The Coastal Post - November, 1996

Our Money's Worth?

Israel in 1996 received from the U.S. taxpayers, in grants, interest and loan guarantees, $5,505,300,000. This largesse, as Richard Curtis, editor of the Washington Report points it, is "$15,083,013.67 per day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, greater than the entire budget of the U.N." Despite this outlay by a trusting U.S. government, Israel has this year further distanced itself from peace with its neighbors. The April massacre of 200 Lebanese, with a $1 billion destruction of that country's infrastructure, followed by the recent opening of a tourist-oriented tunnel adjacent to Islam's holiest shrine clearly demonstrates what little regard God's chosen people have for either their Arab neighbors or world opinion. That latest emergency photo-opportunity on the White House lawn with a smirking Netanyahu and an angry Arafat told the story. Egypt's President Mubarak had the decency to stay home.

Anthony Lewis in a recent New York Times column pointed out that the "peace process launched in Oslo had paid large economic and political dividends for Israel. Foreign investment tripled. Israel exchanged diplomats with 38 more countries. Ties began with Arab states in North Africa, and the Persian Gulf, and Jordan signed a peace treaty." As for the Palestinians, Lewis notes the future looks dismal. Under Oslo II, only 3% of the West Bank will be under Arab control, 24% under joint Israeli-Palestinian authority and 73% in Israel's grip.

With travel and the movement of merchandise even between Palestinian towns tightly regulated and purposely impeded at every checkpoint, the frustration of this personal and economic stagnation is a bomb ready to explode. With negligible outside investment plus Israeli restriction on raw materials entering Palestinian areas, the West Bank and Gaza have been denied the "peace dividend" the Israelis were enjoying. Now, Benjamin Netanyahu, by disregarding Oslo, has interfered with the economic progress for both peoples. Israel's Prime Minister offers nothing to the occupied people except repression. The brutality of the Israeli soldier continues; even women and children are beaten. Live ammunition is used in crowd control, and Israel's supreme court still permits torture of those thousands of political prisoners who were, under Oslo II, to be released months ago. Whenever the caged Palestinian in desperation has struck back, he is labeled a "terrorist," and Israel's army then shuts down the whole West Bank and Gaza, keeping tens of thousands of Palestinians from their jobs and further impoverishing the people. The oft-imposed curfew of a whole town may cut a Palestinian family off from food, emergency care or even water for days at a time. Though such collective punishment is outlawed by the Geneva Convention, Israelis see themselves as above the law.

The "tunnel insult" was not a casual blunder by Netanyahu, but part of a plan to destroy the peace process and set the stage for further Israeli expansionism. As the Miami Herald recently reported from Jerusalem, Eitan Haber, former top aide to slain Prime Minister Rabin admitted that: "Netanyahu opened the tunnel for the right wing."

The Herald noted another reason: "Sources in Netanyahu's Likud and former Labor government officials cite a political payoff to several key American campaign contributors, including Irving Moscowitz, one of the top bankrollers of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, American watch importer Joe Marmelstein and Canadian Mark Blauberg pressured Netanyahu to open the tunnel." This support group for Israel's Prime Minister also includes a Jewish millionaires' club carefully cultivated by Netanyahu since his New York days as U.N. representative for Israel.

The Jerusalem paper Yediot Ahronot on July 19th reported on Netanyahu's summer visit to New York where he picked up both promises and cash from Rose Mathis (Haagen-Daz ice cream), Murad Zamir (diamond trader), Sheldon Edelson (casino tycoon), Ron Lauder (heir to the cosmetics empire), S Sam Domb (New York hotels and apartments) to name a few.

Though Israeli law forbids the financing of political parties from abroad and U.S. law forbids the transfer of money to parties or candidates of a foreign country by a non-profit organization, the Yediot Ahronot article notes "Jewish fund raisers...have learned how to "manage" and by-pass the law without violating it. The method is simple. Associations are formed in the U.S. under various names for all kinds of purposes, and the donors are asked to transfer money to them. For these associations the funds are transferred to apparently non-political bodies... Such as the Merkaz Shalem, managed by Ron Lauder in Jerusalem, a pro-Likud research institute."

AIPAC, Israel's major lobbying organization in Washington operates on the same principle, channeling money from over 110 Jewish Political Action committees (PACs) into the campaign coffers of targeted U.S. representatives and senators. None of these PACs have names which might suggest they are tied either to Israel or its Washington lobby.

After almost half a century of increasing repression of the indigenous Palestinian, and the three major aggressive wars against her neighbors, one may wonder why a younger generation of Israeli Jews has done nothing to check their government's tide of hatred and abuse. The answer lies partly in the Jewish schooling for Israel's children.

Dr. Fouzi El Asmar, distinguished Arab writer, academic and journalist, born in Haifa and fluent in Hebrew, who teaches at the American University in Washington D.C., is the author of an interesting book: Through the Hebrew Looking Glass (Amana Books, 1986) in which he examines the Zionist attitude toward the indigenous Palestinian Arab and the resulting textbooks and children's story books used by Jewish children in their day-to-day schooling. The Arab is portrayed in these texts as a foreigner, "guilty of everything that has or will happen." I quote: "The object of the authors [Israeli] is to inculcate greater hatred of the Arabs in order to justify the political objective always promoted by the Zionist movement, namely the dispossession of the Arabs and the occupation of additional territory."

The Arab is presented throughout Jewish children's literature as backward, a thief, dirty, untrustworthy, corrupt and continually cursing. Arab fighters who resist Jewish takeover of their land are characterized as bloodthirsty saboteurs and infiltrators. All children's literature...refers to the resistance of the Palestinian Arab as "gang resistance." The Arab member of the "gang" is depicted as devoid of conscience and cruel. The Arab soldier is also described as "backward," as hating all Jews with a hate both blind and irrational. He wants to butcher the Jews only because they are Jews.

In this country the Jewish Anti-Defamation League makes every effort to attack those attitudes or statements which it considers "anti-Semitic," or which encourage other racial hatreds. In Israel, however, while that government portrays itself to the world as seeking peace, the Zionist hate campaign against the Arab, which has targeted Jewish youth for over a generation, is paying off. Prime Minister Netanyahu, using as his political weapon this carefully-crafted reservoir of hate, distrust and fear, is finding it easier to demolish both the Oslo Accords and any hope for a Mideast peace.

Americans in increasing numbers are beginning to ask: Is that largesse to Israel money well spent?