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Military profiteers driving US support for Israel’s Gaza terror

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People gather with jerrycans in Jabalia in the north of the Palestinian territory, to fill up water from a tanker truck in the yard of a school of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), housing Palestinians displaced by the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas. – Picture: AFP / My 14, 2024

By Reneva Fourie

The US administration’s relationship with Israel has resulted in it having to grapple with a crucial choice: saving lives or protecting financial interests.

On the one hand, it is experiencing increasing international isolation and tremendous internal pressure from protesters who have had enough of the country’s complicity in the massacre of Palestinian civilians.

On the other, it is experiencing pressure from its military-industrial complex that is profiteering from the weapons being supplied to Israel and threats from its wealthy Zionist funders. The tension is causing it to vacillate on developments in Gaza.

The long-standing relationship between the US and Israel can be traced back to Woodrow Wilson’s endorsement of the British-issued Balfour Declaration in 1917, which declared the colonised territory of Palestine a national home for the Jewish people. Since then, the relationship has deepened.

Lyndon Johnson saw Israel as a strategic asset and supported Israel when it first took control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and supported its attack on Egypt, Syria and Jordan in the June 1967 war.

Under Richard Nixon, generous military and economic aid to Israel became routine, which successive US presidents continued, resulting in $300 billion in aid between 1948 and last year.

Three-quarters of the aid was earmarked for purchases of military equipment from US companies, making the US the largest single supplier of military equipment to Israel. In terms of trade, US exports increased from $5.19 billion in 1995 to $14.03bn in 2023.

It was, therefore, not surprising that the US was among the first countries to come to Israel’s defence after Hamas launched Operation Al-Aqsa Flood.

A US plane carrying ammunition and equipment to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome arrived in Tel Aviv within a week. The USS Gerald R Ford Carrier Strike Group was deployed to the Eastern Mediterranean, soon followed by the Dwight D Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group.

In addition to supplying Israel with weapons and military backup, the US has at least one military base, Site 512, in the country. It is reported to have approximately 40 000 ground troops in the region and is providing Israel with intelligence.

Furthermore, it has an unspecified number of mercenaries and special forces personnel, as well as troops “building the pier” in Gaza.

The US’s aiding of the genocide in Gaza has caused concern among many. It is facing increasing international isolation as a result. While the UK is a reliable ally, it broke ranks with the US on March 25 by joining other countries that voted in favour of a ceasefire at the UN Security Council while the US abstained.

It also did not back the US at the May 10 UN General Assembly, when 143 countries voted in favour of recognising Palestine’s eligibility for membership. Additionally, more and more countries are bolstering South Africa’s intervention at the International Court of Justice.

Furthermore, the US is experiencing growing domestic protests. Alongside the general Palestinian rights movement protests, student demonstrations have taken place in 45 of the 50 US states, spanning about 140 campuses. The “Support for Israel Rally/Concert” organised by the Zionist Organisation of America was a dismal failure.

With an election looming, the accelerating traction of Palestinian rights movements in Democratic strongholds and swing states like Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan is causing them concern. Hence, the US is attempting to improve its image.

Publicly, it is portraying itself as a reasonable and objective peace broker and a caring provider of humanitarian aid to the people of Palestine. Most recently, it has pledged to stop shipping heavy bombs and supplying certain offensive weapons and artillery shells to Israel.

However, the rogue, belligerent Israel, who is ignoring all UN resolutions and attempts at securing a ceasefire, is not making things easy. It took the decision of the US administration with a pinch of salt, knowing that the muscle of lucre, which has its back, is powerful.

No sooner had Biden announced pausing weapon shipments when there was a significant backlash from multiple prominent pro-Israel Biden donors, including megadonor Haim Saban.

Additionally, the Republicans threatened impeachment and introduced the Israel Security Assistance Support Act. Congressman Ken Calvert, who receives substantial financial support from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and pro-Israel industries, introduced the bill.

The legislation condemns the pause on arms transfers and criminalises federal employees who execute the pause. Worse, Senator Lindsey Graham, significantly funded by the Republican Jewish Coalition, even suggested that the Palestinians be nuked.

The US Ambassador to Israel, Jack Lew, nullified Joe Biden’s commitment by assuring the Israelis that there would be no fundamental change in their relations. He stated that he does not believe that Tel Aviv has crossed Washington’s red lines.

He reinforced Israel’s disrespectful claim that the figures released by the Palestinian authorities and confirmed by international bodies, including the UN, are fake, and despite their records proving that most of the fatalities are civilians.

Financial interests usurped the need to save lives. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are once again having to flee the bombing of Rafah, the last remaining “safe” area, to flattened cities like Khan Yuonis and Al-Mawasi, while the US continues to support Israel.

The life versus lucre quagmire also befalls South Africa’s multiparty pact, led by the DA. The DA’s position on the current massacre of Palestinians also keeps fluctuating. Enjoying significant funding from local Zionists, it has, until the recent past, consistently supported Israel in its aggression.

According to the SA Jewish Report, Martin Marshal, one of the DA’s biggest funders stated: “I’m supporting the DA, ActionSA, and I intend to support Mmusi Maimane’s Build One South Africa as well as the Inkatha Freedom Party.”

The horrific genocide in Palestine has, however, become a serious electoral issue in South Africa, and the DA desperately wants to win. In a sudden retraction of its historical stance, the DA, while refraining from condemning the genocide, is now emulating the governing party and promoting the international position of a two-state solution.

We are pleased with the DA’s sudden awakening to the importance of being humane. However, capital rules the US and capital rules the DA. While recognising that the balance of power is skewed towards lucre, it remains imperative that this be reversed. Life must always be placed first – whether Palestinian or Israeli.

The situation is not benefiting anyone. Entire Palestinian families have been wiped out. Israeli citizens live in constant fear, with the death toll of Israeli soldiers standing at about 1,500.

A means for reconciliation and a lasting solution that leads to peace and prosperity for the West Asian region must be found.

Dr Reneva Fourie is a policy analyst specialising in governance, development and security