Josh Reubner, Grassroots Advocacy Coordinator for the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation says “Israel stands to lose approximately $250 million of its $3.1 billion military aid package from the United States under the terms of the sequestration.”
As a result of sequestration budget cuts in America, many important programmes, especially for the poor, will be unfunded.
No cuts for Israel?
Among other things, 600,000 low-income women and children could be thrown off the Special Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.
The USDA will treat 200,000 fewer acres for hazardous fuel contamination, leading to an increased risk of wildfires.
Around 70,000 children will lose access to Head Start preschool services, with layoffs of 14,000 people nationwide.
There will be reduced funding for the health and well being of more than 373,000 seriously mentally ill adults and children, which could result in increased hospitalizations and homelessness.
About 125,000 individuals and families have been put at risk of becoming homeless, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimated.
An additional 100,000 formerly homeless people might be removed from emergency shelters or other housing arrangements because of the cuts, according to HUD.
These represent only a few of many programmes to suffer from funding cuts. No cuts for Israel?
Let’s look at the figures for some of the losers:
- A total of $86 million has been slashed from key women’s health programs that primarily serve lower-income women.
- $8 million from the Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program,
- $24 million from the Title X family planning and reproductive services;
- $50 million from the Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant.
- $20 million from the recently reinstated Violence Against Women Act
- $9 million from the Family Violence Prevention Act
- $424 million from Head Start and Early Head Start programs, which provide health and education services to low-income families.
- $600 million is set to be cut from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program For Women, Infants and Children.
A total of 1 billion, 221 million for these programs alone.
But wait! AIPAC’s campaign in Congress calls for: Efforts to provide Israel with its full $3.1 billion in military aid for 2013 and 2014, as well as $211m in additional funding for the Iron Dome missile-defence system.
The Washington Post acknowledges that there may be consequences within the American public “that attempts to exempt Israel from painful budget cuts while the rest of the U.S. was forced to absorb them would cause a political backlash.”
Concurrent with the AIPAC meeting in Washington, D.C., Congress is proposing a resolution which states, “If Israel were compelled to take military action in self-defence, the U.S. government should stand with Israel and supply military and diplomatic support.” This would create additional costs.
The Jewish Week calls AIPAC’s gambit to exempt these cuts a “very risky strategy at a time when millions of Americans will be feeling the bite of the sequestration debacle, which “could easily backfire and damage Israel far more than any cuts in its very generous grant aid program.”
James M Wall asks, “Is the U.S. Congress so beholden to AIPAC and so insensitive to the impact on programs like Head Start for children, that it will give Israel’s self-designated ‘defensive needs’ priority over US domestic needs?”
If the U.S. congress yields to the wishes of AIPAC to exempt Israel from budget cuts at the expense of needy Americans, those in Congress should not be proud to be Americans.
Paul Balles is a retired American university professor and freelance writer who has lived in the Middle East for many years. He’s a weekly op-ed columnist for the GULF DAILY NEWS . Dr. Balles is also Editorial Consultant for Red House Marketing and a regular contributor to Bahrain This Month.