FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The US Should End Aid to Israel

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
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail