Big Nonsense: Breitbart scribe tries, fails to link Obama aid to Gaza with Helen Thomas

Blog ››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

In a blog post headlined, "Actually, Obama agrees with Helen Thomas," SusanAnne Hiller cited a reported $400 million aid package for Gaza and the West Bank and speculated, "Is this Obama's way of saying he agrees with Helen Thomas -- by offering the Palestinians a huge payout of American tax dollars." Hiller's argument was that "you can equate Israel, stop building settlements/neighborhoods with 'Get the hell out of Palestine." This outrageous claim -- that $400 million in aid to Gaza evinces Obama's betrayal of Israel and solidarity with Thomas' controversial comments -- is completely nonsensical in light of U.S. aid to Israel and longstanding U.S. policy of aid for Gaza and the West Bank.

Hiller's post, headlined, "Actually, Obama agrees with Helen Thomas," cited a New York Times article that reported that Obama "promised a $400 million aid package for the West Bank and Gaza." Hiller then speculated, "Is this Obama's way of saying he agrees with Helen Thomas-by offering the Palestinians a huge payout of American tax dollars. Nothing says 'Sorry, I'm with you,' like $400 million in US aid.'"

But Hiller's logic -- that foreign aid indicates where Obama's loyalties truly lie -- in no way leads to her own conclusion. According to a 2009 report prepared by the Congressional Research Service, Obama "requested $2.775 billion" in foreign military financing for Israel for fiscal year 2010. Yet Hiller would have us surmise that a fraction of that amount is a stronger indicator of where Obama's loyalties lie -- that Obama is "with" Gaza at Israel's expense; that Obama is telling Israel to "get the hell out of Palestine."

Moreover, Hiller's line of reasoning presupposes that the U.S. has not previously contributed financial aid to Gaza and the West Bank. But history proves her wrong here. The United States Agency for International Development has provided $2.9 billion in aid to the people living in the West Bank and Gaza since 1994 -- making the U.S. "the leading provider of bilateral economic and development assistance to the Palestinians." A February 2009 New York Times article detailed how the Obama administration was "following the lead of the Bush administration" in crafting a policy of providing aid to the Palestinians:

By seeking to aid Gazans but not Hamas, the administration is following the lead of the Bush administration, which sent money to Gaza through nongovernmental organizations. In December, it said it would give $85 million to the United Nations agency that provides aid to Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

And the purpose of U.S. aid to Gaza? As the Times reported, "White House officials said the money would be spent on housing, schools, efforts to provide access to drinking water and other health and infrastructure projects."

It is a particularly repugnant charge to claim that aid intended to provide drinking water and to build hospitals and schools -- aid that is in line with long-standing U.S. foreign aid policy -- somehow represents a betrayal of Israel. Then again, Andrew Breitbart is increasingly cornering the market on Big Repugnance.

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