Peace through a lack of weapons

By Eli Gottlieb

Courtesy of New York Daily News
Would someone like to write me an e-mail explaining why President Obama received a Nobel Peace Prize? What peace has he made? He has restored America’s reputation in the world, sure, but what good has that done anyone so far? He hasn’t ended the occupation of Iraq, he hasn’t ended the occupation of Afghanistan, he hasn’t caught Osama bin Laden, and he hasn’t invaded Saudi Arabia to actually depose the actual largest state sponsors of Islamist terrorism.

Speaking of peace, I’d like to submit a policy proposal that may well win me an e-mail telling me what I got wrong from my friends at the Student Alliance for Israel. I think that the American government should either dramatically reduce or entirely cut off its military aid to Israel.

Everyone in the Palestine Action Coalition and Campus Anti-war Network, wait a minute before punching the air. You haven’t made a convert; I still believe in Zionism. I just now have some solid facts about the military aid to Israel, and those facts lead me to believe that the aid serves no beneficial purpose.

How could military aid from the world’s largest current empire not help Israel? Simple: the money comes with dirty strings attached. Israel receives about $3 billion in military aid per year, but this aid must go towards the purchase of military equipment from American manufacturers. The arms dealers then proceed to sell old or obsolete equipment to the Israel Defense Force at prices only the United States military has ever considered something other than a rip-off. Israel doesn’t end up holding the cash, American arms manufacturers do.

In short, the aid to Israel acts as a subsidy to the American military-industrial complex. It also creates hatred of both America and Israel in the Muslim world, where officially-endorsed misunderstanding, delusion and anti-semitic conspiracy theory paint a picture of a Satanic Jewish tail wagging an imperialistic American dog. Why not stop this?

Of course, I continually see the value of the United States’ diplomatic and ideological support. Scarcely a United Nations vote on anything related to Israel goes by without America saving Israel from a resolution comparing them to the Nazis, apartheid or another stain on humanity’s moral record.

The American spirit also helps to reinforce Zionism here, because the two mentalities share common values of modernity, commitment to progress, and self-determination. Israelis feel they have a friend in America and welcome Americans with open arms – something I can’t say for certain European countries which have never done anything but benefited from America practice.

However, if the government and people of the United States want to help Israel while also furthering their own values and goals in the Middle East, I know a better way than making Israel a launderer for Congressional pork. Instead of subsidizing overpriced, Cold War era arms for the IDF, the American government should take those $3 billion a year and pour them into work in America or in Israel on complete independence from oil, with the condition that if the Israelis invent the technology, the USA receives gratis patent licenses on all resulting research. Even though the money may not seem much for a major, broad-based research effort, both there and here it would create many comfortable jobs. Not only that, but the new technologies could enable the United States to truly move toward its goal of a free, peaceful Middle East by starting a whole or partial boycott on Saudi and Iranian oil unless and until the two countries implement full freedom of religion and also cease all attacks on Israel and the West, diplomatic or terroristic.

Without oil money flowing into Wahabbi and fanatic Shi’a coffers, Hamas and Hizballah will find themselves starved into doing the kind of nation-building that Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, called an “economic peace.” With the de-facto Arab governments forced to turn towards improving living prospects for their own people in order to maintain power and support, moderates like Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad and President Mahmoud Abbas can walk strongly to the negotiation table. Since Fayyad plans to declare a Palestinian state soon whether or not Israel likes it, the drying-up of the military aid will also force far-right-wing Israelis like Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to face up to the prospect of Israel defending itself from a nascent Palestinian state in a real, country-to-country war.

This could result in a combined war of independence and aggression by newborn Palestine, and I think Palestine would not only lose that war but get Palestinian Arabs expelled from certain areas in the process. However, I think that when both sides see that they can choose peace and internal prosperity or war and possible land gains, they’ll choose the peace. Nobody will like the peace. Everyone will complain about the peace. Still, they’ll feel able to live with it, and in two countries that currently lose so much to the conflict, that’ll count more than anything.

Eli Gottlieb is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]