The Nuclear Bully

The Nuclear Bully

by Dave Webb

The Israeli offensive into Gaza in response to Hamas killing over 1200 Israelis and taking over 200 hostages in October 2023 is seen by many as being disproportionate with a death toll of over 36,000 in the Gaza Strip, including 224 humanitarian aid workers. Now 2 million Palestinians are trapped in the Gaza strip which is being systematically bombed by the Israeli military. As the death and destruction continues unabated, the risk of a wider war in the Middle East increases, and so does the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons as has been suggested by US senator Lindsey Graham.

In a recent TV interview Graham referred to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, which he insisted was necessary to ensure the survival of the U.S., even though U.S. government documents show that Japan was on the verge of surrendering and the atomic bombs were not needed to end the war.  Graham went on to say, “To Israel, do whatever you have to do to survive as a Jewish state”, and repeated, “Whatever you have to do!” This totally irresponsible statement echoes that made last November when Israeli Heritage Minister Amihai Eliyahu suggested that dropping a nuclear bomb on the Gaza Strip was “one of the possibilities” in the current conflict. He was sacked but repeated his call to nuke Gaza last January and he won’t be the only one in the far right-wing Israeli government who thinks like that and hostile rhetoric from some Cabinet ministers is common place.

The existence of Israeli nuclear weapons was exposed in 1986 by Mordachai Vanunu – another whistleblower and former Israeli nuclear technician. He revealed details in London of Israel’s nuclear weapons programme at great personal expense. He was lured to Italy by Mossad who drugged, kidnapped him and returned him to Israel where he spent 18 years in prison, 11 of them in solitary confinement. On his release in 2004 he continued to suffer severe freedom restrictions. He is not allowed to travel or talk to foreign journalists and has been imprisoned a number of times for breaking these restrictions. The CND office in London is named Mordachai Vanunu House in recognition of his courageous actions.

While at University from 1979-1984, Mordachai became politically active and called for the rights for Palestinians in Israel and for Palestinians to be included in negotiations to establish an independent Palestinian state.

It is estimated that Israel now has around 80 nuclear weapons and if any escalation of the current violence in the region occurs involving neighbouring states, Israel may consider using them. In that case, other nuclear weapon states with thousands of nuclear missiles ready to be launched at a moment’s notice, may become involved – with possible devastating consequences for the whole planet.

Israel has not signed the “Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty” or the “Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons”, and the continued presence of nuclear weapons in Israel can only encourage others in the region to move in a similar direction, making it much harder to achieve a nuclear free middle east.

It seems to prefer to be able to act like a bully and threaten its neighbours with nuclear destruction.

The establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction is urgently needed. It would strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), help promote global nuclear disarmament, and also help the Middle East peace process as a substantial confidence-building measure. The UN has been trying to make progress on this since the 1970s but to no avail.

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