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US Tax dollars paying for Israeli Apartheid

May 17, 2010

The extent of US collaboration in the construction of the emerging apartheid system in Israel and the Occupied Territories is well documented.  Indeed, without the backing and consent of the US it is doubtful that Israel could have gone this far down the path of Bantustanization and became a new settler-colonial state in the face of overwhelming disapproval and rejection from almost the entire rest of the world.

Two recent articles have delved into the grim details of what it means to support apartheid.  When it comes to the US, lending moral support is no deemed sufficient enough.  Vast sums of US’s citizen’s tax dollars have been and continue to be distributed to the Israeli state in the name of security and aid.  As Jonathan Cook recently wrote:

The construction of sections of a controversial segregated road network in the West Bank planned by Israel for Palestinians — leaving the main roads for exclusive use by settlers — is being financed by a US government aid agency, a map prepared by Palestinian researchers has revealed.

USAid, which funds development projects in Palestinian areas, is reported to have helped to build 114km of Israeli-proposed roads, despite a pledge from Washington six years ago that it would not assist in implementing what has been widely described as Israel’s “apartheid road” plan.

To date the agency has paid for the construction of nearly a quarter of the segregated road network put forward by Israel in 2004, said the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem (ARIJ).

The roads are designed to provide alternative routes to connect Palestinian communities, often by upgrading circuitious dirt tracks or by building tunnels under existing routes.

Meanwhile, according to human rights groups, Israel has reserved an increasing number of main roads in the West Bank for Israelis so that Jewish settlers can drive more easily and quickly into Israel, making their illegal communities more attractive places to live.

The US agency’s involvement in building a segregated West Bank road infrastructure would run counter to Washington’s oft-stated goal, including as it launched “proximity talks” last week, to establish a viable Palestinian state with territorial contiguity.

“The displacement of Palestinians from the West Bank’s main roads improves the appeal of the settlements by better integrating them into Israel,” said Suheil Khalilieh, the head of settlement monitoring at ARIJ. “Conversely, creating an inferior, alternative network of local roads makes travel between the main regions of the West Bank difficult and time-consuming for Palestinians.”

Israel proposed the creation of two separate road systems in 2004, after many of the West Bank’s main roads had been sealed off to Palestinians following the outbreak of the second intifada.

Ariel Sharon, the then-prime minister, argued that segregated infrastructure would create “contiguity of transportation” for Palestinians and help to alleviate economic hardship resulting from hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints that restrict Palestinian movement.

The international community was asked to finance 500km of roads for the Palestinians, later termed “fabric of life” roads, including upgrading agricultural tracks and constructing many underpasses and bridges, at a cost of $200 million.

The Palestinian Authority, however, objected, saying the plan would further entrench the illegal settlements in the West Bank and justify confiscating yet more Palestinian land for the new roads.

That position was backed by international donors, including the US, which declared it would not finance any road projects against the PA’s will.

Despite the US promise, however, a map of the West Bank recently published by ARIJ shows that 23 per cent of the “alternative” road network Israel proposed has been built with USAid money.

When it comes to giving huge sums of dollars to the bankster capitalists or in support of strengthening the systemic installation of a apartheid society there seems to be no problem finding the funds.  But when it comes to alleviating the pains and troubles of the millions of workers struggling to get by in the US, buried underneath a growing mountain of debt and health care costs, the response seems to be be, “sorry, we just don’t have the money to help.  Haven’t you seen the national debt or the deficit we’re running lately?  Surely you can’t expect any help until we get our finances in order.”  Its the a standard answer: relief for capital and reaction, hard times for labor and ordinary folk.

Paul Woodward wrote:

Israel’s newly developed “Iron Dome” missile defense shield will supposedly provide vital protection from rocket attacks from Gaza or Lebanon.

The system’s manufacturer, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, says:

The Iron dome is a cost effective system that can handle multiple threats simultaneously and efficiently [and] has been selected by the Israeli Defense Ministry as the best system offering the most comprehensive defense solution against a wide range of threats in a relatively short development cycle and at low cost.

Israel receives $3 billion annually in military aid from US taxpayers, so you’d imagine that the Israeli government would allocate some of that generous aid to pay for Iron Dome. No, instead President Obama just agreed that we should chip in an extra $205 million because Iron Dome “addresses an immediately existing threat to each Israeli citizen,” a senior administration official said.

But while Israel isn’t willing to cover the cost of deploying this system, it is already looking at opportunities to sell it to NATO.

As for the “low cost” the manufacturers tout, perhaps what they mean is that it will be a low cost for Israelis so long as its paid for by Americans. Whether the system would have any real value — that’s a completely different question.

Some of the harshest criticism of the system comes from inside Israel where Tel Aviv University professor and noted military analyst Reuven Pedatzur charged that despite the well-known ineffectiveness of Iron Dome and other missile defense systems, “for the aeronautics and defense industries, it’s a matter of money; and for politicians, supporting such projects allows them to tell the public that they’re doing something, they’re trying to find answers to the threats we face.”

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