On January 10, 2003, the Chicago Daily Herald ran a column by Ray Hanania (“Israel's nuclear program should bother Americans”) that was replete with distortions and inaccuracies. Below are some of the distortions Hanania presented in his column, followed by the facts.
HANANIA: We accept Israel's unproven claims that its nuclear program is intended for civilian use,even though out of the three countries — Iraq, North Korea and Israel — Israel is the only one where thousands of civilians have died at the hands of its military.
The Kurds, Iranians, and Kuwaitis would all be very surprised to hear that many of their civilians were never killed by the Iraqis. Ditto for the many South Korean civilians killed by North Korea in the Korean War.
And “thousands” of civilians have not been killed by Israel. The majority of those killed in the conflict were combatants. Of course, Hanania also fails to note that Palestinian civilians are not targeted by Israel's military, although tragically, they do sometimes get hurt and killed when Israel targets the terrorists and gunmen who callously operate among the civilians.
HANANIA: Israel is the only country that continues to militarily occupy another people's land that it invaded.
Again, more distortion through prejudicial language. Hanania fails to distinguish between those engaging in aggression and those engaging in self-defense. Today, the Israeli army is defending the people of Israel from what is unquestionably a war of terrorism. And any democracy attacked by terrorism has a moral right to defend itself, and Israel is exercising that right.
Arafat signed an agreement whereby he promised to disarm terrorists in his territories and promised to foster coexistence. His lack of action on both of these commitments is the reason why it has fallen to Israel to take military action in the West Bank and Gaza.
HANANIA: Israel is the only one likely to use a nuclear bomb.
Years of evidence contradict this. Although Israel has always striven for peace and good relations with its neighbors, it has been attacked numerous times, and was even in danger of being overrun in the Yom Kippur War. Even in those dire circumstances, Israel never used nuclear force.
Similarly, Americans are not concerned about Britain and other democracies having nuclear weapons. It is the rogue states with a history of attacking their neighbors, and which have shown little regard for human life, that are the concern.
HANANIA: If that isn't frightening enough, Israel is also the only one of the three countries that doesn't have to answer for its nuclear program.
As the Economist magazine noted in an October 10, 2002, article, “Being a nuclear-armed power is not, by itself, a breach of international law.…Israel ha[s] not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), as Iraq ha[s]...This infuriates the treaty's supporters, who have been striving to make it ‘universal.’ But, as with any other treaty, governments are free not to sign. What they are not free to do is sign, receive the foreign (civilian) nuclear help to which signing entitles them, and then try to build a bomb secretly. This, it is now ruefully accepted, is what Iraq tried to do, and may still be trying to do.”
The Hanania column appears below:
Israel's nuclear program should bother Americans
by Ray Hanania
Posted on January 10, 2003
What about Israel's weapons of mass destruction?
Even as President Bush hunts for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and rails against the evils of North Korea, he is silent on Israel's plans to build another nuclear reactor.
We accept Israel's unproven claims that its nuclear program is intended for civilian use, even though out of the three countries - Iraq, North Korea and Israel - Israel is the only one where thousands of civilians have died at the hands of its military. Israel is the only country to use F-16 fighter jets against civilian populations. Israel is the only country that continues to militarily occupy another people's land that it invaded.
Israel is the only one likely to use a nuclear bomb. If that isn't frightening enough, Israel is also the only one of the three countries that doesn't have to answer for its nuclear program.
In 1986, Mordechai Vanunu, an Israeli technician at the Dimona nuclear reactor in the Negev Desert, provided evidence the plant is producing nuclear weapons.
Vanunu was arrested, secretly tried in a kangaroo court and condemned to 18 years of solitary confinement. Israel may claim to be a democracy, but when it comes to gulags, Israel's prison system is unrivaled.
When it comes to refusing to allow international inspections of its nuclear facilities, Israel leads the pack of rogue nations. Israel refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty aimed at stopping the spread of nuclear weapons. Why should Israel allow international inspections at Dimona when the American administration shows it doesn't care?
Americans can't inspect the Dimona nuclear plant even though we built it. Yes. American taxpayers can't even get Israel to tell us how they spent our money.
Who do you think is going to pay for the next nuclear reactor? We built the first one. Why shouldn't we pay for the second one?
Vanunu gave us the only glimpse of Israel's super-secret nuclear weapons production program, which was analyzed by Jane's Intelligence Review in 1994.
Here's what Jane's had to say: Dimona produces weapons-grade plutonium. The weapons are designed at the Soreq research center, south of Tel Aviv and nuclear-capable missiles are tested at Palmikim south of Tel Aviv. Nuclear-tipped Jericho II missiles are built in a factory at Be'er Yakov, west of Jerusalem and at least 50 Jericho II nuclear-tipped missiles are housed in silos at Kefar Zekharya, in the Judean hills west of Jerusalem. They are assembled and dismantled at Yodefat, east of Haifa in Galilee. Israel has older Jericho I missiles in silos in northern Galilee.
The 1994 Jane's report estimated Israel had 200 nuclear bombs. Today, some authorities believe that number has doubled.
As we struggle to get our arms around the nuclear race to make the world a safer place, we turn a blind eye to one nation, Israel. If we care about world safety, why doesn't the United States impose a single standard for all nations to follow? We wonder why we have a hard time getting respect from the rest of the world.
As Americans face war with Iraq and possibly North Korea - God knows where else the Bush team plans to take us in the coming years - Israel's powerful lobby will distract us with images of Israelis preparing for the fallout. But it will be our boys whose lives will be on the front lines. Again.
As an American and as a veteran, that bothers me. It should bother more Americans, too.
Ray Hanania is a Palestinian-American author. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.