The announcement last week by the United States of the largest military aid package in its history – to Israel – was a win for both sides.Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu could boast that his lobbying had boosted aid from $3.1 billion a year to $3.8bn – a 22 per cent increase – for a decade starting in 2019. Mr Netanyahu has presented this as a rebuff to those who accuse him of jeopardising Israeli security interests with his government’s repeated affronts to the White House. In the past weeks alone, defence minister Avigdor Lieberman has compared last year’s nuclear deal between Washington and Iran with the 1938 Munich pact, which bolstered Hitler; and Mr Netanyahu has implied that US opposition to settlement expansion is the same as support for the “ethnic cleansing” of Jews. American president Barack Obama, meanwhile, hopes to stifle his own critics who insinuate that he is anti-Israel. The deal should serve as a fillip too for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic party’s candidate to succeed Mr Obama in November’s election. In reality, however, the Obama administration has quietly punished Mr Netanyahu for his misbehaviour. Israeli expectations of a $4.5bn-a-year deal were whittled down after Mr Netanyahu stalled negotiations last year as he sought to recruit Congress to his battle against the Iran deal. In fact, Israel already receives roughly $3.8bn – if Congress’s assistance on developing missile defence programmes is factored in. Notably, Israel has been forced to promise not to approach Congress for extra funds. The deal takes into account neither inflation nor the dollar’s depreciation against the shekel. A bigger blow still is the White House’s demand to phase out a special exemption that allowed Israel to spend nearly 40 per cent of aid locally on weapon and fuel purchases. Israel will soon have to buy all its armaments from the US, ending what amounted to a subsidy to its own arms industry. Nonetheless, Washington’s renewed military largesse – in the face of almost continual insults – inevitably fuels claims that the Israeli tail is wagging the US dog. Even The New York Times has described the aid package as “too big”. Since the 1973 war, Israel has received at least $100bn in military aid, with more assistance hidden from view. Back in the 1970s, Washington paid half of Israel’s military budget. Today it still foots a fifth of the bill, despite Israel’s economic success. But the US expects a return on its massive investment. As the late Israeli politician-general Ariel Sharon once observed, Israel has been a US “aircraft carrier” in the Middle East, acting as the regional bully and carrying out operations that benefit Washington. Almost no one blames the US for Israeli attacks that wiped out Iraq’s and Syria’s nuclear programmes. A nuclear-armed Iraq or Syria would have deterred later US-backed moves at regime overthrow, as well as countering the strategic advantage Israel derives from its own nuclear arsenal. In addition, Israel’s US-sponsored military prowess is a triple boon to the US weapons industry, the country’s most powerful lobby. Public funds are siphoned off to let Israel buy goodies from American arms makers. That, in turn, serves as a shop window for other customers and spurs an endless and lucrative game of catch-up in the rest of the Middle East. The first F-35 fighter jets to arrive in Israel in December – their various components produced in 46 US states – will increase the clamour for the cutting-edge warplane. Israel is also a “front-line laboratory”, as former Israeli army negotiator Eival Gilady admitted at the weekend, that develops and field-tests new technology Washington can later use itself. The US is planning to buy back the missile interception system Iron Dome – which neutralises battlefield threats of retaliation – it largely paid for. Israel works closely too with the US in developing cyberwarfare, such as the Stuxnet worm that damaged Iran’s civilian nuclear programme. But the clearest message from Israel’s new aid package is one delivered to the Palestinians: Washington sees no pressing strategic interest in ending the occupation. It stood up to Mr Netanyahu over the Iran deal but will not risk a damaging clash over Palestinian statehood. Some believe that Mr Obama signed the aid package to win the credibility necessary to overcome his domestic Israel lobby and pull a rabbit from the hat: an initiative, unveiled shortly before he leaves office, that corners Mr Netanyahu into making peace. Hopes have been raised by an expected meeting at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday. But their first talks in 10 months are planned only to demonstrate unity to confound critics of the aid deal. If Mr Obama really wanted to pressure Mr Netanyahu, he would have used the aid agreement as leverage. Now Mr Netanyahu need not fear US financial retaliation, even as he intensifies effective annexation of the West Bank. Mr Netanyahu has drawn the right lesson from the aid deal – he can act against the Palestinians with continuing US impunity. - See more at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net/2016-09-19/palestinians-lose-in-us-military-aid-deal-with-israel/#sthash.fL4Eq28N.dpuf
I Still Don't Hear The Voice Of American Voters
By Andre Vltchek
November 15, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - Since the results of the latest Presidential elections were announced, I am longing for silence, while the overwhelming cacophony of deafening noises is assaulting my ears, and in fact all my senses.
Suddenly everyone around me wants to speak, to shout, and to declare. Lately, people who are surrounding me, as well as those who are far away from me are frantically watching the news, reading newspapers and browsing through countless political websites.
My friends and comrades all over the world are poking jokes at the US political establishment, or trembling in anticipation of something terrible, even apocalyptic.
Many are just having fun. Even some thoughtful and educated individuals are behaving like obsessive football fans: analyzing, passing judgments, and spending countless hours on the couch, in front of their television screens.
Of course there are also many gigantic protests in countless American cities against the President-elect, Donald Trump, the 45th leader of the mightiest nation on Earth. There are some massive protests, desperate protests, and hopeless protests. There are also personal protests, resigned shrugs of shoulders and downcast glances.
Overall there is a lot of noise. Everyone is speaking from the top of his or her lungs. Actually, people are shouting over each other. They want to be heard, desperately. While very few are listening. Very few also appear to be reflecting on what is being said by the others, on what is truly happening, on what has happened.
Despite millions of words and images assaulting our brains from all directions, I know that something is definitely missing, something important, and even something essential. It is not just my analytical mind that comprehends this; it is also my intuition.
As a result, I want to smash those television sets in my vicinity, I want to throw newspapers into the garbage bin, and I want to go away, far away, from all my politicizing friends and comrades.
But what is it that is being omitted in the official and even in the alternative narrative? What is it that I want to hear, longing to hear so much ... longing with such force, even with such desperation?
Am I desperate for some precise analyses, for exact numbers, for revealing facts? Am I yearning for one brilliant study, for a report? Do I want to hear from someone why on earth did the American people elect someone like him, like Donald Trump? Or is it all actually much more simple and selfish: do I expect those wise words to come from my own brain, typed into my computer with my own fingers?
How did it all really come to this? And why? What will happen now? What will happen to them (to the voters), what will happen to America, the country, which despite everything used to be my home for many years? What will happen to America which took so much, but which also gave me plenty? I kept asking, above all, what will happen to the world, to the entire world, which is now my true home, and which is also their true home (home of the American voters), although perhaps they do not fully comprehend it yet.
No, I did not want to hear the facts! I couldn’t care less about the numbers. I was not longing for analyses, and I felt absolutely no desire to speak!
Suddenly, there was only one longing left in me: to listen, to hear, to absorb the millions of voices of those who just recently went to the polls and stuck those pieces of paper into boxes, most likely changing the destiny of the world. And since I knew I wouldn’t be able to absorb millions of testimonies, I wanted to listen to at least a few hundred or even thousands of them if possible.
I wanted to hear the stories of those men and women from the Rustbelt states, from the Deep South, from isolated farms and exhausted mining towns. I wanted to put my glass of beer next to theirs, in some god-forsaken bar, and just nod and whisper what so many storytellers before me, have done for millennia, and what they will be saying for many centuries to come: “Please tell me your story...”
I want to hear their stories so I can collect them, arrange them, and pass them onto the world.
I want the people who voted for Donald Trump to speak to me, to explain, to let me into their thoughts and emotions. I want to understand what occurred through their stories.
I don’t want to judge. I am usually very judgmental, very political, and very ideological. This time I have no desire to be ... This is too serious; too damn serious!
I owe America that much. That is the least I can do. To return there, to fly there all the way from Asia, to rent a car, and drive from coast to coast, for long weeks, and to finally listen to people, trying to understand who they are, what they did, and why?
“I am what I am because I am a passionate listener,” I was once told by one of the greatest Latin American writers, Eduardo Galeano. “People always know what goes on. All we have to do is to listen to them. And we have to lead them only when they ask us, when they order us to do so.”
There is no doubt in my mind that now is the time to attentively listen to the American people; to fill newspapers and websites with their words. But almost no one seems to be doing that.
All we hear is ‘why they voted as they did’. How they voted: women, minorities, particular classes or states ... We read about numbers. But we don’t hear people speaking! We don’t hear them formulating the words.
And that is what I am longing for: to shut up, to be silent, and to listen. And I want other intellectuals to shut up and to humbly listen too, finally!
Not because I agree with what they, the voters, have done. Not because I want Donald Trump to lead the country and the Empire. Not because I suddenly ‘fell in love with the small people’.
It is simply because the people of the most powerful country on Earth have spoken, because they made their choice. And because, if we don’t understand why that choice was made, we will all get fucked, soon, and not only in North America, but also all over the world!
I want to listen and to understand so the course of action can be determined, so that we know where all this will lead ... because this is not the end, just the beginning... of something... Because not only people in the United States, but also in Europe want something, and listening to the analysts from both parts of the world, and by just ‘reading facts and numbers’, I have absolutely no clue what it is!
Do voters want some new form of participatory democracy? Do they want neo-fascism? Are they thoroughly selfish or is there at least some internationalist essence in their souls?
We can only find out if we let them speak. And that is why I am longing for silence, and then for their voices to resonate, so we know, we know now, before the thunder and flames swallow our Planet, and before it is too late.
Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are revolutionary novel “Aurora” and two bestselling works of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”. View his other books here. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Al-Mayadeen. After having lived in Latin America, Africa and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter.