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In which we attempt to codify "Israel first" into law.

17 Jul

Updated below.

The Senate has passed its version of the “Israel-first” law, the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012 – S.2165.  The House announced it will vote on this bill, which originated in the Senate, this week;  if it passes the House, it presumably would then go to Obama for signature.  [Note: this bill is on the House schedule for vote today.]  The House has its own version of the bill (House bill HR4133) which has passed the House and now heads to the Senate – I am not sure why the redundancy exists. S.2165 originated in the Senate and HR4133 originated in the House, but they are basically the same thing.  I am going to focus on the Senate bill, since it seems to be moving ahead more quickly.

The stated purpose of the bill is to “enhance strategic cooperation between the United States and Israel, and for other purposes”.  In the bill, we pledge undying support for Israel, financially, militarily, and (weirdly) spiritually, and manage to castigate and threaten Iran at the same time.

In section two of the bill, we read:

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
•    Congress makes the following findings:
◦    (1) Since 1948, United States Presidents and both houses of Congress, on a bipartisan basis and supported by the American people, have repeatedly reaffirmed the special bond between the United States and Israel, based on shared values and shared interests.
◦    (2) The Middle East is undergoing rapid change, bringing with it hope for an expansion of democracy but also great challenges to the national security of the United States and our allies in the region, particularly to our most important ally in the region, Israel.
◦    (3) The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran is continuing its decades-long pattern of seeking to foment instability and promote extremism in the Middle East, particularly in this time of dramatic political transition.
◦    (4) At the same time, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to enrich uranium in defiance of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions.
◦    (5) A nuclear-weapons capable Iran would fundamentally threaten vital United States interests, encourage regional nuclear proliferation, further empower Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, and pose a serious and destabilizing threat to Israel and the region.
◦    (6) Over the past several years, with the assistance of the Governments of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Syria, Hizbollah and Hamas have increased their stockpile of rockets, with more than 60,000 now ready to be fired at Israel. The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to add to its arsenal of ballistic missiles and cruise missiles, which threaten Iran’s neighbors, Israel, and United States Armed Forces in the region.
◦    (7) As a result, Israel is facing a fundamentally altered strategic environment.
◦    (8) Pursuant to chapter 5 of title 1 of the Emergency Wartime Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2003 (Public Law 108-11; 117 Stat. 576), the authority to make available loan guarantees to Israel is currently set to expire on September 30, 2012.

In section three, we are for some reason making it policy to support the Jewishness of Israel, although our own Constitution calls for the separation of church and state here in the US.  Furthermore, we intend to help Israel maintain its military edge (note that we are here tacitly admitting that Israel has the military edge – thanks to us), veto any “one-sided anti-Israel resolutions at the UN” (so far, we have vetoed every UN resolution calling Israel to task – calling them “one-sided” and “anti-Israel” resolutions no matter what international laws Israel has violated), and call on other nations to recognize Israel’s right to exist, but we fail to ask for anyone to recognize Palestine’s right to exist.

SEC. 3. STATEMENT OF POLICY.
•    It is the policy of the United States:
◦    (1) To reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the security of the State of Israel as a Jewish state. As President Barack Obama stated on December 16, 2011, `America’s commitment and my commitment to Israel and Israel’s security is unshakeable.’ And as President George W. Bush stated before the Israeli Knesset on May 15, 2008, on the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, `The alliance between our governments is unbreakable, yet the source of our friendship runs deeper than any treaty.’.
◦    (2) To help the Government of Israel preserve its qualitative military edge amid rapid and uncertain regional political transformation.
◦    (3) To veto any one-sided anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations Security Council.
◦    (4) To support Israel’s inherent right to self-defense.
◦    (5) To pursue avenues to expand cooperation with the Government of Israel both in defense and across the spectrum of civilian sectors, including high technology, agriculture, medicine, health, pharmaceuticals, and energy.
◦    (6) To assist the Government of Israel with its ongoing efforts to forge a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that results in two states living side-by-side in peace and security, and to encourage Israel’s neighbors to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.
◦    (7) To encourage further development of advanced technology programs between the United States and Israel given current trends and instability in the region.

Next, we move on to some particulars in how we will provide support for Israel.  These include giving Israel a lot of money and military hardware, including all the materiel we no longer need in Iraq.  We are planning to let Israel practice its air force training within the US because they have “limited air space”.  I guess this means that the first foreign military bases ever allowed in this country will be Israeli. We also want to start down the path for Israel’s inclusion in NATO.

SEC. 4. UNITED STATES ACTIONS TO ASSIST IN THE DEFENSE OF ISRAEL AND PROTECT UNITED STATES INTERESTS.
•    It is the sense of Congress that the United States Government should take the following actions to assist in the defense of Israel:
◦    (1) Seek to enhance the capabilities of the Governments of the United States and Israel to address emerging common threats, increase security cooperation, and expand joint military exercises.
◦    (2) Provide the Government of Israel such support as may be necessary to increase development and production of joint missile defense systems, particularly such systems that defend against the urgent threat posed to Israel and United States forces in the region.
◦    (3) Provide the Government of Israel assistance specifically for the production and procurement of the Iron Dome defense system for purposes of intercepting short-range missiles, rockets, and projectiles launched against Israel.
◦    (4) Provide the Government of Israel defense articles and defense services through such mechanisms as appropriate, to include air refueling tankers, missile defense capabilities, and specialized munitions.
◦    (5) Provide the Government of Israel additional excess defense articles, as appropriate, in the wake of the withdrawal of United States forces from Iraq.
◦    (6) Examine ways to strengthen existing and ongoing efforts, including the Gaza Counter Arms Smuggling Initiative, aimed at preventing weapons smuggling into Gaza pursuant to the 2009 agreement following the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, as well as measures to protect against weapons smuggling and terrorist threats from the Sinai Peninsula.
◦    (7) Offer the Air Force of Israel additional training and exercise opportunities in the United States to compensate for Israel’s limited air space.
◦    (8) Work to encourage an expanded role for Israel with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), including an enhanced presence at NATO headquarters and exercises.
◦    (9) Expand already-close intelligence cooperation, including satellite intelligence, with Israel.

Section five extends military support already promised to Israel and extends the loans already promised for a further period of time. Section six of the bill asks for reports from the President regarding Israel’s “military edge” in the region and for other reports.  Under “Other Reports” is a hint that Israel will be playing a part in our own internal security apparatus.

    (b) Reports on Other Matters- Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on each of the following matters:
(1) Taking into account the Government of Israel’s urgent requirement for F-35 aircraft, actions to improve the process relating to its purchase of F-35 aircraft, particularly with respect to cost efficiency and timely delivery.
(2) Efforts to expand cooperation between the United States and Israel in homeland security, counter-terrorism, maritime security, energy, cyber-security, and other related areas.
(3) Actions to integrate Israel into the defense of the Eastern Mediterranean.

Section seven is a definition of terms.  The term `qualitative military edge’… “has the meaning given the term in section 36(h)(2) of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2776(h)(2))”. That definition relates specifically to Israel and is stated thusly:

“QUALITATIVE MILITARY EDGE DEFINED.—In this sub-section, the term ‘qualitative military edge’ means the ability to counter and defeat any credible conventional military threat from any individual state or possible coalition of states or from non-state actors, while sustaining minimal damages and casualties, through the use of superior military means, possessed in sufficient quantity, including weapons, command, control, communication, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities that in their technical characteristics are superior in capability to those of such other individual or possible coalition of states or non-state actors.’’.

The full text of Senate bill S.2165 may be read here: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/s2165/text

Here is a brief summary of the amount of money Israel has already gotten from us over the years. We have maintained the 3 billion/year threshold even while we are in a depression and can’t afford to take care of our own infrastructure and people:

New data shows Washington has given more than 115 billion dollars in financial aid to Israel over the years, indicating Tel Aviv’s great dependence on the US.

According to the report published by the Congressional Research Service Israel has received more assistance from the US than 15 European countries did to recover from the devastation caused during World War II.

More than 67 billion dollars of the Washington’s aid to Israel has been in military, the report said.

The astonishing report adds that the US has allocated 3.1 billion dollars, around one-fifth of its defense budget, to Israel this year alone.

Americans also allow the Israeli army to use their emergency reserve ammunition stored in Israel. The value of the weapons held in the US emergency supplies is 1.2 billion dollars.

The US gives billions of dollars in American taxpayers’ money to the Tel Aviv regime each year in the form of military and economic aid, legally justified as part of US government’s foreign aid package.

Washington has never downsized its annual 3 billion dollars grant to the Israeli regime despite going through its worst recession in decades which has prompted the government to impose major cuts on most public service programs for citizens.

http://www.eutimes.net/2012/04/us-gives-115-billion-dollars-aid-to-israel/

Update:  The House just passed this bill by voice vote this evening.  It now goes to Obama for his signature.

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2 Comments

Posted by on July 17, 2012 in Congress, Iran

 

2 responses to “In which we attempt to codify "Israel first" into law.

  1. NajafVisitor

    July 21, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    Remarkable. Thank you for the extracts from this pieces of legislation – which reads like a letter from a nation suffering from unrequited love. The US has a slavish attitude to Israel – most unbalanced and not healthy.

    How did a major power like the USA end up like this?

    Like

     
    • Teri

      July 22, 2012 at 2:13 am

      NajafVisitor,

      I find it a peculiar situation – that we would allow another country’s air force to “practice” within our country and invite them to participate in our internal security. The fact that Israel’s leaders seem determined to drag us into a war with Iran (on false pretenses, no less) should be a reason to distance ourselves; not tie the knot tighter. I notice that we are committing a large sum of money to Israel and that the “loans” are being written to pretty much make them interest-free. The figure given in the House version of this bill was nine billion – the Senate bill does not mention a specific number because apparently the money going to Israel is now contained within the Pentagon budget. So we are borrowing money from China to give to Israel and giving up money which is desperately needed in the states. In return, we may get WW3.

      I doubt most Americans know about the extreme support and preference our politicians offer Israel. The only people I know who even talk about Israel are fundamentalist Christians, and they “support” Israel because of some convoluted reasoning regarding Jews, the temple in Jerusalem, and the return of Jesus.

      You are right – this is unbalanced and not healthy. That is a good way to put it. Thank you for writing.

      -Teri

      Like

       

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