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Monday, March 25, 2013

The social cost of Israeli aid

The social cost of Israeli aid

Josh Reubner, grassroots advocacy co-ordinator for the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation says Israel stands to lose approximately $250 million of its $3.1 billion military aid package from the US under the terms of American budget cuts.
But as a result of sequestration in the US, many important programmes at home - especially for the poor - will not be funded.
Among other things, 600,000 low-income women and children could be thrown off America's Special Nutrition Programme for Women, Infants and Children.
The US Department of Agriculture will treat 200,000 fewer acres for hazardous fuel contamination, leading to an increased risk of wildfires.
Around 70,000 children will lose access to Head Start preschool services, with layoffs of 14,000 people nationwide.
There will be reduced funding for the health and well-being of more than 373,000 seriously mentally ill adults and children, which could result in increased hospital admissions and homelessness.
About 125,000 individuals and families have been put at risk of becoming homeless, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimated.
An additional 100,000 formerly homeless people might be removed from emergency shelters or other housing arrangements because of the cuts, it added.
These represent only a few of many programmes to suffer from funding cuts.
Other cuts include:
$86m from key women's health programmes that primarily serve lower-income women
$8m from the Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Programme
$24m from the Title X family planning and reproductive services
$50m from the Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant
$20m from the recently reinstated Violence Against Women Act
$9m from the Family Violence Prevention Act
$424m from Head Start and Early Head Start programmes, which provide health and education services to low-income families
$600m from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Programme For Women, Infants and Children
That is a total of $1.2bn for these programmes alone.
Yet an American Israel Public Affairs Committee's campaign in the US Congress calls for efforts to provide Israel with its full $3.1bn in military aid for 2013 and 2014, as well as $211m in additional funding for the Iron Dome missile defence system.
The Washington Post acknowledges that there may be consequences within the American public "that attempts to exempt Israel from painful budget cuts while the rest of the US was forced to absorb them would cause a political backlash".
Concurrent with the AIPAC meeting in Washington, DC, Congress is proposing a resolution which states: "If Israel were compelled to take military action in self-defence, the US government should stand with Israel and supply military and diplomatic support."
This would create additional costs.
The Jewish Week calls AIPAC's attempts to exempt Israel from US budget cuts a "very risky strategy at a time when millions of Americans will be feeling the bite of the sequestration debacle", which "could easily backfire and damage Israel far more than any cuts in its very generous grant aid programme."
Journalist James Wall questioned the logic behind funding Israel while cutting back essential programmes in the US.
"Is the US Congress so beholden to AIPAC and so insensitive to the impact on programmes like Head Start for children, that it will give Israel's self-designated 'defensive needs' priority over US domestic needs?" he asked.
If the US Congress yields to the wishes of AIPAC and exempts Israel from budget cuts at the expense of needy Americans, they should not be proud to be Americans - much less humans.


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