Saturday, March 16, 2013

Whose Side Are We On?

As President Obama makes his first visit to Israel this week, everyone's wondering if we'll be seeing any peace resolutions in the near future. The region has been riddled by an Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the early 20th century, leaving hundreds of thousands of refugees and tens of thousands dead. According to the website If Americans Knew, which is dedicated to informing the American public of the exact statistics involving the conflict, during the fiscal year of 2011 the U.S. gave the Israeli military $8.5 million per DAY, Palestinian forces received nothing. Isn't that incredible and disheartening? Furthermore, The Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions estimates that over 27,000 houses have been demolished in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza since 1967, all of said houses have belonged to Palestinians. 

Before I get too ahead of myself I should probably tell you how this all started if you don't already know. In the late 1800's a Zionist movement began to create a homeland for the Jewish people. Following the Holocaust more and more Jewish people migrated to the region, alarming the indigenous population who were slowly losing their land and eventually their rights. The UN intervened in 1947, but instead of allowing the citizens of the region to self-determine their state they chose to divide it themselves. According to If Americans Knew, the UN recommended giving away 55% of Palestine to a Jewish state – despite the fact that this group represented only about 30% of the total population, and owned under 7% of the land. I was just reading an article today about the 10th anniversary of the death of American activist, Rachel Corrie, who was crushed to death protecting a Palestinian home by an Israeli Caterpillar D9 bulldozer-- equipment funded by the U.S. (the article here: 

So why does the U.S. continue to provide Israel with such exorbitant military aid? The interest lies in our current relationship with the Middle East at large. With so many nations who are against the U.S. in the Middle East, Israel proves to be a strong ally located in the region. Having strong diplomatic relations with Israel allows the U.S. to have a foothold in a region that fosters so many uncertainties for us as a nation. But Obama's agenda isn't solely to garner peace between the Israelis and Palestinians but also to address the issue of Iran's nuclear weapon program that has been causing  increasing fear around the world. Iran has been vocal in the past of the way the American government has handled the Israeli-Palestinian issue, criticizing the lack of fairness and tact while handling the situation. 

While Israel bathes in the international limelight this week lets hope that American's will finally take the time to understand the incredible injustices we have been funding for decades. 

Here's a little tongue-in-cheek cartoon poking at the wayward conditions in Israel today:

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