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New Bill Would Extend US Military Benefits to Americans Serving in the IDF

The amendments proposed by HR 8445 further incentivize US citizens to become active participants in the Gaza genocide.

An Israeli soldier controls a tank as military mobilization of the Israeli army continues near the Gaza border on May 16, 2024.

On May 17, legislation was introduced and referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Cosponsored by Chief Deputy Whip Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) and U.S. Representative Max Miller (R-OH), H.R. 8445 went largely under the radar, a strange outcome given the real effect it will have on furthering U.S. support for the Zionist project — in this case through direct support for those wishing to serve in the Israeli Occupational Military.

What H.R. 8445 aims to do is make a series of amendments to programs that are ordinarily only available to members of the U.S. military — the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) and Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). These amendments would do something unprecedented: Extend these programs to American citizens serving in the Israel Occupational Forces.

The SCRA, the result of the Bush administration’s efforts to update the 1940 Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act (SSCRA), was passed in 2003. Its primary focus is granting active duty U.S. servicemembers legal and financial protections so that they can do the bidding of U.S. empire a little more worry-free. This act’s benefits include protections against default judgments in civil legal cases, reduced interest rates on any pre-service loans to a maximum of 6 percent, protections against home foreclosure, and more.

USERRA, enacted in 1994, is a multifaceted act that ensures U.S. servicemembers can return to their former places of employment after their service ends (with some exceptions) while banning employment discrimination because of past, current, or future military obligations.

In effect, H.R. 8445 is a measure designed to ensure U.S. legal and financial protections are being extended directly to U.S. citizens on the ground in Occupied Palestine as they assist in the ongoing colonization, ethnic cleansing, and genocide of Palestinians. The amendments it proposes formally bring U.S. citizens fighting in a foreign military into the fold, opening up further incentives for becoming an active participant in the Gaza genocide.

This effort is not necessarily surprising as the U.S. is putting its full weight into protecting and advancing the interests of its colonial outpost across the Atlantic. The Zionist project has long been sustained in part by settlers from the U.S., with more than 23,000 U.S. citizens serving in the IOF as of February 2024. This figure is bolstered further by the reality that an estimated 600,000 Americans were living in areas under Israeli control, including illegal West Bank settlements, prior to October 7. These settlers play key roles in advancing Zionist, and by extension U.S. imperial interests. As such, it is no surprise that they have been consistently enabled to travel and settle in Occupied Palestine, being joined by billions of dollars in U.S. military and economic aid.

This act also only furthers a reality in which U.S. citizens are functionally incentivized to act as mercenaries for the Zionist colony, all while shielding them from the ramifications of their actions when they return home. The protections of the SCRA effectively ensure that U.S. citizens fighting in the IOF abroad are protected from foreclosure, get preferential interest rates for loans, and more — all benefits traditionally used to recruit U.S. citizens into its own military forces. It is the U.S. government’s way of telling U.S. citizens that it will look out for them should they put their bodies on the line for the Zionist colony.

USERRA on the other hand acts as the shield, ensuring that when these citizens return home from aiding a colonial military abroad, they not only have the option to return to their former places of employment, but are protected from “discrimination” based on their former service, stopping businesses that may want to avoid the hiring, retainment, advancement, and extension of benefits to those who willingly participate in the genocide of Palestinians, and the potential war crimes involved in this, from being able to do so. In this sense, the USERRA amendments actually play a role as an anti-accountability measure.

All in all, H.R. 8445 is one of many pieces of legislation that are being proposed to continue U.S. support for the Zionist project. It is not a change from the norm in that regard, but the effects of such legislation are genuinely startling for those trying to stop U.S. involvement in the occupation of Palestine and hold those responsible who participate in it. All this is being done, yet again, in the name of advancing U.S. imperialist interests — interests that are inextricably linked to the continued survival of the Zionist settler colonial project, and Zionism itself.

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