Friday, July 11, 2014

Opening Pandora's Box in the Middle East

I've been thinking a lot lately about World War I, it being the hundredth anniversary and all.  One thing that has been on my mind is the introduction of the routine use of poison gas by the Germans.  Until that happened, the use of gas in warfare was considered an abomination, and most use of gas is still considered a war crime.  But the Germans opened a Pandora's box that apparently can never be closed again; just as with torture, there is always a Dick Cheney waiting in the wings who is willing to stoop to anything, no matter how degraded, to get what he wants. 

In a way, this is the most lasting damage that the Germans did in World War II: licensing a previously unacceptable form of behavior, and thereby permanently degrading all of civilization. 

We are now very likely witnessing something similar happening.  We are all familiar with the horrific damage that accidents at nuclear power plants like Fukushima or Chernobyl can potentially cause.  Yes, I suppose some small terrorist groups would have been willing to engage in this type of savage warfare, but this is the first time that a national government, recognized by the world as legitimate, has stooped to attempting to wage war by creating a colossal disaster that could indiscriminately kill millions, not just of their enemies, but of their supposed allies, and even, if climatic conditions were right,  their own people.
Here is a map of Israel, with the approximate contours of the current Cernobyl exclusion zone shown in red.  As you can see, it extends far enough from Cernobyl (which is more or less where Dimona is in this map) to encompass Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and even parts of the Gaza Strip.  Prevailing winds could spread the poison any which way from Dimona, and of course, a deliberate attack on a nuclear reactor could spread radiation far more widely than the Cernobyl accident did.

Like the Germans' use of gas, I doubt that this can ever be undone; it is not just another unacceptable means of making war, it is a giant step back from civilization to a world of savagery, all precipitated by a tiny government in a tiny country, which would rather destroy someone else than help their own people.

And what can Israel do in return?  They know that any appropriate response to this abomination (i.e. crushing the people who would stoop to this sort of behavior) will have two thirds of the world's governments mindlessly attacking them, taking refuge in the fact that Hamas' missiles missed the Dimona reactor- this time.  Of course, once the Palestinians are eventually given weapons that allow them to accomplish what they tried to do this week, it will be too late, for Israel and for the rest of the world, which will now be forced to live with a new level of barbarism, all so an intransigent, revanchist government can do their damage.


Poll P. said...

You're absolutely right. I shared on FB.

Anonymous said...

I wonder who opened the atomic Pandora's box?

Anonymous said...

Green Eagle, you're wrong on one important count. The first attack on a nuclear reactor by a sovereign state occurred on September 6, 2007. In Operation Orchard, a nuclear reactor located in Syria's Deir ez-Zor region was attacked by the Israeli government.

What does Operation Orchard mean? "I doubt that this can ever be undone; it is not just another unacceptable means of making war, it is a giant step back from civilization to a world of savagery, all precipitated by a tiny government in a tiny country, which would rather destroy someone else than help their own people."

Remember -- the tiny country which introduced attacks on nuclear plants has also threatened to commit a "Shoah" against the Palestinians of Gaza. That's the word Israeli deputy defense minister Martin Vilnai used -- "Shoah." Extermination.

I believe it was Hosea who said, "They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind."

Sam240 said...

Continuing ---

Deir ez-Zor is in the northeast part of Syria, on the Euphrates River.

Could we have some commentary on this?

"A direct hit could render large parts of two Islamic countries uninhabitable, destroy any hope of agriculture in the Euphrates Valley for thousands of years, and if the wind was right, could scatter radioactive material over Israel itself.

This is the work of mad dogs, whose lust to kill has grown so great that it will lead them to destroy themselves in the process of slaking their out of control desires. No one who is the least bit rational can have any doubt that the people controlling Israel today are beyond reason and human decency, and have embarked on an apocalyptic campaign of destruction that will know no end while they still survive.

At this point, they have crossed the border between ordinary violence and hatred, into a madness that makes any attempt to forge a peaceful life with them impossible. Yes, many, many innocent Israel civilians are likely to end up dead as a result, but the attempt to bomb a nuclear reactor in a neighboring country shows that they no longer care about their people, or about anything but apocalyptic violence. In this regard, the Israeli government is more like the mass murderers that we have become so familiar with in this country than they are like, say, the governments of Egypt or Syria, as bad as those governments are.

Unfortunately, I now see no answer to this situation but to remove this "government" by force, and to treat its leaders like the killers they are. Of course, anything humanity does in response will be treated as an abomination by the Zionists who fill the internet with their hatred, but if this is not stopped, it will continue until Israel uses its own nuclear weapons, and then the gates of hell really will open."

Well said, Green Turkey

the yellow fringe said...

Syria's Deir ez-Zor was a very small reactor I believe not yet complete, certainly not in operation. So small that within 2 weeks of being hit the site was scraped clean, a bare lot. You don't do that with a full blown plant, certainly not one that had hot fuel in it. It would take years.
They also hit one in Iraq under construction, a big one that was. BAck when F4's was the high tech plane of the day.

Green Eagle said...

Anonymous: From the Wikipedia article you cite: "On 14 October The New York Times cited U.S. and Israeli military intelligence sources saying that the target had been a nuclear reactor under construction by North Korean technicians, with a number of the technicians having been killed in the strike"

Again, this was not an operating nuclear reactor, but one under construction. I hope you can tell the difference. Destroying a nuclear reactor under construction cannot poison thousands of square miles of land.

Why not spread your Jew-hatred somewhere else?

Magpie said...

Media attention on the attempts to hit the reactor does appear muted. It’s not even mentioned most of the time.

This might have to do with the level of security.

According to Israel News Net (and I have no idea as to the reliability of this source): “It is unlikely the Israeli military will confirm the attack as it does not confirm or deny the nuclear plant's existence. The area surrounding the plant is highly secured and sensitive to any interference. In 1973 Libyan Airline Flight 114 became lost due to equipment failure and strayed over the Dimona area. Israel, after claiming it tried to divert the aircraft, shot it down, killing 108 people. Libya denied there was any warning.”

Note either the Palestinians are not the first to attempt to cause an incident at that reactor, or Libya wasn’t lying. Given the idea of planes being flown into things didn’t start with 9/11, it’s plausible Libya did spray 108 lives on a deliberate attempt. None of us are in a position to know for sure.

So far over 60 Palestinians are dead in the reprisals, including kids. Hamas inserts themselves in locations where nob-combatants are sure to be killed (Kind of like an actualized version of what that clown at the Bundy stand-off was talking about in wanting the world to see women getting shot).

Sam240 said...

Green Eagle -- four things.

1) The Der Spiegel article I site also states that IAEA inspectors found anthropogenic natural uranium particles at the reactor site. This means that there was chemically processed uranium present.

It follows that the Israeli military bombed a place where it knew that a significant amount of radioactive material was present. The reactor might not have been operable, but there was still radioactive material. It would have been just like setting off a dirty bomb, and a dirty bomb is, in essence, a low-tech nuclear weapon.

2) The "well said, Green Turkey" was snark, which, judging from the Wingnut Wrapup, you should have been able to identify. The quote after the rhetorical question was directly taken from your article. We have a country which has attacked sites with radioactive material and threatened a "Shoah" against another population.

The only difference between the four-paragraph commentary and one of your earlier posts came in the proper nouns. If the material in quotes is anti-Semitic (and it obviously is), then it follows that your original posts were full of anti-Arab bigotry. Is there any difference?

3) Palestine is as much a country as Transkei and Bophuthatswana were. All were occupied areas that the occupiers (Israel or apartheid-era South Africa) could point to as "proof" that there was neither occupation nor oppression. I don't see any substantial difference between occupied Palestine and the earlier Bantustans.

4) Your positions regarding Israel and Palestine are exactly the same as the positions of Pamela Gellar, the positions of David Horowitz and his crowd at, the positions of the fine people at, and most of the other right-wing extremists you mock in your Wingnut Wrap-up postings. Does that fact ever bother you? How is it that they who are so wrong on everything else are completely accurate on this issue?

joseph said...

Mr. Eagle,

I think you may be a bit unfair to Sam. There are a number of categories of anti-Israel thought:
1. Out and out anti-semites. You know, the Stormfront crowd. Anti-semitism from people who hate Jews, of course not having a clue about what Judaism is, but haters for a variety of reasons.
2. Jews who want to show that they really aren't part of the Jewish community. Max Blumfield, for example. Every minority will have its members who so strongly want to part of the majority that they work to deny their heritage. Clarence Thomas and Thomas Sowell are so anti-black that sometimes you forget that they are black.
3. People who find comfort in following the lead of whatever group they feel kinship. Unable or unwilling to think for themselves, they find comfort in simply going along with the thoughts of their selected group. Thus, since my group is against Israel and my not favored group is pro-Israel, I will be anti-Israel. Any student of basic logic would, of course, find it astounding that a person such as Sam would actually say, out loud, that he comes to his conclusions in that manner, but there he is.
4. Rational criticism of Israel or its policies, which point to specific acts and not just generic criticism that it is colonialist, land thieves or other such nonsense. Yaacov Lozowick, who sometims blogs at is a good example of this type of rational thought.

joseph said...

Blumenthal, not Blumfield. It's late.

joseph said...

One more thing. Sam is right that many right wingers, and right wing sites, take a pro-Israel stance. Though clearly not all do, Buchanan's American Conservative is just anti-semitic, and Buckley said so. Anyway, many pro-Israel types tend to think that the right is their friend. Those people do not understand that, for the American Right, the only thing that matters is money for the rich. Everything else is just a tool to be used. If it becomes politically expedient for the Right to toss Israel under the bus, under the bus it will go. They have no loyalty to Jews, to Israel or to anything other than money for the rich.

Sam240 said...

Joseph --

Actually, I came about my beliefs before discovering Pam Geller, David Horowitz, and the Breitbart gang.

It came about during the late 1990s, when I was learning about the Armenian Genocide. One of the books I read was a collection of papers presented at an academic conference that the Israeli government tried to shut down. Why would Israel want to censor a conference on genocide?

Something was going on.

Talaat Pasha, who was to the Armenian Genocide what Hitler was to the Holocaust, did not describe the Armenians as subhuman. Here's how Talaat was defending what he was doing:

Strangely enough, these remarks did not offend Talaat, but they did not shake his determination. I might as well have been talking to a stone wall. From my abstractions he immediately came down to something definite.

"These people," he said, "refused to disarm when we told them to. They opposed us at Van and at Zeitoun, and they helped the Russians. There is only one way in which we can defend ourselves against them in the future, and that is just to deport them."

"Suppose a few Armenians did betray you," I said. "Is that a reason for destroying a whole race? Is that an excuse for making innocent women and children suffer?"

"Those things are inevitable," he replied.

(From Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, )

The rhetoric used by Talaat is basically the same as that used by the Israeli government when talking about the Palestinians. No wonder the Israeli government is committed to a policy of genocide denial. (Yair Auron's The Banality of Denial is a good introduction to Israeli policy here.)

It is also significant that Israeli policy draws a distinction between Jew and non-Jew. Part of the Old City of Jerusalem is the Armenian Quarter -- featuring a population which is neither Jew nor Arab. The Israeli government has never considered its Armenian population to represent a threat to itself.

If Israel's restrictions on its Arab population, as well as on the Arab population of occupied Palestine, were, as it claims, based entirely on self-defense, there would be no reason for it to treat Armenians the same way it treats Arabs. It would treat Armenians the same way it treats Jews. Yet ethnic Armenians operate under the same restrictions that Israel places on Arabs. Therefore, Israel's actions must be based on something else. It must be racism.

As Albert Aghazarian pointed out about a decade ago, the Arabs of Palestine treat Armenians as equals, while the Jews of Israel treat Armenians as non-Jews. That is significant.

joseph said...


Comparing the Armenian genocide to Israel's treatment of Arabs is insane. There has not been one day since Israel was created that there have been fewer Palestinian than the day before. The only conflict in which thousands of Palestinians were killed was Black September, when Jordan killed over three thousand Palestinians. I'm sure there is de facto prejudice against Palestinians in Israel, there is, however, no de jure prejudice. Palestinians are not barred from education, government or jobs. I don't know what conference you're talking about, but the Armenian issue has been a sensitive one not for Israel, but for Turkey. The Turks have been the ones to pressure not just Israel but also the United States to ignore the Armenian tragedy.

Green Eagle said...


1. Trace amounts of nuclear material do not a disaster make. By the way, the whole notion of a "dirty bomb" has largely been discredited as just one more example of paranoid U.S. propaganda, unlike what would happen in the bombing of an active nuclear reactor.

2. There is only one (apparently insignificant) difference between what I said and the endless Arab posts you refer to: what I described really happened. Not important at all unless you care about the difference between the truth and lies.

3. You don't see a difference between "Palestine" and the Bantustans in South Africa: that is because you refuse to see the difference, not because it is not there. Let's start with the fact that Hamas is openly committed to exterminating all Jews worldwide, and has made endless attempts to start in on that project. Nothing like that existed in any way with the populations of the Bantustans.

4. You claim: "Your positions regarding Israel and Palestine are exactly the same as the positions of Pamela Gellar, the positions of David Horowitz and his crowd at"

-Listen, kiddo, I was covering Pam Geller in Wingnut Wrapup long before you had a clue who she was. I knew about David Horowitz in the late sixties. I know what they stand for, and it is not an Israel free from the threat of extinction. So, don't compare me to her or David Horowitz, unless you want to reveal yourself as a lying bigot who can't handle reality.

For the record, I support a two-state solution. I am strongly opposed to the Netanyahyu government, which is nothing but a pack of right wing warmongers like the Republicans. I accept the fact that the Israeli Arab population continues to experience discrimination, although on a relatively benign level, compared to world standards (i.e. on a level comparable to what black Americans still experience in many parts of the U.S.) I have long since given up the fantasy that the Palestinian exodus was entirely voluntary, although it was much less vicious than the forced expulsion of Jews from Arab countries after 1947. I have always been a very strong opponent of West Bank settlements, although I do not include natural suburbs of Jerusalem in that category. And I came by my opinions largely due to my experiences in Israel and the West Bank, not by reading some jackass on the internet.

Pam Geller and her crowd would viciously attack all of that, although in my experience, it places me with most Israelis, who are far more ready to accept the bad conduct of their country than most Americans are to face up to the abominations our country committed in Vietnam and Iraq.

Now, one final comment about the Armenians. First of all, the Armenians posed no threat whatsoever to the Ottoman Empire, whereas the Palestinians are committed to destroying the State of Israel and exterminating Jews worldwide. Your argument is of a kind with the antisemitic jerks who love to compare Israel's treatment of Palestinians with Germany's treatment of Jews, ignoring the fact that the Nazis' claims that the Jews were out to destroy Germany were total lies, while that is exactly what the Palestinians intend for Israel. Jews never attacked Germany or stood outside its borders and shot thousands of rockets into Germany.

And your remarks about the Armenian quarter in the Old City really encapsulate your ignorance about what is going on over there. The Armenian Quarter is not some sort of apartheid Israeli ghetto, as you seem to believe, but has existed since the 4th century, when Armenia became the first Western country to adopt Christianity. It continues to exist without oppression from Israel, which in fact agreed to pay for damage resulting from the Jordanian occupation and the 1967 war, regardless of who caused the destruction. About two thirds of the land is occupied by the Armenian church.

And really, that's all the time I have for you.

Green Eagle said...

Joseph, good points, particularly the remark about how foolish it is for Israelis to think the American right is their friend. My experience in Israel is that most Israelis know no more about the political situation in the U.S. than most Americans do about what is really going on in Israel. They are fools to think right wingers in our country are really their friends.

And to those who seem to be unable to locate any coverage of the Dimona attacks, here are a few relatively impartial sites I found in about five minutes with Google:

joseph said...

Mr. Eagle,

People who talk about genocide and apartheid apparently don't know what either means. Genocide is the attempted destruction of an ethnic group while apartheid is a de jure system of discrimination. The Turks murdered some 2 million Armenians, the Nazis murdered about 6 million Jews. Israel has killed, maybe, thousands of terrorists. By this standard, America has committed genocide against Italian Americans because the government has killed some Mafiosi. South Africa, by law, prevented blacks from participating in society. No such law exists in Israel.

Green Eagle said...

Thanks again for your comment, Joseph. Of course, things are different when Jews are involved.

Magpie said...

“And to those who seem to be unable to locate any coverage of the Dimona attacks …”

Just to clarify… I have no trouble finding references to it on the internet, but mainstream media coverage (TV, radio, local papers)… is, as I said, “muted”. At least where I am.

There again… they aren’t doing their job most of the time anyway.

Green Eagle said...

Magpie, my apologies- the list I posted was actually in response to a comment in my last post questioning whether the attack had even taken place. I went to collect the sites and then posted my reply in the wrong place. Of course you are right- as usual, the mainstream press in this country demonstrates their unique ability to ignore the significance of anything that doesn't fit into their current narrative.

Sam240 said...

Listen, Green Turkey. I don't know how the Times of Israel, Der Spiegel, and The Guardian became Arab websites, as you insist. You couldn't mention any "Arab posts" I made because there are none.

Furthermore, unlike your claimes, there was military action taken by Armenians against the Ottoman Empire. This was in response to the Ottoman Empire's attempts at ethnic cleansing. There were military responses by many Native American nations against the United States -- again, in response to United States policy. The United States government, however, said that the real threat came from the Native Americans.

The same thing here -- Palestinian resistance comes from Zionist attempts to drive them out of their homes. Jabotinsky said as much -- Palestine is Arab land, and they will never agree to give up their homes to anyone. Thus, Zionism required imposing force on Palestinians.

I also said that the Israeli government was using the same rhetorical arguments about its treatment of the Palestinians that the Turkish government was using about its treatments of the Armenians. I never said that the Israeli government was engaging in the wholesale slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, as you imply.

Furthermore, there must be some reason why Israel engages in denial of the Armenian Genocide -- it's probably due to the similarity of its arguments. If the Republic of Ruritania were claiming that its mistreatment of ethnic minorities was purely defensive, that it wanted to live in peace with said minorities but that those people were trying to exterminate the Ruritanians, and was simultaneously engaging in Holocaust Denial, wouldn't you conclude that Ruritania was lying through its teeth about wanting to treat its minority groups well? Same here.

Oh, here's a story about Jerusalem using land belonging to the Armenian church to set up a Jews-only parking lot. No Arabs permitted, and no Armenians permitted either. There's only one word to describe such a situation. Racism.