After looking at the map below, anyone with a little common sense would realize that the State of Israel has embarked in a path toward the total occupation of Palestine. On April 13, Anna Baltzer, a Jewish-American human rights activist, came to talk about this and other issues. In her book, “Witness in Palestine,” (which is used as a textbook in a human rights class here at Webster University) Baltzer details the atrocities the Israeli military and government commit against the people of the occupied territories of Gaza and the West Bank.
But who cares?
We’ve all heard about the horrors of Israel. At worst, some people only know it as “that violent place in the Middle East.” We’ve all heard it is an endless war, which has been going on for thousands of years. We are helpless and we must chose sides. But Baltzer argues this is not the case. Jews and Palestinian Christians and Muslims lived in peace for many, many years. But really, who cares?
Most of us don’t really care. We hear about it on the news. “It’s too bad,” we say, and we give an empty prayer to an almighty God expecting a miracle. It’s far away. It’s not my problem.
So let’s talk about money.
Gas prices are absurd and my milk, bread, eggs, ramen noodles and beer are getting more expensive every day. State legislatures are cutting in education, social services and granting the wealthy tax breaks.
Meanwhile, our ‘cirque du D.C.’, also known as congress, wants to cut funding from our only public broadcasting company and from Planned Parenthood, leaving millions of men and women without family-planning and health services.
Yet as we enter gridlock and budget discussions, we ignore the biggest sucker of our beautiful U.S. dollars: Israel.
NPR receives about $90 million in federal funding annually, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Planned Parenthood receives close to $70 million in annual funding.
Israel, according to a 2010 Congressional research report, will receive $3 billion.
That is $3,000,000,000, coming from our pockets every year, making it the largest recipient of U.S. aid in the world.
The money is not spent feeding children, building schools or planting trees.
According to that same congressional report, “Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance. In the past, Israel also had received significant economic assistance. Strong congressional support for Israel has resulted in Israel’s receiving benefits not available to other countries.”
Although some make a strong argument we need the Israeli military in order to fight terrorism in the Middle East, the reality is that much of it has been used to occupy, terrorize and kill innocent civilians.
In 2003, Rachel Corrie, an American activist living in Israel, stood in front of a John Deere bulldozer that was about to illegally destroy a home in the Palestinian refugee camp of Rafah. She was in front of the house. She waved at the bulldozer. She fell to the ground. The bulldozer crushed her to death.
Just another atrocity along with the 1,452 Palestinian children killed by Israelis since 2000, courtesy of you and me. Paid for by those taxes we filed last Monday.
But most don’t care about casualties, civilians, or all other “collateral damage” that comes with our endless war with terrorism. So I beg you to at least think about how much ramen noodles and beer you could buy with $3 billion. How many schools, police departments and libraries could be expanded every year with that money?
I say, for the mere avarice in us, let’s close our Israeli tab. It is getting expensive and uncomfortable.