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Israel falsely accused of distractor's sins

Alan H. Stein

Published in The Hour (Norwalk, Connecticut), August 22, 2010.

It's always interesting to see what factual errors and misrepresentations will show up when someone criticizes our only real friend in the Middle East. It's also interest ing to see how often Israel and its supporters are falsely accused of sins of which its enemies and detractors are guilty.

One found plenty of interest in Rod Lopez-Fabrega's letter published August 19.

For example, Lopez-Fabrega falsely stated that Israel 'needs to account for only 25 percent of where and how it spends' the assistance it receives from America. In fact, Israel is required to spend approximately 70 per cent of that assistance on military hardware purchased from the United States, purchases over which our government obviously has a veto. Typically omitted from the letter is any reference to the aid we give Israel's Arab neighbors, assistance which far outstrips the amount we invest in Israel while going to regimes that are far less friendly and far from democratic. According to Wikipedia (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel_-_United_ States_relations#United_States_military_and_economic_aid), we annually provide approximately $2.2 billion to Egypt, $400 million to Jordan and $1 billion to the Palestinian Authority. (This is probably an underestimate, since we recently massively increased the aid we transfer to the Palestinian Authority.) We're even in the process of selling $60 billion worth of military equipment to Saudi Arabia - a country that wouldn't even let our soldiers practice their own religion when we went there to protect it from Iraq and from which almost all of the 9/ 11 bombers came. This alone corresponds to about twenty years worth of military assistance to Israel and provides Saudi Arabia weapons against which Israel must, at great expense, be prepared to defend itself. Lest we think we are at least getting paid for this equipment, the cost is itself dwarfed by the amount Saudi Arabia, along with the other OPEC members, extorts from us in the form of exorbitant prices for the oil we discovered for them.

Lopez-Fabrega also seems rather unhappy that supporters of the American- Israel partnership exercise their Constitutional right to try to influence our government, while ignoring the pervasive influence of the Arab oil states. Twenty-five years ago, anti-terrorism expert Steven Emerson wrote ' The American House of Saud,' in which he documented how immense Saudi Arabian wealth produced a dramatic shift in American foreign pol icy. Mitchell Bard provided updated information on that influence this year with his book, 'The Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance That Undermines America's Interests in the Middle East.' We need to be more aware of and vigilant to protect our selves against these well financed foreign lobbies perverting American policy, rather than being paranoid about loyal American citizens wisely exercising their Constitutional rights.

Alan Stein is a Waterbury resident and president, PRIMER-Connecticut, Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting http://www.primerct.org.

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