US Should Suspend All Its Support For Ungrateful Israel – OpEd

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The US has not only been Israel’s strongest ally and its shield against demands for justice at the UN for many years, but it is also one of its largest financial supporters. The US has given Israel a minimum of $3.8 billion every year as part of a 10-year program approved by former President Barack Obama. He, like many American presidents before him, did not have the moral will to stand up to Israel’s atrocities.

America has never asked Israel for anything in exchange for its submissive, head-in-the-sand support. But maybe things should change, especially as several of Israel’s extremist government leaders are now sniping at America and openly telling Washington’s leaders to “mind your own business.” Likud’s Amichai Chikli, Israel’s minister of diaspora affairs, used those words when referring to US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides after Nides suggested Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should “pump the brakes” on legislation that would water down the rule of law, or whatever is left of it, in Israel.

Last December, Chikli was also among the Knesset members attacking the EU after it criticized Israel’s policies of home demolition and assaults in the occupied West Bank. In his mind, Palestinians have no rights and anyone who defends them is antisemitic.

And Chikli recently proposed an effort to change Israel’s Law of Return, which allows every Jewish person in the world to move to Israel and automatically become a citizen of the state. It has been suggested that this should no longer apply to “people who are not traditionally considered Jewish,” meaning converts, Palestinians who marry Jews and a few other categories, including Jews who are too religiously liberal.

Chikli is an extremist, but not nearly the worst extremist or anti-Arab figure in the Likud party, which serves as the foundation of Netanyahu’s ruling coalition government. There are far worse people who are exposing themselves through their incendiary hate-driven rhetoric, such as National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich. These two seem to compete on who can say worse things about Palestinians. They also criticized Nides.

Nides was then attacked by Netanyahu’s son Yair, who posted a photo of Nides meeting Mansour Abbas, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and head of the United Arab List, with the words “You get it?” implying a connection between Abbas and the ambassador’s comment on Israel’s proposed judicial reform.

The change in Israel’s judicial system, which was put forward by Justice Minister Yariv Levin, would grant the government control of the appointment of judges, including Supreme Court justices; severely limit the High Court of Justice’s ability to strike down legislation; and allow the Knesset to re-legislate laws the court does manage to annul by a simple majority. The move is seen as an effort by Netanyahu’s cronies to prevent his conviction in three corruption trials he has already successfully delayed.

Several more reasoned Israelis who are opposed to Netanyahu’s immoral and unethical government argue America has every right to express its views about what is happening in Israel. That is what real democracies do.

As anyone who lives in a real democracy knows, criticism of the government is the cornerstone of democracy. That is why Israel is not really a democracy. It does not permit criticism. For example, it bullies the media into tempering critical reporting. Israel’s media outlets, with the exception of only a few like Haaretz and +972 Magazine, act like they are paid flacks or spokespeople for Israel.

Regardless of their reasoning, I think Chikli, Yair Netanyahu, Smotrich, Ben-Gvir and the rest of Israel’s government ministers who are slamming Nides are right that America should mind its own business. The US should mind its own business by ending all financial support and suspending all programs that accommodate Israel. How about ending the 1985 free trade agreement, under which all customs duties with Israel have been eliminated?

What other nation would continue to provide financial welfare and favoritism to a country that is so openly ungrateful? America is embarrassing itself in the face of other true democracies. It has turned a blind eye to Israel’s racism, which discriminates against all Palestinians.

The US has been timid in confronting Israeli violations, especially by failing to demand justice for American citizens it has killed, such as Rachel Corrie and Shireen Abu Akleh. And US governments have been even less sensitive to the Israel Defense Force’s killing of thousands of women and children and hundreds of thousands others they have injured in assaults that many compare to the pogroms that targeted Jews in the Soviet Union. The US even led the charge to free Russian Jews.

Worse is that the US has closed its eyes to the evidence that proves Israel violates human rights. Amnesty International recently released a statement strengthening the arguments that Israel is an apartheid state. It was America that led the fight against South African apartheid, but somehow it has meekly altered its moral compass in the face of Israel’s apartheid policies.

Yes, let us Americans mind our own business. As an American, I am tired of paying for Israel’s atrocities. I am tired of my country closing its eyes to civil and human rights violations. Worse are the members of Congress who defend Israel while they receive large campaign donations from the many pro-Israel political action committees. Israel buys their silence on its atrocities and directs them to scream whenever its victims fight back. I am tired of working hard every day only to see some of my tax dollars being directed to an ingrate foreign state that belittles and maligns my country.

Yes, let us mind our own business and end everything we do to protect Israel. Let them protect themselves.

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian-American former journalist and political columnist. Email him at [email protected].

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