Mar 20, 2013

On The US Giving Aid To Israel: Brokers of deceit or bad advice?


US claims Jewish settlements are an obstacle to peace, but continues to give Israel generous foreign aid

Benjamin Netanyahu's Definition of "Defense" Illustrated

Democracy Now: Brokers of Deceit: As Obama Visits Israel, Scholar Rashid Khalidi on How the U.S. Undermines Peace...


Professor Khalidi, welcome to Democracy Now! What should Obama do in Israel and the Occupied Territories?

RASHID KHALIDI: Well, what he should do is probably what he won’t do, which is to reverse, as you suggested, several decades of policy. The approach that’s been followed until now has failed comprehensively. It was never designed to achieve independent Palestinian statehood. It was never designed to end the occupation. I try and show in the book that it really was designed, of all people, by Menachem Begin, to make permanent Israeli control over the Occupied Territories. And that is what it has succeeded in doing up ’til now.

So, I think what the president should do is lay down a couple of markers: The United States is fundamentally opposed to occupation, which has to be ended, and the United States is fundamentally opposed to the absorption of territory into Israel through this settlement process. I don’t think that, by and of itself, that will solve the problem, but at least it would separate the United States from Israel and would make it clear that we will no longer bankroll policies that have, in my view, already made a two-state solution virtually impossible, and that have created obstacles that will be almost impossible to overcome in the short term.


AMY GOODMAN: You argued for a two-state solution for years.You say it is almost impossible now. Why?

RASHID KHALIDI: Because for decades Israeli planners have systematically acted in ways to make a state impossible, by building settlements in regions that make it impossible to create a contiguous, viable Palestinian state—the settlement of Ariel, the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim. These are designed to cut the West Bank into strips, such that Israel controls most of it, if these so-called settlement blocs stay where they are.

And we are bankrolling this. We give Israel $3 billion, with which it defends its occupation. I mean, these are weapons supposedly just for self-defense, but defending an illegal occupation is not self-defense. And a lot of those weapons are used for that purpose. And through 501(c)(3) so-called charities, which funnel money to extremist, violent, radical, racist settlers in the Occupied Territories. We—our tax dollars, in effect, are being used to subsidize the very settlements themselves.

So, all of this has created a reality, which—I mean, Tony Judt once said, what any politician has done, another politician can undo. Any one of our politicians could stop those policies. Any Israeli politician could start to reverse that process. I just don’t see that happening. That’s why I say it’s virtually impossible. We’re stuck, in effect, with a one-state outcome right now. There’s one state between the Mediterranean and the sea—sorry, between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.

AARON MATÉ: So what should people who want peace be pushing for, then, here in the U.S.?

RASHID KHALIDI: We should be pushing for a change in our country’s policies, OK? You can’t force the Israelis to do anything at this stage. You can’t force the Palestinians to do anything, either. But what you can do is change your own policies. I mean, are our weapons being used for self-defense? That’s $3 billion a year of our weapons. $115 billion in aid have gone to Israel, most of it since 1973. That’s the most any country has gotten. Don’t we have the obligation to investigate how that money is being used, for what purposes?

The second thing we can do is to see to it that tax dollars that are going to these so-called charitable organizations are in fact going to charities. I mean, if it’s going to a hospital in Tel Aviv, fine. If it’s going to the Occupied Territories, I don’t understand why the IRS and the Treasury Department aren’t cracking down on that the way they’re cracking down on other things. So, I think there many things we, as citizens, can do to ensure that the United States is no longer the enabler and the bankroller of policies that most Americans—and, for that matter, most Israelis, actually—find reprehensible.

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