Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Jimmy Carter questions military aid to Israel. He's not alone.

Former President Jimmy Carter visited Gaza for the first time since the massive destruction wrought by the December-January Israeli military assault, and was shocked by what he saw. President Carter reacted to conditions in Gaza, stating at one point that "the citizens of Palestine are treated more like animals than like human beings."He also commented on U.S. military aid being used to destroy U.S.-taxpayer funded institutions:
"It’s very distressing to me. I have to hold back tears when I see the deliberate destruction that has been wracked against your people. I come here to the American school, which was educating your children, supported by my own country, and I see that it’s been deliberately destroyed by bombs from F-16s made in my country and delivered to the Israelis."
President Carter isn't the only one who's been noticing the incongruity of $3 billion in military aid to Israel being used to destroy homes and schools and subsidizing the Israeli settlements that are supposedly opposed by the United States. Writing at the Huffington Post, Stephen Zunes describes the connection between U.S. aid to Israel and settlement growth in great detail:
"With the right-wing Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu categorically rejecting the idea of a freeze and with Democratic-controlled Congress ruling out using the billions of dollars of U.S. military aid to Israel as leverage, the situation remains deadlocked....uch direct subsidies for Israeli settlements placed the United States in violation of Article 7 of U.N. Security Council Resolution 465, which prohibits member states from assisting Israel in its colonization drive. So, not only has the United States allowed Israel to violate U.N. Security Council resolutions in continuing to maintain and expand its illegal settlements, Clinton placed the United States itself in violation of a U.N. Security Council mandate as well."
US Campaign Steering Committee member Phyllis Bennis, in a response to Netanyahu's June 14 speech, argues that the "ball remains in Obama's court":
"Without concrete consequences for Tel Aviv's noncompliance —such as withholding all or part of the $3 billion annual U.S. military aid to Israel, or withdrawing the U.S. diplomatic protection that keeps Israel from being held accountable in the UN Security Council — Obama's demands for a settlement freeze or anything else will have little impact."
And Philip Weiss calls U.S. opposition to settlements "toothless" without the cutting or conditioning of military aid to Israel. We agree. That's why we've asked you to help the U.S. government oppose settlements by ending or conditioning military aid to Israel. It's not too late to add your name by clicking here! The letter, which can be read in full here, argues that military aid to Israel should at the very least be conditioned on Israel’s “progress toward achieving the President’s stated goals of ending the siege of the Gaza Strip, ending all settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and engaging in a credible negotiating process that results in a just and lasting peace.” View the full media release about the letter by clicking here.