Why should we pay for peace
between Israel and Syria?
(Orlando Sentinel, January 16, 2000)

The Israelis have indicated that if they sign a peace deal with Syria, they expect the U.S. taxpayers to ante up about $17 billion.

Excuse me. What's in it for us? Frankly it's no skin off our nose if the Israelis and Syrians don't make peace. Israel invaded Syria and since 1967 has occupied Syrian territory on the Golan Heights. For that reason, though a ceasefire is in place, the two countries remain in a state of war. It seems to me that it's entirely in the self-interest of the two countries to make peace, but why should U.S. taxpayers pay for it? American taxpayers paid for the Camp David peace treaty and the Wye River Agreement. Altogether, Israel has tapped American taxpayers for amounts approaching $100 billion if you throw in the annual bribe to Egypt that was apparently part of the deal for the Camp David peace treaty.

Now Israel has put the United States on notice that peace with Syria will cost at least $17 billion, or more money than the U.S. space program gets annually. Don't you think it's about time for the American people to put their congressman and senators on notice that they are not willing to pay for other people's peace treaties. After all, at the end of all of America's wars, no third country ever showed up and said, "Hey, guys, if you make peace, we'll pay you umpty-ump billions." As I recall we paid for our own wars, our own peace treaties and most of the time ended up repairing the country we had whipped. We paid for our own security measures.

I was under the impression that Israel was a sovereign, independent country, but apparently it is a ward of the American taxpayers. Or maybe it's us, the Americans, who are not independent and are under the sovereignty of Israel. After all, Israel seems to have far more influence in Washington than the American people. Try squeezing $100 billion out of the federal treasury for your state and see how far you get.

Neither Israel nor the rest of the Middle East has any strategic value for the United States. We even import only a small fraction of our oil imports from the Gulf States. The plain fact is that Israel is a strategic liability. Israel modifies and then sells arms and U.S. military technology in competition with the United States, even selling technology to America's potential enemies, such as China. It spies on the U.S. government and, according to the Central Intelligence Agency, commits industrial espionage against American businesses. It blew up American diplomatic facilities in Cairo in a covert scheme to queer U.S. and Egyptian relations. In 1967 it attacked an American Navy ship in international waters, killing 34 and wounding 171.

Yet, so powerful is the Israeli lobby's grip on the U.S. Congress that for 33 years the pleas of the Navy survivors of that ship for a congressional hearing have gone unheeded. In the meantime, these loyal American servicemen have been attacked as "anti-Semitic" simply because they have demanded a public hearing they are entitled to. As columnist Joe Sobran recently wrote, in America you are anti-Semitic not if you hate Jews but if Jews hate you.

But that's not all. The Arab world had no quarrel with the United States until the United States began to one-sidedly support Israel -- even when it was in the wrong. Every American who has died and those who will die at the hands of a Middle East terrorist can thank the Israeli lobby for it. I don't think that you will find anywhere in world history where a great power has so surrendered its foreign policy to the lobby of so small a country.

Some day, of course, the American people will wake up to the fact that they have been played for suckers, but that's probably several billions of dollars and several hundreds of American lives down the road. 

Published in The Orlando Sentinel on January 16, 2000.