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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Thursday, April 21, 2005

How much aid is too much?

Israel. The Middle East's only democracy. A land of freedom amongst tyranny. All true statements if you're Jewish, but not Palestinian. We now learn that Israel has asked the US for extra aid to fund the Gaza "disengagement". A journalist colleague in Switzerland tells me that an article appeared in the Hebrew version of Haaretz newspaper stating Israel will ask for US$1.6 billion as financial aid for the Gaza disengagement. It will be asked in the first phase for US$ 600 million for transferring military bases. The second request of over US$ 1 billion will be for the development of the Negev and the Galilee. These figures were negotiated during the recent meeting between George W. Bush and Ariel Sharon.

The English language version of the article is decidedly lacking in details.

These developments once more begs the questions (and mirror statements I heard during my recent travels in the Middle East): is Israel little more than a convenient (for the US), dependent, colonial outpost in the Middle East, and do the American people, from whose tax dollars these loans are coming, truly understand the amount of financial support Israel is receiving?


Blogger syed-m said...

If ever I've read a rhetorical question... Here's another one. Does the average Australian know how much it costs to 'protect' our borders from boat people and detain indefinitely the few who manage to slip into the net?

In all the coverage leading up to the Iraq invasion the focus was on the possibility of a few piss weak 'WMDs' in Iraq. There was literally zero coverage of the arsenals held by all the neighbouring nations. Yes, principally Israel, but Egypt, Turkey, Syria as well. But that wasn't the only glaring omission. The majority of those nations' arsenals have been, and continue to be, supplied by the United States. And, to a lesser extent, the United Kingdom, the rest of the EU, Russia and China (basically in that order). Of course, Iraq too was once a great regional power thanks to the same generous bunch.

That's the world we live in. A world full of silent fascism and, for some, overt material pleasures.

PS: interesting that Haaretz's English report was significantly less descriptive! Maybe I'm naive but I didn't think they'd actually bother to do that. Do you think it has something to do with greater access to the newspaper outside Israel thanks to the internet or something?

Thursday, April 21, 2005 1:39:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Thanks for your comments.
First, Haaretz. I'm getting increasing amounts of info that suggests massive differences between the Hebrew and English editions. To use in the West, we stupidly believe that the newspaper is liberal and progressive (which, in terms of Israel's mainstream press, it is, relatively), but many more disturbing details are not translated into English. The reasons for this are telling. I'm informed that right-wingers are increasingly taking the reigns at the paper.
In terms of mainstream coverage on other important issues, it seems we can no longer rely on corporate media to ask and report the big issues and questions. For example, how the hell is it simply accepted that Israel has nuclear weapons, but Iran is not allowed. How about a nuclear free region, people?
And perhaps most importantly, the true role of America in the movers and shakers in the Middle East is frequently hidden. Can you imagine if people actually knew who America is arming and funding?

Thursday, April 21, 2005 2:31:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you mean, not true if you're Palestinian (an artificial construct, by the way, if there ever was one). Until the Iraqi elections, Arab citizens of Israel, of which there are a fair few number, were the only Arabs in that part of the world who had the opportunity to vote for their own leaders!

If I can engage the question a bit more, Antony, are there other countries whom you think receive too much foreign aid, or is it just Israel?

Thursday, April 21, 2005 4:18:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

If you can't even accept Palestinians as people, then you're delusional. Surely we've moved past that?
Secondly, the issue of foreign aid is not just about Israel, but also countries like Egypt, Indonesia, the list goes on. For example, we recently learnt that Aussie aid to Indo is quite possibly being spent on military hardware to oppress West Papua. Accountabiliy is the key and I reckon people want to know where their money is being spent.

Thursday, April 21, 2005 5:00:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, fair enough -- all I meant to suggest was that "Palestinian" was a fairly new construct, not that those who claim the mantle are less than human. (Also interesting, as an aside, that in terms of aid, just about the only aid their Arab brethren have seen fit to give them is money to push on with an incredibly wasteful and destructive intifada...)

On the question of nuclear weapons, though, the difference between Israel and Iran should surely be plain as day, yes?

Thursday, April 21, 2005 6:08:00 pm  
Anonymous Glenn Condell said...

'all I meant to suggest was that "Palestinian" was a fairly new construct'

And 'Israeli' isn't?

Thursday, April 21, 2005 6:27:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You consider four or five thousand years a short time, Glenn?

Thursday, April 21, 2005 6:28:00 pm  

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