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Israel Above Sequestration Cuts?
WASHINGTON - March 5 - JOSH RUEBNER, [email]
National advocacy director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Ruebner’s piece “‘Israel Lobby’ to Push for Aid Despite Sequestration Cuts” was just published by The Hill. It states: “The long-dreaded sequestration has arrived, bringing with it potentially catastrophic consequences for governmental programs designed to benefit those most in need. The NAACP estimates these across-the-board cuts will result in 100,000 fewer low-income children being prepared for school through Head Start, 17 million fewer ‘Meals-on-Wheels’ delivered to seniors suffering from food insecurity, and 1.6 million fewer unemployed Americans served through job training, education, and employment services.
“Yet, as thousands of ‘Israel-first’ citizen lobbyists descend on Capitol Hill [Tuesday] as part of the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee — the largest and most influential of the many groups comprising the ‘Israel lobby’ — concern for these millions of Americans will not be on its legislative agenda. Instead, AIPAC will be lobbying to avert the impact of sequestration on record-breaking levels of U.S. military aid to Israel. It will also be pushing for legislation to boost the U.S.-Israel ‘strategic alliance’ and green light an Israeli attack on Iran, measures which will both inevitably entail demands for additional U.S. taxpayer-funded weapons to Israel.
“Israel stands to lose approximately $250 million of its $3.1 billion military aid package from the United States under the terms of the sequestration. The Jewish Week calls AIPAC’s gambit to exempt these cuts a ‘very risky strategy at a time when millions of Americans will be feeling the bite of the sequestration debacle,’ which ‘could easily backfire and damage Israel far more than any cuts in its very generous grant aid program.’ …
“AIPAC demands that the United States underwrite approximately 20 percent of the Israeli military budget. Beyond the fiscal absurdity of this policy, what makes it even more galling is that U.S. taxpayers are thereby made complicit in Israel’s systematic violation of Palestinian human rights, its military occupation and illegal colonization of Palestinian land, and its apartheid policies toward Palestinians which deny them freedom and self-determination.” Ruebner is author of the forthcoming Shattered Hopes: Why Obama Failed to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace.
Note: President Obama is currently scheduled to visit Israeli on March 20, though there have been reports that may be delayed.