Interview: Adam Shapiro, co-founder of the ISM/UN Reports Gaza/ US Aid to Israel

January 29, 2009
By Kourosh Ziabari

Adam Shapiro, the symbol of a courageous, pure peace advocate, has long been under fire for his unconditional and categorical criticism of Israeli occupying state.

Photo from Palestine Think Tank

Photo from Palestine Think Tank

Born in 1972, the perseverant and steadfast anti-Zionist campaigner and co-founder of International Solidarity Movement vigorously makes efforts to broadcast the voice of subjugated and downtrodden nation of Palestine.

Following his meeting with Yasser Arafat in his Mukataa (government center) in Ramallah while it was besieged during the March 2002 Israeli military operation in the West Bank and Gaza, Adam Shapiro attained an international popularity and was put under the spotlight of Zionist media thereafter.

Despite enduring a stack of insults and invectives from the side of Zionist campaign in the past years, Adam Shapiro neither has relinquished nor alleviated his stance so far; rather intensified his anti-Zionist statements in the particular situations such as the horrendous 22 days of Israeli incursion into Gaza.

This interview has been done in the midst of Israeli genocide in Gaza as it’s apparent in some points of the conversation; nevertheless, it contains some informative and revealing information which are prone to be read and reflected thoughtfully.

Would you please elucidate about the salient and prominent activities which you usually carry out in the International Solidarity Movement? What are your agenda, modus operandi and plans to help the survivors of recent offensive in Gaza?

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) started off in 2001 as an effort to join international solidarity to the Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation and oppression. This was through the joining of foreign activists with Palestinian activists in civilian-based non-violent active resistance in the west bank and Gaza. this kind of popular resistance has always been part of the Palestinian movement, and we felt that adding the international component would force the world to recognize that the conflict was not about Jew vs. Arab or Jew vs. Muslim, but rather a situation of oppression and discrimination based on ethnicity and religion in a sense similar to the anti-apartheid movement in south Africa.

Nowadays, the ISM role continues in this way, but is also more and more involved with being an eyewitness and reporting on the atrocities of what is happening to the Palestinian people. ISM volunteers spend longer periods of time in the territories and get to know the situation in depth.

Currently ISM has 5 volunteers in the Gaza Strip, who are responding during this assault on the people of Gaza – they are escorting ambulances and medical personnel who are responding to emergency calls; they are documenting what is happening and reporting out to the world, even as the Zionist government bars foreign journalists; they are assisting in the distribution of food and water as they can and to areas that are under major threat; and they are documenting evidence of war crimes, such as the use of white phosphorous artillery shells.

According to what you said, one effective and impressive choice that could help the progressive flow of Palestinians’ extrication and release from the harsh situation is to promote the notion of imposing sanctions, embargo on Israel. How is it possible to boycott and isolate the terrorist regime in the international stage?

There is a call from Palestinian civil society to boycott Israel, and it is for this reason that we are compelled to adhere to this call. That said, sanctions will most likely be symbolic at best, given the penetration of businesses in Israel and the difficulty to render such an impact. Symbolically, however the boycott, sanctions and divestment (BDS) campaign is very useful, particularly in the west, where it enables us to alter the debate away from spurious charges of anti-Semitism towards pointing out specifically why such measures are necessary. Additionally, the academic and cultural boycott can have tangible results, forcing Israeli academics, artists and intellectuals to confront the reality of their own position and force them to take a stand. There are very credible and valuable efforts in this regard, including a recent determination by a UK-based teachers union. However, in a sense, we need to remember that far more dramatic action is required, given that this situation for the Palestinians has been going on for 60 years, and the scale of the devastation and oppression of the entire Palestinian people is at such a level that symbolic actions – while good – do not meet the urgency of the situation.

Nevertheless, US and its European allies flagrantly veto any anti-Israeli resolution which comes on the top of UNSC agenda and don’t allow the international community to express its unequivocal and clear condemnation of Israeli massacre freely. What’s the reason, in your view, and how can that be opposed?

The reason has to do with domestic factors for the US more than anything else. I think for the European nations it is connected to the lingering guilt over the holocaust, a situation that is exploited by Israel and some of the Jewish organizations in those countries to maintain a code of silence when it comes to clearly calling out Israel for what has been a 60-year effort of crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. For the US, there really is no organized constituency willing to vote or donate to politicians campaigns based on this issue. Those who would are small in number and largely ineffective. the pro-Israel lobby in the US is not only among the organized Jewish community, but includes Christian Zionists, the military-industrial complex in the US, the information technology industry, the biotech industry, the medical community and others, all of which have significant relationships with Israel from a business perspective. This all has repercussions in the US political system and set the parameters of the debate in the US around us support for Israel.

That said, I also think the Palestinian leadership has missed opportunities over the years, but most importantly it accepted the framework of peace as a means of addressing the conflict, which helped set up a false sense of parity between the two parties. Instead of maintaining a position of national liberation, or creating a movement based on equal rights or ending oppression/discrimination, the choice for 2 states in the framework of peacemaking has helped allow the us and others to ‘blame both sides’.

All of these inconsistencies aside, neither the American double standards about the Israel’s nuclear case are bearable. They are folding their arms and sitting back relaxed while everybody, even ex-President Carter has confessed that Israel deposits 200 nuclear warheads!

Indeed, on this point in particular the hypocrisy reaches the level of absurd. Add to the points you raise in the question to the fact that Israel has been at war more than any other state in the region and almost always as the initiator and aggressor; not only in the formal wars, but also in the cross-border skirmishes, as occurred with Egypt and Lebanon in the past. If any regime in the region was volatile and prone to use military force it is Israel. A s such, there should be great world concern about its weapons of mass destruction, also since we have seen that Israel is willing to use dubious weapons and disproportionate force such as we witnessed in Lebanon in 2006 (cluster bombs) and Gaza today (white phosphorous artillery).

Accordingly, it seems that the mainstream media are pusillanimously afraid of the Israeli tyrannical lobby which rules the global corporate media. They censor any kind of news reflecting demonstrations, condemnations and anti-Israeli remarks by the world’s statesmen. How can they justify this unilateral and hostile approach in conveying the information?

I think many of the same factors that influence how the US and European governments act also influence the media’s role. But there is also an element of having a media strategy that requires examination. Israel and its allies around the world have a clear, organized and effective media strategy to promote the messaging and images that they want. Sure, there is media bias, but it would be false to think that that bias is the beginning and the end. After all, I know many journalists who cover the conflict and who seek to promote different perspectives in their newspapers and broadcasts. On the Palestinian side, there really is not an effective media strategy, and certainly not one that is organized. Some of these very practical details can make a very big difference in the coverage of the issue. While I don’t think this can fully overcome the bias that does exist, it can start making changes in the overall system.

I also think with the advent of new media, including Al-Jazeera and Press TV in particular, mainstream western media outlets are being challenged and being forced to change. Even the BBC’s own Arabic service has forced a certain change in BBC’s English service, which while subtle, nonetheless has important consequences.

Finally, I think it is also somewhat easy to overcount the media, in that worldwide, the Palestinian position of justice and ending occupation and oppression is the majority opinion, despite the media coverage. It is not world opinion that necessarily needs to change; it is the actions of governments.

So what actions are needed to administer justice about Israel? How could the world’s countries prevent it from committing further, predictable atrocities and seeking adventurous war-games in the region?

There needs to be unequivocal action in the international community to force Israel to end is aggression in Gaza. This should entail full suspension of diplomatic relations (as we have seen in Venezuela and Bolivia); full arms embargo on Israel; and the establishment of a criminal court under the ICC (mandated by the Security Council) to bring forward war crimes charges. while these maybe long-shots, we have to remember that the Palestinian people, unlike virtually any other people in the world, are wholly dependent on the international community to act to help, both because it is the international community that is responsible for the original partitioning and displacement of the Palestinians and because Palestinians do not have a state, an army or any means of self-defense. The UN General Assembly can also act and take dramatic action, and it should – and this would be a way to overcome a us veto.

And what about an international investigation on the illegal employment of unconventional weapons, mass killing of women and children, beleaguering the densely-populated strip for a long time and killing journalists, media correspondents and representatives of international communities?

There needs to be a tribunal established to try these crimes committed in Gaza. But this is truly not sufficient. The crimes of 60 years need to be addressed. Because of the impunity Israel has enjoyed since 1948, the lesson it learned is that there are no consequences for its actions and no limits. The Palestinians have borne the brunt of that ‘freedom to act’ for 60 years. It is not enough to say what Israel is doing in Gaza today is too much. What was done in Deir Yassin, in Tantoura, in Lid, in the Jenin refugee camp, in Israeli prisons, and hundreds of other places and over the course of years, has been beyond the limit of international law and human rights. Of course, I would welcome justice for the crimes committed in Gaza, but this should just be the beginning.

Source

Roughly every second Palestinian in the world is a recipient of UNRWA services.

Around 47% of Palestine refugees are under 20 years of age, and 64% of Palestine refugees are under 30 years of age.

In 1948

British Mandate ends on  May 15. Israel proclaims independence one day before.

Between April and August, more than 700,000 people flee their homes in Palestine and become refugees.

By 1966

Registered refugee population surpasses 1.3 million. UNRWA schools accommodate 175,900 pupils and health centres register 4.5 million patient visits during the year.

By 1981

Registered refugee population reaches 1.9 million, with 321,000 pupils enrolled in UNRWA schools and 4.5 million patient visits at UNRWA clinics.

By 1986

Heavy fighting in and around Beirut camps. Israeli air raids on camps in south Lebanon.

Refugee population surpasses 2 million, enrolment at UNRWA’s 635 schools reaches 349,200 pupils, training centres accommodate 4,808 students, and clinics handle over 4 million patient visits during the year.

By 1992

Refugee population reaches 2.7 million with UNRWA providing education to 392,000 pupils and vocational and technical training to 5,100 students; Agency health centres handle 6.1 million patient visits.

By 1995

UNRWA marks 45 years of service to Palestine refugees. Number of Palestine refugees reaches 3.2 million.
As of June 30 2008 Total number of Refugees 4,618,141
As Israel Bulldozes and takes their homes the numbers grow. . Every Red Dot is an Israeli Settlement.

israeli-settlements-ocupation-1967-on

west-bank-fragmentation-checkpoints-etc

International Humanitarian Law requires all medical personnel and facilities be protected at all times, even during armed conflict. Attacks on them are grave violations of International Humanitarian and Human Rights laws. Access to heath is a fundamental human right.

CASUALTIES and AFFECTED
According to the MoH on 19 January at 16:00, the number of people killed in the Gaza Strip since 27 December was approximately 1300, including 410 children and 104 women. Approximately 5300 people have been injured, including 1855 children and 795 women*.
(*The reason for the high increase in the death count is the identification of many bodies that were previously not identified or found under the rubble or in areas previously not accessible.)

UNRWA reports that 44 out of the 50 emergency shelters established to accommodate the displaced people are still in place for 46 000 displaced people.
HEALTH PERSONNEL
Since 27 December 2008, 16 health personnel have been killed and 22 injured while on duty, according to the MoH health information centre in Gaza.

Since the cease-fire, most health personnel have been reporting to work regularly and working for one ore two continuous shifts, each shift for 12 hours.
DAMAGE TO HEALTH FACILITIES
Since 27 December, 34 health facilities (8 hospitals and 26 PHC clinics) have been damaged or destroyed in direct or indirect shelling.

Of the 8 damaged hospitals, two were not functioning as of January 20. The 8 are:

  • Al Dorah Hospital – damaged on 3 occasions – 3, 12, 13 January (functioning only for emergency cases)
  • Gaza Pediatrics Hospital – damaged 3 January
  • Al Awda Hospital – damaged 5 January
  • Gaza European Hospital – damaged 10 January
  • El Nasser Pediatrics Hospital – damaged 10 January
  • Al-Quds PRCS Hospital – damaged twice 4, 15 January (not functioning)
  • Al Wafa Hospital – damaged 15 January
  • Al-Fata Hospital – damaged 15 January (not functioning)
  • Of the damaged PHC clinics, 20 were identified between 17 and 19 January after staff were able to inspect areas previously inaccessible due to insecurity. The number may increase as all sites are visited.

    WHO is investigating the extent of damages to these health facilities.

    Map of Damages to Gaza Jan 2009

    The Terror that begot Israel

    By Khalid Amayreh

    “We committed Nazi acts.” Aharon Zisling, Israel’s first Agriculture Minister


    “There is no doubt that many sexual atrocities were committed by the attacking Jews. Many young (Arab) girls were raped and later slaughtered. Old women were also molested.”
    General Richard Catling, British Army Assistant Inspector after interrogating several female survivors (The Palestinian Catastrophe, Michael Palumbo, 1987)

    As the state of Israel is celebrating sixty years of ethnic cleansing and atrocities against the native Palestinians, many people around the world, especially  young generations,  will not be fully aware of the manner in which Israel came into existence. Similarly,  the younger Zionist generations who don’t stop calling their Palestinian victims “terrorists” should have a clearer idea about Israel’s manifestly criminal past which Zionist school textbooks  shamelessly glamorize and glorify

    Prior to “Jewish” statehood, three main Jewish terror organizations operated in Palestine, primarily against Palestinian civilians and British mandate targets. The three were: The Haganah, the Zvei Leumi or Irgun and the Stern Gang. The Haganah (Defence) had a field army of up to 160,000 well-trained and well-armed men and a unit called the Palmach, with more than 6,000 terrorists. The Irgun included as many as 5,000 terrorists, while the Stern Gang included 200-300 dangerous terrorists.

    The following are merely some  examples of Zionist terrorism prior to the creation of the Zionist state in 1948:  The list doesn’t include the bigger massacres such as Dir Yasin, Dawaymeh, Tantura and others.

    1937-1939

    During this period, Zionist terrorists carried out a series of terror attacks against Palestinian buses resulting in the death of 24 persons and the wounding of 25 others.

    1939

    Haganah blew up the Iraqi oil pipeline near Haifa/Palestine. Moshe Dayan was one of the participants in this act. The technique was used in 1947 at least four times.

    1940

    On 6 November, 1940 , Zionist terrorists of the Stern Gang assassinated the British Minister resident in the Middle East , Lord Moyne, in Cairo .

    1940

    On  25 November, S.S. Patria was blown up by Jewish terrorists in Haifa harbour, killing 268 illegal Jewish immigrants. The explosion, carried out by the Haganah terrorist group, was only meant to prevent the ship from sailing. However, it seemed that the terrorists had miscalculated the amount of explosives needed to disable the vessel.  Other sources reported that this was no miscalculation and was a deliberate  mass murder of Jews by Jews aimed at drawing sympathy and influencing British immigration policy to Palestine .

    1946

    Zionist terrorists blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, which housed the civilian administration of the government of Palestine, killing and injuring more than 200 persons. The Irgun gang claimed responsibility for this criminal act, but subsequent evidence indicated that both the Haganah and the Jewish Agency were involved.

    1946

    On 1 October, the British Embassy in Rome was badly damaged by a bomb explosion for which Irgun claimed responsibility.

    1947

    In June 1947, a postal bomb addressed to the British war office exploded in the post office sorting room in London, injuring 2 persons. It was attributed to Irgun or Stern Gangs (The Sunday Times, Sept. 24, 1972), p. 8.

    1947

    In December 1947, six Palestinians were killed and 30 wounded when bombs were thrown from Jewish trucks at Arab houses in Haifa; 12 Palestinians were killed and another injured in an attack by armed Zionists at an Arab coastal village near Haifa.

    1947

    On 13 December 1947 , Zionist terrorists believed to be members of Irgun Zevi Leumi murdered 18 Palestinian civilians and wounded 60 others in Jerusalem , Jaffa and Lud areas. In Jerusalem , bombs were thrown in an Arab market-place near the Damascus Gate; in Jaffa bombs were thrown into an Arab café; and in the Arab village near Lud, 12 Arabs were killed in an attack with mortars and automatic weapons.

    1947

    On 9 December, Haganah terrorists attacked an Arab village near Safad, blowing up two houses, in the ruins of which were found the bodies of 10 Arabs, including 5 children. Haganah admitted responsibility for the attack.

    December 13, 1947- February 10, 1948

    Seven bombing attacks by Jewish terrorists took place and the targets were innocent Arab civilians in cafés and markets, killing 138 and wounding 271 others. During this period, there were 9 attacks on Arab buses. Moreover, Jewish terrorists attacked passenger trains on at least four occasions, killing 93 persons and wounding 161 others.

    1947

    On 29 December, two British constables and 11 Palestinians were killed and 32 others were injured at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem when Irgun terrorists threw a bomb from a taxi.

    1948

    On 1 January,  Haganah terrorists attacked a village on the slope of Mount Carmel , killing 17 Palestinian civilians and wounding 33 others.

    1948

    On 4 January, Haganah terrorists wearing British Army uniforms penetrated into the centre of Jaffa and blew up the Sarai, which was used as headquarters of the Arab National Committee, killing more than 40 persons and wounding 98 others.

    1948

    On 5 January, the Arab-owned Semiramis Hotel in Jerusalem was blown up, killing 20 civilians, among them Viscount De Tapia, the Spanish Consul. Haganah admitted responsibility for this outrage.

    1948

    On 7 January , seventeen Arab civilians were killed by a bomb at the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem , 3 of them while trying to escape. Further casualties, including the murder of a British officer near Hebron, were reported from different parts of the country.
    1948

    On 16 January, Jewish terrorists blew up three Arab buildings, killing 8 children between the age of 18 months and 12 years.

    1948

    On 15 February , Haganah terrorists attacked an Arab village near Safad and blew up several houses, killing 11 civilians, including four children.

    1948

    On  3 March, heavy damage was done to the Arab-owned Salam building in Haifa (a seven-story block of flats and shops) by Jewish terrorists who drove an army truck to the building and escaped before detonation of 400 pounds of explosives, killing 11 Arab civilians and 3 Americans. The Stern Gang claimed responsibility.

    1948

    On 22 March, Jewish terrorists from the Stern Gang blew up a housing block in Iraq Street in Haifa , killing 17 and injuring 100 others. Four members of the Stern Gang drove two truckloads of explosives into the street and abandoned the vehicles before the explosives went off.

    1948

    On 31 March, Jewish terrorists mined the Cairo-Haifa Express, killing 40 people and wounding 60 others.

    1948

    On 16 April, Jewish terrorists attacked the former British army camp at Tel Litvvinsky, killing 90 Palestinians.

    1948

    On 19 April, fourteen Palestinian civilians were killed in a house in Tiberias, which was blown up by Zionist terrorists.

    April 25, 1948- May 13, 1948

    Wholesale looting of Jaffa was carried out following armed attacks by Irgun and Haganah terrorists. They plundered and carried away everything they could, destroying what they could not take with them.

    1948

    On  11 May, a letter bomb addressed to Evelyn Baker, former commanding officer in Palestine , was detected in the nick of time by his wife.

    1948

    On 17 September, Count Folke Berndadotte, UN Mediator in Palestine was assassinated by members of the Stern Gang in the Zionist-controlled sector of Jerusalem . Bernadotte’s aide Col. Serot was also killed and murdered by Jewish terrorists.

    1948

    In November, the Christian Arab villages of Igrit and Birim were attacked and destroyed, killing and injuring many unarmed civilians, including women and children. All the Christian Arab inhabitants were forcibly expelled from their homes. The State of Israel still refuses to allow them to return to their villages despite several court orders.

    1948-1949

    The greatest acts of Jewish terror took place when Jewish terrorists, now called Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), uprooted 700,000 Palestinians from their ancestral homeland in Palestine . Since then the refugees have consistently been denied the right to return home. After the expulsion, the Zionist terrorist army razed to the ground hundreds of Arab towns, villages and hamlets and obliterated their remains. Eventually, Israeli villages, Kibbutzim and towns were built on the remaining rubble.

    Source

    1945 Land ownership

    land-ownership-1945

    The question of Palestine was brought before the United Nations shortly after the end of the Second World War.

    The origins of the Palestine problem as an international issue, however, lie in events occurring towards the end of the First World War. These events led to a League of Nations decision to place Palestine under the administration of Great Britain as the Mandatory Power under the Mandates System adopted by the League. In principle, the Mandate was meant to be in the nature of a transitory phase until Palestine attained the status of a fully independent nation, a status provisionally recognized in the League’s Covenant, but in fact the Mandate’s historical evolution did not result in the emergence of Palestine as an independent nation.

    The decision on the Mandate did not take into account the wishes of the people of Palestine, despite the Covenant’s requirements that “the wishes of these communities must be a principal consideration in the selection of the Mandatory”. This assumed special significance because, almost five years before receiving the mandate from the League of Nations, the British Government had given commitments to the Zionist Organization regarding the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine, for which Zionist leaders had pressed a claim of “historical connection” since their ancestors had lived in Palestine two thousand years earlier before dispersing in the “Diaspora”.

    During the period of the Mandate, the Zionist Organization worked to secure the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine. The indigenous people of Palestine, whose forefathers had inhabited the land for virtually the two preceding millennia felt this design to be a violation of their natural and inalienable rights. They also viewed it as an infringement of assurances of independence given by the Allied Powers to Arab leaders in return for their support during the war. The result was mounting resistance to the Mandate by Palestinian Arabs, followed by resort to violence by the Jewish community as the Second World War drew to a close.

    After a quarter of a century of the Mandate, Great Britain submitted what had become “the Palestine problem” to the United Nations on the ground that the Mandatory Power was faced with conflicting obligations that had proved irreconcilable. At this point, when the United Nations itself was hardly two years old, violence ravaged Palestine. After investigating various alternatives the United Nations proposed the partitioning of Palestine into two independent States, one Palestinian Arab and the other Jewish, with Jerusalem internationalized. The partition plan did not bring peace to Palestine, and the prevailing violence spread into a Middle East war halted only by United Nations action. One of the two States envisaged in the partition plan proclaimed its independence as Israel and, in a series of successive wars, its territorial control expanded to occupy all of Palestine. The Palestinian Arab State envisaged in the partition plan never appeared on the world’s map and, over the following 30 years, the Palestinian people have struggled for their lost rights.

    The Palestine problem quickly widened into the Middle East dispute between the Arab States and Israel. From 1948 there have been wars and destruction, forcing millions of Palestinians into exile, and engaging the United Nations in a continuing search for a solution to a problem which came to possess the potential of a major source of danger for world peace.

    In the course of this search, a large majority of States Members of the United Nations have recognized that the Palestine issue continues to lie at the heart of the Middle East problem, the most serious threat to peace with which the United Nations must contend. Recognition is spreading in world opinion that the Palestinian people must be assured its inherent inalienable right of national self-determination for peace to be restored.

    In 1947 the United Nations accepted the responsibility of finding a just solution for the Palestine issue, and still grapples with this task today. Decades of strife and politico-legal arguments have clouded the basic issues and have obscured the origins and evolution of the Palestine problem, which this study attempts to clarify.

    The US took over by providing Israel, with billions in Aid.

    A Conservative Estimate of Total Direct U.S. Aid to Israel: Almost $114 Billion

    By Shirl McArthur

    November 2008

    TABLE 1: Direct U.S. Aid to Israel (millions of dollars)

    Year
    (Total
    (Military
    Grant
    (Economic
    Grant
    (Immigrant
    (ASHA
    (All Other
    1949-1996
    ***
    (68,030.9
    (29,014.9
    (23,122.4
    (868.9
    (121.4
    (14,903.3
    1997
    (3,132.1
    (1,800.0
    (1,200.0
    (80.0
    (2.1
    (50.0
    1998
    (3,080.0
    (1,800.0
    (1,200.0
    (80.0
    (?
    (?
    1999
    (3,010.0
    (1,860.0
    (1,080.0
    (70.0
    (?
    (?
    2000
    (4,131.85
    (3,120.0
    (949.1
    (60.0
    (2.75
    (?
    2001
    (2,876.05
    (1,975.6
    (838.2
    (60.0
    (2.25
    (?
    2002
    (2,850.65
    (2,040.0
    (720.0
    (60.0
    (2.65
    (28.0
    2003
    (3,745.15
    (3,086.4
    (596.1
    (59.6
    (3.05
    (?
    2004
    (2,687.25
    (2,147.3
    (477.2
    (49.7
    (3.15
    (9.9
    2005
    (2,612.15
    (2,202.2
    (357.0
    (50.0
    (2.95
    (?
    2006
    (2,534.53
    (2,257.0
    (237.0
    (40.0
    (?
    (.53
    2007
    (2,500.24
    (2,340.0
    (120.0
    (40.0
    (?
    (.24
    2008
    (2,423.8
    (2,380.6
    (0.0
    (39.7
    (3.0
    (.5
    Total
    (103,614.67
    (56,024.0
    (30,897.0
    (1,557.9
    (143.3
    (14,992.47
    Notes: FY 2000 military grants include $1.2 billion for the Wye agreement and $1.92 billion in annual military aid. FY 2003 military aid included $1 billion from the supplemental appropriations bill. The economic grant was earmarked for $960 million for FY 2000 but was reduced to meet the 0.38% rescission. Final amounts for FY 2003 are reduced by 0.65% mandated rescission, the amounts for FY 2004 are reduced by 0.59%, and the amounts for FY 2008 are reduced by .81%.
    Sources: CRS Report RL33222: U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel, updated Jan. 2, 2008, plus the FY ’08 omnibus appropriations bill, H.R. 2764.

    Shirl McArthur, a retired U.S. foreign service officer, is a consultant based in the Washington, DC area.

    This estimate of total U.S. direct aid to Israel updates the estimate given in the July 2006 issue of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. It is an estimate because arriving at an exact figure is not possible, since parts of U.S. aid to Israel are a) buried in the budgets of various U.S. agencies, mostly that of the Defense Department (DOD), or b) in a form not easily quantifiable, such as the early disbursement of aid, giving Israel a direct benefit in interest income and the U.S. Treasury a corresponding loss. Given these caveats, our current estimate of cumulative total direct aid to Israel is $113.8554 billion.

    It must be emphasized that this analysis is a conservative, defensible accounting of U.S. direct aid to Israel, NOT of Israel’s cost to the U.S. or the American taxpayer, nor of the benefits to Israel of U.S. aid. The distinction is important, because the indirect or consequential costs suffered by the U.S. as a result of its blind support for Israel exceed by many times the substantial amount of direct aid to Israel. (See, for example, the late Thomas R. Stauffer’s article in the June 2003 Washington Report, “The Costs to American Taxpayers of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: $3 Trillion.”)

    Especially, this computation does not include the costs resulting from the invasion and occupation of Iraq—hundreds of billions of dollars, 4,000-plus U.S. and allied fatalities, untold tens of thousands of Iraqi deaths, and many thousands of other U.S., allied, and Iraqi casualties—which is almost universally believed in the Arab world to have been undertaken for the benefit of Israel. Among other “indirect or consequential” costs would be the costs of U.S. unilateral economic sanctions on Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria, the costs to U.S. manufacturers of the Arab boycott, and the costs to U.S. companies and consumers of the 1973 Arab oil embargo and consequent and subsequent soaring oil prices partially as a result of U.S. support for Israel.

    Among the real benefits to Israel that are not direct costs to the U.S. taxpayer are the early cash transfer of economic and military aid, in-country spending of a portion of military aid, and loan guarantees. The U.S. gives Israel all of its economic and military aid directly in cash during the first month of the fiscal year, with no accounting required of how the funds are used. Also, in contrast with other countries receiving military aid, who must purchase through the DOD, Israel deals directly with the U.S. companies, with no DOD review. Furthermore, Israel is allowed to spend 26.3 percent of each year’s military aid in Israel (no other recipient of U.S. military aid gets this benefit), which has resulted in an increasingly sophisticated Israeli defense industry. As a result, Israel has become a major world arms exporter; the Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports that in 2006 Israel was the world’s ninth leading supplier of arms worldwide, earning $4.4 billion from defense sales.

    Another benefit to Israel are U.S. government loan guarantees. The major loan guarantees have been $600 million for housing between 1972 and 1990; $9.2 billion for Soviet Jewish resettlement between 1992 and 1997; about $5 billion for refinancing military loans commercially; and $9 billion in loan guarantees authorized in FY ’03 and extended to FY ’10. Of that $9 billion, CRS reports that Israel has drawn $4.1 billion through FY ’07. These loans have not—yet—cost the U.S. any money; they are listed on the Treasury Department’s books as “contingent liabilities,” which would be liabilities to the U.S. should Israel default. However, they have been of substantial, tangible benefit to Israel, because they enable Israel to borrow commercially at special terms and favorable interest rates.
    Components of Israel Aid

    Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. aid since World War II (not counting the huge sums being spent in Iraq). The $3 billion or so per year that Israel receives from the U.S. amounts to about $500 per Israeli. Most of this money is earmarked in the annual Foreign Operations (foreign aid) appropriations bills, with the three major items being military grants (Foreign Military Financing, or FMF), economic grants (Economic Support Funds, or ESF), and “migration and refugee assistance.” (Refugee assistance originally was intended to help Israel absorb Jewish refugees from the Soviet Union, but this was expanded in 1985 to include all refugees resettling in Israel. In fact, Israel doesn’t differentiate between refugees and other immigrants, so this money is used for all immigrants to Israel.)

    Not earmarked but also included in congressional appropriations bills is Israel’s portion of grants for American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA) and monies buried in the appropriations for other departments or agencies. These are mostly for so-called “U.S.-Israeli cooperative programs” in defense, agriculture, science, and hi-tech industries.

    Before 1998, Israel received annually $1.8 billion in military grants and $1.2 billion in economic grants. Then, beginning in FY ‘99, the two countries agreed to reduce economic grants to Israel by $120 million and increase military grants by $60 million annually over 10 years. FY ’08 is the last year of that agreement, with military grants reaching $2.4 billion (reduced by an across-the-board rescission), and zero economic grants. Then, in August 2007, U.S. and Israeli officials signed a memorandum of understanding for a new 10-year, $30 billion aid package whereby FMF will gradually increase, beginning with $2.55 billion in FY ’09, and average $3 billion per year over the 10-year period.
    Methodology
    TABLE 2: Foreign Aid and DOD Appropriations
    Legislation Since FY 2004

    Basic Documents Conference Report Public Law
    FY ’04 Defense H.R. 2658 H.Rept. 108-283 P.L. 108-87
    Omnibus H.R. 2673 H.Rept. 108-401 P.L. 108-199
    FY ’05 Defense H.R. 4613 H.Rept. 108-662 P.L. 108-287
    Omnibus H.R. 4818 H.Rept. 108-792 P.L. 108-447
    FY ’06 Defense H.R. 2863 H.Rept. 109-359 P.L. 109-148
    Foreign Aid H.R. 3057 H.Rept. 109-265 P.L. 109-102
    FY ’07 Defense H.R. 5631 H.Rept. 109-676 P.L. 109-289
    Foreign Aid H.J.Res. 20 P.L. 110-5
    FY ’08 Defense H.R. 3222 H.Rept. 110-434 P.L. 110-116
    Omnibus H.R. 2764 H.Rept. 110-497 P.L. 110-161
    Notes: H.R.=House Resolution; S.=Senate Resolution; H.Rept.=House Report; the “public law” is the final, binding version, as signed by the president. In FY ’04, ’05, and ’08 defense was passed separately and foreign aid was included in the consolidated or “omnibus” bill. In FY ’07 defense was passed separately and foreign aid was included in the continuing resolution, H.J. Res. 20, which continued ’07 appropriations at the ’06 level with some exceptions—including, of course, for Israel.

    As with previous Washington Report estimates of U.S. aid to Israel, this analysis is based on the annual CRS report, U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel, which uses available and verifiable numbers, primarily from the foreign operations appropriations bills. Although the CRS report does include such things as the old food for peace program, the $1.2 billion from the Wye agreement, the $1 billion in FMF included in the FY ’03 Emergency Supplemental appropriations bill, the subsidy for “refugee resettlement,” and money from the ASHA account, it does not include money from the DOD and other agencies. Nor does it include estimated interest on the early disbursement of aid.

    The January 2008 CRS report on aid to Israel shows a total of $101.1908 billion through FY ’07. Table 1, on the previous page, is drawn from the summary table of that report, plus $2.4238 billion from the FY ’08 omnibus appropriations bill and estimates for ASHA and “other” amounts in FY ’08, for a total of $103.6147 billion through FY ’08.

    To that has been added $10.2407 billion, as detailed below, for a grand total of $113.8554 billion.

    Estimated Amounts Not Included in Table 1:
    $10.2407 Billion

    Defense Department Funds: $7.694 Billion. For previous estimates, a search going back several years was able to identify $6.794 billion from the DOD to Israel through FY ‘06. Adding $450 million from the FY ’07 DOD appropriations and $450 million from the ’08 appropriations gives a total of $7.694 billion. (The FY ’08 appropriations bill earmarks $155.6 million for Israel. However, AIPAC’s Web site reported that the total for earmarked and non-earmarked programs was $450 million—and who would know better than the Israel lobby itself?)

    The military aid from the DOD budget is mostly for specific projects. The largest items have been the canceled Lavi attack fighter project, the completed Merkava tank, the ongoing Arrow anti-missile missile project, and several other anti-missile systems, most recently the “David’s Sling” short-range missile defense system. Haaretz reported in June that a senior U.S. defense official has said the U.S. will support and help Israel’s development of the advanced Arrow 3 designed to intercept advanced ballistic missiles. The fact that the U.S. military was not interested in the Lavi or the Merkava for its own use and has said the same thing about the Arrow and the other anti-missile projects would seem to jettison the argument that these are “joint defense projects.” The FY ‘01 appropriations bill also gave Israel a grant of $700 million worth of military equipment, to be drawn down from stocks in Western Europe, and the FY ’05 defense appropriations bill includes a provision authorizing the DOD to transfer an unspecified amount of “surplus” military items from inventory to Israel. In addition, since 1988 Israel has been designated a “major non-NATO ally,” giving it access to U.S. weapons systems at lower prices, and preferential treatment in bidding for U.S. defense contracts.

    Interest: $2.089 Billion. Israel receives its U.S. economic and military aid in a lump sum within one month of the new fiscal year or the passage of the appropriations act. Applying one-half of the prevailing interest rate to the aid for each year (on the assumption that the aid monies are drawn down over the course of the year), the July 2006 estimate arrived at a total of $1.991 billion through FY ’06. To that, using an interest rate of 4 percent, is added $50 million for FY ’07 and $48 million for FY ’08, for a cumulative total of $2.089 billion through FY ’08.

    Other Grants and Endowments: $457.7 Million. The July 2006 report included $456.7 million in U.S. grants and endowments to U.S.-Israeli scientific and business cooperation organizations. The two largest are the BIRD (Israel-U.S. Binational Research & Development) Foundation and the BARD (Binational Agriculture and Research and Development) Fund. While these are mostly self-sustaining, the BARD Fund gets about $500,000 a year from the Agriculture Department. Adding $0.5 million for each of FY ’07 and ‘08 to the ’06 total gives a new total of $0.457.7 billion.

    For the convenience of those who wish to look up more details, citations for the foreign aid and DOD appropriations bills for the past five years are given in Table 2 above.

    Source

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    Published in: on January 31, 2009 at 12:58 pm  Comments Off on Interview: Adam Shapiro, co-founder of the ISM/UN Reports Gaza/ US Aid to Israel  
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