Testimony to City Commission re: Resolution to Support Human Rights for Israelis and Palestinians by Ending US Military Aid to Israel
Rev. Ruth Moerdyke
I want to thank you for the time and consideration given to this resolution. The Commission has a great deal of other business to deal with.
I want, first, to make a point that often gets confused in media coverage: opposition to the policies of the Israeli government does not comprise anti-Semitism. I can grieve and denounce extremist violence in places like Nigeria or Sri Lanka without being Islamaphobic. I can lament synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh and San Diego and criticize policies of the Israeli government. We must be clear that the resolution under consideration is not in any way anti-Semitic…
…it is, obviously, opposed to military aid to the state of Israel. This aid is often justified as necessary to the defense of Israel, even though U.S. aid has helped Israel become the seventh largest arms supplier in the world. (Competing, in fact, against U.S. arms dealers). It seems unlikely that a highly developed military industry within Israel truly requires U.S. aid to maintain a basic defense system.
Aid to Israel also has its roots in the notion that we provide that assistance in support of a democratic government. Unfortunately, this is less and less the case. A year ago, Israel passed a “nation-state law” that declared that self-determination for the nation of Israel is unique to Jewish people. Nearly 20% of the population of Israel, non-Jews, was delegated to second-class status with the passage of that law. They are no longer considered important in the nation’s self-determination. The nation of Israel, under its current government, seems almost determined to reproduce the dynamics of apartheid South Africa through creating classes of citizens, restricting movement, and other policies.
Clearly, military aid and the militarization of the state of Israel has been corrosive of democratic values (as militarization always is). Furthermore, the entrenchment of a military state, with U.S. support makes any peaceful steps toward the co-existence of Israel with Palestinians increasingly impossible. The impoverishment and well-documented abuse of the Palestinian population in Gaza and the West Bank only perpetuates a horrific situation. Violence simply escalates. Those who want to honor their own humanity, as well as that of others, have shrinking ground to stand upon.
Those Palestinians who want only to have a livelihood and care for their families are continuously under threat of losing both to the directives of the Israeli military with its bombs, rifles, and bulldozers.
The U.S. government still asserts that we are interested in dignity for all peoples and are still committed to a negotiated settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Our government has declared this for many years. If we, as U.S. citizens are to demand our government to live up to its word, eliminating U.S. military aid to Israel is an essential step.