Americans are hurting in a way not experienced since the depths of the Great Depression more than eight decades ago, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on people’s lives and livelihood. Record numbers of citizens have found themselves unemployed or underemployed, as both political parties continue to disagree over the terms of a desperately needed second economic stimulus.
At the same time, moratoriums on property rental evictions and bank foreclosures have ended, resulting in tens of millions of Americans being on the verge of homelessness and displacement. Moreover, the US is faced with record deficit and debt, alongside a significant number of personal and corporate bankruptcies.
With only weeks until Election Day, voters are looking towards their elected political leaders to craft together a plan and budget that will drag them and the country out of the mire and into prosperity, a task that cannot be achieved absent a line-by-line examination of revenue and spending.
The invasion of a deadly virus, rather than a foreign adversary, has a tendency to refocus the mind and priorities. It’s reasonable to conclude taxpayers will demand a reallocation of money away from an already bloated military budget and towards a drastically underfunded healthcare system, for example.
The federal government will be called upon to take a lead role in rebuilding the economy, with the more COVID-19 distressed states in need of greater assistance than others. In simple terms, money will need to be found where it did not previously exist, and/or retrieved from where most Americans don’t know it was spent.
To that end, a majority of US citizens are unaware of how much of their hard-earned tax dollars flow to one of the most economically prosperous countries on the planet – Israel.
Israel receives more financial assistance from the US federal government than many American states, receiving over US$140 billion since 2003.
Most have no idea that Israel receives more financial assistance from the US federal government than many American states, receiving over US$140 billion in economic and military aid since 2003, representing a US$500 subsidy to every Israeli citizen per year. It’s just a fact that Israel can afford to give its citizens universal healthcare because US taxpayers pay for its military.
That every Israeli citizen essentially receives the equivalent of a US$500 stimulus check courtesy of US taxpayers every year, yet said taxpayers have received only a one-time payment of US$1,200 from their government to sustain them through what is now an eight-month-long pandemic—exacerbated by the inactions of said government, says much about the outsized influence the Israel Lobby has over Washington.
In 2016, President Obama, during his final year in office, pledged US$38 billion over ten years, representing a taxpayer contribution to Israel of US$10.5 million per day. His successor, President Trump, has sought to increase this amount by US$200 million per year, citing a need to “bolster Israel’s capacity to defend itself and maintain its qualitative military edge” over its neighbors in the Middle East.
There are also indirect and consequential costs to the Americans, as observed by Shirl McArthur, a former US foreign service officer, which include: “the costs to US manufacturers of the Arab boycott; the costs to US companies and consumers of the Arab oil embargo and consequent soaring oil prices as a result of US support for Israel in the 1973 war; and the costs of US unilateral economic sanctions on Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria.”
But how are these expenses justifiable in the age of COVID-19 and in light of recent developments in the region, specifically the Arab “peace deal” with Israel?
Israel already possesses unrivaled military supremacy in the Middle East. And it is buttressed by the presence of dozens of major US military bases in the region as well as two aircraft carrier groups, including the Truman Carrier Strike Group and Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, while not overlooking the defensive power of its Iron Dome Missile Defense System and offensive or deterrence power of its nuclear arsenal.
Washington is currently green lighting the sale of F-35 fighter jets to the UAE, meaning the US no longer views Arab states to be a threat to Israel.
Who could now possibly threaten Israel’s security, given this superiority and the fact the governments of the entire Arab world are now marching arm-in-arm with Tel Aviv? Furthermore, Washington is currently green lighting the sale of F-35 fighter jets to the UAE, meaning the US no longer views Arab states to be a threat to Israel. At the same time, Israel’s long-time rivals Hezbollah and Iran are decimated by international isolation and internal corruption.
And what of the assumption that billions of dollars of military aid to Israel gives the US government leverage to condition and restrain Tel Aviv’s behavior, particularly in regard to the construction of settlements in the Palestinian territories? Nothing in the historical record proves that logic sound; the settler population has more than doubled to over 463,000 in the West Bank since 2000—not including an estimated 300,000 living in East Jerusalem.
Arguably, one of the most damaging arguments for ending blank check military aid to Israel, however, is the fact the country has now become one of the world’s top ten arms exporters.
More importantly still, Americans are largely uncomfortable with the idea of sending arms to prolific human rights violators, with a majority questioning and opposing the sale of advanced weapons systems to Saudi Arabia because of its mistreatment of women, political prisoners, and minorities.
Equally, support among Americans for Israel has fallen to a ten-year low. Roughly half of the US public opposes the government’s uncritical support of the self-proclaimed Jewish state, due largely to growing awareness of Israel’s systemic abuse and mistreatment of the Palestinian population, and 15-year-long blockade of Gaza.
Roughly half of the US public opposes the government’s uncritical support of the self-proclaimed Jewish state.
The advocacy group American Muslims for Palestine identified several ways the US$4 billion worth of annual military aid to Israel could be used to improve the lives of Americans at home, including saving Detroit from bankruptcy, building 40,000 homes per year for struggling families, training 5 million workers in green technology, saving school districts on the verge of bankruptcy, and allowing more students to go to college.
It goes without saying that were Americans given a choice between spending money on creating new jobs, improving education, and building infrastructure at home or sending it overseas to a regional superpower that destroys Palestinian schools, communities, and institutions, they’d choose the former.
Clearly, the time has come to cut Americans a break from sending an already powerful and prosperous nation state a blank check.