- Courtesy of Palestine News Network
- Details Published on Monday, 25 November 2013 10:12
Military veterans from the United States gathered Friday outside the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to protest US military support of the Israeli occupation. The action was initiated by members of Veterans for Peace, (VFP) who have been touring Occupied Palestine, to witness conditions on the ground and meet with leaders of nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation. The VFP representatives were joined by former members of Combatants for Peace (CFP), a movement of Palestinian and Israeli ex-combatants who join forces and nonviolently work to end the cycle of violence.
Elik Elhana, a former member of Combatants for Peace told PNN, “As Israeli activists we endorse and join the cause of our colleagues in Veterans for Peace. It seems very clear that the international community needs to stop financing the occupation because Israel will not stop the occupation until the price of maintaining it is greater than the economic benefits from it.” Elhana added, “as Israelis, we believe it is much better to pay the price of the occupation with money than blood.” Elhana and his colleagues from CFP served in the Israeli military during their first mandatory service period, and later refused to serve the annual month that is required.
The protest received mixed reactions from passersby. Ellen Barfield, a sergeant in the U.S. Army from 1977 to 1981 said, “One woman kept calling us ‘crazy,’ but most people just had curiosity. I had a nice exchange with one young man who just wanted to know why we were there. We got a few thumbs down too.” Speaking of the overall experience, Barfield added, “It was great to stand with our colleagues from Combatants for Peace to say the US must stop supporting the Israeli military.”
Richard M. Hastie, a US army medic in the Vietnam War from 1969-1971 told PNN, “Wars are about profit and exploitation. If the US’s wars were really for democracy and peace, why aren’t the rich sending their kids to war?” He added, “My primary purpose is to point out the war criminals in the room.”
The United States government gives $3.1 billion to the Israeli military each year. There is a new bill to increase this amount by some $500 million. Meanwhile in the US, the Republican-controlled House just approved $40 billion in cuts to food assistance programs, which will be phased in over 10 years. These cuts will force millions of Americans to cut back on food purchases.