Aid to Israel no longer a sacred cow?
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 programme – 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 programmes, Israel’s friends in Congress in both parties make sure that aid to Israel is protected at current levels.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) provides the list of Israel’s aid requirements for the coming year, and with few if any exceptions, 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 unmovable and will remain so as long as its members rely so heavily on campaign contributions (PAC or individual) delivered by the 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 US-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”.
Until Pincus wrote this column, there was no reason to think Congress would ever reconsider its priorities. Maybe, just maybe, progressives (and maybe even conservatives) will now demand that their legislators tell them just why they apply the sledgehammer to programmes that affect impoverished Americans while falling all over themselves to continue giving billions to a prosperous Israel.
[Excerpt of article by MJ Rosenberg, a senior foreign policy fellow at Media Matters Action Network]