FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Tax Dollars, Detroit and Israel

by

As Detroit, Michigan grapples with bankruptcy, requiring at least $1 billion in aid, it is probably not alone. “More U.S. cities could be heading towards bankruptcy”, said Richard Ravitch, a former Lieutenant-Governor of New York, who was instrumental in helping New York City navigate through its financial woes in the 1970s.

So with Detroit, once the world leader in automobile manufacturing, now on its deathbed, and other major U.S. cities selling off their buildings to pay current expenses, it may be informative to look at how the Federal government is spending U.S tax dollars.

Half a planet away is the glittering city of Tel Aviv. One wonders why that city can be so successful, while U.S. cities are dying. Could it be the $9 million dollars the U.S. gives to Israel, every single day of the year, more in foreign aid than the United States give to all other countries combined?

One might reasonably ask what Detroit could do with $9 million dollars a day. That city is trying to cobble together $1 billion to stay afloat this year; Israel is getting more three times that much from U.S. taxpayers, every year.

‘But’, the august, so-called representatives of the U.S. citizenry will proclaim, ‘Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, a major ally of the U.S., and therefore must be supported’. Really? One wonders why this ally not only refuses to cooperate with the U.S.’s hapless and insincere efforts to broker a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine, but actually spits in the face of the U.S., as it accepts $9 million a day. When the joke of peace talks is announced, with the U.S. saying neither side should do anything to jeopardize them, Israel announces more illegal settlements. When the United Nations proposes condemning increased settlement-building, which the U.S. has stated it believes to be in violation of international law, Israel knows it can rely on the U.S. to veto any such resolution. When the U.S. hypocritically decries the human rights abuses so prevalent around the world, Israel knows that it is exempt from any such condemnation, if it only brutally abuses Palestinians.

Sadly, this is not a new phenomenon. Looking at one incident from the administration of President Ronald Reagan indicates Israel’s sure knowledge that it can do as it pleases, with no repercussions from the U.S.

In 1988, Mr. Reagan’s Secretary of State, George Shultz, crafted a plan that he hoped would resolve some ongoing, underlying issues between Palestine and Israel. His three point plan was as follows:

 1) The convening of an international conference;

2) A six-month negotiating period that would bring about an interim phase for Palestinian self-determination for the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and

3) A date of December, 1988 for the start of talks between Israel and Palestine for the final resolution of the conflict.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir immediately rejected this plan, claiming, incredibly, that it did nothing to forward the cause of peace. In response, the U.S. issued a new memorandum, emphasizing economic and security agreements with Israel, and accelerating the delivery of seventy-five F-16 fighter jets. This, ostensibly, was to encourage Israel to accept the peace plan proposals. Yet Israel did not yield.  An Israeli journalist commented that the message received was: “One may say no to America and still get a bonus.” And thus it has been for generations.

The reason for this is hardly a mystery. The Israeli lobby, the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC), funnels millions of dollars into the election and re-election campaigns of candidates and elected officials who are willing to jump as high as AIPAC demands. And it seems there is no height to which these worthies will not jump for the almighty dollar. In return, they send a fortune to Israel every year, defend its horrific human rights abuses, and ignore international laws, laws the U.S. has signed on to. And when Palestinians are occasionally able to gather supplies sufficient to send an ineffective rocket into Israel, the U.S. condones and finances the carpet-bombing of the beleaguered Gaza Strip.

Never mind that much of Detroit looks like it has annoyed Israel, and been victim of its bombs. Ignore the spiraling, out-of-control crime rate, the poverty, poor educational standards, failing infrastructure and despair that are so much a part of that once great city. Rather, fawn over Israel, send it vast amounts of money that could be going to assist the taxpayers who provide it, and accept those checks into campaign coffers from grateful Zionists.

The Palestinians have just sworn in a new unity government (why the media insists on saying that Hamas ‘seized control’ of the Gaza Strip in 2006, when it was democratically elected, is a mystery to this writer), and Israel is in panic mode. There now exists the possibility that Palestine will petition the International Criminal Court for redress from Israel’s many horrific crimes. Israel, with complete U.S. support, has successfully resisted every effort by the international community to investigate allegations of human rights abuses. The time may be approaching when it can hide no longer.

And what of that? As Israel becomes increasingly isolated in the world community, due at least partly to the success of the ‘Boycott, Divest and Sanction’ (BDS) campaign, including commercial, academic and entertainment boycotts, will not the U.S. always be there to come to the financial rescue? As more and more U.S. cities decay, as the educational level of U.S. schools falls further and further behind other industrialized nations, leaving a citizenry ill-prepared to work in the global economy, as the number of those living in poverty grows, what is all that, when AIPAC pulls the puppets’ strings?

A generation ago, when the U.S. first began moon exploration, with the goal of landing a person on the moon, some critics said that the vast amounts of money that that would cost could be better used on this planet. Today, as the U.S. bows and scrapes at the unholy altar of AIPAC, mightn’t the same argument be used? When U.S. citizens are in deep poverty, living in unsafe, decaying cities, is it a stretch of the imagination to think that U.S. tax dollars should go first to assisting them?

There remain, in isolated pockets of the U.S., people who believe that the United States is a democracy, with voters electing people to represent them, who will act in their best interests. When the tax burden falls mainly on the dwindling middle class, and the taxes they pay go not to assist the communities in which they live, but to support and uphold a barbaric apartheid regime, the time for the putting to bed of that myth has long since passed.

Detroit and countless other U.S. cities will continue to struggle to survive, as tax revenues are sent to a nation that holds the U.S. in complete contempt. But politicians will continue to have unlimited funds for their election campaigns, so business will remain as usual.

Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

 

Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
David Swanson
100 Years of Using War to Try to End All War
Andrew Stewart
The 4CHAN Presidency: A Media Critique of the Alt-Right
Edward Leer
Tripping USA: The Chair
Randy Shields
Tom Regan: The Life of the Animal Rights Party
Nyla Ali Khan
One Certain Effect of Instability in Kashmir is the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Regional Integration
Rob Hager
The Only Fake News That Probably Threw the Election to Trump was not Russian 
Mike Garrity
Why Should We Pay Billionaires to Destroy Our Public Lands? 
Mark Dickman
The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of the Toilet Police
Ezra Kronfeld
Joe Manchin: a Senate Republicrat to Dispute and Challenge
Clancy Sigal
The Nazis Called It a “Rafle”
Louis Proyect
Socialism Betrayed? Inside the Ukrainian Holodomor
Charles R. Larson
Review: Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till”
David Yearsley
Founding Father of American Song
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail