Pictures the Israel brand-builders would rather you not see

This is the view of Tel Aviv the Israeli tourism authorities and image-branding machine would rather you not see. It is southern Tel Aviv, home to drug addicts, drug dealers, prostitutes and African immigrants

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Here is how the Israeli news website Ynet describes the area:

Emaciated drug addicts with a blank looks and arm extended forward are the permanent landscape of the area surrounding south Tel Aviv’s Central Bus Station, the same area where a woman’s dismembered body was found over the weekend. They are always there, in daylight and dead of night.

They cannot be missed or avoided. They walk slowly back and forth on the sidewalk and sometimes step into the road to try and get a few coins from random vehicles unluckily stopping at a nearby traffic light. Their drug trafficking stations are more or less visible for all in dark alleys and stairwells, but do not face shut down by the authorities; it is doubtful if anyone can shut them down. That is the reality of the backyard of Tel Aviv’s backyard.

Israeli officials might argue that every major city has its problems. That is true, but the details tell a different story.

For a start, according to Journalist’s Resources,

Israel is currently the largest cumulative recipient of US foreign aid since World War II. Although aid to Israel began in 1949 with a 100-million-dollar bank loan, large-scale US assistance for Israel increased dramatically throughout the several Arab-Israeli wars in the 1960s and 1970s.

A 2012 report by the Congressional Research Service, “US foreign aid to Israel”, characterizes the historical financial relationship, types of military spending and current trends.

Among the highlights of the report are:

  • To date, the United States has provided Israel 115 billion dollars in bilateral assistance…
  • The fiscal year 2013 budget request “includes 3.1 billion dollars in Foreign Military Financing [FMF] for Israel and 15 million dollars for refugee resettlement. Within the U.S. Department of Defence, the US Missile Defence Agency’s FY2013 budget request includes 99.8 million dollars in joint US-Israeli co-development for missile defense.”
  • “The United States has helped defray the cost of Israel’s domestically-developed short-range anti-rocket system, dubbed “Iron Dome”… Each battery costs approximately 50 million dollars”…
  • In 2007, the Bush Administration signed a 10-year, 30-billion-dollar military aid package that raises Israel’s annual FMF grant from 2.55 billion to 3.1 billion dollars.
  • “The United States and Israel announced in 2010 that Israel will purchase 19 F-35s, the fifth generation stealth aircraft considered to be the most technologically advanced fighter jet ever made, at a cost of 2.75 billion dollars. They will be paid for entirely using FMF grants…. As part of the F-35 deal, the United States agreed to make reciprocal purchases of equipment from Israel’s defence industries estimated at 4 billion dollars.”
  • In non-military aid, between 1973 and 1991, the United States gave 460 million dollars for resettling foreign Jews in Israel. Annually, this figure has been between 12 million and 80 million dollars.

So, there’s no shortage of money, thanks to US taxpayers. Much of this money is spent on subsidizing the occupation of the West Bank, including grants to encourage Jews to colonize the illegally occupied Palestinian territories, and on maintaining the criminal siege of the Gaza Strip

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