By: Sheyenne White
With the eyes of the world on the U.S election, Israel’s military demolished most of a Bedouin village in the West Bank, displacing 73 Palestinians—including 41 children. Their vulnerability rendered by homelessness is further exacerbated by the onset of winter and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, the Israeli military body responsible for civilian affairs excused their act of unforgiving brutality by citing a lack of building permits as their justification behind their biggest demolition of Palestinian homes in years.
Demolitions have served as a means of creating hostile environments designed to drive out Palestinians from their homes for decades. According to the United Nations, Israel has demolished more than 55,000 Palestinian homes, dwellings and other structures since 1967. Such an extensive history of Israeli abuses within Palestinian territories reveals the blanket of impunity Israel is afforded by the international community, particularly the United States. The amicable relationship between the United States and Israel predates Trump, exemplified by the provision of $142.3 billion in bilateral assistance and missile defense funding since World War II, making Israel the largest cumulative recipient of U.S foreign assistance. Interestingly, almost all U.S aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance: transforming Israel’s armed forces into one of the most technologically sophisticated militaries in the world and making the United States complicit in their afflictions of inhumanity.
Although American support behind Israel can be seen across the political spectrum, the Trump administration is an anomaly. Despite Trump’s infamous isolationist approach to foreign policy, his concessions towards Israel have made more of an impact than any of his predecessors. Early in his term, Trump recognized Israel’s claim to Jerusalem as their capital and moved the U.S embassy there: breaking the U.S precedent that the divided city be left to Israeli-Palestinaian negotiations and destroying the possibility of a two-state solution to decades of civil unrest and instability. Later, Trump went further by releasing a 181 page plan that afforded the Israel government the majority of its territorial demands, thereby cutting millions of dollars in aid to Palestinians and weakening their sovereignty. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, called Trump “the greatest friend that Israel has ever had in the White House.” Ultimately, Trump’s proposal emboldened Isralei ultrantionalists and positioned the Palestinian people as stateless people on their own land.
Given that Trump’s interests in the seven-decade conflict often appear opaque, Israel’s lobby influence in Washington demands further attention. Interestingly, the role of AIPAC in American politics is a highly contentious debate but their dark history of informal but substantial campaign contributions towards Presidential and Congressional candidates sheds light on the entanglement of money behind American-Israeli relations. In the 2018 mid-term elections alone, Pro-Israel lobbyists spent more than $22 million in campaign donations. By lobbying, pressuring and dangling donations in front of politicians, AIPAC has played a vital role in U.S foreign policy, particularly in the Isreali-Palestinain conflict. However, their monetary contributions not only incentivize public servants across the political spectrum to express pro-Israeli sentiment but they spin positive PR after Israeli atrocities.
It must be noted that such criticism of AIPAC’s powerful influence is a hotly politicized dispute with both sides of the political aisle charging it antisemitic. Yet, the power of their financial contributions and political influence are under debate, not their faith. Therefore, criticisms of AIPAC reflect systematic concerns towards campaign finance and represent the severity of the dependence of the U.S system on money. Thus, only a political system less reliant on money for electoral success would be able to mitigate this capitalist disaster. A capitalist disaster that enables American politicians to profit from Isralei crimes against Palestinians. In light of Biden’s victory, we must fight for policies that advance Palestinian freedom.