Written by MJ Rosenberg MJ Rosenberg
Published: 08 March 2011 08 March 2011
As US fiscal conservatives cut food programmes for poor children, military aid for Israel is left untouched.
US military aid should be conditional on Israel stopping settlement expansion, writer says [GALLO/GETTY]
Once upon a time, social security was considered the "third rail" of American politics. The "third rail" is the train track that carries the high-voltage power; touching it means instant death.
The "third rail" metaphor has for decades been applied to social security, a government program so popular with the American public that proposing any changes in it would mean political death to the politician.
No more. Although social security is as popular as ever, politicians routinely propose changes in the program — including privatisation and means testing. While the proposals usually go nowhere, and rightly so, the politicians who support them live to fight another day. Today, with those massive deficits and the astronomical national debt, not even social security is sacrosanct.
Few, if any, government programs are.
But US aid to Israel is. In fact, the $3bn Israel aid package is the new third rail of American politics: touch it and die. It is also the one program that liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans and tea partiers all agree should not sustain even a dollar in cuts.
Actually, that is something of a mis-statement. These various parties and factions do not agree that the $3bn Israel aid package is sacred. They just say that they do because a powerful lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), makes clear to them that touching the aid package will mean big trouble for them in the next election.
Read more: Why is Israel aid exempt?