In the final part of this three part series on Israeli nuclear threat to peace, I intend to look at the claim made by Zionist and other Israeli supporters calling for what one may call “Israeli Exceptionalism.” The essence of their argument is based on the premiss that Israel has never threatened any other country and does not intend to do so, and although it has not signed the Nonproliferation treaty, it has never violated the charter and has kept its nuclear arsenal for self defense. Hence we should not liken Israel’s nuclear policy with other regimes in the Middle East.
This proposition is flawed for a number of reasons:
1- Contrary to the above claim, a number of Israeli leaders have threatened the use of “Samson Option” (nuclear weapons) against not only the neighboring countries, the rest of the world, and in particular Russia.
2- Furthermore, in 1975, Israel agreed in violation of the nonproliferation treaty, to supply the Apartheid Regime in South Africa with nuclear weapons to be used primarily against its neighbors’.
3- Israel’s history clearly shows that it has been engaged in constant military plot and wars against its neighbors in an attempt to remain the only dominant regional power so that it configures a Middle East that is subservient to its interests. Israeli military and nuclear doctrine increasingly is focused on attacking and destroying any potential rival that may jeopardize Israeli dominant position in the Middle East. It is this threat of using nuclear weapons as a mean to control and dominate the Middle East that makes the Israeli nuclear threat so lethal and a threat to peace in the area.
A cursory look at Israeli attack against its neighbors makes this threat clear. It is part of this overarching policy of remaining the dominant regional power that Mossad agents triggered explosions in April 1979 at a French production plant near Toulouse, damaging the two reactor cores destined for the Iraqi reactors. Mossad agents may also have been behind the assassinations of an Egyptian nuclear engineer in Paris as well as two Iraqi engineers, all working for the Iraqi nuclear program.
On 7 June 1981, Israel launched a preemptive air strike against Saddam Hussein’s breeder reactor in Osirak, (Iraq). The Mossad is also said to have assassinated Professor Gerald Bull, an artillery expert, who was allegedly building a massive cannon or “super gun” for Iraq in the 1980s. On 6 September 2007, Israel launched an air strike against a target in Syria claiming North Korea was building some sort of nuclear facility. Journalist Seymour Hersh speculates that this air strike may have been intended as a trial run for striking alleged Iranian nuclear weapons facilities.
Going back few decades, in 1977, after a right-wing coalition under Menachen Begin took power, the Israelis began to use the Samson Option not just to deter attack but to allow Israel to “redraw the political map of the Middle East” by expanding hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers into the West Bank and Gaza. Then-Minister of Defense Ariel Sharon said “We are much more important than (Americans) think. We can take the middle east with us whenever we go” and “Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches.” He proclaimed his goals of transforming Jordan into a Palestinian state and “transferring” all Palestinian refugees there. A practice known worldwide as “ethnic cleansing.”
To dissuade the Soviet Union from interfering with its plans, Begin immediately “gave orders to target more Soviet cities” for potential nuclear attack. Its American spy Jonathan Pollard was caught stealing such nuclear targeting information from the U.S. military in 1985.During the next 25 years Israel became more militarily adventurous, invading Lebanon to destroy Palestinian refugee camps in 1982 and to fight Hezbollah in 2006, massively bombing civilian targets in the West Bank Jenin refugee camp in 2002 and throughout Gaza in 2008-2009.
General Moshe Dayan, a leading promoter of Israel’s nuclear program, has been quoted as saying “Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.” Former Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres has admitted that nuclear weapons are used by Israel for “compellent purposes” – i.e., forcing others to accept Israeli political demands. In 1998 Peres was quoted as saying, “We have built a nuclear option, not in order to have a Hiroshima, but to have an Oslo,” Israel uses its nuclear arsenal not just in the context of deterrence” or of direct war fighting, but in other more subtle but no less important ways. For example, the possession of weapons of mass destruction can be a powerful lever to maintain the status quo, or to influence events to Israel’s perceived advantage.
Possessing an overwhelming nuclear superiority allows Israel to act with impunity even in the face worldwide opposition. A case in point might be the invasion of Lebanon and destruction of Beirut in 1982, led by Ariel Sharon, which resulted in 20,000 deaths, mostly civilian.
Israeli Israel Shahak wrote in 1997: “Israel clearly prepares itself to seek overtly hegemony over the entire Middle East…without hesitating to use for the purpose all means available, including nuclear ones.” Zeev Schiff opined in 1998 that “Off-the-cuff Israeli nuclear threats have become a problem.”
In 2003 David Hirst noted that “The threatening of wild, irrational violence, in response to political pressure, has been an Israeli impulse from the very earliest days” and called Israel a candidate for “the role of ‘nuclear-crazy’ state.” Noam Chomsky said of the Samson Option “the craziness of the state is not because the people are insane. Once you pick a policy of choosing expansion over security, that’s what you end up getting stuck with.” Efraim Karsh calls the Samson Option the “rationality of pretended irrationality,” but warns that seeming too irrational could encourage other nations to attack Israel in their own defense. Ze’ev Shiff, an Israeli military expert writing in Haaretz said, “Whoever believes that Israel will ever sign the UN Convention prohibiting the proliferation of nuclear weapons… is day dreaming,” and Munya Mardoch, Director of the Israeli Institute for the Development of Weaponry, said in 1994, “The moral and political meaning of nuclear weapons is that states which renounce their use are acquiescing to the status of Vassal states. All those states which feel satisfied with possessing conventional weapons alone are fated to become vassal states.”
Another major use of the Israeli bomb is to compel the U.S. to act in Israel’s favor, even when it runs counter to its own strategic interests. During the 1973 war, Israel used nuclear blackmail to force Kissinger and Nixon to airlift massive amounts of military hardware to Israel. The Israeli Ambassador, Simha Dinitz, is quoted as saying, at the time, “If a massive airlift to Israel does not start immediately, then I will know that the U.S. is reneging on its promises and…we will have to draw very serious conclusions…” Just one example of this strategy was spelled out in 1987 by Amos Rubin, economic adviser to Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who said:
“If left to its own Israel will have no choice but to fall back on a riskier defense which will endanger itself and the world at large… To enable Israel to abstain from dependence on nuclear arms calls for $2 to 3 billion per year in U.S. aid.”
The Israeli nuclear arsenal has profound implications for the future of peace in the Middle East, and indeed, for the entire planet. It is clear from Israel Shahak that Israel has no interest in peace except that which is dictated on its own terms, and has absolutely no intention of negotiating in good faith to curtail its nuclear program or discuss seriously a nuclear-free Middle East.”
According to Seymour Hersh, “the size and sophistication of Israel’s nuclear arsenal allows men such as Ariel Sharon to dream of redrawing the map of the Middle East aided by the implicit threat of nuclear force. According to Shahak, “The prospect of Gush Emunim, or some secular right-wing Israeli fanatics, or some of the delirious Israeli Army generals, seizing control of Israeli nuclear weapons…cannot be precluded. …while Israeli society undergoes a steady polarization, the Israeli security system increasingly relies on the recruitment of cohorts from the ranks of the extreme right.” The Arab states, long aware of Israel’s nuclear program, bitterly resent its coercive intent, and perceive its existence as the paramount threat to peace in the region, requiring their own weapons of mass destruction. During a future Middle Eastern war (a distinct possibility given the ascension of people like, Ariel Sharon, an unindicted war criminal with a bloody record stretching from (the massacre of Palestinian civilians at Quibya in 1953, to the massacre of Palestinian civilians at Sabra and Shatila in 1982 and beyond), Netanyahu and Lieberman the possible Israeli use of nuclear weapons should not be discounted.
Israeli nukes aimed at the Russian heartland seriously complicate disarmament and arms control negotiations and, at the very least, the unilateral possession of nuclear weapons by Israel is enormously destabilizing, and dramatically lowers the threshold for their actual use, if not for all out nuclear war. In the words of Mark Gaffney, “… if the familiar pattern(Israel refining its weapons of mass destruction with U.S. complicity) is not reversed soon- for whatever reason- the deepening Middle East conflict could trigger a world conflagration.”
Many Middle East Peace activists have been reluctant to discuss, let alone challenge, the Israeli monopoly on nuclear weapons in the region, often leading to incomplete and uninformed analysis and flawed action strategies. Placing the issue of Israeli weapons of mass destruction directly and honestly on the table and action agenda would have several salutary effects.
First, it would expose a primary destabilizing dynamic driving the Middle East arms race and compelling the region’s states to each seek their own “deterrent.”
Second, it would expose the grotesque double standard which sees the U.S. and Europe on the one hand condemning Iraq, Iran and Syria for developing weapons of mass destruction, while simultaneously protecting and enabling Israel, the principal culprit in the region.
Third, exposing Israel’s nuclear strategy would focus international public attention, resulting in increased pressure to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction and negotiate a just peace in good faith.
Finally, a nuclear free Israel would make a Nuclear Free Middle East and a comprehensive regional peace agreement much more likely. Unless and until the world community confronts Israel over its covert nuclear program it is unlikely that there will be any meaningful resolution of the Israeli/Arab conflict, a fact that Israel may be counting on as we enter a post Sharon era. The choice is clear, either we stand on the sideline and be complacent in any nuclear Armageddon, to the delight of the right wing Christian Zionists, or demand an end to the current European double standard regarding Israeli nuclear program.
We must never forget that until military and political leaders, as well as activists, are willing to change U.S. policy of defacto support for Israel’s Samson Option the whole world remains a potential victim of this horrific strategy.
For further readings:
The Bomb in the Basement http://www.simonsays.com/content/book.cfm?sid=33&pid=513446
Mordechai Vanunu http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mordechai_Vanunu
SPIEGAL May 2004 http://www.tbrnews.org/Archives/a858.htm
Zalman Shapiro Zalman Shapiro
Herbert Schulzen http://www.tbrnews.org/Archives/a858.htm
Jonothan Pollard http://www.israelnewsagency.com/jonathanpollardisrael6490428.html
Yossi Melman: “Swimming With the Dolphins”: http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/israel/sub/internatl1-1.html
New Dolphin Submarines : http://www.dolphin.org.il/press/
Nuclear testings http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_testing
Alternative news media http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/1012-02.htm
December of 2004: http://www.nti.org/e_research/profiles/Israel/Missile/3571_5220.html
German gifting: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article8053.htm
Dangerous testing http://www.missilethreat.com/news/testingforeign.html
Biological weapons http://www.nti.org/e_research/profiles/Israel/Biological/index.html
Thousands marching http://lark.phoblacht.net/mlr3105054g.html
Parliamentary Network for Nuclear Disarmament http://www.gsinstitute.org/pnnd/