Sunday, October 24, 2010

Day 297- Israel and the rest of the world

Dear Mr. President,

Eric Cantor has proposed separating US aid to Israel from the rest of the foreign ops budget. Israel already receives an obscene amount of aid, especially in comparison to the rest of the world, and Cantor's proposal is clearly an attempt to safeguard that funding while Republicans seek to cut or abolish aid to other countries all together. Funding a wealthy country's brutal occupation (and insulating the taxpayers of Israel from the true costs of their government's policies) is clearly a high enough priority that Cantor and other Republicans have realized they can't go after foreign aid without safeguarding Israeli aid.

Your administration has already promised $3 billion a year to Israel in aid- a decision I have objected to often enough to accept that we're never going to see eye to eye. However, I believe that you, like me, want to see the aid we send to other countries for agriculture, infrastructure, health and education projects increased, or, at the very least, maintained. If Cantor is successful at disentangling the Israeli aid from the rest of the foreign ops budget there will be nothing to stop Republicans who would see it cut. Foreign aid represents about 1% of our budget and places us well below most developed nations in terms of the amount spent as a percentage of GDP. Jeopardizing this funding further by distancing it from the most politically acceptable segment of our foreign ops budget will not improve America's image abroad, it won't help us to reach the millenium development goals and it absolutely will not make American's safer. As much as it disgusts me to admit this, the stigma against backing off on our support for Israel does help protect the rest of the foreign ops budget. And while I have no problem admitting that I would be happy to see our aid to Israel reduced and even outright suspended, I do not wish to see the rest of the foreign aid money affected.

I think that there are a number of improvements that might be made to the amount of money we spend on projects abroad, and the way that money is spent. Given that my own views are so far outside of the mainstream, I don't expect, realistically, to ever see them in practice. And so expediency compels me to compromise. If we must continue spending $3 billion a year funding Israel's oppression of the Palestinians, we should at least also continue funding the education, infrastructure and health projects in developing countries around the world, as well. Dividing the appropriations imperils the funds that would go to nations unable to lobby congress as effectively as Israel. I hope that you do all you can to see that Cantor's proposal does not go into effect.

Respectfully yours,


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