Thursday, January 5, 2012

Plans Crystallize for Largest-Ever U.S.-Israel Military Exercise

Last year we reported on emerging plans for "Operation Austere Challenge," the largest-ever joint U.S.-Israeli military exercise, planned for May 2012. As it turns out, the planning for the mission is now in its final stages, according to the Jerusalem Post.  Last month, Lt.-Gen. Frank Gorenc, commander of the U.S. 3rd Air Force, stationed in Germany, visited Israel last month to hammer out the remaining logistics of a training exercise that is expected to include thousands of U.S. troops.

According to the Jerusalem Post article, the exercises "will include the establishment of US command posts in Israel and IDF command posts at EUCOM headquarters in Germany – with the ultimate goal of establishing joint task forces in the event of a large-scale conflict in the Middle East."

"Austere Challenge" is another in a long series of events underscoring the extent to which the Obama Administration has jacked up U.S. military support to Israel.  Under President Obama, U.S. military aid to Israel has reached unprecedented heights ($3.075 billion in the recently completed 2012 budget).  Separate Pentagon funding for the research and development of ostensibly joint U.S.-Israeli anti-missile programs (though deployed by and exclusively benefiting Israel) now account for hundreds of millions of additional dollars each year. And Obama has shipped to Israel weapons systems that even his predecessor, George Bush, refused to export.

Clearly, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's charge of Obama "throwing Israel under the bus" is patently absurd, as U.S.-Israel military relations have soared to unprecedented levels of collaboration under his watch.

All the more reason why we need to redouble our efforts in 2012 to end U.S. military aid to Israel and other forms of U.S. military and diplomatic support of Israeli occupation and apartheid against the Palestinian people.

Check out some of our new resources and initiatives and help us accomplish this goal!

We've got new posters and stickers to add to the organizing packets we send out to volunteers to educate and mobilize people to end U.S. military aid to Israel.  Join our more than 2,000 organizers in more than 930 cities in getting all the resources you'll need to organize in your community by signing up here.

Also, check out our newly redesigned and interactive map at http://www.aidtoisrael.org to find out how much money your state, Congressional district, city, and county are giving in weapons to Israel and what that money could fund instead for unmet community needs.  Our new map makes it easier for you to find all the data you're looking for on one page.

Finally, we'll be working with local groups across the country in 2012 to launch organizing campaigns to get city councils to pass resolutions to end U.S. military aid to Israel and redirect the money to unmet community needs.  Find out more about this initiative on our website http://www.fundcommunityneeds.org