Take Action: Outrageous! $170 Million More in Military Aid to Israel

July 2nd, 2008

It’s bad enough that Congress passed the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2008 two weeks ago, spending $165 billion more on our country’s illegal war on and occupation of Iraq well into 2009.

To add insult to injury, after closely reading the bill, we discovered that Congress snuck in a last-minute earmark for $170 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) for Israel!

The culprit: Representative David Obey (WI-7), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, who has received nearly $225,000 from “pro-Israel” PAC’s and more than $200,000 from the military-industrial complex since 1989, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Yes, the same David Obey who can be seen in this video berating peace activists for wanting to cut off funding for the war in Iraq.

Yesterday, the US Campaign sent Rep. Obey a sharply-worded letter protesting his decision to slip this earmark for Israel into an unrelated bill at the last minute, thereby preventing any public scrutiny or debate. To view a copy of the letter, please click here.

So why was this appropriation for military aid for Israel slipped into an unrelated bill at the last minute? Because Congress apparently has decided to delay passing the FY2009 budget until 2009, even though the fiscal year begins on October 1. This means that Congress will have to operate under what is known as a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government open until it passes the budget.

How does this relate to military aid to Israel? Under a CR, funding is frozen at current levels for all government programs, meaning that Israel would automatically get $2.38 billion in military aid. But President Bush requested $2.55 billion in aid for Israel in FY2009, the first proposed increase under a ten-year Memorandum of Understanding signed by the United States and Israel in 2007 to increase military aid to $30 billion over the next decade.

The additional $170 million was tacked on at the last moment by Rep. Obey so that, in his words, “Israel would not be accidentally short-changed” should Congress operate under a CR (Congressional Record, H5667, June 19). 

Short-changed? Hardly. Israel is already the largest recipient of U.S. military aid, which it uses in violation of U.S. laws to prosecute an illegal military occupation and siege of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip.

That is why the US Campaign has taken the lead in organizing a campaign to get the United States to cut off military aid to Israel, rather than increase it. Check out our new Google map displaying the cities and towns all across the country representing the nearly 400 organizations have joined our campaign:
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We need you to take action to hold Rep. Obey accountable for his irresponsible action and join with us to continue our campaign to challenge military aid to Israel.

Take Action

1. Call Rep. David Obey at 202-225-3365 to protest his earmark of $170 million in military aid for Israel. For some suggested talking points, please see the letter we sent to Rep. Obey criticizing him for this action.To read the letter, click here.

2. Send a personal letter to each Member of Congress on the subcommittees that deal with military aid. The House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees that deal with military aid are scheduled to “mark-up” the president’s budget request later this month. Send your letter to them opposing the President’s request for military aid to Israel right now by clicking here.

3. Have your organization endorse our sign-on letter to these subcommittees. To date, more than 350 organizations from 40 states plus Washington, DC and groups of U.S. citizens abroad have signed the letter. Help us get 500 organizational endorsements calling on Congress to cut off aid to Israel before the committees vote on the foreign aid budget. To view the letter and endorsing organizations and to add your organization’s endorsement, please click here.

4. Sign up for an organizing packet to challenge military aid to Israel in your community. So far, we’ve sent nearly 300 packets to volunteer organizers in 40 states. The organizing packets include postcards, petitions, and fact sheets—everything you need to educate and organize people in your community to challenge military aid to Israel. Sign up today so that we can get you a packet in time for you to collect signatures and get them back to us before the committees vote this month. To become a military aid organizer, sign up by clicking here.

5. Schedule a meeting with your Members of Congress for the August recess. Representatives and Senators will be in their home districts and states during August to meet with constituents. This is a perfect opportunity for you and/or your organization to form a delegation and talk to your Members of Congress about your opposition to military aid to Israel. Sign up to coordinate meetings with your Members of Congress by clicking here.

For those of you who haven’t requested a meeting with your Members of Congress before, we’ve got instructions on how to do it posted here along with some tips on how to conduct the meeting posted here. We’ll have additional materials ready for your August recess meetings soon, but in the meantime sign up to coordinate a meeting and start working on getting it scheduled by clicking here.

6. Save the date—July 14—as a national call-in day. We’ve tentatively marked down July 14 as the date for a national call-in day to Congress to oppose military aid to Israel. More details to follow—stay tuned!