Tax Dollars, Detroit and Israel

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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).  

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