Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D., a Freedom Center Journalism Fellow in Academic Free Speech and President Emeritus of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, is the author of Dispatches From the Campus War Against Israel and Jews.
While vice president Kamala Harris has been conspicuously absent from her alleged role in securing the nation’s border, she did find time for an impromptu visit with students at George Mason University in Virginia recently. At that meeting, one of the tendentious students, clearly schooled in the heterodoxy in which oppressed and oppressor animate all discussions about the world, raised the issue of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.
The student, who identified herself as being Yemeni and Iranian, questioned Harris’s claim that activism, even by woke activists like herself, presumably, can result in substantive change.
“You brought up how the power of the people and demonstrations and organizing is very valuable in America,” the student told the Vice President, “but I see that over the summer there have been protests and demonstrations in astronomical numbers standing with Palestine,” referring to the widespread denunciation of Israel that occurred in the wake of the May conflict in Gaza as a result of Hamas’s showering Israeli neighborhoods with rockets meant to kill Jews.
“But then just a few days ago there were funds allocated to continue backing Israel,” the student continued, adding, with words that were not corrected by the VP and which subsequently drew criticism from many quarters as a result, “which hurts my heart because it’s ethnic genocide and displacement of people, the same that happened in America, and I’m sure you’re aware of this.”
Harris was roundly condemned for not correcting the student when she suggested that Israel was committing genocide and was displacing an indigenous people, which the student likened America’s treatment of Native Americans, and instead mollified her by saying that “your voice, your perspective, your experience, your truth should not be suppressed.”
That thinking—that there can many truths and that “narratives” can replace facts in assessing world affairs or any other topic—is, of course, rampant on university campuses, as is the false narrative that Israel is committing genocide against the ever-aggrieved Palestinians, whose numbers, contrary to the genocide libel, have grown from some half a million at Israel’s founding to some 5-6 million today.
The Vice President has since walked back her reaction to the student’s loaded statements and reaffirmed her support of the Jewish state, but in the comments was another troubling slander that has repeatedly shown itself in attacks on Israel. After the student referred to the recent vote on funding for Iron Dome when she noted that “ . . . a few days ago there were funds allocated to continue backing Israel,” she expanded on that idea by adding that “a lot of taxpayer money is allocated for funding the military, whether it’s in backing Saudi Arabia or in Palestine.”
One thing is clear in the behavior and rhetoric of the hate-Israel crowd: they have become adept at focusing obsessively and singularly on Israel and Israel alone, how it behaves, who its victims are, what human and civil rights of which it allegedly deprives the Arabs, and what crimes against humanity it continues to perpetrate in its brutal, unlawful occupation of the lands of an indigenous people. And a key part of that dissection of every part of Israel’s existence is the amount of aid the Jewish state receives from the United States, “a lot of taxpayer money,” as the students put it, some $3.4 billion annually.
The brief exchange between the Vice President and the George Mason student is yet another example of how, when Israel is involved, normally disinterested people become experts on the rules of war and body counts of those killed by Jews and suddenly care only about assessing the appropriate levels of U.S. aid being doled out to one foreign state, trying to decide what levels of aid, if any, are acceptable. Taxpayers who are watching their elected officials vote on a 2700-page, multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure bill—a bill that includes such critical items as $5 billion for low/zero emissions school buses and $2.5 billion in green energy subsidies for schools and non-profits—seem only to question the value of federal investments when those funds are earmarked for weaponry that will aid Israel in defending itself from the genocidal jihadists who surround it.
Remember, too, that U.S. military aid to Israel, in essence, is a gravy train for American defense contractors, since Israel is contractually obliged to use more than three-quarters of the U.S. aid it receives to purchase weapons and defense systems from U.S.-based companies. Billions in foreign aid to Israel, therefore, is less likely to be subject to corruption and fraud; it cannot and does not, for example, find its way into the Swiss bank accounts of leaders such as Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority (whose net worth is estimated to be $100 million), or, worse, for use in the Palestinian’s repellent pay-to-slay program in which some $170 million of aid given to the Palestinian leadership was diverted to pay bounties for the psychopaths and their families who martyr themselves to murder Jews in the name of jihad.
There can be an honest debate about which countries should receive aid and in what amounts, but one thing about our support of Israel is noteworthy: in the entire existence of the Jewish state, the U.S. has never had to put an American soldier’s boots on the ground to specifically defend Israel. While we have been loyal in material support and supplying intelligence, diplomacy, and armaments to Israel, American lives have not been lost defending it. Compare that, for instance, to the human cost of our recently terminated operations in Afghanistan where, since 2001, more than 2,300 U.S. soldiers were killed and 20,660 injured in action.
The critiquing of U.S. military aid to Israel has been a recurring theme on university campuses as part of the campus war against the Jewish state and when in May this year Israel moved to suppress rocket attacks from Gaza aimed at Jewish neighborhoods, predictably, instead of supporting Israel’s actions to protect its citizenry from the homicidal aggression of Hamas terrorists, students and faculty from dozens of universities issued statements of solidarity with the Palestinians. And the issue of U.S. aid to Israel was a bulleted point in many of those statements, along with a demand that the amount be either reduced or eliminated altogether.
An example of this sentiment can be found in the May 12th“Statement by Palestine Student Groups at Harvard Universityon Violence Against Palestinians,” in which the woke students wished to “express our outrage at the latest wave of Israeli state-sanctioned violence against Palestinians.”
Moreover, they claim, the United States is complicit in the injustices they perceive by being the primary funder of Israel’s aggression and militarism. “The United States is not a passive third-party observer of the ongoing settler colonial violence against Palestinians, but an active participant,” the tendentious statement read. “Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign and military aid. In 2016, the United States passed the largest military aid package ever given to any country, providing $38 billion in military assistance over the next decade.”
In a May 18th opinion piece in the Daily Princetonian, “Princeton University community statement of solidarity with the Palestinian people,” undergraduates and graduate students, along with some 25 Princeton faculty, published a similar statement replete with similar ahistorical, false, or exaggerated claims about Israel and its behavior.
The statement suggested that, while the authors regretted the loss of life on both sides, “We also refuse the ‘two-sides’ and ‘evenhandedness’ narrative that ignores and conceals the meaningful differences between Israel — one of the most heavily militarized states in the world that receives $3.8 billion in military aid annually from the United States — and a Palestinian population resisting occupation and oppression.”
The scrutiny given to funds flowing to the Jewish state is not confined to academia, of course. In July, a pro-Palestinian teacher’s group, New York City Educators for Palestine, issued a virulently anti-Israel statement because, they trumpeted, “we have no choice but to speak out against the injustice being committed against the Palestinian people.”
Particularly odious was the suggestion in the statement that aid to Israel should cease and that the aid is an example of Jews depriving New York taxpayers of funds that might be spent domestically. “Over $3.8 billion yearly of taxpayer money funds the purchase of weapons by the Israeli military,” the statement read. “New York City alone gives almost $145 million dollars [sic] a year to the Israeli military . . . . This is money taken from the families of New York City by a nuclear power with one of the most technologically advanced militaries in the world. We simply cannot be silent while money for our families and children here go instead to terrorizing families and children abroad,” in other words, Jews are taking money from New Yorkers to randomly terrorize “families and children” without justification.
And any necessity for Israel defending itself from the many foes who wish it harm is simply ignored, as if the military aid the U.S. gives Israel every year is not based on the fact that homicidal Arab aggression against Israel has been a fact of life since the Jewish state’s birth.
These woke educators, like the students and faculty who express similar sentiments concerning aid to Israel, apparently have no issue with the huge sums of U.S. aid given in 2020, for example,to such countries as Afghanistan, Egypt ($1.445 billion), Iraq($1.017 billion), Jordan ($2.388 billion), and Ukraine (more than $1.5 billion in security aid between 2014 and 2019), countries which are not reliable strategic and diplomatic partners and not useful in sharing technology and intelligence in the way that Israel is and does.
The US Department of Defense, in the case of Afghanistan, recently reported that our country’s total military expenditure from October 2001 until last December was $825 billion, not even including another $130 billion spent on reconstruction projects, for a total of just under a trillion dollars for a country that, after all of that blood and treasure, has almost immediately after our withdrawal reverted to a medieval theocratic state under Taliban rule.
And U.S. aid is not limited to the Middle East, obviously. The International Institute for Strategic Studies issued a report indicating that the United States spends some $36 billion annually on maintaining a military presence and capability in Europe. More than 170,000 active-duty personnel are currently deployed to overseas locations in some 140 countries, a presence that the Department of Defense Comptroller’s Office has estimated to cost American taxpayers over $24 billion in 2020.
Rarely mentioned, too, is the fact that, since the end of World War II, U.S. forces have been in Japan, and in South Korea since the outbreak of the Korean War. The price tag for that military presence is in the billions.
The recent effort by the Congressional “Squad” to kill funding for Iron Dome, the defensive technology which enables Israel to neutralize incoming rockets launched by Hamas from Gaza, indicated very clearly that for Israel-haters—in politics, academia, unions, NGOs, and other elite institutions and organizations—it is not enough to merely strip Israel’s ability to defend itself with offensive weapon and military technology.
They even revealed that their pathological loathing of the Jewish state is so fundamental to their ideology that they attempted, unsuccessfully, as it happened, to strip Israel of a defensive weapon that saves Jewish and Arab lives, alike. So, clearly, the issue is not the dollar amount the U.S. gives in aid to Israel—as it does in similar amounts to many other countries around the world.
Those who obsess about the very existence of Israel, and who focus exclusively on it and what it receives from American taxpayers while they are indifferent or ignorant of aid given to other, less deserving nations, reveal that their anti-Semitic desire to decrease or eliminate funding to the Jewish state can only be motivated by one insidious impulse: a desire to weaken and cause harm to Israel, the Jew of nations.