Opinion |

With New Israel Aid Deal, Obama Is Patron of the Occupation

U.S. generosity, which costs American taxpayers $300 a year, is detrimental to Israel and will only push it toward more acts of aggression.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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President Barack Obama walks across the White House South Lawn on Sept. 9, 2016, while returning from a visit to Asia.
President Barack Obama walks across the White House South Lawn on Sept. 9, 2016, while returning from a visit to Asia. Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Barack Obama is a bad president for Israel. If the military aid he approved for the coming decade is the largest ever, then as a president he is the worst ever for Israel. The last thing Israel needs is more arms, which will push it toward more acts of violence. But Obama is president in a country in which each home has a small tin container — like the blue and white Jewish National Fund boxes over here — into which every U.S. citizen must place a few coins as assistance and charity for poor, needy Israel, weak as a frail leaf.

Three hundred dollars for each U.S. taxpayer for the next 10 years. Not toward America’s considerable social needs, not to assist truly needy countries – imagine what $38 billion would do for Africa – but to provide weapons for an army that is one of the most powerfully armed in the world, one of whose main enemies are girls brandishing scissors; to finance an army that is not fighting any other serious army now; the army of a country that few others can match in sheer recalcitrance, one which methodically defies the United States and the international community. And worst of all, this country will receive another free gift, without having to give anything in return. The money will go only toward arming it, which will push it toward more acts of aggression. That’s the deal and there has been no serious debate over it, neither in Israel nor in the United States.

In America only a few are asking why. What for? How long? What comes in exchange? And not even what American interest is served by the huge outlay of the American taxpayer. But let’s leave America to the Americans. The only discussion in Israel is whether the Americans can be squeezed for more. It’s good that it stopped at $38 billion. MK Shelly Yacimovich (Zionist Union) said the prime minister has already told senior security officials that they can “go wild.” More assistance would ensure even more wildness. Some of the money will go for defense systems but another part will go for maintaining the occupation and especially to fund violent showy actions, in Gaza and Lebanon, and megalomaniacal useless training exercises against imagined dangers.

“The American aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean,” as the Americans (Alexander Haig) and the Israelis (Moshe Ya’alon) like to describe Israel, will continue to launch bombs and fire shells, sometimes unrestrainedly, in the name of American taxpayers and their money. Does Obama want that? That’s the outcome of his policy. This generous assistance, the likes of which no other country on earth receives, makes American lip service even more ridiculous as Israel continues to defy Washington. American protest, fury in the State Department, anger in the White House – these are all jokes.

If this is the American aircraft carrier, then the settlements, violation of international law, the crimes, the raids and the wars that America is so careful to decry, are carried out on its own aircraft carrier. Every additional balcony built in a settlement is Made in the U.S.A. Every killing of women and children in Gaza is 'Born in the U.S.A.' Obama is the patron of the occupation, and to hell with the hypocrisy and self-righteousness.

Israelis should not be grateful for U.S. generosity; it is damaging to their country. What does Israel need more armaments for? Why does it need to make war against the barefoot people of Gaza and the young men of the West Bank?

A courageous and honest Israeli statesman would have said long ago: no thank you. That money is not good for us. Even without it the Israel Defense Forces is too big for its needs. But the ritual continues, America pays and Israel occupies and bombards, as if there is no other way. That is Israel’s Pyrrhic victory. That is also Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal victory: All the accusations about ruining ties with the United States are completely without foundation. Relations have never been better – just look at the numbers.

Nothing has been destroyed in the relationship, and that’s a shame. With friends like that one hardly needs enemies. Israel can go on about its business, the check is blank and America is paying, no strings attached, for at least another 10 years. Is there any worse news for Israel?

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