Monday, May 23, 2011

What's $3,000,000,000.00 among friends?

Israeli Prime Minister's speech to Congress tomorrow is being seen as his rebuttal to President Obama's speech to AIPAC yesterday.
Netanyahu addressed Congress at the beginning of his first term as prime minister in the 90s. He won a standing ovation from the U.S. lawmakers when he declared that Israel would no longer ask for billions in U.S. dollars. Back in Israel, economic analysts mocked their prime minister's lofty promise. Nehemia Strassler, Economics Editor of Israel's paper of record, Haaretz, predicted that should Israel decline the annual infusion of U.S. aid, the rate of exchange of the Israeli shekel would shoot up by at least 33%. In his analysis, the Israeli economy could not withstand such a shock.
So, this was never going to happen.
And it didn't.  In the interim, Israel has asked  - and received - not less, but more U.S. aid. In the period 2000-09, the U.S. gave the State of Israel over $24b in military aid.

Pro-Israel advocates still claim that these sums are insignificant and they amount to just 5% of Israel's GDP.

If the money is insignificant, tomorrow, will Netanyahu renew his 15 year old commitment to wean Israel off U.S. aid? And why are we told that Israel's security hangs in the balance and needs more and more money?
And if it is not significant, then does that not drive home the point that Israel is the region's military superpower and should take the lead in bringing security to the Middle East?
With greater power and privilege come greater responsibility.
Tomorrow, Netanyahu could win an honest ovation in Congress.
1. Declare that Israel will sign the international nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
2. Commit to suspending State of Israel laws that grant more civil rights to Jews than to Palestinians.
3. Commit to end colonizing the West Bank, rein in the settlers and work to restore a life of dignity to its Palestinian residents.
I won't hold my breath.

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