Why Israel Requires Adult Supervision
In a civilized society it is generally recognized that we do not give semi-automatic weapons to 8 year olds. They do not possess the emotional or mental maturity necessary to use them in a judicious manner. It occurs to me that perhaps that analogy should be extended to the community of nations as well.
Nation-states should have to demonstrate that they possess the "emotional maturity" necessary to have dominion and control over sophisticated weaponry. Israel provides a case in point.
We rail against Iran for wanting to develop a nuclear weapon to ensure its own security in a very unstable region of the world, yet concomitantly we provide Israel with a virtual military blank check so they can attack their neighbors with American sanctioned impunity.
The United States provides Israel with more foreign aid each year than any other nation on the planet and it is not even close. Last year the United States gave Israel $3.1 billion in assistance, with the vast majority of that aid in the form of military hardware. Additionally, we pay out our largess to Israel in a different manner than we do to other nations.
For all other countries in the world US aid is paid out in installments over the course of a fiscal year. Not so with Israel; they want their allowance up front. US economic aid to Israel is paid in the first 30 days of a fiscal year.
The United States transfers the entire amount into an interest bearing account. The interest of course goes to the Israeli government. Almost ¼ of the entire Israeli defense budget comes from your tax dollars.
We are providing funding for Israel to purchase 19 F-35 fighter jets — the most sophisticated fifth-generation stealth fighter aircraft in the world. We see to it that they have dozens of the most recent iterations of bunker-buster bombs and other cutting edge military technology.
As we withdraw from Iraq, Israel will again benefit militarily. Israel will receive considerable shipments of US military hardware now in Iraq pursuant to the terms of US law which has declared that Excess Defense Articles (EDA) may be transferred to Israel. These shipments are not counted as a part of our annual $3 billion obligation.
And what do we get from arming Israel to the teeth? We have "America's closest ally in the region" unleashing disproportionate and inhumane force on its neighbors on an all too predictable and frequent basis.
In 2006 Hezbollah staged border incursions from southern Lebanon into Israel killing 3 IDF personnel. In the 34 days of hostilities which followed, the Israeli military attacked not just Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon but actually pressured the United States to hold off implementation of a cease-fire while they without strategic reason staged dozens of airstrikes on civilian targets in Beirut, far to the north of any hostilities.
I stood on the border at Rosh Hanikra day after day watching US made (and paid for) F-16 fighters fly missions against civilian targets in Beirut. They destroyed bridges, the international airport, utility infrastructure, even apartments and clinics. By many estimates, Beirut was set back three decades by the senseless and non-strategic attacks.
With Gaza we find the same behavior from Israel. Israel is apparently not a fan of representative democracy. In January, 2006 the people of Gaza and the West Bank went to the polls in internationally monitored free and fair elections. For reasons known only to voters they elected Hamas. (Remember we in this country twice elected George W. Bush.)
Israel immediately pressured the US and members of the Madrid Quartet (the US, EU, the United Nations and Russia) to withhold economic support from the legitimately elected Palestinian government. The US of course readily agreed. Israel for its part withheld taxes it collected in the West Bank from Palestinian authorities without a legal basis. Israeli hopes were shortly thereafter realized when the resultant economic hardships resulted in a civil war between Hamas and Fatah.
Israel has since 2007 maintained a naval blockade against the people of Gaza. The Israeli navy intercepts even humanitarian aid bound for Gaza by sea and does so violently as was the case in the Mavi Marmara incident of 2010 which led to the deaths of 9 civilians on a humanitarian vessel.
At the time of the Israeli attack the ship was almost 50 miles outside the blockade line in international waters. IDF forces said the civilian deaths were unfortunate but necessary for "self-defense". They did not explain why autopsy reports indicated that 6 of the 9 civilians had been shot in the back.
Israel controls virtually every aspect of life in Gaza. They regulate the flow of electricity, cell phone service and deny repair parts for sanitation and desalination plants in Gaza. Israeli bulldozers enter Gaza when they deem appropriate and bulldoze apartment buildings and clinics, in one case killing an American college student.
They use flying checkpoints especially in the West Bank with impunity. Life in Gaza is pure hell on a day to day basis. It is intolerable. Israel has placed Gaza in a setting wherein the citizens of that region are being subjected to "collective punishment" in violation of international law.
One day Israel permits certain fruits to be imported… the next week that same fruit is banned. Israel even went so far as to calculate the caloric needs of Gaza residents "to ensure their needs were being met."
Come walk with me along the streets of Gaza and tell me that basic humanitarian needs of Gaza residents are being met. It is nothing short of US sanctioned torture being inflicted on 1.7 million people 42% of whom are under the age of 15.
Israel had no strategic foreign policy plan in the region. None. Its policy is to react and respond using weapons it cannot provide itself nor afford. The United States has placed cutting edge sophisticated weaponry in the hands of a petulant nation-state which has repeatedly demonstrated that they do not possess the diplomatic maturity necessary to use it.
Is it really then all that difficult to understand why the United States has an image problem in the Middle East? Asia, Africa and the Middle East are changing far more rapidly than the United States understands. We will either change our policies in response or be destined to constantly wonder why we are not understood in a world we ourselves do not comprehend.
In the meantime it is probably not a great idea to give weapons to the children at least without adult supervision. The question remains however, "Where will we find the adults?"
Opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Andy Rapp, Q-TV, Delta College, or PBS.