The Complicity is Deep, Very

Pro-Palestine protest in Los Angeles, image by Joshua Frank.

In the aftermath of the bloody Hamas attack near Gaza on October 7, 2023 and the even bloodier Israeli response since that date, the ongoing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign continues. Indeed, the continuation and expansion of that campaign is even more crucial now. Any and everything we can do to support the Palestinian struggle to survive the Israeli attempts at erasure of Palestine and its people must be undertaken. Colleges and other institutions must be taken to task for their investments in Israeli companies and companies that invest in Israel or exploit the favorable employment (to the companies) situation in the occupied territories. Educators, artists and musicians who support the Israeli apartheid regime in Israel/Palestine must be challenged and boycotted. BDS demands and resolutions need to be brought to municipal councils for discussion and ultimately, passage. The need to hit the Israeli war machine in the pocketbook has never been greater.

At the same time, there is another economic piece of the Israeli/US war on Gaza. That can be found in the incestuous military relationships between US “defense” corporations and the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). I wrote a little about these relationships in an earlier piece. In that piece I discussed the amount of military aid provided to Israel on a yearly basis since the beginning its creation. I also listed the corporate addresses of some of the US corporations profiting the most from the Israeli slaughter of Palestinians. Of course, I noted the fact that every state in the United States is complicit in the ongoing massacre, if for no other reason than that the US war industry has production facilities in every state in the union. Similar information regarding British complicity has been utilized by British antiwar/anti-occupation protesters in an ongoing campaign against those war profiteers in their country. Protests ranging from picket lines to blocking access to production facilities continue to take place in Britain, many of them organized by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade. Here in the US, some longshoremen have refused to load weapons bound for Israel. In some towns, protesters have challenged company offices of corporations like ReMax Realty doing business in Israel, while an unofficial boycott of Starbucks and McDonalds seems to have affected those companies’ bottom line.

There is another aspect to the US-Israel war industry connection. It involves a mechanism called Foreign Military Financing or FMF. The process itself is done through a Department of Defense entity called the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA). According to its most recent strategic plan, this agency’s mission is to “advance U.S. defense and foreign policy interests by building the capacity of foreign partners in order to encourage and enable allies and partners to respond to shared challenges.” As part of this mission, “DSCA leads the broader U.S. Security Cooperation enterprise in its efforts to train, educate, advise, and equip foreign partners.” In other words, the point of this department is to get other nations in the US “sphere of influence” to help Washington expand its hegemony. Of course, this involves a desire by the governments in those nations to go along with this mission. It also, means that those governments get some benefits from their cooperation/acquiescence. The latter element is where the aforementioned FMF fits in.

Indeed, upon further perusal of the agency’s website, it appears that a primary purpose of this agency is to facilitate arms sales to US clients around the world. One way to do this is through Foreign Military Financing. According to the FMF handbook published by the DSCA, this is done through “direct purchase of U.S. defense articles and services from U.S. firms.” The governments involved are “financed with funds appropriated by the Congress.”(p.1) Reading on, one discovers that these funds are through loans that are often not paid back or through direct grants. In other words, US taxpayers are buying weapons from US war corporations for foreign governments. Of course, war industry profits are part of the deal. So, while domestic spending is being cut in tandem with tax cuts for the wealthy, the working people in the United States are padding war industry profits through sales to foreign militaries; profits helped along by the warmongers in Washington and the Pentagon.

I could go on, but doing so would be redundant for most readers. We already know the US economy is addicted to war. The intention of this article is to focus on the numerous direct contracts the Israeli Occupation Forces have with businesses around the United States. FMF sales began after the 1973 Six-Day War with a $2.2 billion grant. The current amount is over $3.3 billion per year. The sales (and the grants to make the purchases) have not stopped since then. According to the US Department of State, FMF deals with Israel include monies for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft; CH-53K Heavy Lift Helicopters; KC-46A Aerial Refueling Tankers; and precision-guided munitions.

In a chart procured from the Israeli military and posted in the Jewish Virtual Library, there is a list of states hosting corporate facilities that had FMF contracts with the IOF. Unfortunately, the chart only includes the years 2012, 2013 and 2015. In those three years, the total amount of money involved was over $15 billion. It seems fair to extrapolate from this information that the amounts provided for each state are most likely around the same or more today, especially if one accounts for rises in materials prices and supply chain expenses. If one clicks on a state name in the chart and then clicks on the links labeled Cooperative Agreements and/or Business/Industry, various military and other business deals are touted in a narrative much like one finds in a brochure published by a Chamber of Commerce. For example, when I clicked on Vermont and then went to the Cooperative Agreements link, I discovered that in 2015 Vermont companies received “more than $3.4 million in foreign military financing to provide materiel for the Israeli Defense Forces.” Furthermore, companies in Vermont received about $25 million in such funds from 1996-2015.

The level of complicity between Israel’s attempts at erasure of the Palestinian people and the United States is considerably deeper than it first appears. In fact, a more truthful term is collusion. The vehement support for the ongoing genocidal slaughter undertaken by Israel by most of the US government and media has begun to make this very clear. Knowing that this complicity exists at the local level in very real terms of money exchanged for weapons that enable the slaughter requires a response. The BDS movement suggests one approach. So do the protests in the United Kingdom.

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He has a new book, titled Nowhere Land: Journeys Through a Broken Nation coming out in Spring 2024.   He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: