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July 12, 2005

Updated: Lou Dobbs Segment: Saddam's "Errant Missiles" Hit Israel

(See July 14 update at end of entry.)

The July 11 segment of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight touched on Israel's request for American aid to help pay for the Gaza withdrawal and related expenses.

At the end of the program, viewers were asked to respond to a poll question: "Should U.S. taxpayers be footing the bill for Israel's pullout from Gaza, yes or no?"

This is a legitimate question to ask, and there are no doubt diverse views on the subject among American taxpayers.

It is not surprising, though, that (as of the evening of July 12) most viewers responded "no" to the poll question. From the array of speakers on the program seemed to come only one point of view — one critical of aid to Israel.

Lou Dobbs prefaces the segment with a series of lead-ins which leave little doubt about his own attitudes:

...why is a nation of only 6.5 million people receiving more U.S. aid than any other country in the entire world? And why is that country asking for even more U.S. cash? Two billion dollars, in fact, even though it's one of the world's richest countries.

... Still ahead here ... the United States already gives Israel more foreign aid than any country in the world. Now Israel wants even more. Another $2 billion, in fact. We'll take a look at the economics and the politics of all of that money.

... Just ahead here, how much is enough? Israel asks the United States for billions more in economic aid. That's on top of the almost $3 billion we provide each year for a nation of 6.5 million people.

None of the other speakers — CNN correspondent Lisa Sylvester, Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union, and Phil Wilcox of the Foundation for Middle East Peace — answer Dobb's questions from a pro-aid point of view:

SYLVESTER: What is out there is a reported $2.2 billion price tag that Israel wants American taxpayers to cover. This is on top of the commitment the United States made last week to help the G8 fund a $3 billion aid package to the Palestinians. A lot of promises as the United States faces a record budget deficit.

PETE SEPP, NATIONAL TAXPAYERS UNION: Foreign aid is not a gigantic share of the federal budget, but when we're talking about deficits in the hundreds of billions of dollars, this kind of money still adds up.

SYLVESTER: Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, receiving more than $2.5 billion in annual assistance. Former ambassador to Israel Phil Wilcox questions if filling this aid request will even advance U.S. interests, because there's no sign that Israel intends to pull out of the West Bank, a necessary step on the roadmap to peace.

PHIL WILCOX, PRESIDENT, FOUNDATION FOR MIDDLE EAST PEACE: The current picture does not offer that promise. And I think, therefore, Americans would probably be reluctant to increase the already very major assistance we give to Israel, unless we had a greater assurance that this was going to lead to a real peace.

Why were no speakers in favor of U.S. aid to Israel given the opportunity to make their case? This would have balanced out those who seem ambivalent or opposed to such aid, and allowed viewers to weigh the pros and cons and decide for themselves.

(Such viewpoints can be found here. Or here, here, here, here, here and here.

Much more disturbing than the suggestion that Israel should not receive aid — whether or not one agrees with this viewpoint, it is a legitimate expression of opinion — is the blatent revisionism of recent history in this closing comment by Sylvester:

The resettlement aid, if this is approved, would be the largest supplemental assistance to Israel since 1992, when Congress approved $3 billion to pay for damage from errant missiles during the first Gulf War

Errant missiles?! Anyone who remembers the 39 scud missiles launched by Iraq into Israel during the Gulf War realizes the absurdity of that statement. The missiles were not "errant." They were aimed at Israeli cities, and hit their targets. (Would Sylvester dare to suggest that the World Trade Center Towers in New York City were felled by "errant airplanes?)

Sylvester and Dobbs are welcome to their own opinions. They should not be allowed, however, to rewrite history.

Update: The reference to $3 billion in supplemental assistance for Gulf War missile damage is also incorrect. Congress actually approved in 1991 $650 million in "emergency supplemental assistance for Israel for additional costs incurred as a result of the Persian Gulf conflict"

Posted by GI at July 12, 2005 04:08 PM


Does lou dobbs have a problem with us giving aid to the terrorist "palestinians"?

Also in light of the fact that it is likely that Israel is withdrawing from Gaza due to pressure from the U.S, I think that gives the U.S. the obligation to help fund it.

Posted by: Laura at July 12, 2005 10:16 PM

lou dobbs is repulsive.

Posted by: Laura at July 12, 2005 10:43 PM

I agree CNN reporting lacking depth

Posted by: Duncan Henderson at July 15, 2005 09:03 AM

The feeling of American people is that they should not give a dime for religious fanatics, either on Israel or Palestine.

In stead that money (my tax payer money) should go to inner cities, where African American and Latinos are in living poverty. By giving money to religious fanatics for years, we American taxe payers, have create a dependecy equal if not worse to that of a crack addict.

At the same time, those religious fanatics in the state of Israel, have robbed our children of the resources, that we the American people, have struggle to reach with our work.

Ask the Russian for money to mantain the flow of emigration in to the land stolen from the Palestinians.

Posted by: John McGrath at July 24, 2005 09:47 PM

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