Israel gets pay increase, government workers don't
CAIR is calling on people of conscience to contact their elected representatives to protest plans to provide an additional $14 billion in grants and loan guarantees that will offer economic support for Israel's brutal occupation of the Palestinian people.
Israel is today expected to submit a request for that aid to National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. President George Bush is likely to approve the request. Congress could finalize the aid package within 3-6 months.
SEE: U.S. expected to approve $14 billion aid request
"It is unconscionable for any elected representative of the American people to contemplate taking hard-earned taxpayer dollars that are desperately needed in this country, and sending them to support the brutal military occupation of a foreign country," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. Awad added that the aid increase would be doubly harmful in that the perception of American one-sided support for Israel harms America's image and interests worldwide.
The request for increased aid to Israel comes after President Bush said budget constraints forced him to reduce the pay increase for government workers. On Friday, the president announced he was using his authority to change workers' pay structure in times of "national emergency or serious economic conditions" to limit raises to 3.1 percent.
"A national emergency has existed since Sept. 11, 2001…Such cost increases would threaten our efforts against terrorism or force deep cuts in discretionary spending or federal employment to stay within budget. Neither outcome is acceptable," wrote the president in a letter to congressional leaders. (Associated Press, 11/30/02)
Israel's request for more tax-payer dollars, on top of the billions that already go to that country, also comes as citizens in many American states face service reductions due to massive budget deficits. According to the Dec. 9 issue of Time magazine: "The states are running an aggregate deficit that is expected to reach $ 68 billion by June 30…In the meantime, the states have pressed Washington for money to pay for things it has demanded--among them, homeland-security initiatives, election reform and broader Medicaid benefits for the poor. Beset by federal deficits, the Bush Administration is unlikely to provide much help at a time when it is focused on tax cuts and a possible war with Iraq."
Any additional funds for Israel, a nation with one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, could be used to offset economic loses from the Palestinian uprising against the occupation.
Over just the past two weeks, those killed by Israeli occupation soldiers included a number of Palestinian children, the drummer who wakes people up for the morning Ramadan meal, an elderly woman taking a taxi home after a medical check-up, a 68-year-old father crushed to death in his demolished home, and a British United Nations worker shot in the Jenin refugee camp.
In addition, olive trees uprooted from Palestinian orchards were sold illegally to Israelis, Israeli soldiers forced a Palestinian man to strip naked at gunpoint and walk like a dog, Israeli occupation authorities said they plan to demolish many Palestinian homes in the city of Hebron, a group of U.N. workers demanded that Israel stop the harassment of United Nations staff, and a World Food Program warehouse in a Palestinian refugee camp was demolished.