Raytheon-Israel-Congress




I

travel around this country speaking about the need for the United
States to support a balanced foreign policy toward the Israel-Palestine
conflict. At these events, inevitably I encounter staunch defenders
of Israel’s military occupation of Palestine who refuse to
question the morality of Israel’s policy of denying people
their fundamental human rights to live in freedom and dignity. It
is difficult to encounter people who view Palestinians as being
less deserving of universally recognized human rights than others.
Nor- mally, I just take these types of statements to be representative
of a hate-filled fringe, refute them, and move on. 


However,
Adam Cherrill’s remarks, delivered in response to an address
I gave at the University of Arizona, were different. Cherrill, manager
of business development at Ratheon, stated on November 18, “To
qualify for self-determination, a people must show some kind of
national identity…. What political organizations, social institutions,
literature, art, religion, or private correspondence express any
ties between the Palestinian people to the Land of Israel?” 


Cherrill
is a person of considerable clout—the program manager for Raytheon’s
joint marketing of the Black Sparrow ballistic target missile with
the Israeli weapons manufacturer Rafael.


Why
would Raytheon—one of the largest U.S. weapons makers, employing
77,500 people worldwide and generating $16.9 billion in revenues
in 2001—place an ideologue of the expansionist notion of “Greater
Israel” in such a prominent position in the U.S.-Israeli military
relationship? What does it say for U.S. foreign policy to have an
American responsible for marketing Israeli missiles who believes
“Israel has a far stronger claim to Judea and Samaria, which
is considered the West Bank, than the Arabs?” 


The
answers to these questions become clear when one examines the business
perks that Raytheon and other defense contractors enjoy from U.S
foreign policy, which bankrolls Israel’s military occupation
of Palestine. For FY2003, Congress has earmarked more than $2.1
billion for Israel in foreign military financing. Israel will use
this money to purchase the American-made weapons it needs to entrench
its military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the
U.S. arms industry will get a lump- sum of guaranteed business—a
sweetheart deal for all involved. 


Unsurprisingly,
Raytheon has been a beneficiary of this American taxpayer largesse
in recent years. According to the Federation of American Scientists,
since 1998 Raytheon has sold to Israel through foreign military
sales more than 200 AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles
for more than $100 million, 14 Beech King B200 fixed-wing aircraft
for $125 million, and a Patriot missile system for $73 million. 


But
the export of weapons to Israel can take place only if Congress
is willing to turn a blind eye to the U.S. Arms Export Control Act,
which bans such weapons from being used against civilians. Unfortunately,
Israel has used U.S.-provided weapons on several occasions to kill
innocent Palestinian civilians. The most egregious example of this
happened in July 2002 when F-16s reduced to rubble an apartment
building in Gaza City, killing 17 Palestinians civilians in what
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon termed “a great success.”
Even White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer admitted that it was
“a deliberate attack against a building in which civilians
were known to be located.” However, to admit that Israel is
in violation of this law would jeopardize future U.S. arms exports
to Israel and present the defense industry with a nightmarish scenario
in which their $2 billion yearly subsidy would dry up. 


 To
prevent this from happening was one reason why the defense industry
doled out a whopping $13 million in total contributions in the 2002
election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Raytheon Co. PAC alone gave $523,725 of hush money to federal candidates.
It is no coincidence that stalwarts of the deadly U.S.-Israeli military
relationship—such as Martin Frost ($4,000), Dick Gephardt ($3,000),
Jane Harman ($12,500), Anne Northup ($6,000), Ed Pastor ($8,000),
and Mitch McConnell ($6,000)—were rewarded quite handsomely
by Raytheon for turning a blind eye and acting unaccountably, while
the few brave members of Congress who have called into question
Israel’s violations of the U.S. Arms Export Control Act—Robert
Byrd, John Conyers, John Dingell, and Nick Rahall—received
 zero. 


Of
course, Israel is not the sole determinant in how the defense industry
dishes out its hush money. But the $2 billion subsidy that it receives
from the American taxpayer isn’t exactly chump change either
and creates interests that are surely worth protecting.





Joshua Ruebner
is co-founder of Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel (JPPI) and
former analyst of Middle East Affairs for Congressional Research Service.