The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is holding its annual conference May 22-24, where Congress people and many of our national leaders will rush headlong into the committee’s open arms and bountiful coffers. In an increasingly bizarre time warp they will congratulate each other and kvell about Israel’s special relationship with the US, our strategic partnership, and Israel’s commitment to democratic ideals in a “sea of dictatorships” (to quote the website).
Shortly after the University of Johannesburg resuscitated an apartheid-era agreement with Ben Gurion University of Israel (BGU) in late 2009, colleagues at UJ who disagreed with this development sought an audience with an academic who was key to the envisioned joint water research project.
He responded by writing: "I am afraid I may not be helpful in this instance since I do not hold any particular view on the Israeli-Palestinian matter. My involvement is purely on a research basis as I am engaged in this project based on the expertise in water research at Ben Gurion University.
My visit to your university in Tucson earlier this month filled me with utmost joy and reverence, especially for the youth who are engaged in one of the most important struggles of our time—the right to education.
Israel may be forgiven for failing to realize the current fiscal woes of the United States. After all, US military aid to Israel not only sailed unscathed through this month’s passage of the 2011 budget, but reached the record level of $3 billion.
The US additionally provided Israel $415 million for procurement, research and development of joint US-Israeli missile defense projects, including $205 million to fund Israel’s newly-deployed Iron Dome system.
At the end of one of my first journeys to the Israeli-occupied West Bank in 2004, I endured a shocking experience at Ben-Gurion Airport. I never imagined that Israeli security forces would abuse a 79-year-old Holocaust survivor, but they held me for five hours, and strip-searched and cavity-searched every part of my naked body.