Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Aid to Israel is a moral and legal calamity Washington doesn’t need

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell May29,2024

The $95 billion military and foreign aid package Congress passed was a remarkable feat of bipartisanship — and a calamity for decency and humanity. 

That’s primarily because of the $15 billion in military aid to Israel. Unless President Biden’s State Department recognizes Israel’s egregious violations of humanitarian law and withholds that aid, those U.S. funds will directly help the Israeli military perpetuate its assault on the people of Gaza — in which the International Court of Justice four months ago ordered Israel to “prevent death, destruction and any acts of genocide.” 

The Israeli military’s operations have caused more than 34,000 deaths in Gaza, most of them women and children. And it will get worse: Gaza is on the brink of famine, due in large part to the Israeli military’s blockading of humanitarian aid, despite the Biden administration’s repeated (and ineffective) demands to allow more aid.

U.S. weapons have played a key role in this devastation. The U.S. was already slated to send $3.8 billion to the Israeli military in 2024, which it’s given annually for years. The new $15 billion package multiplies that sum.

The Israeli military has used U.S. weapons systems, including F-16s and Apache helicopters, in recent operations in Gaza. Less than a month ago, even as the Biden administration claimed to oppose a planned Israeli military operation in the city of Rafah, the administration nevertheless approved a transfer of 1,800 MK84 2,000-pound bombs and other munitions that the Israeli military has been using to devastate Gaza for months. 

All of this is a moral outrage — and also a legal one. And that’s why President Biden still has the power to stop this.

Following its January ruling, in March the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to allow the free flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza. But that still hasn’t happened. Providing material support to Israel even as it carries out a war violating international orders makes us complicit, too.

U.S. aid also may violate our own domestic laws: For example, the Leahy Laws prohibit providing weapons or military aid to forces that commit human rights violations. The U.S. is belatedly considering placing limits on one Israeli military battalion for its violations of human rights, but the misery in Gaza isn’t the fault of one “bad apple” battalion. It’s the express policy of a far-right government enabled by U.S. aid.

The Israeli government, of course, welcomed the new military aid and announced that the U.S. relationship with Israel is now “ironclad.” The truth is that while the Biden administration has made some largely rhetorical efforts to mitigate the disastrous humanitarian impact of Israel’s war, those attempts have largely rung hollow — and the Israeli government has shown that it doesn’t much care what the Biden administration thinks. 

Sending a massive new aid package now will only compound that dynamic. 

Still, there is widespread public support — and growing support in Congress — for conditioning or withholding aid. A recent CBS News poll found that 60 percent of Americans would prefer President Biden encourage Israel to decrease or stop military actions in Gaza. And a recent Pew poll found that among Americans aged 18-29, the largest segment strongly opposed sending more military aid to Israel. 

That opposition by young Americans has become crystal clear as hundreds of student demonstrators against the war have been arrested at college campuses around the country — and yet they keep on protesting.

With most Americans telling pollsters they support a cease-fire in the war, the students’ demands are quite popular. And so are the domestic programs we could fund with money lawmakers want to send Israel.

After all, funds reclaimed from military aid could be reinvested in desperately needed domestic programs. One example is the Earned Income Tax Credit, which puts money in the hands of low-income workers — and which President Biden has proposed expanding by $15 billion in 2025. That would be a much better use of $15 billion than potentially breaking U.S. and international law to fund a deadly, unpopular war.

No matter how much money Congress sets aside for Israel, President Biden has the authority — and the responsibility — to enforce U.S. law to withhold that aid for as long as rampant human rights abuses are occurring.

It’s still the right thing to do — and likely to be a political winner. 

Lindsay Koshgarian directs the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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2 thoughts on “Aid to Israel is a moral and legal calamity Washington doesn’t need”
  1. Providing such extensive military aid to Israel is deeply troubling. It’s clear that the U.S. must reconsider its support in light of the egregious violations of humanitarian law by the Israeli military. This aid only fuels further destruction and suffering, contradicting the principles of decency and humanity.

  2. Providing military aid to Israel is a breach of moral and legal standards. The U.S. must hold Israel accountable for its humanitarian law violations and refrain from further enabling the ongoing assault on Gaza. The devastating consequences on the civilian population, particularly women and children, underscore the urgent need to reassess this aid package.

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