If You Care Where Your Taxes Go, You Should Care About Palestine

Many Americans don't care about the U.N. vote on Palestinian statehood. But we should: $3 billion of our tax money goes to Israel each year.

Have you heard that the United Nations will be voting on Palestine's statehood tomorrow? If you haven't, you're not alone. A full 51 percent of Americans have no idea about the contentious talks that have been going on for weeks between the United States and the Middle East, and another 38 percent know very little about it. But considering that less than 2 percent of all news coverage was devoted to the debate, you can't exactly blame them for being in the dark. Even some who are tuned into the vote don't care. When asked about the possibility of a Palestinian sovereign state, nearly a third of Americans have no comment.

You'd think that a news cycle obsessed with tracking tax dollars would pay a little more attention to the Israel/Palestine debate. Israel gets $8.2 million in U.S. aid every day. That's about $3 billion a year, which amounts to roughly one-fifth of America's entire foreign aid budget. And yes, that comes out of your taxes. Conservatives complain about paying for programs "we don't use," and everyone from Keith Olbermann to Ron Paul reminds us of the trillion-dollar war we're fighting in three countries. What about the war between Israel and Palestine? Why doesn't it sink in that we're funding that, too?

It's no secret that countries turn inward during an economic crisis. But Americans are in a unique position—our money gets funneled around the world. So the next time you get outraged about how much we spend on the war on drugs or prisons or executions, remember that a good chunk of your tax money wields its influence in the Holy Land, too.

If you do want to read more, the Times has a useful update on the situation. There's also some good analysis at the Guardian, the Atlantic, and the Christian Science Monitor.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user codepinkhq

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