If you’ve ridden the Metro in the past month, you may have noticed the “Be on our side” advertisement campaign. The four week campaign has finally come to an end, and the signs posted inside the Washington Area Metro trains for the past month have been taken down.
The ads had read “Be on our side. We are the side of peace and justice. End U.S. military aid to Israel,” accompanied by various photos of smiling Palestinians and Israelis. This one here is a bubbly photo of two fathers with their daughters, one man labeled a “Palestinian designer” and the other an “Israeli social worker.”
The advertisements were sponsored by the DC Riders for Peace Campaign, “a coalition of organizations working to inform individuals and groups in the DC area about the need for a just peace in Palestine/Israel and the multiple dimensions of that conflict,” as defined on their website. Unfortunately, only one (fabricated) dimension of the conflict was presented in their campaign.
The DC Riders insist that over the years the U.S. has given Israel a total of $61.3 billion in military aid, and it has only led to violence. This is a blatant and deceiving inaccuracy. It seems that a few concrete facts have escaped the advocates behind the campaign:
1. An Israel-US Memorandum of Agreement that went alongside the Israeli-Egypt Peace Treaty of 1979, the foundation of U.S. policy in the region, stated that “the United States will endeavor to take into account and will endeavor to be responsive to military and economic assistance requirements of Israel.” Not only will the United States remain committed to fulfilling this undertaking, but the U.S. also has a major interest in preserving this treaty, which helped bring some stability to a part of the world that was constantly at war.
2. Regional peace is, and always has been, both the United States’ and Israel’s ultimate goal. For 2011, the Obama Administration requested $3 billion in Foreign Military Financing to Israel, and according to the State Department’s 2011 budget justification for Foreign Operations, “U.S. assistance will help ensure that Israel maintains its qualitative military edge over potential threats, and prevent a shift in the security balance of the region. U.S. assistance is also aimed at ensuring for Israel the security it requires to make concessions necessary for comprehensive regional peace.”
3. Military aid to Israel, building a stronger Israel, leads to a strengthened United States, despite the campaign’s claim that “our government’s current policy has failed to protect and advance our own long-term national self-interest.” In reality, Israeli military innovations help save lives of American troops. The U.S. military has benefited greatly from the Israel Defense Forces’ combat experience. In addition, Israel aid dollars are spent across the U.S. In fact, Israel spends 75% of U.S. aid in the United States purchasing U.S. military equipment.
DC Riders claim that by taking the active step of stopping U.S. military aid to Israel, U.S. citizens can end the occupation and the violence in the region. Never does the campaign recognize that Hamas firing rockets from Gaza into Israel is a predominant instigator (and performance in itself) of violence, and instead decided to enlighten our average Metro riders through crafty propaganda that Israel is pugnacious. The campaign also fails to mention the fact that Israel transfers 15,000 tons of supplies to Gaza every week and in just 2 months Israel transferred 133 million liters of fuel to Gaza (enough fuel to power every car and truck in Israel!)
The DC Riders Campaign advertisements were ambiguous and misleading as these human rights organizations often are. Although they claim to be on the side of “peace and justice,” – a side most certainly every U.S. citizen wants to be on! – a quick skim over their website, where they declare vague and faulty statements such as “unconditional support to Israel has perpetuated the dispossession of the Palestinian people,” reveals their agenda as biased, one-sided and anti-Israel.
Candace Mittel is a summer associate at Gather the Jews. The opinions express in this piece belong solely to Candace.