For decades the Israel Lobby, the most powerful special interest on behalf of a foreign nation in the United States, has dominated U.S. policy-making in the Middle East.
President, Council for the National Interest
As a result, American policies under both Republican and Democratic administrations have been created that do not represent American strategic, economic, or political interests. They are also contrary to the deepest principles of our founders and our citizenry.
U.S. Aid to Israel: Funding our Decline
On April 1st I participated in a debate in San Francisco that raised the question of US aid to Israel.
It was highly appropriate that this debate was held two weeks before tax day, since in Israel’s sixty years of existence, it has received more US tax money than any other nation on earth.
During periods of recession, when Americans are thrown out of work, homes are repossessed, school budgets cut and businesses fail, Congress continues to give Israel massive amounts of our tax money; currently, about 7 million dollars per day.
On top of this, Egypt and Jordan receive large sums of money (per capita about 1/20th of what Israel receives) to buy their cooperation with Israel; and Palestinians also receive our tax money (about 1/23rd of that to Israel), to repair infrastructure that Israeli forces have destroyed, to fund humanitarian projects required due to the destruction wrought by Israel’s military, and to convince Palestinian officials to take actions beneficial to Israel. These sums should also be included in expenditures on behalf of Israel.
When all are added together, it turns out that for many years over half of all US tax money abroad has been expended to benefit a country the size of New Jersey.
It is certainly time to begin debating this disbursement of our hard-earned money. It is quite possible that we have better uses for it.
To decide whether the US should continue military aid to any nation, it is essential to examine the nature and history of the recipient nation, how it has used our military aid in the past, whether these uses are in accord with our values, and whether they benefit the American taxpayers who are putting up the money.
1. What is the history and nature of Israel?
Describing Israel is always difficult. One can either stay within the mainstream paradigm, or tell the truth. I will opt for the truth.
Drawing on scores of books by diverse authors, the facts are quite clear: Israel was created through one of the most massive, ruthless, and persistent ethnic cleansing operations of modern history. In 1947-49 about three-quarters of a million Muslims and Christians, who had originally made up 95 percent of the population living in the area that Zionists wanted for a Jewish state, were brutally forced off their ancestral land. There were 33 massacres, over 500 villages were completely destroyed, and an effort was made to erase all vestiges of Palestinian history and culture.
The fact is that Israel’s core identity is based on ethnic and religious discrimination by a colonial, immigrant group; and maintaining this exclusionist identity has required continued violence against those it has dispossessed, and others who have given them refuge.
2. How has Israel used our military aid in the past?
In all of its wars except one, Israel has attacked first.
In violation of the Arms Export Control Act, which requires that US weapons only be used in “legitimate self defense,” Israel used American equipment during its two invasions of Lebanon, killing 17,000 the first time and 1,000 more recently, the vast majority civilians. It used American-made cluster bombs in both invasions, again in defiance of US laws, causing the “most hideous injuries” one American physician said she had ever seen, and which, in one day in 1982 alone, resulted in the amputation of over 1,000 mangled limbs.
It has used US military aid to continue and expand its illegal confiscation of land in the West Bank and Golan Heights, and has used American F-16s and Apache Helicopters against largely unarmed civilian populations.
According to Defence for Children International, Israel has “engaged in gross violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.” Between 1967 and 2003, Israel destroyed more than 10,000 homes, and such destruction continues today. A coalition of UK human rights groups recently issued a report stating that Israel’s blockade of Gaza is collective punishment of 1.5 million people, warning: “Unless the blockade ends now, it will be impossible to pull Gaza back from the brink of this disaster and any hopes for peace in the region will be dashed.”
In addition, Israel uses US military aid to fund an Israeli arms industry that competes with US companies. According to a report commissioned by the US Army War College, “Israel uses roughly 40 percent of its … military aid, ostensibly earmarked for purchase of US weapons, to buy Israeli-made hardware. It also has won the right to require the Defense Department or US defense contractors to buy Israeli-made equipment or subsystems, paying 50 to 60 cents on every defense dollar the US gives to Israel.”
Israel has used US aid to kill and injure nonviolent Palestinian, American and international activists, as well as American servicemen. Israeli soldiers in an American-made Caterpillar bulldozer crushed to death 23-year-old Rachel Corrie; an Israeli sniper shot 21-year-old Tom Hurndall in the head; Israeli soldiers shot 26-year-old Brian Avery in the face. In 1967 Israel used US-financed French aircraft to attack a US Navy ship, killing 34 American servicemen and injuring 174.
Israel has used US aid to imprison without trial thousands of Palestinians and others, and according to reports by the London Times and Amnesty International, Israel consistently tortures prisoners; including, according to Foreign Service Journal, American citizens.
3. Are these uses in accord with our national and personal values?
Not in my view.
4. Do these uses of US aid benefit American taxpayers?
While some Israeli actions have served US interests, the balance sheet is clear: Israel’s use of American aid consistently damages the United States, harms our economy, and endangers Americans.
In fact, this extremely negative outcome was so predictable that even before Israel’s creation virtually all State Department and Pentagon experts advocated forcefully against supporting the creation of a Zionist state in the Middle East. President Harry Truman’s reply: “I am sorry gentlemen, but I have to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism. I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents.”
Through the years, as noted above, our aid to Israel has not resulted in a reliable ally.
In 1954 Israel tried to bomb American targets in Egypt, intending to pin this on Muslims.
In 1963 Senator William Fulbright discovered that Israel was using a series of covert operations to funnel our money to pro-Israel groups in the US, which then used these funds in media campaigns and lobbying to procure even more money from American taxpayers.
In 1967 Israeli forces unleashed a two-hour air and sea attack against the USS Liberty, causing 200 casualties. While Israel partisans claim that this was done in error, this claim is belied by extensive eyewitness evidence and by an independent commission reporting on Capitol Hill in 2003 chaired by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Thomas Moorer.
In 1973 Israel used the largest airlift of US materiel in history to defeat Arab forces attempting to regain their own land, triggering the Arab oil embargo that sent the US into a recession that cost thousands of Americans their jobs.
During its 1980s Lebanon invasion, Israeli troops engaged in a systematic pattern of harassment of US forces brought in as peacekeepers that created, according to Commandant of Marines Gen. R. H Barrow, “life-threatening situations, replete with verbal degradation of the officers, their uniform and country.”
Through the years, Israel has regularly spied on the US. According to the Government Accounting Office, Israel “conducts the most aggressive espionage operations against the United States of any ally.” Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger said of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard: “It is difficult for me… to conceive of greater harm done to national security,” And the Pollard case was just the tip of a very large iceberg; the most recent operation coming to light involves two senior officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Israel’s powerful American lobbying organization.
Bad as the above may appear, it pales next to the indirect damage to Americans caused by our aid to Israel. American funding of Israel’s egregious violations of Palestinian human rights is consistently listed as the number one cause of hostility to Americans.
While American media regularly cover up Israeli actions, those of us who have visited the region first-hand witness a level of US-funded Israeli cruelty that makes us weep for our victims and fear for our country. While most Americans are uninformed on how Israel uses our money, people throughout the world are deeply aware that it is Americans who are funding Israeli crimes.
The 9/11 Commission notes that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s “…animus towards the United States stemmed…from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.” The Economist reports that “… the notion of payback for injustices suffered by the Palestinians is perhaps the most powerfully recurrent theme in bin Laden’s speeches.”
The Bottom Line
In sum, US aid to Israel has destabilized the Middle East; propped up a national system based on ethnic and religious discrimination; enabled unchecked aggression that has, on occasion, been turned against Americans themselves; funded arms industries that compete with American companies; supported a pattern of brutal dispossession that has created hatred of the US; and resulted in continuing conflict that last year took the lives of 384 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, and that in the past seven and a half years has cost the lives of more than 982 Palestinian children and 119 Israeli children.
By providing massive funding to Israel, no matter what it does, American aid is empowering Israeli supremacists who believe in a never-ending campaign of ethnic cleansing; while disempowering Israelis who recognize that policies of morality, justice, and rationality are the only road to peace.
It is time to end our aid.
European Documentary on the Israel Lobby:
Stealing Success Tel Aviv Style
by Philip Giraldi, Executive Director, Council for the National Interest
A curious op-ed “The Tel Aviv Cluster” by the reliably neoconnish David Brooks appeared in the New York Times on January 12th. Brooks enthused over the prowess of Israel’s high tech businesses, attributing their success in large part to Jewish exceptionalism and genius, which must have provided the ultimate feel good moment for Brooks, who is himself Jewish.
That Israel has a booming technology sector is undeniably true, but Brooks failed to mention other contributing factors such as the $101 billion dollars in US economic and military aid over the course of more than four decades, which does not include the additional $30 billion recently approved by President Barack Obama.
American assistance has financed and fueled Israel’s business growth while the open access and even “preferential treatment” afforded to Israeli exporters through the Israel Free Trade Implementation Act of 1985 has provided Israelis with the enormous US market to sell their products and services. By act of Congress, Israeli businesses can even bid on most American Federal and State government contracts just as if they were US companies.
Brooks was characteristically undisturbed by the fact that American taxpayer subsidized development of Israeli enterprises combined with the free access to the US economy and government contracts eliminates jobs and damages competing companies on this side of the Atlantic.
And there is another aspect of Israel’s growing high tech sector that he understandably chose to ignore because it is extremely sleazy. That is the significant advantage that Israel has gained by systematically stealing American technology with both military and civilian applications. The US developed technology is then reverse engineered and used by the Israelis to support their own exports with considerably reduced research and development costs, giving them a huge advantage against American companies.
Sometimes, when the technology is military in nature and winds up in the hands of a US adversary, the consequences can be serious. Israel has sold advanced weapons systems to China that are believed to incorporate technology developed by American companies, including the Python-3 air-to-air missile and the Delilah cruise missile. There is evidence that Israel has also stolen Patriot missile avionics to incorporate into its own Arrow system and that it used US technology obtained in its Lavi fighter development program, which was funded by the US taxpayer to the tune of $1.5 billion, to help the Chinese develop their own J-10 fighter.
The reality of Israeli spying is indisputable. Israel always features prominently in the annual FBI report called “Foreign Economic Collection and Industrial Espionage.” The 2005 report states, “Israel has an active program to gather proprietary information within the United States. These collection activities are primarily directed at obtaining information on military systems and advanced computing applications that can be used in Israel’s sizable armaments industry.” It adds that Israel recruits spies, uses electronic methods, and carries out computer intrusion to gain the information. The 2005 report concluded that the thefts eroded US military advantage, enabling foreign powers to obtain expensive technologies that had taken years to develop.
A 1996 Defense Investigative Service report noted that Israel has great success stealing technology by exploiting the numerous co-production projects that it has with the Pentagon. “Placing Israeli nationals in key industries …is a technique utilized with great success.” A General Accounting Office (GAO) examination of espionage directed against American defense and security industries described how Israeli citizens residing in the US had stolen sensitive technology to manufacture artillery gun tubes, obtained classified plans for a reconnaissance system, and passed sensitive aerospace designs to unauthorized users.
An Israeli company was caught monitoring a Department of Defense telecommunications system to obtain classified information, while other Israeli entities targeted avionics, missile telemetry, aircraft communications, software systems, and advanced materials and coatings used in missile re-entry.
The GAO concluded that Israel “conducts the most aggressive espionage operation against the United States of any US ally.” In June 2006, a Pentagon administrative judge overruled an appeal by an Israeli who had been denied a security clearance, stating, “The Israeli government is actively engaged in military and industrial espionage in the United States. An Israeli citizen working in the US who has access to proprietary information is likely to be a target of such espionage.”
More recently, FBI counter intelligence officer John Cole has reported how many cases of Israeli espionage are dropped under orders from the Justice Department. He provides a “conservative estimate” of 125 worthwhile investigations into Israeli espionage involving both American citizens and Israelis that were stopped due to political pressure from above.
Two recent stories that have been reported in the Israeli media but are strangely absent from the news on this side of the Atlantic demonstrate exactly what is going on and what is at stake.
The first story confirms that Israeli efforts to obtain US technology are ongoing. Stewart David Nozette, a US government scientist who was arrested on October 19, 2009 in an FBI sting operation after offering to spy for Israel has been waiting in jail to go to trial on espionage charges. New documents in the case were presented in the Federal court in Washington last week. The documents confirm that Nozette was a paid consultant for Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) and it is believed that he passed to them classified material in return for an estimated $225,000 in consulting fees. Examination of his computer by the FBI revealed that he was planning a “penetration of NASA” the US space agency and that he was also trying to crack into other scientists’ computers to obtain additional classified material. Other documents demonstrate that he was cooperating with two Israeli scientists who were administrators with IAI, Yossi Weiss and Yossi Fishman. Nozette made several trips to Israel without reporting them, which he was required to do because of his high security clearance. The FBI reportedly also has incriminating letters and other documents that were obtained from the computer.
The second story relates to the pending sale of twenty-five F-35 fighter planes to Israel. The F-35 is one of the most advanced fighter planes in the world. The $130 million planes would be purchased with US military assistance money, which means they would effectively be a gift from the US taxpayer. But Israel is balking at the sale reportedly because it wants to install some of its own local content in the aircraft. The Pentagon has already made some concessions but is disinclined to grant approval for all the changes because to do so would require giving the Israelis full access to the plane’s advanced avionics and computer systems. Israel also wants to independently maintain the aircraft, which would also require access to all systems. It would be nice to think that the Pentagon wants to keep the maintenance in American hands to preserve jobs, but the Defense Department has never cared about US workers before when the issue is Israel, and the real reason for the standoff is that Lockheed-Martin and the Pentagon both know that Israel will steal whatever it can if it gains access. It would then use the technology to market its own products at a price below that of US defense contractors. The result would be a triple whammy for Uncle Sam: the expensive planes are given to Israel free, the technology is then stolen, and future sales vanish as our Israeli friends market their knock down versions of weapons systems reliant on the stolen technology.
So to David Brooks I would say that there is most definitely an economic surge taking place in high tech Israel, but it is less a miracle than the fruit of a long series of thefts and manipulations fueled by American tax money and the connivance of a Congress that is always willing to do favors for the country that it appears to love beyond all others. I’m sure most Americans would wish the Israelis well and would applaud the prosperity that derives from their own industry and inventiveness but it is also time to put the brakes on business as usual and to take the Israeli hand out of our pocket. I’m sure Brooks’ job is pretty secure and well paid, but many Americans are out of work and suffering, so let’s take some steps to protect our economy from the information thieves from Tel Aviv and keep our money and jobs over here.
Britain’s Israel Lobby
Interestingly, Britain’s foreign policy is also heavily influenced by a powerful Israel lobby.
On Nov. 16, 2009 Britain’s Dispatches program on Channel 4 broadcast a documentary about the power of the Israel Lobby in the UK.
Its website provides the following synopsis on the film, which was produced by Peter Osborne:
Dispatches investigates one of the most powerful and influential political lobbies in Britain, which is working in support of the interests of the State of Israel.
Despite wielding great influence among the highest realms of British politics and media, little is known about the individuals and groups which collectively are known as the pro-Israel lobby.
Political commentator Peter Oborne sets out to establish who they are, how they are funded, how they work and what influence they have, from the key groups to the wealthy individuals who help bankroll the lobbying.
He investigates how accountable, transparent and open to scrutiny the lobby is, particularly in regard to its funding and financial support of MPs.
The pro-Israel lobby aims to shape the debate about Britain’s relationship with Israel and future foreign policies relating to it.
Oborne examines how the lobby operates from within parliament and the tactics it employs behind the scenes when engaging with print and broadcast media.
The station also produced a detailed pamphlet on the subject. Below is the film:
Please also see the website of our partner organization, If Americans Knew, which has an extensive section discussing how current U.S. policies impact Americans.
Among the topics covered are:
- The Israel lobby
- the massive amount of U.S. aid to Israel
- Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty
- neoconservatives and their ties to Israel
- Israeli spying on the U.S.
- US policies on Israel
- Israeli torture of Americans
- The latest news and commentary from and about Israel-Palestine, the Lobby, and U.S.-Israel relations largely not being covered by American media
- Former Counter-terrorism director exposes Martin Indyk’s peace-killing duplicity
Alison Weir is an American freelance journalist and founder and Executive Director of If Americans Knew and president of The Council for National Interest. Ms. Weir writes and speaks on issues covering the situation in Palestine/Israel, addresses the historical context and provides critique of how the media covers issues which challenges U.S. foreign policy and well-funded lobby interests. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the world’s major sources of instability. Americans are directly connected to this conflict, and increasingly imperiled by its devastation. It is the goal of If Americans Knew to provide full and accurate information on this critical issue .For more information visit her website: www.ifamericansknew.org/aboutus/alisonweir.html. Ground breaking Articles by Alison Weir. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.