Israel’s Response to Proposed IAEA Agenda Item on “Israeli Nuclear Capabilities”

Israel 2013 response to IAEA agenda item on Israel

A colleague sent me this document today. It makes for a blood-pressure-raising read. I think I’ll just refer to what said in this post a while ago:

If I put myself in the shoes of Israeli officials, I totally understand why Israel wants to have nuclear weapons, doesnt want to sign the NPT, and wants to keep the whole thing “in the basement.” If I were an Israeli official, with the history of the Holocaust as my personal and national context, I would do the exact same thing. But here’s where I think Israel’s policies in the nuclear area start to get indefensible – when they criticize other countries for wanting their own nuclear weapons, or for even doing research to build up their capability to one day acquire nuclear weapons if they decide they need them. This is just basic hypocrisy, and the absence of any principled leg to stand on. It doesn’t have anything to do with history, or with Israel’s unique perspective on the world. And I really don’t like it when people say, well, Israel isnt under a legal obligation not to have nuclear weapons, whereas these other countries are. Israel’s failure to sign the NPT, and the West’s willful blindness toward this fact, are not a diplomatic asset that Israel and the West can play as a card to justify the double standard. In this regard, Israel is part of a rather ignominious club of regime outlier states – rogue states if you will – that also includes India, Pakistan and North Korea. Its not a moral high ground fact.


6 Comments on “Israel’s Response to Proposed IAEA Agenda Item on “Israeli Nuclear Capabilities””

  1. Johnboy says:

    If I read that letter correctly, the Israelis are putting forward two arguments:
    1) You’re a busy man, Mr. Amano, so I don’t see how you can squeeze little ol’ Israel into such a crowded agenda.
    2) And, anyway, you can’t trust those untrustworthy A-rabs. So don’t. Trust to us instead.

    Neither argument seems to me to argue against the fundamental issue i.e. is Israel’s nuclear weaponry something that the IAEA should discussion and, therefore, something that is worthy of inclusion in an IAEA agenda?

    I would think that the answer is: Are you sh**ting me? Of course it is.

    So put it on the agenda, and if the Israelis want to make a song and dance about other Middle East countries then put them on the agenda as well.

    That way the IAEA can compare and contrast, say, Israel’s nuclear program against Syria’s nuclear program, and we’ll see who is more advanced along the path of nuclear weapons.

  2. Dr. Joyner, We had this discussion once before, and you were very gentlemanly in distancing yourself from my argument — which was along the lines that the history of World War II is not entirely accurate.  My research persuades me that it IS wildly inaccurate, and that the “conventional narrative,” i.e. of the holocaust, has taken on the dimensions of a state-enforced quasi-religious dogma.

    What if we are telling ourselves and our policy-makers the wrong story about Hitler and Nazism and about the holocaust:  isn’t getting the history wrong closely akin to not knowing the history at all?

    I used to read to my children (now older than you are!) from a book titled, Children’s Tales from Herodotus.  We read about Croesus misinterpreting the Delphic Oracle, and taking Lydia to war with Persia, based upon his hubristic reading of the Oracle’s message.   Croesus lost his empire.

    What if we are reading the history of World War II in a wrong way?  Your comment below hinges your analysis on Israel’s experience of holocaust.  Israeli psychologist Avigail Abarbanel has observed Israel’s “trauma psychology” and diagnoses it as “psychotic,” and “detached from reality.”  Real-time observation of Israeli behavior suggests a deeply troubled social and political culture;  when compared with other cultures that have undergone similar traumas — such as the German people who lost over 8 million people in WWI and WWII, so that demographically they are threatened with extinction, with a similar or even exacerbated demographic threat confronting the Japanese, whom we bombed — Israelis demonstrate unique behavior patterns:  Germans and Japanese, and even Rwandans have created mechanisms to deal with their past and prepare for a reconciled future.  But three generations removed, Jews still reinforce the trauma and forego attempts at “truth and reconciliation.”

      Thus, I submit that Israel’s “psychotic” political culture is NOT the result of “holocaust trauma” but of guilt over their knowledge of complicity of numerous Jewish leaders in bringing about the war against Germany for the purpose of preventing the financial failure of the zionist project in Palestine, and in ‘motivating’ European Jews to migrate to Palestine.

    All I’m trying to bring to greater awareness is that there is a terrible cost to “getting Hitler wrong.”  R. H. S. Stolfi has tried to make that case in “Hitler: Beyond Evil and Tyranny.”  Stolfi taught at U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA and has written extensively on Germany’s military in world wars.

    You don’t have to respond to this message if you prefer not to.  On the other hand,  I would welcome a carefully reasoned deconstruction of my thesis. 

    But do think about it.  What if we have been headed off in the wrong direction all these years — how different would our analysis, our policymaking, and our present situation be?



  3. Denis says:

    It is a dialog long, long overdue, and maybe the IAEA is the place to have it.

    Bob has pointed out on a previous post that IAEA is primarily a nuclear materials accounting firm. One would hope that its goal would be to be able to account for every kg of fissile material in the entire world. As long as nuke states like Israel refuse to come to the picnic, a full, global accounting can only be done by inference and intel. So it seems the IAEA ought to be encouraging discussions about how to get every nuke power to do full, verifiable, periodic disclosures. Unfortunately, the US controls IAEA funding and so AIPAC/Congress will call this shot. The Arabs’ request doesn’t have a chance.

    But, theoretically, the context of the discussion about Israel should be the structure of the IAEA – the question should be whether all members should be required to disclose all nuclear weapons and all nuclear weapons programs. Whether ratification of NPT should be a precondition of membership to the IAEA. It is these structural changes that ought to be on the agenda rather than pointing incendiary fingers at any one country so that country can flip an incendiary bird back.

    The problem with focusing on Israel is that the discussion eventually gets hijacked by the Shoah crowd – those who argue that the Shoah is relevant one way or the other to GoI’s nukes. As soon as anyone mentions THE HOLOCAUST, the nut-cases like ADL and AIPAC get hysteric and start screaming “antisemitism.” This is just the type of diversion GoI wants in order to keep the salient points off the table. (BTW, I reject the term “The Holocaust” b/c it implies there was only one and it’s use thereby denigrates the millions of lives lost in other holocausts, such as Armenians, AmerIndians, Rwandians, Cambodians. Those lives were just as valuable as the Jews’ lives, it’s just that they don’t have a PR machine working for them full time to be sure their holocausts get capitalized and referred to as “the”.)

    Also BTW, Azoulay’s letter does not mention Germany, the Shoah, Israel’s right to exist – none of that. That all will come if the IAEA puts the item on the agenda. But for now, technically, it’s irrelevant.

    As to the ultimate question of GoI’s nukes, seems to me that the right to build nuclear weapons is implicit in the definition of “sovereignty,” however unfortunate that may be. States – including Israel and Iran – can, if they so choose, waive that right in exchange for, say, the benefits of being a member of the IAEA, or maybe even being a member of the UN, or being a member of my Christmas card list, whatever it takes.

    I mean, this is the greatest, most important (and maybe final) quid pro quo offer in all of human history: show us your nukes and you can be a full fledged member of civilization. The only problem is that the world makes that offer (or demand) to IRI and NoKo, but when it comes to GoI, it it says – Here, you can have the quid, you can have the quo, and you can do any damn thing you want to do and we’re fine with that. That’s gotta’ change.

    All rogue states that want to hide their nuclear programs and armaments from the rest of the world should be treated precisely the same way – as rogue states. But there are those who will argue that the better approach is conciliation and having everyone at the table so that dialog happens and the out-liers can be persuaded to act in a civil manner and give up, or at least disclose, their nukes.

    If that’s the way to do it, then the sanctions against Iran and NoKo should be eliminated. One approach – either stick or carrot – has to be applied to all the mules pulling the wagon.

    Gotta’ go . . . uncle Abe Foxman is on the line. He’s upset. Again.

  4. Michal says:

    Just a quick question – what’s unprincipled about the desire to deny people you don’t trust (not necessarily your enemies) weapon capability that you’d like to have yourself? That’s ol’ good realism. Raison d’etat morality par excellence…

  5. Russ Wellen says:

    Fiorangela submits:

    “. . . that Israel’s “psychotic” political culture is NOT the result of ‘holocaust trauma’ but of guilt over their knowledge of complicity of numerous Jewish leaders in bringing about the war against Germany for the purpose of preventing the financial failure of the zionist project in Palestine, and in ‘motivating’ European Jews to migrate to Palestine.”

    Others may be familiar with this explanation, but it’s new to me. Happened to notice recently a simplified variation on this:

    “At the Huffington Post, Sam Stein reported in 2008 that [John Hagee, chairman of Christians United for Israel] said of the Holocaust: ‘How did it happen? Because God allowed it to happen. Why did it happen? Because God said my top priority for the Jewish people is to get them to come back to the land of Israel.’”

    Whatever the case may be, it’s incumbent upon us to allow a nation or people to shape its own reaction to overwhelming loss. (As long as it doesn’t use it to justify an illegal nuclear-weapons program!)

  6. Dan Joyner says:

    Hi everybody, I’m planning to keep all comments to this post up, because I think a free sharing of views is important. But I’m just going to be honest that the vein of discourse that several commenters have embarked upon about the WWII holocaust makes me uncomfortable. It’s not a subject I intended or wanted to have brought up when I wrote this piece. For what it’s worth I’m going to say that I personally have never seen any evidence that brings into serious question the overwhelming evidence supporting the narrative of the WWII holocaust contained in mainstream history books. Now, how those facts are used or factored in to policies, strategies, etc. by the Government of Israel is not something I feel I can comment on in an informed manner. I can only speculate, as I did in my post. With that being said, I’ll plan to let discussion continue without censorship, unless I feel someone crosses a line – one that I honestly can’t even define at the moment. For my sake, let’s please keep discussion of this topic to a minimum, and keep it serious, respectful, and respectable. Thank you.

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