Ralph Nader: Israel & Aid

Posted by Ralph Nader at Nader.org:

On July 10, 1996, at a Joint Session of the United States Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a standing ovation for these words: “With America’s help, Israel has grown to be a powerful, modern state. …But I believe there can be no greater tribute to America’s long-standing economic aid to Israel than for us to be able to say: we are going to achieve economic independence. We are going to do it. In the next four years, we will begin the long-term process of gradually reducing the level of your generous economic assistance to Israel.”

Since 1996, the American taxpayers are still sending Israel $3 billion a year and providing assorted loan guarantees, waivers, rich technology transfers and other indirect assistance. Before George W. Bush left office a memorandum of understanding between the U.S. and Israel stipulated an assistance package of $30 billion over the next ten years to be transferred in a lump sum at the beginning of every fiscal year. Israel’s wars and colonies still receive U.S. taxpayer monies.

What happened to Mr. Netanyahu’s solemn pledge to the Congress? The short answer is that Congress never called in the pledge.

In the intervening years, Israel has become an economic, technological and military juggernaut. Its GDP is larger than Egypt’s even though Israel’s population is less than one tenth that of the Arab world’s most populous nation. The second largest number of listings on America’s NASDAQ Exchange after U.S. companies are from Israel, exceeding listings of Japan, Korea, China and India combined. Its venture capital investments exceed those in the U.S., Europe and China on a per capita basis.

Israel is arguably the fifth most powerful military force in the world, and Israel’s claims on the U.S.’s latest weapon systems and research/development breakthroughs are unsurpassed. This combination has helped to make Israel a major arms exporter.

The Israeli “economic miracle” and technological innovations have spawned articles and a best-selling book in recent months. The country’s average GDP growth rate has exceeded the average rate of most western countries over the past five years. Israel provides universal health insurance, unlike the situation in the U.S., which raises the question of who should be aiding whom?

Keep in mind, the U.S. economy is mired in a recession, with large rates of growing poverty, unemployment, consumer debt and state and federal deficits. In some states, public schools are shutting, public health services are being slashed, and universities are increasing tuition while also cutting programs. Even state government buildings are being sold off.

Under U.S. law, military sales to Israel cannot be used for offensive purposes, only for “legitimate self-defense.” Nonetheless, there have been numerous violations of the Arms Export Control Act by Israel. Even the indifferent State Department has found, from time to time, that munitions such as cluster bombs were “likely violations.”

Violations would lead to a cut-off in aid but with the completely pro-Israel climate in Washington, the White House has never allowed such findings to be definitive.

The same indifference applies to violations of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act that prohibits aid to countries engaging in consistent international human rights violations. These include the occupation, colonization, blockades and military assaults on civilians in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza, regularly documented by the highly regarded Israeli human rights group B’Tselem as well as by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

This week, Prime Minister Netanyahu visits President Barack Obama after the recent Israeli announcement of 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem made while Vice President Joe Biden was visiting that country.

The affront infuriated New York Times columnist, Tom Friedman, who wrote that Mr. Biden should have packed his bags and flown away leaving behind a scribbled note saying “You think you can embarrass your only true ally in the world, to satisfy some domestic political need, with no consequences? You have lost total contact with reality.”

Friedman, a former Times Middle East correspondent, concluded his rebuke by writing: “Palestinian leaders Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad are as genuine and serious about working toward a solution as any Israel can hope to find.”

But until a few days ago, the U.S. government had no levers over the Israeli government. Cutting off aid isn’t even whispered in the halls of Congress. Raising the issue would further galvanize Israel’s allies, including AIPAC.

The only lever left for the U.S. suddenly erupted into the public media a few days ago. General David Petraeus told the Senate that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has foreign policy and national security ramifications for the United States.

He said that “The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the Area of Responsibility…Meanwhile, Al-Qaeda and other military groups exploit that anger to mobilize support.”

A few days earlier, Vice President Joe Biden told Prime Minister Netanyahu in Israel that “what you’re doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

What Obama’s people are publically starting to say is that regional peace is about U.S. vital interests in that large part of the Middle East and, ultimately, the safety of American soldiers and personnel.

As one retired diplomat commented “This could be a game-changer.”

10 thoughts on “Ralph Nader: Israel & Aid

  1. Green Party fan

    Thanks for the editorial from the Green Party’s Ralph Nader..

    Green Party Watch reports tonight…

    Morgan Moss Jr. lost race for Rayville, Louisiana Mayor
    April 1st, 2010 by Ronald Hardy · No Comments
    Morgan Moss Jr., Co-Chair of the Green Party Black Caucus, lost his race for Mayor of Rayville, LA on March 27.

    “Harry “Kayo” Lewis, a Democrat, won the seat with 673 votes, or 63 percent. Morgan Moss Jr., a Green party candidate, had 302 votes for 28 percent, while Democrat Anthony Nash garnered 87 votes for 8 percent.”

    You can read more about Moss here at New Menu.

  2. Green Party fan

    Green Party Watch also reports tonight

    Laurel Lambert Schmidt – Green Party

    On Green Party Congressional candidate..

    Green Party’s Laurel Lambert Schmidt’s .

    Illinois Green Party challenger knocks Lipinski’s health care vote
    April 1st, 2010 by Dave Schwab

    Laurel Lambert Schmidt Green Party

    Bob Skolnik has an article at the Riverside Brookfield Landmark about Green Party candidate Laurel Lambert Schmidt’s challenge to Dan Lipinski, the only Illinois Democrat to vote against the recent health care bill. In a press release, Schmidt outlined major problems with the bill, but objected to Lipinski’s decision to vote against the bill out of opposition to womens’ reproductive rights.

    “Dan Lipinski has put his personal religious values before the well-being of millions of Americans who just might be able to get health care coverage when before they could not,” Lambert Schmidt said.

    Lipinski’s vote against the health care bill has provided a welcome boost for her campaign, Lambert Schmidt says.

    More on Green Party candidate Laurel Lambert Schmidt here


  3. More Libertarian Than Root

    I’m impressed by how passionately and convincingly Ralph Nader communicates the libertarian view on Israel.

    By contrast, Root is loud and passionate when discussing taxes, or bashing Obama, but Root avoids criticizing Israel.

    At best, Aaron Starr may be able to point to some obscure passage buried in a Root interview or his book, in which Root mentions aid to Israel. And even then, it might be counterbalanced by the false claim that the U.S. gives as much aid to “Israel’s enemies.”

    Would that Root were as libertarian as Ralph Nader on this hot button issue.

  4. paulie Post author

    Comment 1

    You know damn well he is not the Green Party’s Nader. Nader is a lifelong independent and never joined the GP. In the last two presidential elections the Greens ran separate candidates against him while he ran as an independent.

    Please stop repeating this falsehood.

  5. Michael Cavlan RN


    Thank you for pointing out the lies that Green Party Fan keeps on repeating about Nader and bringing him (GP Fan) to task on those lies.

    You are 100% correct about Nader and the Green Party

  6. Melty

    Nader’s a hero for this, and so is everybody in the States who’s got the guts to talk straight on Israel. No serious discussion on what is to be done for the US to act in its own national interests is complete without bringing this up.

  7. Melty

    Cutting off aid to all foreign countries should be one of the LP’s main talking points.

  8. Susan

    Thanks for pointing out the truth. It’s really refreshing. I haven’t forgotten the USS Liberty either. We have a House of Cowards, not representatives.

  9. And In California .......... Lake

    Susan // Apr 28, 2010:
    “……… I haven’t forgotten the USS Liberty either.”

    and plz feel free to remind Bruce Cohen [Lib] John Blare [reform] Brian Holtz [Lib] John Dennis Coffey [reform] John Bambey [reform] and or Valli Sharpe Geisler [reform]!

    Does Israel have a right to exist? Sure!

    Does Israel have a right to promote it’s own agenda and perspective? Sure!

    Should Israel take $3B per year from American tax payers to be the Mid East bully boy …….

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