Object to cut in Palestinian aid

As our U.S. military budget increases by $61 billion (more than the Pentagon’s entire budget) for this year and will increase again in 2019, the “squeeze” tightens even more on the Palestinians. The U.S. has just cut the U.N. agency UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East) aid to Palestinian refugees in Gaza by half; i.e., our country has cut $65 million out of $125 million appropriated to build up Palestine after the 2014 war and to help provide education for children.

$65 million is peanuts compared to $61 billion, but this UNRWA budget affects more than half of Gaza’s population, with 40 percent of its people already unemployed.

When this new budget went into effect, “125 workers from the agency’s emergency program were immediately dismissed, 570 employees were told that they would be hired only on a part-time basis until the end of the year, while 270 were told that their contracts would also be terminated at the end of the year if the financial crisis is not resolved.” (Mondolweiss July 27).

Gaza has very few U.S. voices rallying for its security. It’s befuddling to me that our president and our legislators generally look the other way when reports are made by non-governmental organizations and peace organizations in Palestine relating the horrific family suffering in Gaza.

The truth is that we in the U.S. have the power to mitigate this suffering of Gaza’s 1.8 million citizens. All we’d need to do is cut the $3.5 billion of our money apportioned to Israel for its “security” until they follow international law toward Palestine (West Bank and Gaza).

During the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza, when more than 1,400 people in Gaza lost their lives, and 500-plus children were counted among the dead, U.S. senators, including our Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, voted for the “security” of Israel rather than acknowledging and acting on the international war crimes that Israel was committing on the Gazan people. Even though women and children accounted for 1/3 of all casualties, our legislators overwhelmingly voted for the “security” of Israel. No mention of the huge discrepancy of Palestinian deaths compared to the 61 Israeli deaths of the war. No mention of the incursion by Israel in kidnapping 500-plus citizens of Gaza and the killing of seven of its citizens after alleged Hamas-linked people of Hebron killed three Israeli teens. There is no moral equivalency of Israeli and Palestinians’ ability to defend themselves. Palestinians have virtually no defense against the arsenal of weapons the U.S. provides for Israel.

It’s likewise so difficult for me to see such biased reporting in our media when experience convinces me we don’t allow the Palestinians to defend themselves. We assume Palestinians are the perpetrators of the crimes, and we act on that assumption in a massive way. We expect Palestine to just accept the reality that Israel is the boss, even though they have built the walls, they man the checkpoints which cause immense misery, they delay or prevent Palestinian children’s education and they monitor all their economic business. They want Palestinians to keep their heads down under their Israeli boots.

In my opinion, there is no justification for the occupation by Israel throughout Palestinian land. Call Brown at (202) 224-2315 and Portman at (202) 224-3353 today. Ask them to step up to the plate and defend Palestinians.

Sister Paulette Schroeder,