Tuesday, August 03, 2004

US Aid to Israel - do Egypt and KSA figure?

The campaign for stopping economic, military, and technological aid to Israel, while popular in sections of progressive Europe, is almost non existent in the US. I had personally come across various arguments against such a campaign. The most oft-repeated one was that American aid to Israel, while substantial is by no means one-sided, as it is offset by the aid to Egypt, Jordan, the peanuts thrown in Palestine, and military sales to these countries along with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. While this is true, and not recognizing it would be lying, there is more to it.

Let us actually see closely what the arguments are. I am browsing the Jewish Virtual Library - Myths and Facts page. I quote

After Israel's victory in its War of Independence, the U.S. responded to an appeal for economic aid to help absorb immigrants by approving a $135 million Export-Import Bank loan and the sale of surplus commodities. In those early years of Israel's statehood (also today), U.S. aid was seen as a means of promoting peace.

By promoting the settlement of one people on the land which was forcibly taken from another is hardly a method of promoting peace. I hope to talk about the issue of immigration some other time, however.

In 1951, Congress voted to help Israel cope with the economic burdens imposed by the influx of Jewish refugees from the displaced persons camps in Europe and from the ghettos of the Arab countries. Arabs then complained the U.S. was neglecting them, though they had no interest in or use for American aid then. In 1951, Syria rejected offers of U.S. aid. Oil-rich Iraq and Saudi Arabia did not need U.S. economic assistance, and Jordan was, until the late 1950s, the ward of Great Britain. After 1957, when the United States assumed responsibility for supporting Jordan and resumed economic aid to Egypt, assistance to the Arab states soared. Also, the United States was by far the biggest contributor of aid to the Palestinians through UNRWA, a status that continues to the present.

Most of the region was backward, emerging from the trauma of colonial occupations. To say, there was no use for American aid would be a great folly. I have not had time to research, but I guess the Syrian rejection was probably because it was being forced to recognize Israel, or transfer the Palestinian population out of Palestine. The aid given to Jordan and Egypt at that time was dismal compared to that of Israel, considering also the size of Egypt and how much development work needed to be done. The US aid to UNRWA! Anyone who has seen the camps in Lebanon or Gaza will testify that the sort of poverty, lack of even basic facilities like clean water and sanitation is appalling. This is the direct result of forced exile of a whole nation, supported and abetted by the US. In the words of Malcolm X, "don't stick a knife in me ten inches, pull it out six, and tell me you've made progress."

Israel has received more direct aid from the United States since World War II than any other country, but the amounts for the first half of this period were relatively small. Between 1949 and 1973, the U.S. provided Israel with an average of about $122 million a year, a total of $3.1 billion (and actually more than $1 billion of that was loans for military equipment in 1971-73) . Prior to 1971, Israel received a total of only $277 million in military aid, all in the form of loans as credit sales. The bulk of the economic aid was also lent to Israel. By comparison, the Arab states received nearly three times as much aid before 1971, $4.4 billion, or $170 million per year. Moreover, unlike Israel, which receives nearly all its aid from the United States, Arab nations have gotten assistance from Asia, Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union and the European Community.

Yes, the aid to Israel during the first period was substantial, before it became enormous! What is conveniently forgotten, is that during this period, Europe under the guilt of the Holocaust was supporting and aiding Israel as zealously as the US. Stalin too had understandings with the Zionist State, as the transfer of the Jewish population from SU to Palestine suited the racist ideologies of both Stalin and the Jewish Agency.

Israel did not begin to receive large amounts of assistance until 1974, following the 1973 war, and the sums increased dramatically after the Camp David agreements. Altogether, since 1949, Israel has received more than $90 billion in assistance. Though the totals are impressive, the value of assistance to Israel has been eroded by inflation.
The 1973 war was hardly a loss for Israel to necessitate huge military aid to save a weak state. The 1973 war was, rather the decisive war in which Soviet and American military equipment, especially electronic warfare equipment competed in a real situation. The Soviet advantage in this field that was displayed in the early stages of the war was effectively beaten down very quickly. While the Arab states depended on military purchases from a closed entity, the Israeli side had access to the latest stuff right out of American labs. How the value of assistance has been eroded by inflation is anybody's guess. I thought 1973 dollars were worth more according to inflation.

Arab states that have signed agreements with Israel have also been rewarded. Since signing the peace treaty with Israel, Egypt has been the second largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid ($2 billion in 2002, Israel received $2.8 billion). Jordan has also been the beneficiary of higher levels of aid since it signed a treaty with Israel (increasing from less than $40 million to more than $225 million). The multibillion dollar debts to the U.S. of both Arab nations were also forgiven.
This is where the real argument for Israeli aid starts. But this is exactly we are saying. US aid to Egypt and Jordan, is dependent on their recognition and support of Israel, while the aid to Israel is used for further expansion. So the aid given to Israel as well as Egypt is actually for Zionist expansion on Palestinian land. The direction of US aid should be towards peace and justice for ALL, Jew and Arab alike, not for a racist ideology and state!

Also, the military aid to Egypt and Jordan are some times viewed as aid to a repressive regime rather than to the people or to their national interest. While I refuse to buy the Arab opposition argument blindly, according to which every state is evil, and all opposition movements, however totalitarian or repressive are good - let us still think about it. The sort of aid is mostly not used for the good of the Egyptian and Jordanian people. The US could have done a better job at it if this aid was used for education, healthcare, responsible and local industrialization. Rather, while the Israeli aid is used for construction of an artificial state on the corpse of Palestine, Egyptian aid is mostly used to further the sick addiction, to induce dependency, and to encourage waste. Most importantly, the fact that rich self righteous Egyptians and Saudis can visit US and Europe in luxury, while looking down at Muslim Palestinians, Africans and Indo-Pakis, or even blaming Palestinians for their lot on their irreligousity DOES NOT help Palestinians at all. It is totally irrelevant, if not humiliating for Palestinians.

After the Oslo agreements, the United States also began providing funding to the Palestinians. It now provides $80 million in humanitarian assistance via the U.S. Agency for International Development. It provides no direct aid to the Palestinian Authority because it is viewed as corrupt. President Bush specifically warned the Palestinians that they must change their leadership and embrace reform to obtain future assistance. "I can assure you," Bush said, "we won't be putting money into a society which is not transparent and [is] corrupt."

80 million dollars for a people who do not have schools, hospitals, colleges, or even decent and safe homes. While you are the cause for it! Shame!


Blogger Abdusalaam said...

Bravo! Could't have made a better argument myself. Take a bow.

August 04, 2004 10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The palestinians never miss a chance to miss a chance. a Myth of a people whose fake persecution is caused by Arab leadership.

August 10, 2004 1:56 PM  
Blogger qawukzi said...

If persecution is fake, why would it be caused by anything?

Anyways, I do not deny the failings of the Arab leadership - but it is a very slippery road. Unless you talk about a just and sustainable solution, blaming any leadership is just confusion. What you call the Arab leadership is mostly American supported regimes, and most of their contribution to the Arab Palestine issue has been to inflame the situation verbally without any action on the ground. The Zionist leadership, on the other hand, has been openly responsible for most of the massacres and exile.

I would love to talk with you on it, a good way is to leave your name, rather than an anonymous comment.

August 10, 2004 4:55 PM  
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