Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Time to Cut Israel Off

Qana has become the new Guernica.

As in the aerial bombardment of the Basque city of Guernica, Spain, on April 26, 1937, by a Luftwaffe squadron, the dropping of precision-guided bombs by Israeli warplanes on July 30, 2006, on the Lebanese village of Qana amounts to the same thing: a site of senseless murder of children.

There is as yet no poet to console the mothers of Qana, "Do not weep, madre, God will fill their bullet holes with candy," nor is there a Picasso to scream outrage in paint.

But there is one thing we in the United States can do: stop funding Israel's military adventures.

If we do not, you and I in America become responsible for the dead children of Qana: our taxes and our votes have made them possible to the tune of $3 billion a year, not counting loans and loan guarantees and other forms of aid that some estimate may yield a total 10 times that figure, or even higher.

This is about 15 percent of all U.S. foreign aid. U.S. aid to the 6 million Israelis equals all aid to the 840 million people in the entire continent of Africa. This is disproportionate.

What is the purpose to be served by aid to Israel? Israel is not and has never been a poor country. Our aid to Israel does not gain the United States influence; on the contrary, our troops are dying in Iraq because of our ties to Israel. Why continue, then?

Culturally and religiously, our ties to the State of Israel, founded in 1948, are much more tenuous than the Israel lobby would have us believe, certainly not enough to justify the $85 billion the United States has given it since its founding.

Let's say, for example, that the United States should give aid to Israel because there are Jewish citizens who wants this. First of all, U.S. Jewish support for the State of Israel is not unanimous; many orthodox rabbis at the time of the country's independence thought it was an enormous heresy to establish Israel before the Messiah came to do so.

Even if there were unanimous support, according to the U.S. Census, there are 5.1 million U.S. Jews, who make up less than 2 percent of the population. Given that there are 37.8 million African Americans, or 12.8 percent of the population, shouldn't aid to Africa total multiples of aid to Israel or, conversely, aid to Israel be sliced downward several multiples?

I once admired the plucky Israelis, their social democracy and their self-defense. Over time, however, it has become clear that Israeli social democracy serves only those of the right ethnic background and their "defense" has become a constant attack. Israel even elected as prime minister a war criminal, Ariel Sharon, who was responsible for the 1982 Sabra-Shatila, Lebanon, massacre.

The new attacks on civilian targets in Lebanon, along with the bombing of UN posts to eliminate possible neutral witnesses, leave the observer no choice but to conclude that Israel has lamentably become a rogue nation.

Whatever Israel chooses to do now, it must do on its own -- without U.S. support, or dollars.
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