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Phisking Phil

Australian’s answer to Robert Fisk, windbag Phillip Adams, has written an infuriating column in today’s Australian, in which he trivializes the devastation wrought by suicide bombers, and calls for the nuclear inspectors to pay Israel a visit (Hat tip: Mangled Thoughts).

Tomorrow, Mordechai Vanunu will be released from Shikma Prison. He has been there for 18 years, 12 of them in solitary confinement. His crime? He revealed Israel’s secret nuclear weapons program and was convicted of treason and espionage.

Vanunu had been a technician at Israel’s Dimona nuclear plant. He signed up on the understanding that his work would be for peaceful as opposed to military purposes. Then he stumbled on the truth, and took scores of photographs in and around the Negev installation.

Leaving Dimona a few jumps ahead of Mossad, he arrived in Australia with photographs of plutonium spheres (used for nuclear triggers) and started a new life near Kings Cross. His conversion to Christianity would cost him as many friends as blowing the whistle on Israel’s weapons of mass destruction to The Sunday Times in London.

This (false) allegation, which implies that Israelis looks down on non-Jews, is very serious. Yet Adams seems to be stating it as fact. Vanunu lost his friends because he had no trouble putting their lives in jeopardy. Period.

In a Mossad operation reminiscent of the capture of Adolf Eichmann in South America, he was kidnapped by Mossad agents while visiting Rome. After a hypodermic jab, he was taken to Israel and formally charged with treason ñ and a subsequent prison term involved conditions that can be described only as inhuman, if for no other reason than that for 12 years he was denied human contact. Apart from a brief visit each month from his brother ñ they talked through a metal grille ñ he saw no one.

Inhuman? I know some countries that would not have given a traitor like Vanunu the luxury of living. And these countries include the very same ones which, like Vanunu, are dedicated to Israel’s destruction.

He was guilty, of course, of telling the truth. And it’s a truth that, after all these years, continues to be concealed by Israel and ignored by the wider world.

Hopefully, Vanunu’s release will trigger a long-overdue international debate. A recent BBC documentary may help. It states there is strong evidence that Israel possesses at least 200 atomic weapons and, as well, perhaps a few thermo-nuclear devices. If you exclude the Coalition forces in Iraq, even without WMDs, Israel is far and away the most powerful military force in the Middle East. Add a sizeable nuclear stockpile to its army and air force, and Israel is a leading player in global terms. Some would argue that, in terms of its effectiveness and clout, it is the fifth-ranking military power. Consider all the fuss over the Pakistanis, who might have one or two nuclear weapons but little in the way of delivery systems. If the BBC is correct (and most independent authorities agree with its estimates), then Israel packs more nuclear clout than Pakistan, India and North Korea combined.

Yet Israel’s WMDs seem to be accepted, unreported and beyond criticism. While media attention remains focused on George W. Bush’s axis of evil, here is an immense armoury, capable of obliterating the entire region. Why isn’t this regarded as utterly unacceptable?

Because if Israel did not have these weapons, it would risk being “obliterated from the region”.

Is the argument that Israel’s nuclear bombs are, in some way, kosher? Good bombs that help stabilise the Middle East?

Do I detect some anti-Jewish sentiment creeping in? Or perhaps I am just being a paranoid Jew who looks down on Christians.

Surely here’s a significant issue of proliferation, yet the world averts its gaze. And when anyone in the neighbourhood has nuclear plans, the Israelis don’t hesitate to mount pre-emptive strikes, wiping out, for example, an Iraqi nuclear power plant in the early 1980s.

This would not happen if the people in the neighborhood were nice, friendly neighbors, rather than ones trying to get us ejected from the street planet.

To visit Israel is be astonished by the tininess of the place and by its vulnerability. So one can understand why many Israelis would want a nuclear umbrella to defend themselves from their enemies past, present and potential.

One can understand…just not people like Adams.

But it’s not good enough to complain about suicide bombers if, at the same time, you have 200 atomic bombs. Suicide bombers are not WMDs. They can kill a few dozen, along with themselves.

Adams is, in essence, arguing the actual act of killing is no more immoral than possession of the potential to kill. I think that fisks itself.

But atomic bombs and, even worse, thermo-nuclear devices? It would be suicidal for Israel to use them ñ to drop even one nuclear weapon in the Middle East would be a catastrophe for the Jewish nation and the entire world. And given that Israel enjoys the total support of the US, its stockpile seems as redundant as it is provocative.

Israel is not in the business of committing suicide – that is the province of our enemies. But be rest assured that we would only ever use the weapons if our very existence was seriously threatened.

Furthermore, it is not Israel’s stockpile of weapons that is provocative, but rather Israel’s very existence.

There are far too many nuclear weapons in the world.

And there are far too many self-important, poor journalists.

Despite all the talk of nuclear disarmament in the post-Cold War era, the US and Russian stockpiles are immense. If we are to continue making a huge fuss about proliferation, then we should be concerned with nuclear bombs in the Middle East. Not the hypothetical weapons of Saddam Hussein but the real weapons in the hands of Ariel Sharon.

As ilibcc says on Mangled Thoughts: “So. We should (a) not be concerned that a crazed dictator has nuclear weapons and (b) be further concerned that a responsible state destroys them in pre-emptive self-protection?”

On the other hand, perhaps Vanunu was deluded. Perhaps the BBC has got it wrong. For many years Israel has had a policy of nuclear ambiguity and would neither confirm nor deny its possession of WMDs. Clearly it’s time to bring Hans Blix out of retirement and to retrieve Richard Butler from Government House in Tasmania, to discover just how many bombs Israel has. And why it has them.

What I want to know is why Adams hasn’t gone into retirement.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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