Website policy


We provide links to articles we think will be of interest to our supporters. We are sympathetic to much of the content of what we post, but not to everything. The fact that something has been linked to here does not necessarily mean that we endorse the views expressed in it.
_____________________

BSST

BSST is the leading charity focusing on small-scale grass roots cross community, anti poverty and humanitarian projects in Israel/Palestine
____________________

JfJfP comments


2016:

06 May: Tair Kaminer starts her fifth spell in gaol. Send messages of support via Reuven Kaminer

04 May: Against the resort to denigration of Israel’s critics

2015:

23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

14 Nov: Letter to the Guardian about the Board of Deputies

11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

20 Oct: letter in the Guardian

13 Sep: Rosh Hashanah greetings

21 Aug: JfJfP on Jeremy Corbyn

29 July: Letter to Evening Standard about its shoddy reporting

24 April: Letter to FIFA about Israeli football

15 April: Letter re Ed Miliband and Israel

11 Jan: Letter to the Guardian in response to Jonathan Freedland on Charlie Hebdo

2014:

15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

25 Nov: Submission to All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

7 Sept: JfJfP Executive statement on Antisemitism

3 Aug: Urgent disclaimer

19 June Statement on the three kidnapped teenagers

25 April: Exec statement on Yarmouk

28 Mar: EJJP letter in support of Dutch pension fund PGGM's decision to divest from Israeli banks

24 Jan: Support for Riba resolution

16 Jan: EJJP lobbies EU in support of the EU Commission Guidelines, Aug 2013–Jan 2014

2013:

29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

November: Press release, letter to the Times and advert in the Independent on the Prawer Plan

September: Briefing note and leaflet on the Prawer Plan

September: JfJfP/EJJP on the EU guidelines with regard to Israel

14th June: JfJfP joins other organisations in protest to BBC

2nd June: A light unto nations? - a leaflet for distribution at the "Closer to Israel" rally in London

24 Jan: Letter re the 1923 San Remo convention

18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

11 Jan: JfJfP supports public letter to President Obama

Comments in 2012 and 2011

_____________________

Posts

Mind-boggling amounts US pays Israel’s military – and how they do it

United States needs to reevaluate its assistance to Israel

By Walter Pincus, Washington Post
18.10.11

As the country reviews its spending on defense and foreign assistance, it is time to examine the funding the United States provides to Israel.

Let me put it another way: Nine days ago, the Israeli cabinet reacted to months of demonstrations against the high cost of living there and agreed to raise taxes on corporations and people with high incomes ($130,000 a year). It also approved cutting more than $850 million, or about 5 percent, from its roughly $16 billion defense budget in each of the next two years.

If Israel can reduce its defense spending because of its domestic economic problems, shouldn’t the United States — which must cut military costs because of its major budget deficit — consider reducing its aid to Israel?

First, a review of what the American taxpayer provides to Israel.

In late March 2003, just days after the invasion of Iraq, President George W. Bush requested the approval of $4.7 billion in military assistance for more than 20 countries that had contributed to the conflict or the broader fight against terrorism. Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey were on that list.

A major share of the money, $1 billion, went to Israel, “on top of the $2.7 billion regular fiscal year 2003 assistance and $9 billion in economic loans guaranteed by the U.S. government over the next three years,” according to a 2003 study by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

Then in 2007, the Bush administration worked out an agreement to raise the annual military aid grant, which had grown to $2.5 billion, incrementally over the next 10 years. This year, it has reached just over $3 billion. That is almost half of all such military assistance that Washington gives out each year and represents about 18 percent of the Israeli defense budget.

In addition, the military funding for Israel is handled differently than it is for other countries. Israel’s $3 billion is put almost immediately into an interest-bearing account with the Federal Reserve Bank. The interest, collected by Israel on its military aid balance, is used to pay down debt from earlier Israeli non-guaranteed loans from the United States.

Another unique aspect of the assistance package is that about 25 percent of it can be used to buy arms from Israeli companies. No other country has that privilege, according to a September 2010 CRS report.

The U.S. purchases subsidize the Israeli arms business, but Washington maintains a veto over sales of Israeli weapons that may contain U.S. technology.

Look for a minute at the bizarre formula that has become an element of U.S.-Israel military aid, the so-called qualitative military edge (QME). Enshrined in congressional legislation, it requires certification that any proposed arms sale to any other country in the Middle East “will not adversely affect Israel’s qualitative military edge over military threats to Israel.”

In 2009 meetings with defense officials in Israel, Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher “reiterated the United States’ strong commitment” to the formula and “expressed appreciation” for Israel’s willingness to work with newly created “QME working groups,” according to a cable of her meetings that was released by WikiLeaks.

The formula has an obvious problem. Because some neighboring countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, are U.S. allies but also considered threats by Israel, arms provided to them automatically mean that better weapons must go to Israel. The result is a U.S.-generated arms race.

For example, the threat to both countries from Iran led the Saudis in 2010 to begin negotiations to purchase advanced F-15 fighters. In turn, Israel — using $2.75 billion in American military assistance — has been allowed to buy 20 of the new F-35 fifth-generation stealth fighters being developed by the United States and eight other nations.

Another military program, called U.S. War Reserves Stocks for Allies, begun in the 1980s, allows the United States to store arms and equipment on Israeli bases for use in wartime. In the 1990s, the arrangement was expanded to allow Israel to use the weapons, but only with U.S. permission. During the 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon, the United States gave permission for Israel to use stored cluster artillery shells to counter rocket attacks. The use drew international complaints because the rockets struck civilian rather than military areas.

The initial limit was $100 million worth of stored missiles, armored vehicles and artillery munitions, but that has increased over time. It reached $800 million in 2010, $1 billion this year and by 2012, it is expected to grow to $1.2 billion.

Since the mid-1990s, the United States and Israel have been co-developing missile defense systems designed to meet threats from short-range rockets as well as longer-range ballistic missiles. All of the systems involved have gained support from Congress, which frequently earmarks additional funding for Israeli weaponry.

For example, the House and the Senate added $129.6 million to the $106.1 million the Obama administration had in the fiscal 2012 budget for these programs. In the 2011 bill, Congress added $205 million for the Iron Dome system, which defends against short-range rockets and mortars. That was on top of $200 million the administration sought for the U.S. contribution to other cooperative missile-defense systems.

Among reductions now being discussed in Israel is a delay in purchasing more Iron Dome systems beyond those to be paid for by the United States’ $205 million. In addition, the Israeli military may freeze its spending on other missile defense systems, the very ones for which Congress approved additional funding this year.

The question for the Obama administration, Congress and, in the end, perhaps the American public, is: Given present economic problems, should the United States supply the money to make up for reductions the Israelis are making in their own defense budget?


Washington Post Columnist: Cut Aid to Israel
M.J. Rosenberg, Huffington Post
18.10.11

For the first time in memory, if not ever, a highly respected mainstream columnist is calling on the United States to cut aid to Israel.

Writing in the Washington Post, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and columnist Walter Pincus says “it is time to examine the funding the United States provides to Israel.”

Aid to Israel is virtually the only program, domestic or foreign, that is exempt from every budget cutting proposal pending in Congress. No matter that our own military is facing major cuts along with Medicare, cancer research and hundreds of other programs, Israel’s friends in Congress in both parties make sure that aid to Israel is protected at current levels.

Back when I was a Congressional staffer, I was part of the process by which aid to Israel was secured. Every member of the Congressional Appropriations Committees sent a “wish list” to the chairman of the committee telling him or her which programs he wanted funded and by what amounts. Each letter reflected the particular interest of a particular Representative or Senator and of his own district or state.

There was always one exception: aid to Israel, which apparently is a local issue for every legislator. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) would provide the list of Israel’s aid requirements for the coming year and, with few if any exceptions, every letter would include the AIPAC language. Not a punctuation mark would be changed.

At the end of the process, the AIPAC wish list would become law of the land. (Woe to any Member of Congress who dared to resist the AIPAC juggernaut).

That is how it has been for decades and not even the current economic crisis is likely to change it. On this issue, Congress is hopeless and will remain so as long as its members rely so heavily on campaign contributions (PAC or individual) delivered by AIPAC.

In his column, Pincus describes just how absurd the Israel exemption is and that the aid to Israel package even includes an escalator clause, enshrined in law, to ensure that it can only go up, not down.

Look for a minute at the bizarre formula that has become an element of U.S.-Israel military aid, the so-called qualitative military edge (QME). Enshrined in congressional legislation, it requires certification that any proposed arms sale to any other country in the Middle East “will not adversely affect Israel’s qualitative military edge over military threats to Israel.”

In 2009 meetings with defense officials in Israel, Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher “reiterated the United States’ strong commitment” to the formula and “expressed appreciation” for Israel’s willingness to work with newly created “QME working groups,” according to a cable of her meetings that was released by WikiLeaks.

The formula has an obvious problem. Because some neighboring countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, are U.S. allies but also considered threats by Israel, arms provided to them automatically mean that better weapons must go to Israel. The result is a U.S.-generated arms race.

For example, the threat to both countries from Iran led the Saudis in 2010 to begin negotiations to purchase advanced F-15 fighters. In turn, Israel — using $2.75 billion in American military assistance — has been allowed to buy 20 of the new F-35 fifth-generation stealth fighters being developed by the United States and eight other nations.

Read the full article to get the benefit of Pincus’ research on all the unique features of the Israel aid package — including the fact that while we are increasing aid to Israel, Israel itself is cutting its military budget.

Something is terribly wrong here, most notably the fact that members of Congress from both parties are afraid to talk about it. After all, what would their constituents (not their donors) think about increasing foreign aid to Israel while we are cutting aid to education and health programs here?

Until Pincus wrote this column, there was no reason to think Congress would ever reconsider its priorities. They didn’t publicize the inconsistency in their budget priorities and no one, other than AIPAC, was paying much attention.

That may have changed by one column by an intrepid reporter, writing in the staunchly pro-Netanyahu Washington Post and who also happens to be Jewish, immunizing him from the “anti-Semitism” charge hurled at anyone who questions U.S. policy toward Israel.

Maybe, just maybe, progressives (and maybe even conservatives) will now demand that their legislators tell them just why they apply the sledgehammer to programs that affect hurting Americans while falling all over themselves to continue to give billions to the Israeli government.

In 1982, Steve Rosen, (an AIPAC lobbyist subsequently indicted for espionage although the case was dropped), sent me the following memo. (I was employed by AIPAC at the time). It read:

A lobby is a night flower. It thrives in the dark. And withers in the daylight.

Thanks to Walter Pincus and the Washington Post for providing the daylight.

Note: This post has been updated from its original version.

Print Friendly

Comments are closed.