By Josh Ruebner
Last week, Congress finally got around to finalizing the 2011 budget, which included a record-breaking appropriation of $3 billion in military aid to Israel (not including an additional $415 million in Pentagon funding for joint U.S.-Israeli missile defense projects).This money was the third installment of a ten-year Memorandum of Understanding signed by the United States and Israel to provide Israel with $30 billion in U.S. military aid from 2009-2018, an annual average increase of 25% over previous levels.
It is well-known that Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. military aid and that U.S. weapons provided to Israel make the United States intricately, deeply, and comprehensively complicit in Israel’s human rights abuses of Palestinians. However, until now, the extent of U.S. weapons transferred to Israel and the direct relationship between these weapons and Israel’s killing of Palestinian civilians has been difficult to detail.
Not any longer. To coincide with Tax Day, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation launched a new website: How Many Weapons to Israel? to catalogue and quantify the types, values, and quantities of U.S. weapons transferred to Israel between 2000-2009. Even for someone like myself who works everyday to challenge U.S. military aid to Israel and follows the issue closely, the results of our research are eye-popping. The sheer magnitude of weapons given to Israel is staggering; the devastation caused to Palestinians by these weapons is heart-breaking. Our research shows that during the past decade, the United States provided Israel with more than 670 million weapons and related equipment, valued at nearly $19 billion, through three major weapons transfer programs. In our database, we detail more than 500 different weapons categories, along with the value and quantity of each type of weapon transferred to Israel.
How Many Weapons to Israel? paints a disturbing picture of the extent to which the United States is saturating Israel with weapons. Take just one example: in the last three years alone, the United States has provided Israel with enough ammunition (47 million pieces) to kill every Palestinian in the Occupied Territories more than ten times over! What a truly frightening thought.
If Israel were using these weapons for their intended purpose under U.S. law, which is restricted to “legitimate self-defense” and “internal security,” then perhaps these weapons transfers would raise only fiscal concerns. However, How Many Weapons to Israel? also makes clear the moral and political implications of arming Israel.
From September 2000-December 2009, roughly the same period during which the United States transferred these weapons to Israel, the Israeli military killed at least 2,969 Palestinians who took no part in hostilities, according to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. How Many Weapons to Israel? demonstrates the direct correlation between Israel’s killing of Palestinian civilians and types of weapons provided to it by the United States. Returning to the example of ammunition, the database reveals that Israel killed 1,931 unarmed Palestinians, including 735 children, with small arms gunfire.
The US Campaign launched this website, as part of its ongoing organizing campaign to end U.S. military aid to Israel, to provide incontrovertible and irrefutable evidence that Israel is misusing U.S. weapons to commit grave human rights abuses against Palestinians in violation of U.S. and international law.
With easy-to-use slideshows and spreadsheets, the US Campaign intends for How Many Weapons to Israel?to be used by activists to raise awareness about the moral and political costs of arming Israel with our tax dollars.
This new website is designed as a complement to our sister website How Much Military Aid to Israel? which reveals the budgetary trade-offs involved in arming Israel. On that website, viewers can use our interactive map to find out how much money their city, county, Congressional district, and state provide in weapons to Israel, and which unmet social needs could be funded instead with this money.
Both websites are designed as interactive tools for activists to use in their communities to educate people about the financial, moral, and political costs of transferring weapons to Israel. Activists can also sign up to receive an organizing packet from the US Campaign to be a part of our ongoing campaign to end U.S. military aid to Israel.
And, after viewing these websites, if you are as outraged at this misuse of our taxes as I am, then you can join with me in “offsetting” the estimated $21.59 you just gave Uncle Sam for weapons to Israel this year by making a tax-deductible contribution to support the work of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.
Josh Ruebner is the National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, a national coalition of more than 350 organizations working to change U.S. policy toward Palestine/Israel to support human rights, international law, and equality. He is a former Analyst in Middle East Affairs at Congressional Research Service.