It's Official: Israel All But Demands U.S. Pay For Its War on Lebanon

[Ed. update: Senators just went to Israel in an effort pushed by the Bushies, with the express purpose - stated by Jon Kyl for the Bushies - of indoctrinating them into feeling "an obligation" to Israel. I'm for helping... but obligation considering what we already fund? And I almost guarantee you the subject of Iran came up.]

Although I predicted this would happen, it took until this week for Israel to expressly demand that American taxpayers reimburse them in large part for the war they waged in Lebanon last summer. Before I tell you why this is outrageous - and I don't blame Israel entirely for this outrage; the Bushies' filthy fingerprints are all over Lebanon - let's get a little perspective on how generously we already fund one of the world's smallest nations.

You may not realize this, but we give more financial aid to Israel every year (starting at around $4-6 Billion - yes, that's with a B, folks) than we do most other countries put together. A minimum of $2.5 Billion of this directly funds Israel's military, one of the largest and most sophisticated in the world for a nation that is one of the smallest. Some analysts say the amount that goes to fund Israel from the U.S. actually probably is closer to $10-15 billion per year because we do a lot of "under the table" stuff for them. And this is separate from private funding that goes on not just from Jewish communities in America, but from defense contractors and a host of others.

As I've stated a multitude of times, I do believe it is very appropriate for us to help Israel. First, we allowed the Nazi atrocities to go on for years before we acknowledged any of what was going on. Second, the U.S. helped carve what is today Israel from what was, to both Jews and Westerners, a very inhospital region (I'm still not sure we did the right thing there, in terms of location, but.. what's done is done). Third, obviously, Israel is a strategic partner for the U.S. in the Middle East; granted, however, it's an oft-times unholy alliance but that is also a long story. But fourth, and in my thinking, most important: everyone should have a place to call home. Four million Jews are in Israel and we should help them survive there. [The far-right Christians would tender a fifth reason they consider almighty: that the Bible tells them that Israel has to be in place in its current configuration for the "end of times" to happen the way they want. This, to me, is both madness and something far worse than crazy. But that's also a battle for another day.]

Here's where I - and many others - have problems with the level of funding and "strategic partnership" that flows from our country to Israel. At the most basic level, it's way out of proportion to Israel's size. Divide 4-15 Billion dollars into 4 Million people and... let's just say that Americans don't get that much from their own government for their health and welfare.

Well beyond that, the degree of assistance causes us untold "blowback" - to use Chalmers Johnson's apt phrase. Because Israel has a rabid appetite for military stuff, everytime Israel launches an attack on a Palestinian refugee camp, on its neighbors, et al, those being attacked can see the U.S. logo on the big guns like the helicopter gunships swooping in. We give far less in aid to much larger Muslim-majority nations with a much, much, much lower quality of life circumstance.

But let's get to the Lebanon issue. I join a great many Israelis in believing that the war Israel waged on Lebanon last year was WRONG in every way, shape, and form. Many of those who originally supported the war and "bought" the propaganda that it was waged to weaken Hezbollah (Hizbollah with some spellings) have long since turned because they saw - much as we see with the ever-strengthening al Qaeda and Taliban after all the U.S. action - that what was done only empowered Hezbollah and made people who did not see Israel as their enemy into Hezbollah supporters. Why? Because Hezbollah was the closest thing to an army/aid organization the Lebanese saw.

Israeli sources last year were telling us that they were waging a war "in proxy" FOR the United States, attacking Lebanon to send a powerful message to Syria and Iran that Israel AND the U.S. would come after them next. While the Bushies smirked and insisted that wasn't true, the very fact that Bush WANTS to write a check to pay the Israeli government FOR the Lebanon war is just one more piece in an already sizeable pile of evidence that the war by proxy story is 99.9% accurate.

I encourage you to run, not walk, to your phone, call your elected reps, and tell them NO, you do NOT support paying Israel for the destruction of Lebanon (which, contrary to the pablum espoused by the far right, is a generally peaceful land that is far more Christian than Muslim). I also encourage you to do your own research and, if you agree that FAR too much money is flowing into Israel for its militaristic endeavors, to demand your legislators take a long and hard look at cutting the funding to Israel. I'm not saying cut it all because I don't think that would be right. But I don't want to fund the Israeli war machine anymore than I want to fund outs.

Think about it: between $4-15 billion for 4 million people, each and every year. Something is dangerously out of whack here.