By If you pay taxes this April, you are about to send a check to an overseas, rogue element, condemned by the world community, which is engaged in brutal acts of aggression against largely innocent people.
It’s not the Al-Qaeda network, nor a country in President Bush’s “Axis of Evil.”
The unsavory recipient of your support is Israel, a country which pockets $3 to 6 billion of U.S. taxpayer dollars each year, despite its illegal, 35-year-old occupation of Palestinian land – and which plans to collect again despite its deadly rampage over the last few weeks.
What’s worse, nearly half of that money won’t go towards humanitarian aid, but for weapons – Hellfire missiles, Apache attack helicopters, 500-pound bombs, and other arms that are now being used to blow up ambulances, destroy homes, and take hundreds of Palestinian lives.
And most of this military hardware is made here in the U.S.A.
Which means you and I are not only footing the bill, but also supplying the firepower for what almost every nation in the world is calling a crime against humanity.
Israel’s military occupation of East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank violates over 70 United Nations resolutions, and is viewed by the international community as the biggest barrier to peace. It’s also viewed with increasing suspicion by Israelis themselves, including the 400-plus army “refuseniks” who have bravely stated “we shall not continue to fight beyond the 1967 borders in order to dominate, expel, starve and humiliate an entire people.”
Listen to the words of Michael Ben-Yair, Israel’s own attorney general from
1993-96: “Israel chose to become a colonial society, ignoring international treaties, expropriating lands, transferring settlers from Israel to the occupied territories, engaging in theft and finding justification for all these activities. In effect, we established an apartheid regime in the occupied territories immediately following their capture. That oppressive regime exists to this day.”
Over the last month, the regime has gotten worse: relentlessly bombing and shooting civilians, robbing entire cities of water and electricity, denying medical aid to families literally bleeding to death.
The irony, of course, is that Israel’s belligerence has done nothing to increase its own security. As every occupying power – from the British crown in America to the apartheid regime in South Africa – has learned, oppressed people lash back, often violently. Each U.S.-made and Israeli-fired missile that explodes in a Palestinian refugee camp seeds a new generation of suicide resisters.
Can it change? If you’re like 64% of the U.S. population surveyed in a recent poll, you may believe “nothing can be done about violence in the Middle East.”
But we have more power than we think. Israeli aggression is made possible by U.S. support – as one Israeli defense official admitted, “it is impractical to think that we can manufacture helicopters or major weapons systems of this type in Israel.”
Clearly, not one dime of U.S. taxpayer money should go to Israel until it abides by international law and ends the illegal occupation.
But we must do more to clean our hands of the conflict. A growing chorus of citizens are also demanding that our cities and colleges sever ties with corporations who profit from Israeli aggression. April 27 will mark the eight-year anniversary of the fall of apartheid in South Africa — a victory won in part thanks to citizens who forced U.S. institutions to divest from that racist regime.
A new divestment movement is now targeting companies who turn a buck from Palestinian suffering. Since 1995, Lockheed Martin has sold $4 billion worth of F-16 jet fighters and Hellfire missiles to Israel. Boeing has garnered nearly $1.5 billion by supplying Apache helicopters and other munitions used to kill civilians.
Caterpillar, Raytheon, and ExxonMobil have also done lucrative business enforcing Israel’s illegal rule, and companies ranging from Coca Cola to Home Depot and AOL reap big profits from their Israel-based operations.
The unlawful occupation of Palestine will end, sooner or later. Israel’s Ben-Yair put it best: “The Intifada is the Palestinian people’s war of national liberation. Historical processes teach us that no nation is prepared to live under another’s domination, and that a suppressed people’s war of national liberation will inevitably succeed.”
The question is, will liberation come to Palestine sooner – or later, the time filled by years of suffering and thousands more dead bodies?
Much of the answer depends on you and me.
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Chris Kromm is Executive Director of the Institute for Southern Studies, publisher of the recent report, “Arming the Occupation: The U.S. Arms Industry and Israel.”