By Dr. Tom H. Hastings
More than any other time in the history of the conflict over the tiny ancient land we call Israel and Palestine, voters from a land across the sea hold unused power to change the basic course and outcomes of that conflict. At this time, those voters–who are also largely taxpayers–are keeping the conflict hotter and more bloody by their failure to prioritize the issue.
Polls are interesting to politicians. As of July 18-20, according to a CNN poll, a 57-34 percent majority of Americans side with Israel in the current conflict, calling Israel’s violent efforts to root out and destroy Hamas’s capacity to attack Israel “justified.”
Four days later, Israel knowingly bombed one of the very rare sanctuaries from its missiles, a UN school in Gaza packed with women and children. The UN had been entirely forthcoming with precise coordinates of the location of the school in an effort to be sure that the highly sophisticated, precision guided Israeli Defense Force missiles would never hit the school. Instead, the IDF apparently programmed those specific coordinates into multiple missiles and struck the UN school in the lowest blow so far. The IDF has also cravenly bombed several hospitals in Gaza, with tired claims about Hamas storing weapons “nearby.”
When Hamas and other terrorist organizations were sending suicide bombers into Israeli pizza parlors or onto Israel’s campuses to inflict intentional damage to young Israeli civilians, the world, including American citizens, reacted with general horror and disgust, and rightly so. This level of incorrigibly blind hatred is clearly absolutely morally bankrupt. Satire service The Onion has captured the sick symmetry the best. Hamas fires impotent rockets insanely straight into Israel’s missile-destroying Iron Dome, stupidly targeting civilians and giving Israel a military justification for attacking Hamas, but nothing can give anyone any excuse for what Israel has done to hospitals and the UN school shelter. Nothing.
The Leverage of the American Voter
So Israel has officially joined this bloody dive into the moral cesspool, and American voters hold a huge piece of the responsibility for this, supplying the IDF with much of its war materiel and a massive amount of general military aid every year, $121 billion to date, according to the US Congressional Research Service report of April 2014. No other country gets this much and no other country ever gets the “no strings attached” beneficence awarded and afforded Israel, even including huge outlays of my money and yours to give straight to Israel’s war profiteering corporations to use as they see fit. This means Israel is funded to do military research that even puts it ahead of US war profiteering corporations and the US military in some respects. Wow. And there are no human rights expectations on that money, nor is it required that Israel follow internationally accepted rules of engagement, laws of war, or laws prohibiting crimes against humanity.
Seriously. It is time to help Israel decide to negotiate with all its adversaries in good faith, something it has failed to do again and again. Stop all aid from you to them, from the US treasury to the Israeli government, from the Pentagon and State Departments to the IDF.
Obviously Israel has stockpiled enough weapons and ordnance to wreak hellfire for a long time, but they expect and clearly assume arrogant entitlement to this unique and grotesquely large condition-free military support, which enables their increasingly rotten, inhumane conduct. They commit war crimes and know that it doesn’t matter because their tsunami of war arsenals supplies and huge amounts of unrestricted funds is never going to stop.
Let’s help Israel. Stop all aid. They would become much better neighbors and world citizens if we could muster that domestic political will to require it of our elected officials. Start with our US senators, who passed a unanimous resolution supporting Israel’s bombing of Gaza, Senate Resolution 498, as soon as Israel attacked. No US Senator voted against this, remarkably and shamefully, and Rand Paul even called for further US action, to cease the relatively small amount of US aid to the Palestinian Authority until they kicked Hamas out of the unity government. Perhaps Senator Paul has a small point, but the larger point, by far, is to end all US aid to the IDF. That is the single biggest step toward peace anyone could take right now and if you are an American voter, you have a say-so in this. Let’s start saying so.Φ
Dr. Tom H. Hastings is PeaceVoice Director and teaches in the Conflict Resolution program at Portland State University in Oregon.