Human Rights Watch regularly report on Israel’s crimes against Palestinian people. Yet, the U.S. government continues to provide Israel with weapons, financial assistance, and public support. The United States must reevaluate its relationship with Israel to adhere with its own laws and purported values.
The United States has provided Israel with approximately $146 billion in military assistance to date. The dispersion of these funds directly violates U.S. law. The Foreign Assistance Act stipulates that no assistance can be given to a country that regularly violates human rights. The U.S. State Department outlines the “significant human rights issues” facing Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank in 2020. The United States faces clear evidence, found by its own agency, that aid to Israel contradicts U.S. law.
Israel itself is in direct violation of two international conventions – the Apartheid Convention and the Rome Statute. The Apartheid Convention condemns acts committed with the intent of establishing the dominance of one racial group over another. The Rome Statute condemns the systematic oppression of a racial group through an institutionalized regime. In 2020, Israel demolished 848 Palestinian residential structures in the West Bank including East Jerusalem. In 2021, the International Criminal Court opened an investigation into Israel’s perpetration of these and other crimes. The international community clearly recognizes the ongoing crimes against humanity committed by Israel. The United States, however, has turned a blind eye. It has vetoed over 50 U.N. Security Council resolutions criticizing Israel since 1972.
President Joe Biden, in his own words, claims the United States should place emphasis on its “cherished democratic values.” But U.S. support for Israel contradicts these values that include the defense of freedom, opportunity, and universal rights. Israel suppresses the freedom, opportunity, and universal rights of Palestinians on a daily basis. Yet, Biden’s policies continue to show support for the Apartheid state. He supports continued funding of Israel and has upheld Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. The United States certainly talks the talk when it comes to human rights, but it continually refuses to walk the walk.
There are consequences if the United States continues down this road. For one, it contradicts U.S. behavior towards other countries. The United States withheld some military aid to Egypt in 2021 over its appalling human rights record.
In October of 2021, the United States cut $700 million in aid to Sudan after a military coup endangered Sudanese civilians. This inconsistent behavior risks frustrating other nations – why does Israel get a pass on human rights, but not Egypt or Sudan?
This action also sets a precedent for elected officials to mirror that inconsistency in other circumstances. For example, former U.S. President Donald Trump showed deference and support for Saudi Arabia, despite the country’s various human rights violations, such as the murder of former Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This action flies in the face of U.S. laws on foreign assistance. However, it aligns with U.S. behavior towards Israel. The more this unlawful behavior is accepted, the more it will occur.
The Israel lobby argues that the Apartheid state’s strategic value outweighs the cost of any misgivings about its actions. Israel and the United States share a number of security concerns, namely the nuclearization of Iran. Supporters of Israel also argue that Israel’s nuclear program provides an increased deterrent against Iran for the United States. However, the United States does not need to rely on Israel for defense. The United States possesses 5,550 nuclear warheads – more than enough to deter any potential attacks.
There is no upholding of values in enabling military and settler violence against an occupied people. Biden’s actions must align with his words. It’s time that the United States stop funding the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.