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Keith Ellison: Why foreign aid to Israel?

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In this age of Barack Obama transparency, we need an open, wide-ranging public debate on U.S. Middle East foreign policy. John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt point out the hypocrisy of aid to Israel in their book "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy."

Israel has more professors per capita then any other country in the world. It is a modern industrial power with a personal income rivaling Great Britain's and a health care system that covers all its citizens. So why are we giving Israel aid?

"As of 2005, direct U.S. economic and military assistance to Israel amounted to nearly $154 billion (in 2005 dollars), the bulk of it comprising direct grants rather than loans ... the actual total is significantly higher ...." page 24 of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy

In January 2008, in the middle of a financial meltdown with millions of American families facing the loss of their homes, President George W. Bush went to the Middle East and gave Israel's prime minister $30 billion, which America had to borrow to give Israel. BBC News reported Israel wanted the money to buy two missile-firing submarines.

While the U.S. objects to Israel building on Palestinian land, we have for decades been making loan guarantees for the unlawful housing being built in the Jewish state. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush and his Secretary of State James Baker put pressure on U.S. loan guarantees for Israeli housing. James Baker got so tired of being greeted with a new settlement on Palestinian land every time he went to Israel that after February in that year U.S. loan guarantees for housing in Israel would come with requirements. Baker said, "We would support a loan guarantee if there were a halt or an end to settlement activity." Jewish groups were outraged and threatened the president with reprisals.

President George H.W. Bush replied, "I'm not going to shift foreign policy of this country because of political expediency." During the Republican National Convention the pressure became so great Bush caved in and announced he would support the loan guarantees, and in the next 15 years the settlements' population more than doubled.

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