Cutting through the bullshit.

Saturday 17 February 2007

US$2.9 billion only goes so far

Anticipating US president Bush’s final budget in February 2008, former Israeli Ambassador to the US has recommended that Israel request a half billion dollar increase in military aid from the US, which now stands at about US$2.4 billion. Ayalon’s rationale,

“Why this figure? Because a request for $2.9 billion will be more acceptable than a request for $3 billion. In supermarkets, you see that prices are rounded downwards, from $10 to $9.99, and that was the logic guiding me.”

In 1998, the US and Israel struck an agreement to gradually increase military aid from $1.8 to $2.4 billion over a ten year period while simultaneously reducing non military aid from $1.2 billion to nothing. According to a June 2006 AIPAC briefing, ‘Making the Case for Aid to Israel’,

Since 1998, Israel’s bold aid initiative has saved the United States $1.80 billion dollars. At the end of the reduction period, Israel’s overall aid will be reduced from $3 billion dollars to $2.4 billion. That is a net savings for the United States of $600 million each year.

In AIPAC’s view,

U.S. aid to Israel is a cost-effective tool of U.S. foreign policy that enhances American national security interests by strengthening our only democratic ally in an unstable and vital region of the world. Israel stands shoulder to shoulder with the United States in countering the most dangerous threats the U.S. faces in the region including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by rogue regimes. Israel and the United States also share the strongest resolve in working together to fight the global war on terror.

So that would explain the ten year plan to increase military aid, as well as the new proposal for a further increase.

It turns out that since 1974, this military aid to Israel has not been in the form of ‘grants’, but, if you can tell the difference, ‘Loans with Repayment Waived’. According to a Congressional briefing on the matter, it seems

Israel preferred that the aid be in the form of loans, rather than grants, to avoid having a U.S. military contingent in Israel to oversee a grant program. Since 1974, some or all of U.S. military aid to Israel has been in the form of loans for which repayment is waived…From FY1974 through FY2003, Israel has received more than $45 billion in waived loans.

But what about the ‘economic’ aid? The 2007 request was for $120 million and next year is the year it should vanish altogether.

According to the charity Lev laLev (Heart to Heart)

At the Rubin-Zeffern Children’s Home, the girls… are furnished with clothing, medical and dental care, enrichment courses, tutoring and field trips...Some girls are true orphans while others are "living orphans", those whose parents, at best, are unable to care for them and at worse, abuse them…Many of our services are beyond what Israel's Department of Welfare subsidizes… And like our own daughters, this does not stop at the age 18, despite the suspension of Israel's Department of Welfare subsidies at that age. [my emphasis]

That’s why

We invite you to join us in this important work. There are many sponsorships opportunities for individual girls as well as donations to the orphanage in general.

But it’s not just abuse that Jewish children face in the Jewish state. In December, the Israeli National Council for the Child released its annual report.

According to the 540-page report, one-third of Israel's children (826,000) lived below the poverty line in 2005…"For many children in Israel, life is really, really bad and nothing is done to help them," said council director Dr. Yitzhak Kadman in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. "It has not always been like that. Twenty years ago, for example, only eight percent of the child population lived under the poverty line; today that figure is 33%."

The Meals4Israel site reports that according to a report compiled by Dr. Momi Dahan of The Israel Democracy Institute on behalf of the Caesarea Forum

Israel tops the list of Western countries in terms of the number of poor families, followed by the United States (17 percent), Spain (14.3 percent), Italy (12.7 percent), England (12.4 percent), Germany (8.3 percent), Belgium (8 percent), Austria (7.7 percent ), Holland (7.3 percent), Sweden (6.5 percent), Luxemburg (6 percent), and Finland (5.4 percent).

Christian Friends of Israeli Communities, Colel Chabad, Meir Panim, Jerusalem Open House, are just some of the other charities soliciting donations to feed hungry Israeli Jews.

The country established for the benefit of Jews, it turns out, is ‘a cost-effective tool of U.S. foreign policy that enhances American national security interests’, to the exclusion of the welfare of Jewish children, who just might have benefited from the non military aid that Israel and AIPAC were so keen to relinquish in favour of more cluster bombs and D-9 bulldozers.

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