February 5, 2013:
Many things I write about are worrisome, some more so than others. What I am about to share here certainly belongs on the list of matters to be deeply concerned about. The subject is germ -- or biological -- warfare. If an enemy has a toxic gas that can be used against innocents, this is a terrible thing, but the damage can be contained.
With germ warfare, this is not the case. If germs -- bacteria, viruses -- of a highly contagious and lethal nature were to be released into a population there would be a spread that probably could not be contained and millions would be at risk.
See here an article -- Scent of 'germ' warfare -- on this subject.
It is co-authored by three knowledgeable individuals; I have been in contact with one and have been assured of the reliability of the information they are sharing.
It is not enough for you to be informed about this, however. It falls, I believe, to everyone to broadly publicize this issue and then to ask the most serious questions about what is being done to eliminate or minimize the risks.
To that end I want to advise you to contact your Senators and Congresspersons:
Here in Israel, I have the sense that my government is on top of what is going on (see more below) and determined to do everything possible to protect Israeli citizens.
I wish for the US, quite simply, a government like this. And I wish for US citizens the level of confrontation with reality that will move them to demand responsibility from their government.
This will require a mammoth effort on the part of the citizenry. Witness this incredible video segment from Hagel's confirmation hearings, provided by Israel Matzav:
(A longer video from the Hagel confirmation hearings is below.)
So, Hagel, who comes off like a clown, is confused about whether containment on Iran is Obama's policy. The answer is that on the books it is not. But we must wonder what's beneath that stated policy:
Just a couple of days ago, Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi expressed pleasure over the fact that Vice President Biden had made an offer of bi-lateral talks between the two countries.
"I am optimistic," Salehi told the German Council on Foreign Relations. "I feel this new administration is really this time seeking to at least divert from its previous traditional approach vis-à-vis my country."
Did I say great strength is required? Obama is exhibiting no strength. After Iran has announced that it would be installing more efficient centrifuges at Natanz, this is the US government's approach? Methinks Obama is modeling himself after Neville Chamberlain these days.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, on the other hand, two days ago told his Cabinet that:
"The most important mission facing a [new] government is stopping the nuclear arming of Iran.
"It is a mission which has become more complicated because Iran has equipped itself with new centrifuges which reduce the enrichment time. We cannot live with this process." (Emphasis added)
Read: Netanyahu: Israel Can't Live with Iran Upgrading Nuclear Plant
His eyes are open and his vision is clear.
His eyes are open and his vision is clear.
That clarity of vision -- and intention to be strong -- has been demonstrated with the sorties Israel ran in Syria last week. Additional information has continued to be leaked on what happened there. It appears that there may have been three strikes and not just two. And that among the targets was a biological weapons (germ warfare) factory.
Read: Israel’s strike on Syria also hit biological weapons facility, says report
I heard this, and thought, Ah!!
At a conference in Germany, on the same day that Netanyahu made his statement, Defense Minister Barak declared,
"What happened in Syria several days ago [is] proof that when we [say] something we mean it... we say that we don't think it should be allowed to bring advanced weapons systems into Lebanon."
In saying this he was acknowledging, however tacitly, Israel's role in the attack -- this was an acknowledgement that had not come earlier and is actually unusual.
At the same time, we see that the US, for all of its bravado and declarations, is doing nothing with regard to Syrian weapons -- notably WMD -- at risk of falling into the hands of terrorists. The most that can be said is that the Americans are forming a cheering gallery for Israeli actions. The words coming from the likes of Secretary of State Clinton are, at least, the right words. There is no hint whatsoever of implicit criticism of Israel. I.e., in this instance, Clinton is not Ban Ki-Moon.
See how little I've learned to be grateful for?
When (if?) we hit Iran, will the US government cheer us on then, as well?
Iran, it should be noted, backed off on statements about an Israeli hit on Syria being the same as a hit on Iran. Iranian leaders have declined Assad's request that they respond to the strikes inside Syria, their major client. "Take care of your business," Assad was reportedly told.
I want to backtrack here and return to the issue of accusations that Israel, in Judea and Samaria, is acting in defiance of the Fourth Geneva Convention and must withdraw immediately. There is yet one more significant piece to the puzzle, and that is, incredibly, the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC).
As commentator Moshe Dann explains (emphasis added):
"The International Committee of the Red Cross does good humanitarian work around the world, but it is not just a well-meaning NGO. With a political agenda against Israel and with its unique role, it has determined the way that the international community thinks about Judea, Samaria, Gaza, eastern Jerusalem (the West Bank) and the Golan Heights.
"For several decades the ICRC has promoted through the UN and other international bodies a conceptual straitjacket: “'he Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).'
"Because the ICRC is the 'official guardian' of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) (GC IV), its interpretation is considered authoritative.
"Using its exclusive position, it turned GC IV – which was intended to ensure the protection of civilians threatened by war and other conflicts – into a political sledgehammer against Israel.
"The ICRC contrived the term OPT, promoted it in every forum and unilaterally designated what is at best a disputed area as (1) illegally occupied by Israel, (2) belonging to Palestinian Arabs and (3) an unnamed and undefined territory without a history.
"GC IV, however, is concerned with humanitarian issues, the rights of 'protected persons.' It is not mandated to designate new countries."
See the full article here: The ICRC and ‘the occupied territories’
The ICRC is the "official guardian" of the Fourth Geneva Convention precisely because it is supposed to be a humanitarian, not a political, agency, and that Convention addressed humanitarian issues. How often matters are not what they seem.
For further perspective on this issue, also see Eli Hertz's "Inappropriate Use of the Fourth Geneva Convention":
You'll see here that the Convention was drafted in response to Nazi occupation and aggression.
We are so fortunate here in Israel! America's new Secretary of State, John Kerry, who is ever so eager to re-start the "peace process negotiations," will be visiting here some time this month.
I read that he'll be assessing the situation in order to advise the president of whether it is prudent to invest much energy in this. If he's half-way smart, he'll tell his boss to focus on Iran instead.
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat has said they will not come back to the table unless we first release all PA prisoners and stop all settlement construction (including in eastern Jerusalem).
"These are not Palestinian conditions, but obligations that Israel is required to fulfill."
Nonsense. Oslo says nothing about either releasing prisoners during negotiations or refraining from building in communities in Judea and Samaria. What continues to amaze me is how they make it up as they go along. The problem is that people read their words and believe them.
And then this, further, on the Hagel confirmation hearing:
Read: Senator Ted Cruz Questioning Chuck Hagel in Confirmation Hearing
See through the full nine minutes. No comment here is necessary.
See through the full nine minutes. No comment here is necessary.
In closing, let me note that President Peres, after polling all of the parties who won seats in the Knesset in our recent election, has asked Netanyahu to form the next government. Parties representing some 80 seats in the Knesset said they wanted Netanyahu.
The procedure is very much in process but I'll say little about it now -- for so much is rumor, unsubstantiated and significantly politically motivated. Coalition negotiations are on-going: a negotiating team from Likud-Beitenu is meeting in turn with each party and working out terms under which its leaders would agree to be part of the government.
There are some built-in conflicts of interest -- e.g., Shas, which is seeking the continuation of exemptions from the army for those who study Torah in yeshivas as against Lapid's Yesh Atid, which campaigned on a platform of obligatory army service for all; Yesh Atid, which is pumping for that "two state solution" as against Habayit Hayehudi, whose head, Bennett, seeks annexation of Area C. Frequently there are ways of working out compromises. Sometimes it will happen that a party says it cannot sit in a government that espouses certain policies.
The coalition is very unlikely to be a narrow one -- Netanyahu has made it clear that he wants a broad-based unity government because of what we must deal with. And so his negotiating team is going to do its best to work out those compromises.
Under ideal conditions, my very strong preference would be for a narrow, right-wing nationalist government. But I understand the prime minister's desire to have broad backing for what must be taken on internationally. This is real and it is legitimate. It will remain to be seen how stable such a coalition can be.
A final observation, which is more than rumor at this point: The election has gone to the head of Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid. Now that he's garnered 19 mandates, he apparently imagines that he can call the shots, and he has made some most inappropriate comments, including the fact that he's aiming to be prime minister next time. This has surely endeared him greatly to Netanyahu, who is likely to be seeking ways to reduce Lapid's influence.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.
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