This at a time when millions of Americans are suffering from Covid-related hardship and rising inflation. Israel has received more US money than any other country; on average, 7,000 times more per capita.
The organizations want the money to fund the Israeli military’s defense system against Palestinians’ largely home-made rockets; the rockets have killed 39 Israelis, while Israeli air attacks on Gaza have killed over 4,000 Gazans.
The fact is that Israel’s weaponry, funded by US taxpayers, is vastly superior to that wielded by Palestinian groups resisting Israel’s confiscation of their land and crippling blockade against Gaza’s two million men, women, and children.
During the escalation in May, Israeli forces killed 260 Gazans (66 of them children), while Palestinian resistance groups killed 13 people in Israel.
Amnesty International reported: “There is a horrific pattern emerging of Israel launching air strikes in Gaza targeting residential buildings and family homes – in some cases entire families were buried beneath the rubble when the buildings they lived in collapsed.”
UNICEF stated: “Gaza’s children have been left reeling from the violent escalation in conflict in May 2021. Lives have been lost and families shattered, with devastating impacts on children. In Gaza, schools and health facilities have been damaged, homes and offices have been flattened, and entire families have been displaced. In Israel, schools, homes and buildings have also been damaged.”
Since May, Israelis have killed 54 Palestinians, while Palestinians have killed 3 Israelis. Most recently, Israeli soldiers killed an 80-year-old man who was heading home after visiting relatives. The man, Omar Abdalmajeed As’ad, is reportedly an American citizen who had lived in Milwaukee for many years before returning to his village in the West Bank 10 years ago.
The bill (H.R. 5323) for the additional billion dollar appropriation to Israel demanded by the groups was fast-tracked through the House in September (Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn’t explain why Israel’s numerous millionaires and billionaires can’t pay for this system themselves), but has been stalled in the Senate.
In response to Paul’s action, the groups sent a letter to the Senate leadership on January 11th saying they are “deeply troubled” by the delay and calling for the bill to be passed immediately.
The organizations demanding the extra funding
The letter’s signatories are the American Jewish Congress, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Agudath Israel of America, Ameinu, B’nai B’rith International, Hadassah-The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Israel Policy Forum, Jewish Women International, Rabbinical Assembly (Conservative Movement), Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, Union for Reform Judaism, Zionist Organization of America.
Another letter containing a few additional groups was issued the same day and similarly urged Senators to appropriate the additional billion to Israel “as quickly as possible.”
The signatories are The Jewish Federations of North America, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, Hadassah-The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Union for Reform Judaism, Anti-Defamation League, and Christians United for Israel (co-executive director on list of “50 Most Influential Jews”).
Another national organization, J Street, also supports the funding.
Two Jewish groups oppose it
Two smaller Jewish groups have opposed the funding: Jewish Voice for Peace and If Not Now.
JVP stated in September:
“Poll after poll has shown that Democratic voters want more accountability from the Israeli government, not a further increase in military funding. When will Democratic voters have elected officials who actually represent their values?
“Israel is also the only country that receives U.S. military funding without any country-specific human rights conditions – even though the Israeli military’s grave violations of human rights are documented by every major human rights organization in the world, as well as by our own State Department. Moreover, Congress already funds the Iron Dome. In fact, since 2011, the U.S. has provided $1.7 billion for the Iron Dome and is already committed to continuing these funds through 2028.”
“Today’s vote was an infuriating display of anti-Palestinian racism. Israel is an apartheid state, carrying out a belligerent military occupation, and it’s currently under investigation for war crimes by the International Criminal Court. Why did almost every single member of the House just agree to send another $1 billion check to the Israeli government? Every member who voted for this should be deeply ashamed of themselves.”
The organizations calling for immediate action acknowledge that even if the current legislation is not passed, the additional billion dollars will “likely be included in a final omnibus spending package” anyway.
They’re just not accustomed to waiting for their money.