A sign from a candlelight vigil in Brattleboro on Monday in support of three Palestinian students who were shot in Burlington.
Jeff Potter/The Commons
A sign from a candlelight vigil in Brattleboro on Monday in support of three Palestinian students who were shot in Burlington.

No more money for Israel

U.S. financial support of war crimes undermines our own national interests. It also makes us complicit.


Dan DeWalt, one of the founders of this newspaper and a longtime activist for social justice, clean energy, peace, and restorative justice, describes this piece as "a collaboration with another Windham County citizen whose job status would be at risk were they to disclose their name."

Washington is preparing to send a $14.3 billion year-end genocide bonus to Israel so it can continue to carry out war crimes while thumbing its nose at global calls for an enduring ceasefire.

That's $14.3 billion - with a b - on top of about $3 billion that we send Israel every year; a total of $260 billion in military and economic aid since World War II, according to U.S. News.

There is no strategic rationale behind our blank checks to Israel. On the contrary, America's myopic support for Israel's brutal occupation, illegal settlements, flagrant land theft, and apartheid undermines U.S. interests and makes us all partners in Israel's war crimes.

* * *

Far from "stabilizing the Middle East" - a colonialist concept in itself - the U.S. role in Israel's displacement and brutal occupation of Palestinians has been the cause célèbre of Islamist extremists.

In a video of Osama bin Laden aired by CBS in 2008, the 9/11 mastermind said, "The Palestinian cause has been the main factor that, since my early childhood, fueled my desire, and that of the 19 freemen [Sept. 11 bombers], to stand by the oppressed, and punish the oppressive Jews and their allies."

A 2017 report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies said that while most Arab youth do not support extremist violence, those who do are "often reacting to a crisis in Israeli-Palestinian relations."

Washington's patronage has allowed Israel to become the bully in the regional schoolyard with nuclear capacity that has spurred Tehran's aspirations. And despite Israel's diplomatic ties with a growing number of Gulf states, the Arab street has not been won over.

"Public opinion among the vast majority of Arabs remains, at core, far more sympathetic to the Palestinians and wary of cooperation with Israel," observed the Brookings Institution in 2020.

Aiming to stifle criticism of its genocidal response to Hamas's brutal Oct. 7 attack, Israel is equating Hamas with Isis. But even Time magazine points out the faulty comparison. Hamas is a nationalist Islamic movement that seeks the creation of a Palestinian state. Unlike Isis, it does not aspire to an Islamic caliphate or a transnational Islamist movement.

Has Hamas refused to recognize Israel? Yes. Has Israel ever formally defined its borders? No. Why would Hamas accept the existence of an amorphous Israeli state that has steadily stolen more and more Palestinian land and water since Israel was partitioned into existence by the United Nations in 1948?

* * *

Setting all facts and logic aside, Washington parrots Israel's propaganda. Like the now-discredited beheaded babies claim, President Biden has dispensed with the facts as he takes his Hamas talking points straight from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's script.

Mainstream media props up the narrative, reporting first and fact-checking later, if at all, while studiously omitting Israel's original encouragement of Hamas as a counterweight to the influence of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

The media also avoids mentioning Israel's history of violent responses to any Palestinian nonviolent resistance, from the first intifada to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (which is now illegal in 35 U.S. states) to Gaza's Great March of Return, whose poet muse lost his 10-year-old son and was himself badly injured when Israel bombed his home last month.

What's more, this blindered allegiance to Israel is stoking both Islamophobia and antisemitism in the United States, widening the gaping U.S. sociocultural chasm at a time when anyone with an itchy trigger finger and a Fox News education can voice his opinion with an AK-47.

This illogical U.S. support for Israel exists primarily for one reason: American politicians know they will face the wrath of the Israel-first crowd if they whisper even the vaguest criticism of the Jewish state. Ask those members of Congress brave enough to call for a ceasefire in Gaza. Attack ads have popped up in least seven districts, reports The Guardian, and several members are suddenly facing well-funded primary opponents.

We should be calling this what it is: a foreign government and its agents interfering in U.S. elections to the detriment of U.S. national interests.

But no, we continue to look the other way, handing Tel Aviv the platinum card with no strings attached, mimicking Israel's propaganda, and acting as its No. 1 apologist on the world stage.

* * *

As of Nov. 23, Israel has slaughtered more than 13,000 Gazans, including 5,600 children. Another 6,000 are missing, buried under the rubble. Of 35 hospitals, 26 cannot function, and half of all homes have been destroyed.

Now the rains have started. More than 1 million humans are sheltering in bombed-out buildings and tents with rain dripping down their backs and soaking their clothes.

With almost no food or drinking water to be found, infants, children, the elderly, the sick, and the injured go to bed wet, hungry, and thirsty. Once a brief respite from the hell enveloping them, now even sleep is a luxury Gazans can no longer find.

Back here in the United States, our elected leaders are gathering with friends and family in their warm homes, a fire crackling in the woodstove, the table loaded with food, Palestinian children's blood on their hands.

It makes for messy holidays.

This Voices Viewpoint was submitted to The Commons.

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