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In a democracy, the ultimate responsibility for a nation’s actions rests
with its citizens. The top rung of government – the entity with the ultimate power of governance – is the asserted
will of the people. Therefore, in any democracy, it is essential that its citizens be fully and accurately informed.
the United States, currently the most powerful nation on earth, it is even more essential that its citizens receive complete
and undistorted information on topics of importance, so that they may wield their extraordinary power with wisdom and intelligence.
such information is not always forthcoming.
The mission of If Americans Knew is to inform and educate the American public on issues of
major significance that are unreported, underreported, or misreported in the American media.
It is our belief that when Americans know the
facts on a subject, they will, in the final analysis, act in accordance with morality, justice, and the best interests of
their nation, and of the world. With insufficient information, or distorted information, they may do the precise opposite.
It is the mission
of If Americans Knew to ensure that this does not happen – that the information on which Americans base their actions
is complete, accurate, and undistorted by conscious or unconscious bias, by lies of either commission or omission, or by
pressures exerted by powerful special interest groups. It is our goal to supply the information essential to those responsible
for the actions of the strongest nation on earth – the American people.
We believe all people are endowed with inalienable human rights regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, sexuality,
or nationality. We believe in justice, fairness, and compassion and in treating all human beings with respect, empathy,
and in the manner in which we would wish to be treated.
Disseminating Our Information
Our materials and information are available to all. We feel it is essential that these facts be learned by every
The positions of If Americans
Knew are represented in our statements and writings alone, and the views of those who distribute our materials, articles,
or interviews do not necessarily represent those of If Americans Knew.
Action Focus #1
Israel is the largest recipient of US. aid in the entire world. It receives more aid than that
given to all the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, put together.
about $8.4 million dollars per day from the United States, and there is evidence that the total cost to American taxpayers
is closer to $15 million a day. Yet this information is almost never printed in American newspapers. Coverage of the
Middle East in general, and of Israel in particular, virtually never reports this enormous American connection with this
by American money, Israel is occupying land that does not belong to it, is breaking numerous international laws and conventions
of which it is a signatory, and is promulgating policies of brutality that have been condemned by the United Nations, the
European Union, the National Council of Churches, Amnesty International, the International Red Cross, and numerous other
international bodies. This truth is also rarely reported.
Through the money and weaponry provided by the United States, Israel
is imposing an ethnically discriminatory nation on land that was previously multicultural. There is ethnic and religious
discrimination inherent in its national identity, and a doctrine of the supremacy of one group over all others permeates
its political, financial, and military policies. This also is virtually never reported.
There are a variety of organizations and individuals
in Israel who are protesting their government's policies, and who are working strenuously and courageously on behalf of
human rights and justice. It is their intent to create a just and fair nation with equal rights for all its citizens. They
are refusing to serve in the military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and are actively trying to prevent Palestinian
homes from being bulldozed. These actions are also not covered in the American media.
American support of the Israeli government is
against our national interest on every level: It places us at war with populations whose desperate plight we are helping
to create, and who, quite correctly, place the responsibility for their sufferings on us. It makes us an accomplice to war
crimes and an accessory to oppression. This also is not reported.
In analyzing the American media, we are increasingly discovering
a cover-up of appalling proportions. Israel is being protected, the news about Palestinians in particular and Arabs in general
is being distorted, and the American public is being manipulated.
We believe strongly that if Americans knew the truth about Israel
and Palestine -- about the massive amount of our tax money that is being given away to Israel, and about the human costs
of Israel's American-financed militarism -- they would demand an immediate re-thinking of our policies in this region.
It is the goal
of If Americans Knew to inform the American public accurately about this area. Most of all, it is to inform Americans about
our enormous, and too often invisible, personal connection to it.
Americans, through our blank check to Israel, are empowering the
worst elements of Israeli society, and undermining those working for a just, peaceful, and nondiscriminatory nation.
We are driving
the violence in this region.
We can stop it.
A Synopsis of the Current Situation in Israel/Palestine
Fortunately, the American media cover many events in Israel with great detail
and thoroughness. Therefore, we are not repeating that coverage here. Instead, we are attempting to fill in the many important
news items – most of them about incidents in the Palestinian territories – that are not available in the U.S.
For more thorough
daily coverage of the region, view “The Missing Headlines,” and our recommended sources of daily news.
Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip live in an odd and oppressive limbo. They have
no nation, no citizenship, and no ultimate power over their own lives.
Since 1967, when Israel conquered these areas
(the final 22 percent of mandatory Palestine), Palestinians have been living under Israeli military occupation. While in
some parts Israel has allowed a Palestinian “autonomous” entity to take on such municipal functions as education,
health care, infrastructure and policing, Israel retains overall power.
According to international law, an occupying force is responsible
for the protection of the civilian population living under its control. Israel, however, ignores this requirement, routinely
committing violations of the Geneva Conventions, a set of principles instituted after World War II to ensure that civilians
would “never again” suffer as they had under Nazi occupation. Israel is one of the leading violators of these
Israeli forces regularly confiscate private land; imprison individuals without process – including children
– and physically abuse them under incarceration; demolish family homes; bulldoze orchards and crops; place entire
towns under curfew; destroy shops and businesses; shoot, maim, and kill civilians – and Palestinians are without power
to stop any of it.
When a child is arrested, for example – often by a group of armed soldiers in the middle of the night –
parents can do nothing. Knowing that their son is most likely being beaten by soldiers on the way to the station, stripped
and humiliated in prison, quite likely physically abused in multiple additional ways, and destined to be held – perhaps
in isolation – for days, week, or months (all before a trial has even taken place), parents are without the ability
to protect their child. Quite often, in fact, they cannot even visit him.
Finally, when the military trial under which their son is to be sentenced
– often to years (sometimes decades) in prison – all they can do is hire a lawyer whose efforts, at best, will
reduce the ultimate sentence by a few months. Rarely, if ever, can even the most skilled lawyer do more than afford the
child a friendly face in court and be an outside witness to the injustice of the proceedings. Meanwhile, the presence of
such a lawyer provides Israel cover for its “judicial system.”
Perhaps most significant – and rarely understood by people in
the outside world – is the fact that Palestinians live, basically, in a prison in which Israel holds the keys.
They cannot leave
Gaza or the West Bank unless Israeli guards allow them to. If they have been allowed out, they cannot return to their homes
and families unless Israeli guards permit it.
Frequently, in both cases, Israel refuses such permission.
Academics invited to attend conferences abroad,
high school students given US State Department scholarships to study in the United States, mothers wishing to visit daughters
abroad, American citizens returning to their families, humanitarians bringing wheelchairs – the list goes on almost
without limit – have all been denied permission by Israel to leave or enter their own land.
Living under such hardship and humiliation, in the year
2000 the Palestinian population began an uprising against Israeli rule called the “Intifada.” This term –
rarely translated in the American media – is simply the Arabic word for uprising or rebellion – literally, it
means “shaking off.” The American Revolutionary War, for example, would be called the American intifada against
This is the second such uprising. The first began in 1986 and ended in 1993 when the peace negotiations offered
hopes of justice. (Sadly, in the following years these hopes were crushed after Israel, rather than withdrawing from the
West Bank and Gaza, as promised, actually doubled its expansion in these areas.)
During this first uprising, which consisted largely
of Palestinians throwing stones at Israeli troops (very few Palestinians had weapons), Palestinians were killed at a rate
approximately 7-10 times that of Israelis.
One of the ways Israeli forces attempted to put down this rebellion was through the “break
the bones” policy, implemented by Yitzhak Rabin, in which people who had been throwing stones – often youths
– were held down and their arms broken. On the first day of this policy alone, one hospital in Gaza treated 200 People
uprising – termed the “Second Intifada” – was sparked when an Israeli general, Ariel Sharon, known
for his slaughter of Palestinian civilians throughout his career, visited a Jerusalem holy site, accompanied by over a thousand
armed Israeli soldiers. When some Palestinian youths threw stones, Israeli soldiers responded with live gunfire, killing
5 the first day, and 10 the second.
This uprising has now continued for over five years, as Israel periodically mounts massive
invasions into Palestinian communities, using tanks, helicopter gunships, and F-16 fighter jets. Palestinian fighters resisting
these forces possess rifles and homemade mortars and rockets. A minute fraction strap explosives onto their own bodies and
attempt to deliver their bombs in person; often they kill only themselves.
While the large majority of Palestinians oppose suicide bombings,
many feel that armed resistance has become necessary – much as Americans supported war after the attack at Pearl Harbor.
Nevertheless, only a small portion take an active part in the resistance, despite the fact that virtually all support its
aim: to create a nation free from foreign oppression.
Most Palestinians attempt – with greater or lesser success – to
go on with their lives, raise their children, attend school, go to work, celebrate festivals, organize weddings, raise their
crops, provide for their families – all the things that preoccupy people around the world.
As Israel constructs a wall around them, however,
prevents them at checkpoints from traveling from town to town, destroys their crops, prevents children from traveling to
schools and the sick and injured from getting to the hospitals, it is becoming increasingly difficult to live even an approximation
of a normal life.
Most Palestinians feel that the Israeli government’s intention is to drive them off the land, and there is
a great deal of evidence that this is the goal of many Israeli leaders.
At the same time, however, there is a small but determined minority
of Israelis, joined by citizens from throughout the world, who are coming to the Palestinian Territories to oppose Israeli
occupation. These “internationals,” as they are often called, take part in peaceful marches, attempt to help
Palestinian farmers harvest their crops despite Israeli military closures, live in refugee camps in the hope that their
presence will prevent Israeli invasions and shelling, and walk children to school.
They are sometimes beaten, shot, and killed.
Some Israeli soldiers
are refusing to serve in the West Bank or Gaza, stating: “We shall not continue to fight beyond the 1967 borders in
order to dominate, expel, starve and humiliate an entire people.”
Meanwhile, the semblance of Palestinian autonomy continues. Elections
held in January, 2005, resulted in new Palestinian leadership that will govern under occupation and will attempt to negotiate
eventual Palestinian liberation. Yet even this election demonstrated Israel’s power, as various Palestinian candidates
were arrested, detained, and sometimes beaten by Israeli forces. This aspect, however, like so much else, was rarely reported
by the American media.
- “Under orders from Defence Minister Yitzhak
Rabin, ‘Soldiers armed with cudgels beat up those they could lay their hands on regardless of whether they were demonstrators,
or not, breaking into homes by day and night, dragging men and women, young and old, from their beds to beat them. At Gaza’s
Shifa Hospital 200 people were treated during the first five days of the new policy, most of them suffering from broken elbows
and knees. Three had fractured skulls.’” (PALESTINE AND ISRAEL: THE UPRISING AND BEYOND, David McDowall, University of California Press, 1989, p. 7.)
U.S. Military Aid and the Israel/Palestine Conflict
The U.S. provides Israel $9.8 million* in military aid each day,
while it gives the Palestinians $0** in military aid.
“Since the October
War in 1973, Washington has provided Israel with a level of support dwarfing the amounts provided to any other state. It
has been the largest annual recipient of direct U.S. economic and military assistance since 1976 and the largest total recipient
since World War ll. Total direct U.S. aid to Israel amounts to well over $140 billion in 2003 dollars. Israel receives about
$3 billion in direct foreign assistance each year, which is roughly one-fifth of America's entire foreign aid budget. In
per capita terms, the United States gives each Israeli a direct subsidy worth about $500 per year. This largesse is especially
striking when one realizes that Israel is now a wealthy industrial state with a per capita income roughly equal to South
Korea or Spain.”
- John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt
"The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy"
*Source: The Congressional Research Service's report "U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel," written by Jeremy M. Sharp, Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs, dated December 22, 2016.
Read our memo on the new 10-year $38 billion aid package to Israel just signed by President Obama.
According to the report, the United States gave Israel $3.1 billion for
Fiscal Year 2016 in direct bilateral military aid (also referred to as Foreign Military Financing or FMF). Congress also
gave $487.6 million to "joint" U.S.-Israel missile defense programs (designed to protect Israeli territory from
potential outside threats), bringing total military aid to Israel to $3.6 billion per year.
Put another way, American taxpayers give
Israel $9.8 million per day (in 2016).
Over the last 20 years, the
U.S. has slowly phased out economic aid to Israel and gradually replacing it with increased military aid. In September 2016,
the United States and Israeli governments signed a new ten-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) where the U.S. pledged
to give Israel $38 billion in military aid ($33 billion in FMF grants plus $5 billion in missile defense) over the course
of 10 years (FY2019 to FY2028). This new MOU replaces the current $30 billion 10-year agreement signed by the Bush Administration
that will expire in 2018.
is by far the largest recipient of U.S. foreign military aid (see how other nations compare). According to the CRS report, the President's request for Israel for FY 2017 will encompass approximately 54% of total U.S. foreign military financing
worldwide. The report continues, " Annual FMF grants to Israel represent approximately 18.5% of the overall Israeli
defense budget. Israel’s defense expenditure as a percentage of its Gross Domestic Product (5.4% in 2015) is one of
the highest percentages in the world."
Contrary to ordinary U.S. policy, Israel has been and continues to be allowed to use approximately 26% of U.S. military
aid to purchase equipment from Israeli manufacturers. According to CRS, “no other recipient of U.S. military assistance has been granted this benefit.”
Thanks in part to this indirect U.S. subsidy, Israel’s arms industry
has become one of the strongest in the world. Between 2001 and 2008, Israel was the 7th largest arms supplier to the world,
selling $9.9 billion worth of equipment. And it continues to grow stronger. In 2015, Israel sold $5.7 billion in military goods to other countries.
assistant Secretary of Defense from 2007 to 2009 asked, "How inexplicable is it that we are competing against the Israelis
in the Indian defense procurement market at the same time we are subsidizing the Israeli defense industry?"
A U.S. government source estimates that
Israel is using approximately $1.2 billion each year (38.7% of the aid it receives from the U.S.) to "directly support its domestic budget rather than to build on its arsenal of advanced US equipment."
The United States also contributes funds
for a joint U.S.-Israeli Missile Defense Program designed to thwart short-range missiles and rockets fired by non-state
actors (such as Hamas and Hezbollah) as well as mid- and longer-range ballistic missiles (this refers to Iran and/or Syria's
arsenals). Arrow II, Arrow III, David's Sling, and Iron Dome refer to different projects under the umbrella of this Missile
Defense program. In 2016, the U.S. spent $487.5 million on these programs and plans to spend between $280 and $601 million in 2017 (depending on Congressional approval).
By all accounts the United States has given more money to Israel than to any other country. The Congressional Research Service’s conservative estimate of total cumulative US aid to Israel from 1949 through 2015 is $127.4 billion
(not adjusted for inflation) .
October 2013 Washington Report article “A Conservative Estimate of Total Direct U.S. Aid to Israel: $130 Billion,” by Shirl McArthur, puts the cumulative total even higher.
According to McArthur, “[T]he indirect or consequential costs to the American taxpayer
as a result of Washington’s blind support for Israel exceed by many times the amount of direct U.S. aid to Israel.
Some of these ‘indirect or consequential’ costs would include the costs to U.S. manufacturers of the Arab boycott,
the costs to U.S. companies and consumers of the Arab oil embargo and consequent soaring oil prices as a result of U.S.
support for Israel in the 1973 war, and the costs of U.S. unilateral economic sanctions on Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria. (For
a discussion of these larger costs, see ‘The Costs to American Taxpayers of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: $3 Trillion,’ by the late Thomas R. Stauffer, June 2003 Washington Report, p. 20.)”
**Source: The Congressional Research Service's Report “U.S. Foreign Aid to the Palestinians”, written by Jim Zanotti, Analyst in Middle Eastern Affairs, dated December 16, 2016.
According to the report, the U.S. government has never provided Palestinians
with military aid. "The Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2015 (H.R. 4870), which passed the House in June
2014, contained provisions that would prohibit funds made available by the act from being obligated to the PA (§10033)
or from being used to transfer weapons to the PA (§10024)." Aid to Palestinians is largely designated for the
policing of their own people as well as for humanitarian and development needs. Such funds are only authorized once Congress
has received proof that they will be used for "non-lethal assistance." The aid request for FY 2017 is $362.6 million.
The U.S. Agency for International Development
(USAID) has provided the Palestinian people with some indirect economic assistance through funds distributed to U.S.-based
NGOs operating in the West Bank and Gaza. According to the CRS report, "Funds are allocated in this program for projects
in sectors such as humanitarian assistance, economic development, democratic reform, improving water access and other infrastructure,
health care, education, and vocational training." The program is subject to a vetting process and to yearly audits...
The United States also provides funding to
the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), "which provides food, shelter,
medical care, and education for many of the original refugees from the 1947-1949 Arab-Israeli war and their families—now
comprising approximately 5 million Palestinians in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank, and Gaza." The amount allocated
by the U.S. government for FY 2014 was $250.9 million. (Learn more about Palestinian refugees.)
Palestinian experts say that
U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority actually helps Israel maintain it's illegal occupation of Palestinian land. "Security collaboration" between the PA and Israel means that Palestinian police are being
outsourced to monitor and respond to Palestinians resisting the Israeli occupation or protesting against Israel's assaults
U.S. aid to the PA
also makes it easier and cheaper for Israel to spend its own US aid on security for its Jewish-only settlements built on
confiscated Palestinian land, which is also illegal under international law. Recent research has shown that at least 78% of international aid money to the West Bank and Gaza ends up in Israel's economy.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one
of the world's major sources of instability. Americans are directly connected to this conflict, and increasingly imperiled
by its devastation.
It is the goal of If Americans Knew to provide full and accurate information
on this critical issue, and on our power – and duty – to bring a resolution.
Please click on any statistic for the
source and more information.
Statistics last updated
March 11, 2017