Friday, September 30, 2011

Can a bunker state be truly free? When will the antisemitism stop?

By Paul Koring, Globe and Mail, September 29, 2011
Barack Obama may be widely regarded at home as the least pro-Israeli president in decades, but he has secretly okayed giving the Jewish state a bunch of special bunker-busting bombs – ideal for destroying Tehran’s ruling mullahs’ nuclear ambitions and so powerful that George W. Bush blocked handing them over.

Capable of penetrating deep beneath the surface, the bunker-busters would be crucial for any air strikes at Iran nuclear sites. Mr. Netanyahu has wanted the bunker-busters for years and, as first reported by Newsweek, Mr. Obama agreed to hand over 55 of the sophisticated and powerful weapons.

Given Israel’s track record of pre-emptive bombing strikes to destroy nuclear sites in neighbouring nations and Iran’s ambitious and suspicious nuclear program, the American bunker-busters may increase the chance of another Middle East war. Iran’s unpredictable and bellicose President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has vowed to wipe Israel off the map. Iran continues to defy international sanctions with a clandestine nuclear program. Meanwhile, Mr. Netanyahu now has the means to carry out his threat that “Iran will not acquire nuclear arms, and this implies everything necessary to carry this out.”
The bunker-busters will fit nicely on Israeli’s top fighter-bomber, the F-15. Dropped from up to a dozen kilometres away, the needle-nosed, 2.5-tonne bomb ‘dives” to its target, correcting its course so precisely as it plunges that it will fly down a ventilation stack or slice through six metres of concrete or 30 metres of dirt before exploding with colossal force.
That’s hardly the sort of thing used against the rabbit’s warren of sub-surface tunnels used by Hamas to smuggle small arms and rockets into Gaza from the Egyptian Sinai near the Canada Gates.
Israel has its own – undeclared and therefore illegal under international law – nuclear arsenal which its western friends mostly ignore as they decry and denounce the outlawed efforts of Muslim states – including Pakistan and Iran – to either build or add to their stockpiles of nuclear warheads.

Israel also has twice launched pre-emptive and devastating air strikes to destroy Arab nuclear reactors before they could produce weapons-grade bomb stock. In 1981, a daring long-distance strike destroyed an Iraqi reactor, ending Saddam Hussein’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.
In 2007, Israeli warplanes bombed a Syrian reactor of North Korean design. Striking Iran, both further away and further along the nuclear-weapons development path and with widely dispersed and deeply-buried sites, would be more challenging militarily. The bunker-busters may be a hammer Israel can’t use unless it has the tacit approval of Washington. It’s not clear if Mr. Obama retained the right to approve any use of the bunker-busters.
While it is true that any American president is politically and historically bound to support Israel, this is not the time to make such weapons available to the Israeli's, on the same day that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tells Israel that her continuing to build settlements on the West Bank is unproductive. A bunker state, protected by the latest technology, including bunker bombs and a nuclear arsenal, does not make its people free. It makes its people "bunker-people" hunkered down behind walls, and surrounded by both military and terrorist elements waiting for another "attack" from another enemy, from another direction...all in an overt attempt to "wipe Israel off the map forever," the stated objective of the current president of Iran, and an objective held by many others, including the rising Islamic Brotherhood.
Only the Israelis could withstand the kind of pressure that finds an existential threat in every moment, on every corner, around every building, and the people continue to sing and dance and celebrate life.
That is what being a Jew is all about, says Eli Wiesel in his moving text, A Jew Today.
It is true that in the markets, Jewish people are more than a little pushy, aggressive even, refusing to stand in line politely waiting for many others to make their decisions on which vegetables or which meat to select for dinner. They simply do not, have not, and will not ever know when the next attack is  coming, and the next siren is to go off, and the next "hunkering down" plan is to be implemented.
Born in exile, suffered in the wilderness, tortured and killed in the millions, the Jewish people have, with the help of the U.S. and the U.N. created a Jewish state in Israel, and for the last 64 years have defended their right to exist against considerable odds, odds that most peoples would not have been able to endure successfully.
Furthermore, the Jewish people all over the world have consistently contributed to their nation's bonds, served in her armies, developed their families, their businesses and educated their children against all forms of obstacles...being blocked from universities in many countries, like Canada, being blocked from the professions, being harassed on the streets of many cities and towns. And all the while, the Jewish people have made such monumental contributions to the world's insight, art, architecture, medicine, law, politics, psychology and business.
Are many of their contributions "extreme"? Of course, when they refuse to put the kind of "politically correct" limitations and restrictions on their children that many in the west consider compulsory, and when they know that opportunities may be extinguished in an instant, depending on the people in power anywhere and their orientation to the Jewish people (antisemitism wears many faces, some of them extremely seductive and barely perceptible), and when they consider a "celebration," putting politically correct parameters on their potential is inconceivable.
Theirs is a history of accomplishment in the face of incredible odds, a history of music and song in the midst of the most heinous violence perpetrated against them, for simply being who they are, that all people would do well to examine the details of their literal survival, and their determination to withstand all bigotry, hatred, contempt and attacks of both hard and soft power.
As Wiesel reminds his readers in A Jew Today, not a single mass killer has come from the Jewish people in all of history. And as he also reminds his readers, it was Christians who exterminated 6 million Jews, and not a single Christian was excommunicated from the Christian church for his documented mass killings, torture and crimes against humanity.
Christian hands are covered with the blood of millions of Jewish deaths, and the Jews' refusal to permit their own complete eradication is a testament to their faith, to their strength and courage, to their capacity and discipline to develop community in ways that would be inconceivable to people of other faiths, and to their belief and long-standing testimony to the joy of life.
If we are not in awe of their continuing existence, we should be. However, to militarize their existence, and to move inexorably toward a "bunker state" 'defended' and 'protected' by more and more hardware only attests to our failure of imagination to broker a peace with the (also victimized, although differently) people of Palestine.
And this from Shira Herzog, Globe and Mail, September 30, 2011
Supported by the United States, Israel has always feared “internationalization” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over direct negotiations and rightly sees the majority of United Nations members as biased against it. Palestinians recognize their relative advantage in international forums but, until now, have been content with the familiar ritual of General Assembly resolutions critical of Israel. Now that Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas has upped the ante and applied for admission through the Security Council, no one really knows what happens next. But it’s safe to say that chances of successful negotiations have been set back

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