Wednesday, January 21, 2009

$3 billion a year for 10 years in US military aid to Israel

On Tuesday afternoon, 4 hours after the inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama, a small group of peace activists representing several organizations in the Lansing area visited the office of Senator Carl Levin (Michigan) where they delivered a statement of the Peace Education Center and the MPAO Gaza Statement with 82 signatures. One of the main goals of the visit was to request a future meeting with Senator Levin, who chairs the Arms Services Committee, to discuss US military aid and cooperation with Israel and to call on the US to do more to rebuild Gaza.

In the wake of the Israeli assault on Gaza, it is crucial that we continue to work to change US foreign policy on Israel-Palestine. An important campaign is the effort to end US military aid to Israel. During the bombing of Gaza, Amnesty International called for an arms embargo. The Amnesty International report on US arms shipments to Israel during the siege of Gaza exposes the important role and responsibility of the US in supporting Israel's military operations. Democratic Congressman Denis Kucinich (Ohio 10 District) has emphasized Israel's violation of the Arms Export and Control Act. (Read the Democracy Now interview with Kucinich.)

While the direction of President Obama's Middle East policy still remains unclear, during the campaign he was unequivocal in stating his support for US military aid to Israel. Quoted in the Jerusalem Post in August 2007, Obama stated while on the campaign trail, that he endorsed a memorandum of understanding that would increase US military aid to Israel to $3 billion a year for 10 years in order "to ensure Israel's qualitative military edge, which will help Israel deter and repel attacks from as far as Teheran and as close as Gaza. " A very revealing statement to say the least.

Ending US military aid to Israel (see statistics from 1949 to 2007) should be a central issue for US citizens, whose tax dollars are being used to subsidize Israel's devastation of Gaza as opposed to funding public education at home.

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