FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The US Should End Aid to Israel

by Todd May

Philosophers are often renown for two things: their ability to think logically and their irrelevance to public discussion and debate. I am hoping to buck the trend a bit here by using my training in thought to offer a practical solution to a complex issue before the public. The issue is that of how to respond to the unfolding crisis in Israel and Palestine. The solution is this: end all aid to Israel. Not just military aid. All aid. Not just all aid until Israel ends its military occupation….All aid. Period.

There are several simple, but compelling reasons, for Americans to support such a proposal. First and foremost, by squandering the aid we have given Israel over the years (nearly five billion dollars a year, including incidentals) in the massive violation of the human rights, autonomy, and dignity of another people, Israel has forfeited any claim it might have to that aid. Regardless of the individual acts of desperation and terrorism that some Palestinians commit, the overwhelming destructiveness that Israel has performed on the Palestinian people for the last thirty-five years demonstrates that its goal has always been, and remains, the dominance of another people. The U.S. should not be aiding Israel no more than it should have been aiding South Africa under apartheid, Iran under the Shah, Iraq’s Saddam during his war with Iran, Cambodia under Pol Pot, or Indonesia during its campaign against the East Timorese.

Second, there are plenty of better ways to use this aid than that to which it has been put by Israel. We are still in a recession where money for education, health care, homelessness, and other necessities is lacking. Putting our money there is far better than wasting it on a country that chooses to spend it on the oppression of another people. If we are to spend the aid overseas, then let us spend it fighting AIDS in Africa or offering grants for infrastructure in Latin America.

Finally, aid to Israel is against any conception of U.S. interests that one would want to hold, whether one is conservative or liberal. It subverts the conservatives’ attempts to build a far-reaching international campaign against terrorism. It subverts the liberals’ desire to direct U.S. policy toward upholding general human rights standards. By introducing tension with European and Arab countries, isolating the U.S. in the United Nations, and diminishing the perception (and reality) of the U.S. as an honest world broker, aid to Israel runs counter to U.S. goals and short- and long term interests.

In offering arguments for a position, philosophers are often beholden to consider objections one might raise to their views. After all, as my students often remind me, there is always another side to every issue. Let me look at the other side, then, by offering the following common objections and then replying to them.

First objection: Why not withhold or reduce aid to Israel until it leaves the Palestine and then reinstate it? Isn’t that more fair than just cutting aid off completely?

Reply: A state that seeks U.S. aid should show a legal need for it and definitely not be acting to threaten U.S. interests. Israel, as I have argued, does not contribute to U.S. interests. And if Israel leaves Palestine and then believes it needs aid, it can request it and have it considered. Given what Israel does with U.S. aid, it obviously doesn’t need any now.

Second objection: The proposal is too radical. Americans won’t want to go that far in criticizing Israel.

Reply: The reason Americans have not displayed more outrage has less to do with any deep ties to Israel than with the one-sided view of the Middle East they have been presented with. Americans have shown, in the cases of Somalia and Kosovo recently, and Ethiopia before that, a surprising ability to act on conscience and to empathize with those who suffer needlessly. What is required here, then, is a more balanced coverage of the Middle East, not a watered down proposal for what to do about it. If the U.S. media begins to pay due attention to what Israel has done in Jenin, that would go a long way toward remedying the problem.

Third objection: Israel needs the aid. Withdrawing such a large sum all at once without promise of reinstatement would place an immediate and undue hardship on Israel.

Reply: Israel has had thirty-five years to consider their actions; that seems to me plenty long enough. The longer a criminal uses my support to commit crimes, the more urgent it becomes that I stop supplying that support.

Fourth Objection: The proposal, because of its sweeping character, will generate anti-Semitism.

Reply: First, there are always anti-Semites; anything critical of Israel will attract them. The proposal itself is not anti-Semitic, regardless of what supporters of Israel might say about it. Instead it is the kind of proposal that ought to be applied to any nation that acts as Israel does. We ought to judge Israel not by the fact that it is thought to be a Jewish state (misleadingly so, considering that it is 20% non-Jewish). To treat Israel this way is either anti-Semitism or its opposite. We ought to judge Israel the way we ought to judge all nations that are candidates for foreign aid: by how it acts.

Given that aid to Israel supports a policy that runs afoul of basic human rights, wastes billions of dollars a year in taxpayer money, and is inimical to U.S. interests, we ought to end it. It is, as philosophers like to say, the reasonable thing to do.

Todd May is a Professor of Philosophy at Clemson University.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
David Price
The 2016 Tour of California: Notes on a Big Pharma Bike Race
Dmitry Mickiewicz
Barbarous Deforestation in Western Ukraine
Rev. William Alberts
The United Methodist Church Up to Its Old Trick: Kicking the Can of Real Inclusion Down the Road
Patrick Bond
Imperialism’s Junior Partners
Mark Hand
The Trouble with Fracking Fiction
Priti Gulati Cox
Broken Green: Two Years of Modi
Marc Levy
Sitrep: Hometown Unwelcomes Vietnam Vets
Lorenzo Raymond
Why Nonviolent Civil Resistance Doesn’t Work (Unless You Have Lots of Bombs)
Ed Kemmick
New Book Full of Amazing Montana Women
Michael Dickinson
Bye Bye Legal High in Backwards Britain
Missy Comley Beattie
Wanted: Daddy or Mommy in Chief
Ed Meek
The Republic of Fear
Charles R. Larson
Russian Women, Then and Now
David Yearsley
Elgar’s Hegemony: the Pomp of Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail