Context: US Policy & Military Aid to Israel
The United States is Israel’s closest ally, defending its actions at the UN and providing $124.3 billion in bilateral assistance. “Almost all US bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance, although in the past Israel also received significant economic assistance.…In addition to receiving US State Department–administered foreign assistance, Israel also receives funds from annual defense appropriations bills for rocket and missile defense programs.” (Source: US Foreign Aid to Israel, Congressional Research Service, June 2015).
End the Occupation states, “Since 2000, US military aid to Israel has paid for at least 825 million weapons and pieces of ammunition.” Their website describes “a few of the major offensive US weapons systems in Israel’s arsenal, all of which are likely being used to commit collective punishment and war crimes against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip in violation of US laws such as the Arms Export Control and Foreign Assistance Act.”
It was surprising to many when the recent “Iran deal” passed the US Congress in January 2016. However, the US is offering Israel 20 percent more in its annual military support as compensation for the deal. According to reports, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may reject it, hoping for even more aid from President Obama’s successor.
On April 25, 2016, a large majority of US senators—83 out of 100—signed a bipartisan letter asking President Obama to quickly raise the more than $3 billion annual amount of US military aid to Israel. According to Reuters, the letter
did not provide a figure for the suggested aid. Israel wants $4 billion to $4.5 billion in aid in a new agreement to replace the current memorandum of understanding, or MOU, which expires in 2018. US officials have given lower target figures of about $3.7 billion. They hope for a new agreement before Obama leaves office in January.
Israel benefits from US support in the United Nations as well. Although 136 of the 193 UN member states have recognized the state of Palestine, the US has not. Indeed, the US consistently vetoes UN resolutions that are critical of Israel. As one of five permanent Security Council members, with the power to block any Council action, the US recently vetoed a draft resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity as illegal. The draft was defeated. As is often the case, the US offered a meaningless rebuke to Israel by saying that this action was not an endorsement of settlement construction. (Source: Haaretz).
Mainstream media in the US, by echoing the bias of US policy, continues to obscure the facts about Israel’s occupation of Palestine. One-sided coverage that echoes Israeli talking points prevents genuine understanding and free-flowing debate.
In the excellent newly released film The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States, Noam Chomsky states that “as long as the United States supports Israel, [no change] is going to happen” and “the US government will support [Israel] as long as the US population tolerates it.”
But the mainstream media no longer dominates the flow of information, and as more people are acquiring facts, reports, and analysis from a wider array of Internet sources, US public perceptions about the Occupation are changing.