Monday, March 2, 2009

US Offers $900 Million...

From everything I'm seeing and hearing about the economic situation in the United States, things are tough and looking grim. That being the case, I'm having trouble understanding the logic behind Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's current financial aid commitment to the Palestinians. She has pledged $900 million dollars, primarily to rebuild Gaza.

This commitment, along with many similar promises from European and Arab countries, comes just days after a rocket slammed into a school in Israel, causing massive damage. I didn't hear the UN condemn this attack, nor did I hear President Obama suggest the US would be interested in rebuilding the school.

According to the principal, if the attack had happened 24 hours earlier or later, rather than on the one day of the week when school does not meet (Saturdays), at least 30 children would have died (read here that one classroom was probably obliterated) and another 100 injured (read here classrooms on either side of the destroyed room).

Today, children in Ashkelon didn't go to school because parents refused to send them to what could easily be a death trap. Parents are complaining that the schools aren't fortified. One parent said that approximately $600 per child is needed to fix the schools in Ashkelon so that they can withstand a missile attack. Perhaps Secretary of State Clinton would spare a mere $600 per Israeli child who lives in the war zone? I'm sure it would come to a lot less than $900 million.

More importantly, we are losing sight of something more basic. Schools should be fortified to withstand lightning and earthquakes. Perhaps tidal waves, not that Israel has seen anything like a tidal wave in centuries or more. What other natural disasters might occur - schools should be the first to be fortified, but a missile attack is not a natural disaster. It is not natural to target children, nor is it anything close to normal to celebrate when they are among the dead and injured.

Perhaps I am naive, but I still want to be angry that Israel must fortify its schools against incoming missiles and I am still not ready to suggest that the responsibility lies with Israel to protect rather than Hamas to stop attacking.

Along with that - Gilad Shalit is still being denied the most basic of human rights - communication with his parents and a visit from international first aid volunteers to confirm his physical condition. I'm sure that $900 million dollars could at least buy him that visit.

European and Arab countries have offered more than 4 billion dollars in aid to rebuild Gaza. Again, if $900 million would buy Gilad a visit, perhaps 4 billion would buy his freedom. The world has focused on the concept that Israel must release over 1,000 terrorists and murderers - perhaps what is wrong here is the simple assumption that this equation needs minor tweaking but in essence is correct. Gilad is not a murderer or a terrorist. He was simply a 19 year old boy, a young soldier protecting his country. If the aid being offered is to better the situation of the every-day Palestinian, than along with that should come an immediate and profound improvement in Gilad's life. No aid should reach the Palestinians until two basic realities are established:
  • No more rocket attacks
  • Gilad Shalit is free
The world should offer and be willing to pay - a perfect $4 billion dollars. Release Gilad; stop the rockets, and the money is yours! A bargain, I tell you, a bargain! Imagine what the Palestinians can build with $4 billion. It's a perfect deal...if only Secretary Clinton and others had the nerve to demand it.

Until these two realities are met, I'd like to put forth to the American people one more simple fact. What Israel knocked down can easily knock down again if the Arabs again use these locations for bombing Israel and planning attacks.

If you build will fall, again - if Gilad doesn't come home and the rockets don't stop. Yesterday a rocket was fired at Israel. Sunday, a rocket was fired at Israel. Saturday 6 rockets were fired, including the one that damaged the school in Ashkelon. It is only a matter of time before Israel is forced, again, to respond to these attacks.

Until the rockets stop and Gilad comes you really want to pour $900 million dollars into Gaza?


Anonymous said...

I would like to point out the taking of Gilad Shalit is kidnapping. Hamas came into Israel and simply kidnapped him. In any land on the planet with the least bit of morals would carry a severe penalty. In fact in many places it might carry the death penalty.

RangersGirl said...

I would say that most Americans don't really understand why our government provides financial assistance to other countries. I think there are a lot of people who would really like the US to be more isolationist. Just to be fair, Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign aid. The most recent statistic I can find is a 2008 CRS report to congress where it says the US provides about $3 billion annually to Israel.

brat said...

I would rather see the US give not one cent to Gaza, until it can be demonstrated that Hamas will fire no more rockets into Israel.

No negotiation on that point.

Fire one rocket and the money stops. Period. But that would need Obama to really acknowledge what the people of Israel live with on a daily basis.

Maybe even tie any money to the release of Gilad. I read on an Israeli site today that Gilad *may* be released within the 2 weeks.

I would LOVE to believe that he will be returned to his family alive and well. I want to believe that. BUT as long as countries like the US (and yes, Canada) continue to support Hamas with both money and words, they have NO incentive to stop their attacks.

My prayers are with you all.. I stand with you.

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