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Looking for ways to cut budget? Start with the billions given to Israel

Published: Sun, August 14, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

Finally some type of debt agreement has been reached — a pitiful one, to say the least — and the S&P rating agency and stock market apparently agree. This was a terrible debt agreement, but we must take it in stride, and I commend Congressman Tim Ryan for voting against it.

As expected, conversations and debates have already begun about where we should be cutting our spending. Here’s an unlikely suggestion, recently proposed by the Tea Party: cut foreign aid to Israel. At the very least, until they comply with U.S. demands. As an American living in Palestine through November, the waste of our tax dollars by Israel could not be any more obvious.

Several estimates of the total amount of funding the U.S. has given Israel since 1948 range from of $109-120 billion. Direct foreign aid is currently over $3 billion a year, in addition to several billions in direct military funding. Contrary to U.S. policy, Israel is the sole country that is permitted to use 25 percent of the billions in military aid received from the United States to purchase directly from their own weapons manufacturers. Because of this, Israel has become one of the world’s largest exporters of fire arms, often selling to entities the U.S. prohibits arms sales to; for instance, China.

It is true that Israel is only one of many nations (by far the largest recipient) currently receiving foreign aid. But there’s a catch: other nations comply with U.S. demands, whereas Israel does not. American economic assistance allows the Israeli government to allocate part of its budget to the advancement and maintenance of illegal Israeli colonies in the West Bank, many of which, according to Israeli military figures and Palestinian records, are built on privately owned Palestinian land. These colonies have been deemed illegal by many international bodies, and in the words of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, they are “illegitimate.” Over 500,000 individuals from Brooklyn, Europe, Russia and other pockets of the world have illegally colonized this land.

With unemployment at 9.1 percent, a severely weak economic recovery, and now a budget that’s going to cut spending right when we need it most, it is every American’s patriotic duty to question where our money is going, and to whom it is going. Unfortunately, the United States has a double standard on this policy of foreign aid: when the Palestinians announced they want to seek independence at the U.N. in September from the illegal Israeli military occupation of Palestine, President Obama threatened to cut off funding because the Palestinians were “avoiding negotiations.” Yet we continue to fund Israel.

Where is the value added? As an economics professor, I tend to view things through the cost-benefit lens: the political and economic costs of funding Israel far outweigh the benefits.

Hanna Kassis, Birzeit

The writer is a Girard native living temporarily in Birzeit in the West Bank.


1sbahour(1 comment)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

As another Youngstowner living in Israeli militarily occupied Palestine, I could not agree more. I honestly believe if the average American knew the full extent of the funds, armaments and special arrangements US lawmakers generously (that is, out of reelection fear) provide Israel, which enables Israel to break international law everyday while at the same time arrogantly slapping the US in the face when told to stop settlements, even temporarily, they would not allow it for one more day. Enough is enough.

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2Youngstown(19 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

With the use of our tax dollars, Israel also subsidizes emergency services and education for these colonists living illegally on Palestinian land. Not to mention Israeli soldiers are allowed to have up to two abortions, fully paid for by the military. I have trouble knowing that our tax dollars might help subsidize this. And arrogantly slapping the U.S. in the face is right - at the exact same time VP Joe Biden was giving a speech in Israel, the Israeli Government announced the expansion of illegal colonies in Arab East Jerusalem. Talk about disrespect - not just for the Palestinians, but for the Americans!

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3Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Stopping all aid to the Palestinians is also in the best interest of America . . ..

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4whitesabbath(738 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Another way to cut budget ---

Dont pay China another dime ==

They will sieze all corporations that left U.S. for China.

Would be something to see.
Fat Cats Wriggling.

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5Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Wow I like that one about China . But my oh my what would Wall mart do for stuff to sell . But remember Fat cats always stay Fat and the rest of us get skinny

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6Attis(919 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Our economy, especially around here, is sinking fast; our national debt is skyrocketing; and jobs are disappearing. So, what do 81 members of the US Congress (including Ohio's Betty Sutton) do to address these pressing problems at home? They, 20% of the US Congress, take off on an all-expenses paid week-long propaganda trip ($8,000 per roundtrip traveler for the flight alone) in August to Israel instead of returning to their districts and meeting with their constituents. That borders on treason; it certainly is misfeasance of duty. Also treasonous is the average yearly subsidy of around $2,000 for every Israeli citizen paid by the US taxpayer for the past 63 years. And those political prostitutes who siphon off these badly needed funds from America to these foreigners gave the Prime Minister of that foreign power 29 standing ovations during this year's joint session of Congress. Time to wake up America, and throw the foreign money changers out of the House and Senate.

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7redvert(2099 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Why not cut all foreign aid until we get the crap straightened out at home, if we ever can?

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8taxpayer1001(274 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

redvert-that's the part that will always baffle me! Why are we doing more for other countries than for our own? No aid should be going to other countries for storms, earthquakes etc until we have put our towns back together (Louisiana and many more).
But I also don't understand the huge amounts of $ going out to other countries and we can't even keep our country going.

But the big question is...how do we change any of this? Just voting out isn't going to do it. That's when we start back over with all the new politicians just doing the same thing all over again.

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9whitesabbath(738 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

this country is heading for a civil war

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