Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Stravino: US Aid to Israel and the Reality on the Ground

Vincent Stravino of Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania provides an insightful account of his recent travel to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories with the 40th delegation of Interfaith Peace-Builders, a US Campaign member group. Having met with Israeli and Palestinian peace activists, he notes that Palestinians suffer the most from the ongoing conflict. Their lands are illegally taken by the ever-expanding settlement population of Jewish Israeli immigrants from around the world. Their homes are demolished by Israeli security forces without compensation. Even their water resources are held hostage by Israel, which forces "Palestinians to buy water from the Israeli supplier," rather than allow them to draw their own through wells or rain collection. Within Israel itself, the government discriminates between its Jewish and Palestinian citizens.

Though the plight of the Palestinians is dire, Stravino concludes that "everyone suffers here — including taxpayers of the Lehigh Valley." According to the US Campaign's Aid to Israel site, his own community of Lehigh Valley will provide $31 million to Israel over the current ten year funding cycle.  This funding could have provided 518 people with training for green jobs or 923 students with early literacy programs.  Instead, it will go to supporting Israeli oppression of Palestinians.  Meanwhile, according to Stravino, Israel maintains a first-rate military and an economy which is arguably more prosperous than that of the United States.

Stravino concludes by questioning the wisdom of U.S. military aid to Israel and whether it should be continued.  In his view, the Israel lobby plays a large role in maintaining this otherwise inexplicable support, with the Israel lobby funneling money to influential Members of Congress every year. 

GUEST COLUMN: An up-close view of the Israel-Palestinian dispute

Published: Monday, June 11, 2012, 4:34 AM
View full sizePalestinian men surrender to Israeli Defense Forces in downtown Ramallah in this March 30, 2002, file photo.
My recent trip to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories was informative and disturbing. I traveled with Interfaith Peace Builders. We met with many Israeli and Palestinian peace organizations. My conclusion now is that everyone suffers here — including taxpayers of the Lehigh Valley.
Palestinians hurt the most. Their homeland shrinks daily as Jewish immigrants from the entire world illegally relocate with financial assistance and paid private security, courtesy of the Israeli government... 

Read more here 

Want to make a change?  Find out how much your community sends to Israel every year at AidToIsrael.org.  Help offset this amount by supporting the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation!