Do Americans want their money buying weapons used to kill innocent men, women and children? Do Americans want their money used to evict refugees from their homes? I believe a resounding no is the answer to all of these questions.
Now is the moment where we as a nation can be on the right side of history, where we can take issue with Israel’s actions and can pressure our government to change its policy toward Israel.
Julian Dreiman is a sophomore political science and economics major.