When the animated musical film Prince of Egypt was released in 1998, a rabbi acquaintance expressed his dismay over the Hollywood version of the yetziat Mitzrayim story. Why worry?, I asked in my naiveté. He reminded me that for many Americans, it’d be the only version they know of that Bible story.* My husband and I saw Argo this weekend when it finally arrived at my local Bala Cinema and we thought it a fabulous movie, thrillingly told. The rescue of six Americans, trapped in Iran after our embassy was invaded in 1979, was classified until 1997 and remained under our national radar. It only made the headlines when Joshuah Bearman wrote about it for Wired magazine. That article sparked
Underscoring his commitment to the U.S.-Israel relationship, President Barack Obama requested a record $3,100,000,000 in assistance to Israel for the 2013 fiscal year. The requested amount is not just the largest assistance request for Israel ever, it is the largest foreign assistance request ever in U.S. history.
According to page 172 of the State Department's report on the FY 2013 budget, foreign military financing to Israel has increased steadily under Obama:
In 2011, Israel received $2,994,000,000;
In 2012, Israel is estimated to have received $3,075,000,000; and
In 2013, Obama requested for Israel to receive $3,100,000,000 — almost half of the entire global request for foreign military financing.
The State Department released a statement last Friday calling the potential Gaza flotilla "irresponsible and provocative."
The statement said:
We are concerned that a number of groups are organizing a one year 'anniversary' flotilla to commemorate the incident by sailing from various European ports to Gaza in the near future. Groups that seek to break Israel's maritime blockade of Gaza are taking irresponsible and provocative actions that risk the safety of their passengers. Established and efficient mechanisms exist to transfer humanitarian assistance to Gaza. For example, humanitarian assistance can be delivered at the Israeli port of Ashdod, where cargo can be offloaded, inspected, and transported to Gaza. We urge all those seeking to provide such assistance to the people of Gaza to use these mechanisms, and not to participate in actions like the planned flotilla.
The statement explained that there is necessity for the Israeli blockade on Gaza:
Recent seizures by Israel and Egypt of advanced military systems, weapons, and ammunition bound for terrorist groups in Gaza, as well as periodic rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza against Israeli civilians, highlight the continuing problem of illicit arms smuggling to Gaza. These seizures underscore the vital importance to Israel's security of ensuring that all cargo bound for Gaza is appropriately screened for illegal arms and dual-use materials.
They expressed a positive outlook on the humanitarian situation in Gaza:
The United States remains concerned by conditions in Gaza, but notes that the humanitarian situation has significantly improved over the last year, including a marked increase in the range and scope of goods and materials moving into Gaza, an increase in international project activity, and the gradual expansion of exports. The United States will continue to work with Israel, the Palestinian Authority, donors, and the international community to do more and ensure that the needs of the people of Gaza are being met.
The statement concluded:
We also continue to call on Hamas to play a constructive role by renouncing violence, recognizing Israel's right to exist, and accepting past agreements. We underscore that delivering or attempting or conspiring to deliver material support or other resources to or for the benefit of a designated foreign terrorist organization, such as Hamas, could violate U.S. civil and criminal statutes and could lead to fines and incarceration.
Full statement from the State Department follows the jump.
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