American citizens are again bracing for a new round of deep cuts into social programs and increases in tax rates. At the same time, the Obama Administration is extending military and non-military operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan at the costs of billions of dollars. Now, in addition to billions in aid, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is seeking bids to build a five-story complex for the Israeli Air Force for as much as $100 million. This amount could literally fund thousands of needed science and math teachers around the United States or fund historical programs eliminated due to shortages of a few million dollars in Congress.
The new complex will include classrooms, park benches, and an auditorium. It is the type of construction that we continue to fund in places like Afghanistan under the claim that they simply do not have money for construction. Israel has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world and yet we continue to cut domestic programs while sending hundreds of millions of dollars to other countries like Israel.We now appear to be funding general construction projects so long as they can be defined as a military need for Israel.
Notably, the U.S. contractor hired will be required to supply mezuzahs inscribed with Torah verses, “for each door or opening exclusive of toilets or shower rooms.”
Another problematic U.S. enforced condition is that the employment of Palestinians is strictly prohibited.
I have long been critical of the continued spending of billions in various countries from Iraq to Egypt to Afghanistan to Israel as our citizens face severe cuts in social and educational programs. I fail to understand the sense of priority in such spending even though I obviously understand the powerful lobbying and political pressure that come to bear in Washington. There appears to be no serious scrutiny of our continued spending in these countries and the balancing of our own domestic needs in an economic crisis.