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Monday, June 17, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Three Billion to Israel Looks Better on Paper

Taxpayers dollars pay for international interests

After having exchanged choice words with President Obama last week over the decision to freeze the construction of Israeli settlements in disputed territory, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to persuade his cabinet to cease construction for a 90-day period.

The Obama administration has offered the Israeli government a $3 billion incentives package that is contingent on a permanent territory treaty and ceasefire with Palestinians. The offer includes funding for Israeli national security, a staple of the state's spending, and a number of fighter jets for its air force.

Amid endless peace talks and rescinded truces between the two stubborn states, it seems utterly ridiculous that a plan to essentially bribe the Israeli government would finally put a cap on the violence in the disputed areas of Israel and East Jerusalem.

Whether or not the United States government should spend another few billion on an external conflict is also a contentious issue for American taxpayers. Indeed, we have several domestic problems that deserve the attention that $3 billion attracts.

Having been in Iraq and Afghanistan for years now, it is absurd that our country would spend billions on another global policing deal. After all, it is not our fault that the nationalistic animosity between Israel and Palestinians refuses to come to a peaceful accord.

But in the grand scheme of national or military spending, $3 billion is not a huge amount. On defense alone, the U.S. spends well over $700 billion annually.

And despite an economic recession, almost all Americans are doing far better than the destitute along the Gaza strip, who are strangled for humanitarian aid as a result of heavy-handed Israeli national security.

As a global superpower, and as a member of the United Nations, we will always involve ourselves in external affairs and overseas problems, no matter what the cost to our domestic budget and international relations may be.

What makes the United States a country of varying likeability is that we put our size and ideology into international affairs to protect our interests and to advocate for democracy. We are like a really rich and nosy neighbor who mows your lawn because we think that we do it better.

But it would be wonderful if this actually worked, if the United States actually contributed to a truce between the states. And why not? Our country could fancy itself a superior nation, as many do, if we remained insular and showed apathy toward international conflict.

We live, relatively, in a land of plenty, where our government has $3 billion to spare. Some governments do not even have $3 billion.

Obama's decision to try the plan is a good one. The deal is contingent on a treaty; the way it looks, we will probably keep the money.


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