Isaiah 11:6
April 17, 2015 12:51 PM   Subscribe

"More than sixty years have passed since Israel started its nuclear venture and almost half a century has elapsed since it crossed the nuclear weapons threshold. Yet Israel's nuclear history still lacks a voice of its own: Israel has never issued an authorized and official nuclear history; no insiders have ever been authorized to tell the story from within. Unlike all seven other nuclear weapons states, Israel's nuclear policy is essentially one of non-acknowledgement. Israel believes that nuclear silence is golden, referring to its nuclear code of conduct as the policy of amimut ("opacity" in Hebrew)." A special collection of declassified documents was published by the National Security Archive this Wednesday, that sheds some light on How Israel Hid Its Secret Nuclear Weapons Program.
posted by zarq (138 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
No history of Israel's Atomic achievment is complete without mention of Mordecai Vanunu and his kidnapping, imprisonment and subsequent persecution and disgraceful treatment by the Authorities.
posted by adamvasco at 1:03 PM on April 17, 2015 [17 favorites]


I knew France was heavily involved in Israel's development of a nuclear arsenal, but I didn't realize (though maybe I should have) that Norway had also cooperated.
posted by Area Man at 1:20 PM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Related
posted by a lungful of dragon at 1:21 PM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


[Couple comments removed. Two word comments right at the start of threads on famously sensitive subjects is a good way to start a fight but not a great way to foster an interesting conversation. Elaborating on your thinking there is a way better way to go.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:28 PM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


"The Lord's our shepherd," says the psalm
But just in case -- we better get a bomb
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 2:00 PM on April 17, 2015 [18 favorites]


This really gets to the heart of the matter. Why should Israel complain about any other nations nuclear ambitions other than to maintain their policy of Assured Destruction?

It's really, "How can we continue to threaten everyone with nuclear missiles if other people have them?"
posted by mikelieman at 2:03 PM on April 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


The point of a deterrent is that everyone knows that you can unleash devastation, so it's interesting that Israel still keeps it all a secret. Doesn't make sense to me, but then nuclear weapons don't really make much sense.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 2:12 PM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


The point of a deterrent is that everyone knows that you can unleash devastation, so it's interesting that Israel still keeps it all a secret. Doesn't make sense to me, but then nuclear weapons don't really make much sense.

Officially, the arsenal is a secret and Israel tries hard to keep details secret, but all of Israel's enemies know the weapons exist and Israel can unleash nuclear devastation. Perhaps the lack of certainty with regard to the precise details makes the threat even more compelling.
posted by Area Man at 2:27 PM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's really, "How can we continue to threaten everyone with nuclear missiles if other people have them?"

Who has Israel threatened with nuclear missles? They don't even admit they have them. That's the point of the FPP.
posted by Mchelly at 2:34 PM on April 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


If you consider that top-secret military agencies are all cut from the same cloth, remember that the CIA only just barely confirmed that Area 51 even exists in 2013, after the X-files filled our outer-worldly imaginations all throughout the 90's.

Israel is undoubtedly avoiding pressure that the other nuclear powers would put to enumerate the extent of their arsenal and thus its enemies don't know if they have enough to bomb most of the Middle East, or just enough that you hope they're just not targeting you.
posted by fragmede at 2:37 PM on April 17, 2015


The whole point of amimut is to have your yellowcake and eat it too: Israel gets the deterrence effect without having to play by the international rules that acknowledged nuclear powers agree to abide by, because nukes? Who, us?

To me as an Israeli the most distressing thing about the opacity policy is that it means Israeli citizens, too, don't know anything about their own country's nuclear policies (except whatever gets leaked to foreign media), and that with very few exceptions they have no problem with that. How many warheads do we have? What are the delivery systems? What's the official doctrine on nuclear strikes? Who can order an attack and what is the procedure? Oh, we don't get told any of that? That's OK, we trust our leaders to know what's best.
posted by hoist with his own pet aardvark at 2:44 PM on April 17, 2015 [40 favorites]


Isn't part of the reason that Israel keeps this officially secret that the US could be legally obliged to reduce aid if they made it official (under the Symington Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act)
posted by just another scurvy brother at 2:48 PM on April 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


DR STRANGELOVE: The whole point of the doomsday machine is lost... if you keep it a secret. WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL THE WORLD, EH!?

AMBASSADOR DE SADESKY: It was to be announced at the Party Congress on Monday. As you know, the Premier loves surprises.
posted by indubitable at 2:48 PM on April 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


The US has a legal prohibition ( for what that is worth) on subsidizing states who produce weapons of mass destruction.
If Israel admits to owning the nukes that it has it would be shy of a couple of billion dollars worth of aid a year.
Such is the total dishonesty of the political system. As colie pointed out prior to its deletion : Rogue State. But that raises the question USA, Israel or both?
posted by adamvasco at 3:01 PM on April 17, 2015 [14 favorites]


Not just the money, they could theoretically be cut off from all military aid
posted by just another scurvy brother at 3:05 PM on April 17, 2015


Who has Israel threatened with nuclear missiles?

Threaten is not the right word. But if one chooses to acquire a Very Big Weapon, it's usually not as a hobby or lawn ornament. Nobody would spend that much money to acquire something they weren't willing to use in at least some eventuality.

That the program is an open secret rather than overt has little bearing on deterrence.
posted by kiltedtaco at 3:12 PM on April 17, 2015


This really gets to the heart of the matter. Why should Israel complain about any other nations nuclear ambitions other than to maintain their policy of Assured Destruction?

Couldn't you apply this logic to every nation with nuclear weapons?

"Why should the United Kingdom complain about North Korea's nuclear ambitions other than to maintain their policy of Assured Destruction?"
posted by Justinian at 3:18 PM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


If you watch the animated map of every nuke exploded, you will notice an explosion in the southern Indian Ocean. It's long been believed that this was a joint Israel/South Africa device test in 1979.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:23 PM on April 17, 2015


Interesting post. I just visited Nagasaki a couple of weeks ago for the first time.
posted by Nevin at 3:36 PM on April 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Couldn't you apply this logic to every nation with nuclear weapons?

"Why should the United Kingdom complain about North Korea's nuclear ambitions other than to maintain their policy of Assured Destruction?"


You definitely can apply it to the established nuclear powers because this is exactly what they do. Who are the permanent members of the UN Security Council? The nuclear powers.

Israel never signed off on the NNPT so they're free to do what they want. If other countries want to develop their own nuclear weapons they can always leave the treaty and then do so.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:41 PM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Nobody would spend that much money to acquire something they weren't willing to use in at least some eventuality. Agreed. And the more transparency we can get about it the better. But again, that's a far cry from the statement that they are threatening everybody with nuclear missiles. Which they are decidedly not doing. That would be North Korea.
posted by Mchelly at 3:41 PM on April 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeah. I've never understood the hubbub about any nations acquiring nuclear weapons considering we have so many. It's definitely mutual destruction for the next nation to use them, if not the triggering event for global destruction. Let everyone that develop what they can and let's hope that no nukes go off in storage in someone's backyard.

I mean I'd prefer total nuclear disarmament but that's not going to happen.
posted by elr at 3:43 PM on April 17, 2015


That's pretty much my thinking, elr. In a perfect world no one would have nuclear weapons. But that's not going to happen any time soon.

In the meantime, what right does any country (especially a country with nukes themselves) have to tell another country not to develop them?
posted by downtohisturtles at 3:49 PM on April 17, 2015


The most important right of all when it comes to nation states, ultima ratio regum.
posted by Justinian at 4:38 PM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, the more jurisdictions that have nuclear weapons, the weaker the controls are going to be. It's already bad enough that Pakistan has them; it's a country rife with corruption and violent instability, I can totally imagine one of their warheads either going missing or being deliberately handed to some Islamic extremist group by a rogue faction in their military. Now multiply this by however many other 3rd world autocracies acquire the Bomb in this theoretical scenario where nobody cares about proliferation, and after a while the possibility of an accidental or rogue use approaches certainty.
posted by indubitable at 4:44 PM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Such is the total dishonesty of the political system. As colie pointed out prior to its deletion : Rogue State. But that raises the question USA, Israel or both?

Doesn't the "rogue state" rhetoric imply that there's some international order which the rogues are recklessly defying, or something like that? Would that be the UN?
posted by clockzero at 4:57 PM on April 17, 2015


The US has a legal prohibition ( for what that is worth) on subsidizing states who produce weapons of mass destruction.

What law is that?
posted by Justinian at 5:03 PM on April 17, 2015


Surely, though, Mordechai Vanunu is a traitor to Israel, and as such, in his country's laws, is entitled to no quarter, any more than Julius Rosenberg or Edward Snowden?
posted by acb at 5:17 PM on April 17, 2015


He spent 11 years in solitary confinement (18 total) so I'm thinking he didn't receive any quarter.
posted by Justinian at 5:19 PM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


No, Julius Rosenberg received no quarter...
posted by just another scurvy brother at 5:20 PM on April 17, 2015


Well, true enough, but Snowden is still alive and wouldn't be executed even were he brought to trial. I assumed we were using "quarter" colloquially.
posted by Justinian at 5:31 PM on April 17, 2015


Snowden is still alive and wouldn't be executed even were he brought to trial.

Has the death penalty for aiding the enemy (i.e., what the Rosenbergs were executed for*) been absolutely ruled out by the US Government in any case against Snowden?

* it is next to impossible to actually be convicted of treason in the US; given that the constitution was drafted by traitors against the British Crown, this is probably not a coincidence.
posted by acb at 5:40 PM on April 17, 2015


Justinian Symington Amendment there is more somewhere on this. Im on a phone. Maybe someone else can chuck in some links.
posted by adamvasco at 5:51 PM on April 17, 2015


Here we go
posted by adamvasco at 5:55 PM on April 17, 2015


Surely, though, Mordechai Vanunu is a traitor to Israel, and as such, in his country's laws, is entitled to no quarter

One man's traitor is another man's whistleblower. As per my comment above, I think Israel could use a lot more such traitors. In any case, the Israeli legal harassment of Vanunu has been extreme (see adamvasco's link for details), and seems to be driven by vindictiveness and the fear of diplomatic embarrassment rather than any real concern that he could spill more secrets, which isn't likely at this point.
posted by hoist with his own pet aardvark at 6:02 PM on April 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Thanks adamvasco.

To comply with that amendment we'd have to cut off both India and Pakistan. Which seems like a terrible idea. It should probably be repealed ASAP.
posted by Justinian at 6:04 PM on April 17, 2015


(ok, cut off is too far. But we'd have to reimpose sanctions.)
posted by Justinian at 6:08 PM on April 17, 2015


We should actually refer to "Vanunu" by his preferred name, which is John Crossman (he's a Christian convert). As a further note to what Crossman is entitled to "by his country's laws", the indefinite restrictions on his freedom of movement and communication are based on emergency regulations enacted by the British Mandate government in 1945, which were taken over into Israeli law and have never been repealed; they are very rarely used within Israel proper or against Israeli citizens (though very frequently against Palestinians in the West Bank).
posted by hoist with his own pet aardvark at 6:38 PM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


The US has a legal prohibition ( for what that is worth) on subsidizing states who produce weapons of mass destruction.
If Israel admits to owning the nukes that it has it would be shy of a couple of billion dollars worth of aid a year


I'd believe that was the reason were it not for...well .... history I guess.
posted by srboisvert at 7:54 PM on April 17, 2015


We should actually refer to "Vanunu" by his preferred name, which is John Crossman (he's a Christian convert).

Based on his website, he seems to prefer Vanunu.
posted by andoatnp at 8:02 PM on April 17, 2015


Has the death penalty for aiding the enemy (i.e., what the Rosenbergs were executed for*) been absolutely ruled out by the US Government in any case against Snowden?

Only if you consider the citizens of the US the enemy. (which the US Govt might, but would probably not be enthused about admitting this).
posted by el io at 8:03 PM on April 17, 2015


Based on his website, he seems to prefer Vanunu.

Interesting, I hadn't seen that. Thanks.
posted by hoist with his own pet aardvark at 8:10 PM on April 17, 2015


It kinda makes the lips quirk at the pearl-clutching over Israel's nuke program. The war in 1973 kinda happened, you know? That wasn't a war to establish Palestinian rights in a free and democratic society.

What gets lost in the "OMG! Evil Israel" noise is who else has nukes on the sly, or can build a few hundred, complete with delivery systems, by next week.

Can Get Them Almost Sooner Than Now: All of Scandinavia, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Italy, Spain(Franco may have had one), South Africa(already had them once)... Japan, South Korea, Australia. The last three in that order, and the order will be really, really quick.

Has Them Now: Israel... Taiwan.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:11 PM on April 17, 2015


Are you saying Taiwan has nuclear weapons? What makes you think that?
posted by andoatnp at 8:17 PM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you have nukes, all your diplomatic communications end "Our words are backed by nuclear weapons!"
posted by librosegretti at 8:22 PM on April 17, 2015


It's already bad enough that Pakistan has them; it's a country rife with corruption and violent instability

Look, if your country doesn't possess nuclear weapons then it doesn't really matter who has them. It's not like I, as a Canadian, have any control over how the United States uses its nuclear weapons. For example it should be noted that the United States has refused to adopt a no-first-use policy, saying that it "reserves the right to use" nuclear weapons first in the case of conflict.

So while I suppose the US could be said to have potentially greater command and control over its nuclear arsenal there is absolutely no guarantee that the US will not unilaterally decide to use nuclear weapons.

And as a non-American there is absolutely nothing I can do about that, which puts the US in my mind at the same level as Pakistan.

I suppose in the past the US nuclear umbrella "protected" Canada, but let's be honest: any nuclear war between Russia and the States would have been fought in Canadian airspace.

I live close to the US trident base at Bremerton, and the subs and carrier groups transit out to the Pacific within sight of where I am typing away here.

Any Russian attack would have, and still will, target the transit lanes in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, wiping me and my family off the map.

So how's that for a nuclear umbrella.

The interesting question is whether or not deterrence can be said to have worked over the past 70 years.

I don't have the numbers, but aside from Zaire / DR Congo (the death toll of which is in dispute) we haven't seen any major wars since the bombs were dropped on Japan where tens of millions of people have died.

So maybe deterrence has worked. Deterrence has certainly worked for Israel. The Arab states have not tried to invade the country since the Yom Kippur War.

But proliferation is inevitable and so is I would say, some sort of nuclear conflict. The question is when.

While I didn't care much for the actual Nagasaki museum that documented the bombing, the city itself is a testament to hope. Ground Zero of the bomb blast in Urakami is now a pleasant park... as long as you don't stop and regard the various statues for too long.

I visited Nagasaki at Easter time and the symbolism of the Crucifixion, martyrdom, and the Resurrection was impossible to ignore, especially in a part of Japan where Christians were also martyred and crucified to death.

So there is hope to be had when visiting places like Nagasaki. But the way things are going, there is also the glum inevitably that war is going to happen again.
posted by Nevin at 8:55 PM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Nuclear war is probably inevitable. It's only a matter of time. We built the big boomey toys and we're going to use them at some point. And the best defense against an attack (whether it comes from the current foes or allies of a country) is to offer the same threat back. This whole period of "stopping certain countries from nukes" is going to be a passing phase in our history. You can't stop people from knowing the science and math and engineering that's required to make nuclear weapons. Once humans know about something they know about it. That's it. And they can figure out the details from there. So eventually, if we don't kill ourselves first, everyone will probably have nuclear power/nuclear weapons/etc. in some form. And we're going to have to live with that.
posted by downtohisturtles at 9:15 PM on April 17, 2015


I imagine the weapons are already in place. The delivery system is probably UPS or Fedex. I would think they won't go up, they will just go off.

I was talking to someone once who worked in Cheyenne Mountain. I asked him how long he would have if the missiles went up, he said, "Four seconds." I thought that was pretty brief.

I was once hired to make informational handouts, what do do in the case of a detonation. This was a physicians group, who think there will be nuclear war, and the out front guy felt the anti-nuclear physicians were their enemy. I guess I don't like being reminded that being human is fatal.
posted by Oyéah at 10:07 PM on April 17, 2015


The delivery system is probably UPS or Fedex. I would think they won't go up, they will just go off

How big and heavy do you think a nuclear weapon is, exactly?
posted by Justinian at 10:10 PM on April 17, 2015


How big and heavy do you think a nuclear weapon is, exactly?

Two words: Ant Man.
posted by Nevin at 10:53 PM on April 17, 2015


By the way some *good* news from Japan: Japan will give up weapons-grade plutonium to U.S. (March 2014)
posted by Nevin at 10:55 PM on April 17, 2015


Has Them Now: Israel... Taiwan.

Current belief is that Taiwan does not have a nuclear weapon, but may have chemical weapons. (The island has an extensive chemical industry.) The National Security Archive has the history of the Taiwanese nuclear program (and US intervention to try to prevent them from developing nukes. Taiwan has a lot more to lose than Israel. If it were revealed that they have WMD's, China would quickly destroy them. If they do have a bomb, it would behoove them to bury that information as deeply as possible.

Back in 1997, it was reported that a Taiwanese colonel and CIA mole had stolen documents, stopping their nuclear progress. Of course, if they were trying to deny they possess nukes, that's an awesome cover story.
posted by zarq at 11:41 PM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


To comply with that amendment we'd have to cut off both India and Pakistan. Which seems like a terrible idea. It should probably be repealed ASAP.

I have long suspected that the primary reason why the US has effectively ignored the Symington amendment regarding Israel is that by the time it was enacted in 1976 and banned aid to nations seeking to acquire nuclear weapons, that no longer applied -- they already had them. If this were the case, then Israel would have developed nukes before 1976. It would also mean we knew more about the status of their nuclear program than has previously been admitted.
posted by zarq at 12:09 AM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


It kinda makes the lips quirk at the pearl-clutching over Israel's nuke program. The war in 1973 kinda happened, you know? That wasn't a war to establish Palestinian rights in a free and democratic society.


No it wasn't. It was a war to reclaim Egyptian and Syrian territory (in Sinai and the Golan Heights respectively) that Israel took by force in 1967. Using the 73 war as an excuse for Israel to have nukes is a bit like using the 1991 gulf war as an excuse for Iraq to have nukes.
posted by moorooka at 3:10 AM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


... but I'd argue that the 1991 Gulf War was a very good reason Iraq might have wanted nukes? I mean, the lack of WMDs is what actually gets you invaded, not the possession of them.
posted by Justinian at 3:17 AM on April 18, 2015


Israel didn't need an excuse to have nuclear weapons; it needed a reason. The reason was "we are surrounded by countries that are at war with us and which will not negotiate peace."

To the extent that nuclear weapons changed things, it was much for the better: Egypt concluded a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, and Jordan followed in 1994. The only state participant in the Six Day War and Yom Kippur War to subsequently attack Israel was Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, apparently working on a theory that everybody likes dead Jews. Under pressure from the USA, Israel did not retaliate; you'd think that would be a bit of a problem for the "OMG! Evil Israel" crowd ...
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:54 AM on April 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


... but I'd argue that the 1991 Gulf War was a very good reason Iraq might have wanted nukes? I mean, the lack of WMDs is what actually gets you invaded, not the possession of them.

In 2003 yes, but in 1991, it was occupying Kuwait that got Iraq attacked. Sometimes acquiring territory by force has consequences.

(Incidentally, in that war Saddam bombed Israel apparently working on a theory that if Israel retaliated then Bush Sr's Gulf War Coalition would split up, since America's Arab allies could not be seen fighting on the same side as Israel. His theory was probably correct which is why the USA pressured Israel not to retaliate.)
posted by moorooka at 4:31 AM on April 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Mutually assured destruction assumes rational and deliberate actors. That is a naive assumption. Accidents happen. Terrorists happen. Rogue factions and coups happen. Bad strategic decisions happen. Wars are started for political or religious reasons, completely independent of (and often counter to) rational self-interest. In other words, humans are too human to be trusted with nuclear weapons. I'd like to see total worldwide disarmament, but failing that, I think it's in everyone's interest to reduce the number of nuclear weapons to the lowest number possible. That means discouraging non-nuclear states from going nuclear, notwithstanding the hypocrisy involved. It also means reducing national stockpiles, which is something the US, Russia, and China need to show leadership in doing.
posted by dephlogisticated at 8:27 AM on April 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


How big do you think a small nuclear device is....asked upthread. Answer 50kg.
Suitcase nuclear bomb
A blog and wiki (Seymour Hersch reckoned Israel has them).
posted by adamvasco at 9:00 AM on April 18, 2015


But the yields from suitcase nukes is so low you might as well use conventional bombs. They are purely tactical weapons. Pre-planting them by shipping them Fedex would be nutty.
posted by Justinian at 12:04 PM on April 18, 2015


Being able to FedEx a five kiloton suitcase bomb sounds qualitatively different than other ways of delivering 5,000 tons of conventional explosive.

shipping one pound internationally by FedEx costs around 50$ depending on country of origin, so 100,000$ per ton, so 500,000,000$ for 5 kilotons of conventional explosive hello NSA
posted by Rumple at 1:18 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


We were talking about a nuclear war; FedExed suitcase bombs are in no way a reasonable or effective weapon of war. They might be good terroristic weapons but that's a completely different ballgame.

It's also true that our enemies, so far as we know, don't actually have miniaturized warheads. The Soviets did, Russia may though I doubt we have much confidence in their maintenance, and Israel might. But nobody else does.
posted by Justinian at 2:41 PM on April 18, 2015


(Our allies, save maybe Israel don't have suitcase nukes either.)
posted by Justinian at 2:42 PM on April 18, 2015


When you have submarines armed with nuclear missiles that can reach New York, you don't need suitcase nukes. Israel's current capability can easily provide a sub in the Med can destroy any country that launches an invasion + Mecca + Medina for good measure without needing anything else or worrying about transporting and pre-planting suitcases.
posted by mikelieman at 2:46 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Good lord, that blog link was completely ridiculous. See: Are 'suitcase nukes' a genuine concern? for a more grounded, reality-based take. Also: Suitcase nukes closer to fiction than reality.
posted by zarq at 2:53 PM on April 18, 2015


Exactly, the idea that fedexed suitcase nukes are the threat is not consistent with reality.
posted by Justinian at 2:58 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing FedEx probably also scans packages for signs of plutonium.
posted by zarq at 3:09 PM on April 18, 2015


Suitcase nukes don't actually make sense for anyone, but they especially don't make sense for Israel. Suitcase nukes are wasteful, militarily ineffective, and hard to deliver; Israel is short of uranium, highly vulnerable to retaliation, and has little or no civilian traffic with most of its near neighbours. The idea that it would use its limited uranium stocks on such provocative devices is a stupid paranoid fantasy.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:32 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Extremist Muslims believe Allah will only return to earth when there is enough destruction. They also deny anyone else's right to exist, and believe Allah will ensure their victory.

Israel does not deny the right of the Muslim population to exist, and would live in relative peace if allowed to. Granted all nations have dark chapters, but comparing the two in the arena of who is more violent and intolerant
is extreme ignorance, or malfeasance. Simply stated, no rational person will do so.

So Israel having a bomb is not a big deal, its a detour ant, the fact they have not used it shows their restraint. Anyone willing to guarantee Iran, who chants "DEATH TO AMERICA" and demands the total annihilation of Israel, and is the world's #1 source o state sponsored terrorism, with show the same restraint?

Somehow I have my doubts.
posted by Numbers123 at 3:45 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


deterrent! I figured it out!
posted by Justinian at 3:57 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Suitcase nukes? I thought it was no secret that Israel has the Jericho missile.
posted by Nevin at 4:13 PM on April 18, 2015


Those ICBMs are only for peaceful, civilian nuclear delivery purposes!
posted by mikelieman at 4:50 PM on April 18, 2015


It's for giving the less fortunate the gift of Happy Sun Power.
posted by Justinian at 4:53 PM on April 18, 2015


Extremist Muslims ...

Israel does not...

Iran, who chants "DEATH TO AMERICA"

I'm going to call out this confounding extremist muslims with the government of Iran. If you're going to go that route, you need to use the same "extremist belief" context for Israel, and you know, I have family who thinks that solution to the 'demographic issue' is neutron bombs...

An analysis of capabilities is clear. Israel can nuke New York. Iran can't.
posted by mikelieman at 4:58 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think an extremely effective false flag operation could be run with the W54 though it would be probably personally delivered rather than sent by fedex.
posted by adamvasco at 6:30 PM on April 18, 2015


Iran, who chants "DEATH TO AMERICA"

I'm going to call out this confounding extremist muslims with the government of Iran.


The government of Iran is extremist. It executes people at an alarming rate for such thought-crimes as blasphemy or "insulting the prophet of Islam". Its Supreme Leader - what a lovely term! - explicitly calls for the massacre of all Jews. Entries for the second Iranian International Holocaust Cartoon competition just closed a couple of weeks ago; I don't know whether they announced a winner yet. Comparing Iran with Israel - or in fact with practically any other normal country - is weird and delusional.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:18 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, look at this:

Iran marks Army Day with cries of ‘Death to Israel, US’
Iran on Saturday marked Army Day with a military parade featuring new weapons systems, as well as a truck carrying a massive banner reading “Death to Israel.”

A televised broadcast of the parade was punctuated by repeated cries of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”

“If Israel makes a mistake,” the announcer on Iran television said during the broadcast, as heavy trucks carrying armored personnel carriers rolled past, “those in Tel Aviv and Haifa will not sleep at night, not one person.”
Please, tell us again about "confounding extremist muslims with the government of Iran."
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:37 PM on April 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


mikelieman, Joe's right. In fact, it is very likely that the dictatorship government of Iran is more extremist, antisemitic and anti-Israel than many of its citizens. There was an extensive essay in Tablet last December which discussed the Ayatollah, his hatred of Israel and Israeli Jews, and the separation Persian Jews have had to create in order to survive.
In a region where hostilities against Israel have been steadily growing, in a country that has an official holiday called Qods Day set against Israel’s Independence Day, where people are encouraged to take to the streets and protest Israel’s existence, the Anti-Defamation League’s 2014 Global Index of anti-Semitism places Iran as the least anti-Semitic nation in the Middle East and North Africa region. The suggestion that Iranians reject what their government recommends came in an extensive report by Timothy Garton Ash in the New York Review of Books more than 10 years ago. In his travels to Iran, Ash had found a highly sexualized society, despite the official attempts at modesty and self-control, been invited to an orgy, and, among others, made an unusual observation: “The regime has spent twenty-five years trying to make these young Iranians deeply pro-Islamic, anti-American, anti-Western, and anti-Israeli. As a result, most of them are resentful of Islam (at least in its current, state-imposed form), rather pro-American, and have a friendly curiosity about Israel.”
If you read the linked Ash report, you'll note that it refers to Iran's disaffected, more secular youth movement and 50,000 bloggers as the biggest potential threat to the regime's religious extremism. This is probably the real reason why mefi's own Hoder was arrested and imprisoned for years.

The Iranian government is headed by a religious Muslim extremist who hates Israel and Israeli Jews. His government represents him in this, and more "liberal" people who have been elected to Iranian "public" office quickly conform to his rhetoric and policies. They treat Jews and non-Shiite Muslims as second-class citizens. That is not speculation or opinion. It is uncontrovertible fact.
posted by zarq at 4:10 AM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


If so, and they've been 2 years away from producing a bomb for the last 30 years, why haven't they?

That's one simple fact that undercuts all the hyperbole. Iran has been able to do it, and Iran has enjoyed the sanction of the Reagan and Bush administrations and yet... No bomb.

So, despite the 30 years of capability to build a bomb, they haven't.

However, the Israeli government HAS the capability to build, and deliver a nuclear bomb to New York.

Deeds. Not Words. Until the Israeli Government 'gets right', with full disclosure, joining the NNPT, and permitting unfettered inspection, they have no moral right to criticize anyone else, and given their history of "Crying Wolf", we're going to give the Iranians, whose **actions** are more peaceful than Israel.

Again, for every extremist in Iran, there's one to match in Israel. And Israel has the capability to kill everyone in Mecca, Medina, and every other capital city.
posted by mikelieman at 4:33 AM on April 19, 2015


Deeds. Not Words.

What, like sponsoring terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah and waging war by proxy?

Again, for every extremist in Iran, there's one to match in Israel.

And, I know this is just more ignorant hyperbole spouted without thinking, but the population of Iran is approximately 9-10 times greater than the population of Israel. So the radicalization rate of Israelis is 9-10 times greater than that of Iranians?

Maybe time to stop digging and do some reading instead.
posted by Behemoth at 5:39 AM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


So the USA gives billions of dollars of US taxpayers money a year to country A which defies international conventions and develops its nuclear capacities to weapons state plus a delivery system capable of reaching and therefore taking out several major US cities and those of its allies.
Meanwhile USA imposes draconian sanctions and declares as a pariah state country B which neither develops its nuclear capacity to weapons state nor has a delivery system to to reach USA. Country A has a large amount of extremely wealthy right wing coreligionists living in USA; country B not so much.
Would I be exaggerating by stating that it seems as if Country A is buying the political support it needs in the USA thus absorbing budget which could be used to improve the lives of everyday Americans who hardly know where countries A and B are? Perish the thought.
I see the tub thumpering demagogues have shown up so I will leave this otherwise interesting thread.
posted by adamvasco at 6:38 AM on April 19, 2015


Facts are inconvenient things, aren't they? It's so much easier to name call and sling hyperbole without them.
posted by zarq at 7:18 AM on April 19, 2015


What, like sponsoring terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah and waging war by proxy?

Is that better or worse than sponsoring "Settlers" who might be said to "wage war by proxy" on behalf of the Israeli government? That, I suppose on whether you think "Settlers" a terror group themselves.

Again, over the past 30 years, I've heard that Iran is 2 years away from developing any capability, yet RIGHT NOW, the Israeli Government can kill my family and children with a nuclear missile.

It's obvious which capability is a bigger risk..
posted by mikelieman at 8:00 AM on April 19, 2015


And depending on who you listen to, the USA is headed by a Muslim Extremist, right? So those labels don't really evoke the propaganda effect desired in my case.
posted by mikelieman at 8:03 AM on April 19, 2015


Mikelieman, right now any number of countries, including the U.S., can kill your family and children with a nuclear weapon. Why are you so insistent that Israel is about to bomb New York?

No one is arguing that a currently non-nuclear Iran is more dangerous than a nuclear Israel. It doesn't automatically follow that a nuclear Iran would be less so.
posted by Mchelly at 8:44 AM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Its Supreme Leader - what a lovely term! - explicitly calls for the massacre of all Jews.

Do you have a citation for this, Joe in Australia? I have little doubt that Khamenei is an anti-Semite, but his ravings are generally directed specifically at Israel and Zionism; I've never heard of him calling for the massacre of all Jews (of whom there are thousands in Iran itself).
posted by hoist with his own pet aardvark at 10:45 AM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


If so, and they've been 2 years away from producing a bomb for the last 30 years, why haven't they?

They've been in a Cold War with Israel for decades. Some of the alleged actions taken in that cold war have very likely screwed up Iranian nuclear ambitions. Also, it's perfectly possible that Israel's near-constant warnings to the international community against imminent Iranian nuclear success have been wrong, or exaggerations. Predicting the future is always hard, especially when it comes to whether a country can successfully develop a nuclear bomb. And Israel has consistently tried to push other countries to step in and prevent the Iranian regime from doing so, in part because if they step in that will mean a rapidly escalating war which will not restrict itself to Iran and Israel.

Regarding the Cold War: Iran has waged a proxy war against Israel by heavily funding Hamas and Islamic terrorists and Hezbollah in Palestine and Lebanon. They were also allegedly involved in a number of terrorist attacks against Israelis over the last few decades, such as the AMIA bombing and embassy attack in Buenos Aires back in the '90's. In turn, Israel has allegedly fought the Iranian regime by supporting the The People's Mojahedin of Iran financially (Iran's largest political group, which is anti-Ayatollah) and also allegedly engaged in covert operations within the country, including the aforementioned Stuxnet.

So, despite the 30 years of capability to build a bomb, they haven't.

'Capability' is an inaccurate word. 'Desire' would be accurate. Capable, no.
posted by zarq at 11:12 AM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


How to Avert a Nuclear War
By JAMES E. CARTWRIGHT and VLADIMIR DVORKIN
This risk should motivate the presidents of Russia and the United States to decide in tandem to eliminate the launch-on-warning concept from their nuclear strategies. They should reinstitute military-to-military talks, which were suspended over the Ukraine crisis, to pursue this stand-down as an urgent priority. (A joint decision on this would not destabilize nuclear deterrence: Both countries still have nuclear forces designed to withstand a first-strike attack, guaranteeing retaliatory strikes.)

To reinforce this accord, both countries should refrain from conducting military exercises that involve practicing missile launches based on information from early warning systems. Even if this restraint cannot yet be fully verified, it would be a valuable contribution to strategic stability — and, of course, to preventing an inadvertent nuclear war. This would be a positive step ahead of the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference that the United Nations will host later this month.
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:15 AM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Do you have a citation for this, Joe in Australia? I have little doubt that Khamenei is an anti-Semite, but his ravings are generally directed specifically at Israel and Zionism [...]

Ye-es, but he actually defines "Israel" as not just a political or geographic term (in fact he expressly rejects that) but as something like "those who fight the spread of Islam" [Source, Google Translate] This is why he quotes Surat Al-Baqarah, which refers to killing enemies "wherever you find them". This characterisation of "Israel" as a theological enemy means that attacks on it are not limited to Israel as a nation, but to anything that can be associated with it. Not that wiping out the State of Israel wouldn't be genocidal in itself, of course.

This isn't merely theoretical: I think pretty much everyone acknowledges that Iran and Iran-supported groups has been behind many attacks on Jews worldwide, such as the AMIA bombing in Argentina. These attacks don't make sense from a secular perspective; the only way to interpret them is as an expression of what Khamenei calls the basic philosophy of jihad, to fight those who fight the spread of Islam.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:22 PM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


"I think an extremely effective false flag operation could be run with the W54 though it would be probably personally delivered rather than sent by Fedex"
posted by adamvasco at 9:30 PM

That is about 49 ways stupid. False flag. Won't very false using a lead cargo container to stop radiation detection or the radioactive signature used to find were it was made.
posted by clavdivs at 10:22 PM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Mikelieman, right now any number of countries, including the U.S., can kill your family and children with a nuclear weapon. Why are you so insistent that Israel is about to bomb New York?

First off, I take exception to you reframing my statements. I NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER said, as you assert, that "Israel is about to bomb New York"

Risk analysis is about capabilities, not intent. We're discussing Israel and Iran, so we discuss their capabilities.

Israel can launch nuclear weapons at my home.

Iran cannot.

That aside, none of the other nations are hypocritically criticizing others while failing to (1) Fully disclose, (2) join the NNPT, and (3) allow full and unfettered access to UN inspection teams. If Israel can't be trusted to act in good-faith, that's reality.
posted by mikelieman at 1:10 AM on April 20, 2015


ot that wiping out the State of Israel wouldn't be genocidal in itself, of course.

Here's where it gets difficult. Since the Government of the State of Israel can't obtain democratic "Consent of the Governed" of Greater Israel, calls for disbanding it are valid. So, if the vernacular "wiping out" refers to a government that can't obtain democratic Consent, then....
posted by mikelieman at 1:15 AM on April 20, 2015


From what I understand suitcase nukes are a different type of bomb than regular nukes, and not just in terms of size. They are of course more of a terrorist weapon, but I think their use is less intended to be destructive in the absolute, rather to be disruptive, as in the "dirty bomb" sense. Dirty bombs can make a area (maybe as large as New York) uninhabitable due to the intended radiation fall-out generated from a ground-level detonated bomb (rather than one detonated at a desired distance above the target, which is usually the case with regular nukes so as to maximise destructive power and minimise generated fallout. I suppose this could also be combined with a (theoretical) cobalt bomb or salted nuclear device intended to contaminate a large area with radioactive material.
posted by guy72277 at 7:15 AM on April 20, 2015


Since the Government of the State of Israel can't obtain democratic "Consent of the Governed" of Greater Israel, calls for disbanding it are valid.

The only people who use the term "Greater Israel" and mean it are Israeli radicals. A very small margin of Israelis. It's a controversial political phrase used by the ultra nationalist right wing used to refer to a theoretical single state of Israel which would include Gaza, the West Bank and the occupied West Bank settlements. And in which either the Palestinians have left, vanished or been incorporated into the state of Israel somehow. Some of those who use it also refer to lands in Jordan and Egypt (and perhaps Lebanon?) which they would like to see as part of the state of Israel.

But here's the problem: some of those ultranationalists are in office. Netanyahu's Likud party used to champion a Greater Israel agenda: a single Israeli state, at a time a number of years ago, when they believed (for reasons that I can go into if you would like,) a two state solution was simply not a realistic alternative. The party very publicly abandoned the idea in the late 90's in pursuit of peace with the Palestinians. Which is just one of the reasons why Netanyahu's campaign rhetoric against a Palestinian state was shocking and upsetting to many Israelis and Jews in the diaspora. For many it probably confirms suspicions raised when Netanyahu ramped up the illegal Settlement activities after taking the Prime Ministership in 2008.

But anyway, the 'Consent of the Governed' doesn't apply to a mythical construct that doesn't exist in reality. And if you're going to talk about Palestinians being governed, it would probably be a good idea for you to learn who actually runs the Palestinian territories. Because it ain't Israel. They don't govern there.

Gaza has a government, separate from Israel's. It's run by Hamas.. The Israelis unilaterally pulled out of Gaza in 2006, and generally only take action against Gazans in response to acts they deem to be security threats. Personally, I'd like to see the Israelis take up a permanent policy of measured responses to threats as well as turn over management of routes in and out of Gaza to Hamas, but since that group doesn't seem to be abandoning aggressive tactics against Israel any time soon, and with Netanyahu's re-election, neither of those seem very unlikely.

Israel is not the government in the West Bank, either. They have the Palestinian Government. See Governorates of Palestine for a map and additional links.

The issue isn't whether Israel governs the Palestinian territories. They don't. (And if you're using that to justify Israel's disbandment, then your premise and logic are flawed.)

The issues, and there are many, are too numerous to list. But a short list would have to include:
* The extent to which Israel has control over supplies flowing in and out of Gaza and the West Bank from the outside world.
* The extent to which Israel restricts Palestinian movements in and out of Israel. (Note that if the Palestinians had their own state and no restriction of movement within their borders, this wouldn't be an issue.)
* That Israel uses disproportionate military force against Palestinians including targeting / destroying Palestinian infrastructure and killing civilians.
* Israel's encroachments into the West Bank through state-sanctioned and funded illegal settlements.
Etc., etc.
posted by zarq at 7:25 AM on April 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


But anyway, the 'Consent of the Governed' doesn't apply to a mythical construct that doesn't exist in reality. And if you're going to talk about Palestinians being governed, it would probably be a good idea for you to learn who actually runs the Palestinian territories. Because it ain't Israel. They don't govern there.


That is, of course, the problem. How can you get to "One nation, with liberty and justice FOR ALL" while continuing to pretend that the "two-state solution" is anything other than waiting out the "demographic issue" so that the consent of the governed won't have to include all the people who don't actually consent.

The idea that 'disengagement' absolved the Israeli Government of their actual responsibility to the people they locked it, was one I never subscribed to. If you're going to act like you own everything, then be honest about it.

Otherwise, what's the point of the unilateral declaration of Jerusalem as the "eternal and undivided capital"?
posted by mikelieman at 8:24 AM on April 20, 2015


However, the Israeli government HAS the capability to build, and deliver a nuclear bomb to New York.

I'd just like to address this for a moment. I'll even quote your response to Mchelly, so there's no way you're being taken out of context:
"First off, I take exception to you reframing my statements. I NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER said, as you assert, that "Israel is about to bomb New York"

Risk analysis is about capabilities, not intent. We're discussing Israel and Iran, so we discuss their capabilities.

Israel can launch nuclear weapons at my home.

Iran cannot.

That aside, none of the other nations are hypocritically criticizing others while failing to (1) Fully disclose, (2) join the NNPT, and (3) allow full and unfettered access to UN inspection teams. If Israel can't be trusted to act in good-faith, that's reality.


Just so we're clear, you're saying that Israel is capable of bombing New York and that should be considered a potential threat because they can't be trusted.

For the record, since risk analysis is not solely about capabilities, but also about remaining grounded in friggin' reality:

New York City contains the largest population of Jews outside of Israel.

New York also has the largest population of Israeli-American Jews in the United States. As of the 2000 census there were 30,000 Israeli Americans living in New York -- a number which has most likely grown in the last 15 years.

For that matter, the United States has the largest population of Jews outside of Israel.

If all of Israel got really, really high on meth, LSD or crack cocaine, collectively lost its mind and decided to launch an attack (nuclear or otherwise) against the US (a ludicrous idea on its face, considering that we have pretty much been their best, unwavering, staunch ally for many decades) they sure as hell wouldn't start at New York.
posted by zarq at 9:14 AM on April 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am sorry, were you under the impression that someone who uses the notion that Israel can nuke New York in the context of his apologia for the Iranian government is interested in being grounded in reality?
posted by Behemoth at 9:45 AM on April 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


That is, of course, the problem.

No, the problem is that the Palestinians need their own state. They are already governing themselves.

How can you get to "One nation, with liberty and justice FOR ALL"

You can't. One nation isn't on the table, and hasn't been for years, if it ever realistically was in the first place, which I doubt. It seems likely that a single unified Israel is never going to be on the table again. Either the Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank get their own state (best case scenario), or they will remain in their current position (untenable, worst case scenario). Israel doesn't want them within their borders. They don't want to live in a Zionist Israel. Something has to give at some point.

The Palestinians want their own state. (Of course, according to Hamas, that state should include the current state of Israel.) When polled, the Israeli public generally say they want the Palestinians to have their own state as long as Israel remains secure. The results of Israeli polls change every single time there's a terrorist incident, and every time talks fail. But when things are calm, Israelis are usually in favor of a two state solution.

How do you get to "and justice for all"? Give the Palestinians their own state. Let them take responsibility for themselves. Because they certainly wouldn't consider living in a unified, Zionist Israel to be "justice." But then they could also be held them legally accountable if they attack their neighbor.

while continuing to pretend that the "two-state solution" is anything other than waiting out the "demographic issue"

I think neither the Israelis nor Palestinians have negotiated in good faith in recent years. In the most recent large-scale negotiations, Saab Erekat was apparently proposing giveaways for peace that the he knew Palestinians would never have agreed to. Tzipi Livni was apparently not giving any quarter on any issue, and refusing to actually negotiate.

The idea that Israel is waiting for demographics to change is an intriguing one, but let's be honest, it's not a good plan for Zionists.

The idea that 'disengagement' absolved the Israeli Government of their actual responsibility to the people they locked it, was one I never subscribed to. If you're going to act like you own everything, then be honest about it.

I agree that disproportionate Israeli military responses that destroy infrastructure in Gaza are terrible and should never happen.

However, if help is offered and then refused, what then? Should it be forced on them? When Israel disengaged from Gaza, the Palestinians reportedly destroyed dozens greenhouses considered vital to the reconstruction effort, that had been given to the Palestinian Authority:
Palestinians looted dozens of greenhouses on Tuesday, walking off with irrigation hoses, water pumps and plastic sheeting in a blow to fledgling efforts to reconstruct the Gaza Strip.

American Jewish donors had bought more than 3,000 greenhouses from Israeli settlers in Gaza for $14 million last month and transferred them to the Palestinian Authority. Former World Bank President James Wolfensohn, who brokered the deal, put up $500,000 of his own cash.

Palestinian police stood by helplessly Tuesday as looters carted off materials from greenhouses in several settlements, and commanders complained they did not have enough manpower to protect the prized assets. In some instances, there was no security and in others, police even joined the looters, witnesses said.
The Palestinians have to take responsibility for themselves, first and foremost. And Israel's primary responsibility is to its own citizens. Should they take responsibility for leaving an occupied territory in ruins? Yes. Absolutely. (Salient point: was it actually left in ruins by the Israelis?) Should the Israelis have attempted to help rebuild after disengagement? Sure. Should they not bomb and destroy homes, schools and hospitals, as long as they're not being used to attack Israel? Yes, absolutely.

But I bring up the greenhouses even though that happened nine years ago, because it appears to be part of a pattern of behavior.

to the people they locked it,

I assume this was supposed to say "they locked in"?

Tell me, who else does Gaza share a border with, other than Israel? Do the Egyptians bear any responsibility for destroying Gazan tunnels in Rafah, barring their borders, establishing a blockade, preventing immigration into their country, etc?

Otherwise, what's the point of the unilateral declaration of Jerusalem as the "eternal and undivided capital"?

It's a negotiating point. Jerusalem ≠ all of Israel.
posted by zarq at 9:55 AM on April 20, 2015


I am sorry, were you under the impression that someone who uses the notion that Israel can nuke New York in the context of his apologia for the Iranian government is interested in being grounded in reality?

Hope springs eternal.
posted by zarq at 9:59 AM on April 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ye-es, but he actually defines "Israel" as not just a political or geographic term (in fact he expressly rejects that) but as something like "those who fight the spread of Islam" [Source, Google Translate]

As far as I can tell from the Google translation, that Fars News article is about the possibility of a military attack on Israel, but says nothing about Jews worldwide and has nothing to do with Khamenei apart from a short quote about the theology of jihad (which I don't understand). I still haven't seen any evidence that the "Supreme Leader ... explicitly calls for the massacre of all Jews".
posted by hoist with his own pet aardvark at 11:09 AM on April 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


A google search turns up an article from the extreme right wing site WorldNet Daily which said:
The Iranian government, through a website proxy, has laid out the legal and religious justification for the destruction of Israel and the slaughter of its people.

The doctrine includes wiping out Israeli assets and Jewish people worldwide.

Calling Israel a danger to Islam, the conservative website Alef, with ties to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the opportunity must not be lost to remove "this corrupting material. It is a "'jurisprudential justification" to kill all the Jews and annihilate Israel, and in that, the Islamic government of Iran must take the helm."


WND are raving lunatics. Best to assume it's a bogus quote unless a better source turns up.

That said, Iranian leaders do have a history of antisemitism. Shah Pahlavi published and distributed the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was clearly an antisemite. ("Islamic Government: Governance of the Jurist" is probably his most well-known text in the West. It tries to justify Islamic theocracy and says some pretty ugly stuff about Jews.) After the Revolution, Khomeini mostly directed his ire at Zionists instead of all Jews. Ahmadinejad continued that tradition.

Ruhollah's successor, Ayatollah Sayyid'Ali Khamanei also focuses his hatred against Israel and Zionists instead of all Jews everywhere. He's a Holocaust denier. He's posted a nine-point plan on Twitter for Israel's elimination. (Note that he kindly refrains from condoning throwing Jewish Israelis into the sea. Isn't that nice of him?)

It probably wouldn't surprise many people if he called for a Jewish genocide. But it doesn't look like he's done so.
posted by zarq at 12:14 PM on April 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Enough hyperbole.
Yesterday - from a speech last Sunday
Khamenei: US invented nuclear Myth; Iran will Never Invade another Country
Khamenei has repeated this stance numerous times, but the US media can’t seem to hear him say it. He considers nuclear bombs to be against Islamic law, since they kill large numbers of innocent non-combatants, including women and children, when deployed. Of course, he could be lying. But that is sort of like the Pope maintaining a condom factory in the basement of the Vatican. You have to ask yourself, why ban something religiously that you intend to promote in actuality? If the contradiction became known, it would damage the religious leader’s credibility.
posted by adamvasco at 12:23 PM on April 21, 2015


Enough hyperbole

Please take your own advice.

Khamenei: US invented nuclear Myth; Iran will Never Invade another Country

Sure. It's safer to provide weapons, training, and funding to terrorists so they'll do the dirty work.
posted by zarq at 12:28 PM on April 21, 2015


[Couple of comments deleted. Let's cool it off in here please.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:13 PM on April 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just so we're clear, you're saying that Israel is capable of bombing New York and that should be considered a potential threat because they can't be trusted.

Just so we're clear here, I've said that considering capabilities and not intent, Israel is, indeed capable of bombing New York, and that there is no comparable capability that Iran has, or has developed in the long time they've been 'just a few years/months away'...

Any idea of actual intent is wholly your own, and certainly not stated or implied by me, considering my explicit parameter of capability.
posted by mikelieman at 2:39 PM on April 21, 2015


Khamenei: US invented nuclear Myth; Iran will Never Invade another Country

Oh, Juan Cole. Never met an anti-US cleric or tyrant he didn't like.

Iran "not invading" other countries is like the US "not invading" Honduras or Guatemala: Hezbollah was established by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and was initially directed by it; it is funded by Iran and receives shipments of arms from Iran, but it is primarily dependant on mercenaries and locally-sourced militia. So is that an invasion? Iran instructed Hezbollah to enter the war in support of Assad, despite Hezbollah initially declaring that it was a Lebanese group with no interest in Syria; Hezbollah reluctantly complied. To me, that means that Hezbollah is effectively under Iran's command, at least as much as the CIA-supported militia in Central America. The same process took place in Iraq, although the USA basically gave Iran a free hand there - Iraq ended up with a government that was massively pro-Iran, against the wishes of most Iraqis. And the same process was (is?) taking place in Yemen, although Iran now seems to be backing down.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:14 PM on April 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Iraq ended up with a government that was massively pro-Iran, against the wishes of most Iraqis

This is most definately not the case. The majority of Iraqis are deeply grateful for Iran's help in fighting the Sunni insurgency and ISIS (which according to your definition could be defined as an invasion by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar), including the Kurds. The majority of Iraqis are supportive of their government and do not see it as Iran's proxie. They are nervous about the Iranian backed militias but do see Iran as a potential ally and economic partner.

The Real Causes of Iraq’s Problems
posted by Golden Eternity at 4:04 PM on April 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think your both right. Though Joes' "pro-Iran" could be amended, if I may perhaps more appreciative for help and grateful there is not an all out war. If all Sunni rose against the Iraqi govt, they would need another nations help. Oddly, if Iran for some reason over ran Iraq, I believe ISIS would collapse in 2 months max. But Iraqis no matter the sect would fight back if occupied.
posted by clavdivs at 8:15 PM on April 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Just so we're clear here, I've said that considering capabilities."

Using the same analogy, I declare war on Ohio because I have a cause and superior weapons.
posted by clavdivs at 8:17 PM on April 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


War over.
posted by clavdivs at 8:18 PM on April 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Any idea of actual intent is wholly your own, and certainly not stated or implied by me, considering my explicit parameter of capability.

You are using your "explicit parameter" to assess risk.

One doesn't assess risk based solely on capability. That's not how it works. You base it on probability plus ability, to assess how much potential there is for danger.
posted by zarq at 4:27 AM on April 22, 2015


One doesn't assess risk based solely on capability.

I believe that is actually a fundamental principle of intelligence analysis. Capability, not intent. Because one crazy submarine captain can ruin your intent analysis.
posted by mikelieman at 5:42 AM on April 22, 2015


Read this. Probability of occurrence is an essential part of risk analysis.

One of the purposes of risk assessment is to help plan against unanticipated failures. One can't do that simply by quantifying capability.
posted by zarq at 7:09 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]




"Supreme Leader ... explicitly calls for the massacre of all Jews".

@jvplive: "WATCH: 'Death to the Arabs' mob marches through Jerusalem with police escort"

I guess they aren't calling for death to all Persions, though. Yet.

Still, there are a lot of big Arab cities near Israel and nuclear weapons could help these marchers accomplish their goal. Maybe the risk of Right Wing Israeli terrorism is bigger than we think. They did kill their Prime Minister after all. In the US the vast majority of terrorist attacks are by Right Wing extremists.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:19 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


BIBI IS DEAD?
And it was "THEY"!
Baastttarrrdsss.
posted by clavdivs at 9:30 AM on April 22, 2015


@jvplive: "WATCH: 'Death to the Arabs' mob marches through Jerusalem with police escort"

I guess they aren't calling for death to all Persions, though. Yet.


The Electronic Intifada is basically a hate site; I've linked to it myself, but it's not an honest reporter. Read its description of the march and compare it to what you can see in the video:
“Some 1,500 Jews participated in the march,” Kifaya says, “and it was secured by hundreds of policemen and soldiers, who thronged the area.”
In reality you can see perhaps fifty nutters, mostly kids, with maybe a dozen police. They're horrible people, but it makes no sense to compare them to, e.g., the tweets from Iran's Supreme Leader.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:12 PM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]








Maybe the risk of Right Wing Israeli terrorism is bigger than we think. They did kill their Prime Minister after all. In the US the vast majority of terrorist attacks are by Right Wing extremists.

It's definitely a problem. I suspect we'll be hearing more from Lehava soon. They're becoming increasingly aggressive in certain areas of Israel. Wikipedia on the group.
posted by zarq at 8:53 AM on April 24, 2015 [1 favorite]




Mideast arms sales surging to record $18b in 2015, with Saudis in lead

I thought this sentence was funny:
But analysts warn that the flood of weapons could have unforeseen consequences.
Would those consequences lead to ... further arms sales? Yes? Then they're not necessarily unforeseen, are they?
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:41 AM on April 25, 2015


And no one could possibly predict that the weapons might be, you know, used. Inconceivable Unforeseen!
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:56 AM on April 25, 2015




Zarq wrote: I suspect we'll be hearing more from Lehava soon.

I don't know. It's hard to find much about them on the Interwebs, and I don't think it's because they're a sinister secret organisation; I don't think they have numbers or the organisational ability to expand. This may reflect my prejudice, but look at the photo of these guys charged with arson. They don't look normal to me. Look at the video via Electronic Intifada linked above. You can't tell me the guy jigging around and rubbing his mouth (in the center of the frame towards the end) is OK. These are marginal people from a marginal group. This is their big event, and they've got crazy people plus a bunch of kids.

Here's a reaction from someone who calls himself "a self-professed, and proud, right-winger": The biggest chilul hashem of the year.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:28 PM on April 29, 2015




It's hard to find much about them on the Interwebs

They've been covered by various Israel media outlets since 2012, with a concentration in coverage during December 2014/January 2015 after some members were arrested for setting fire to a school in Jerusalem, and a ynet reporter joined the group and published an exposé. Facebook shut down their page a while back.

and I don't think it's because they're a sinister secret organisation

No one has said they are secret.

I don't think they have numbers or the organisational ability to expand.

They're a loosely structured activist organization, connected through the internet, meetings and rallies. Other than disturbing politics and at least one terrorist act, what strictures do you think are in place to prevent them from expanding?

Lehava (and their spiritual leader, the late Meir Kahane,) play into feelings, such as a fear of Arabs, that are mainstream in some Jewish circles in Israel that sometimes go unspoken, sometimes not. Fear that assimilation is a danger to a slowly shrinking religious Judaism and Jewish culture is also definitely a mainstream debate.

Kahane was, and Lehava are extremists. But still, you never know. The Prime Minister of Israel plays to fears of Arabs to help get himself elected. He wouldn't have done so if he didn't think it would impel some more ultra Orthodox Jews and ultra right-wingers to vote for him. So obviously some folks are receptive.

They don't look normal to me.

*shrug* They look like average yeshiva students to me.

These are marginal people from a marginal group. This is their big event, and they've got crazy people plus a bunch of kids.

I hope so.
posted by zarq at 10:46 AM on May 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


They've been covered by various Israel media outlets since 2012 [...]

Yes, intensively covered; but none of the stories give any real indication of the amount of support the organisation enjoys. I've seen precisely one photo of a Lehava meeting - it shows two people, although the text of the article describes the room as "packed".

Other than disturbing politics and at least one terrorist act, what strictures do you think are in place to prevent them from expanding?

The fact that they can't fart without attracting police attention is probably going to be a bit of a dampener. And look at the crimes associated with them: two counts of arson, graffiti, handing out racist flyers. This is weak sauce. I will bet you dollars to donuts that the PFLP has more supporters in Israel than Lehava does.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:10 AM on May 2, 2015


@ChemiShalev: "Given his concessions in coalition talks, perhaps one can take comfort that Netanyahu wasn't in charge of nuclear talks with Iran as well"
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:58 AM on May 5, 2015


Israeli Defense Minister Invokes Hiroshima and Nagasaki In Response to Iran Question
"I do remember the story of President Truman was asked, How do feel after deciding to launch the nuclear bombs [at] Nagasaki and Hiroshima, causing at the end the fatalities of 200,000 casualties? And he said, When I heard from my officers that the alternative is a long war with Japan, with potential fatalities of a couple of millions, I saw it was a moral decision.

We are not there yet. But that [is] what I’m talking about. Certain steps in cases in which we feel like we don’t have the answer by surgical operations or something like that."
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:10 AM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's definitely a problem. I suspect we'll be hearing more from Lehava soon. They're becoming increasingly aggressive in certain areas of Israel.

World may find Israel's new deputy foreign minister hard to swallow
The international community may also find Hotovely's stance on intermarriage hard to swallow: In her capacity as chairwoman of the Status of Women Committee in the Knesset in 2011, she invited the racist group Lehava to explain how they prevent romantic contacts between Jews and Arabs. Responding to criticism, Hotovely said it was "important to examine procedures for preventing mixed marriages, and Lehava members are the right people for that," Walla reported.
posted by andoatnp at 10:47 AM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


As a religious woman, Hotovely generally does not shake hands with men, making meet-and-greets with foreign diplomats problematic. However, she allayed concerns of an impending "shake-gate," telling Yedioth Aharonoth that she intends to act according to the halakha which rules that if a man offers his hand to a woman, it is customary to shake it so as not to insult him. "It's not a problem at all," she said. "When someone meets foreign representatives the Jewish halakha recognizes respect, etiquette and politeness," she said.

It's weird that they even thought they had to mention it.
posted by zarq at 10:50 AM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Responding to criticism, Hotovely said it was "important to examine procedures for preventing mixed marriages, and Lehava members are the right people for that,"

Separation of Church and State FTW! In NY Marriage is and has always been a Civil Contract. Civil Contracts, per the UCC are to be constructed w/o regard to gender. OR RELIGION, but in the Good Old USA we don't have to mention that...
posted by mikelieman at 1:26 PM on May 15, 2015


It's always been a civil contract in the entire United States, yes? Not just New York. I mean, the US is fundamentally different than Israel in that regard, and no one disputes that. The Hareidi control over conversions and Orthodox control over marriage in Israel have been getting significant pushback from other religious sects as well as secular Israelis in recent years. And frankly, that tension has always been a part of Israeli society. Israel was never intended to be either a theocracy or a halakhic nation. Yet the Orthodox and Hareidi maintain a strong grip on many areas of Israeli society, that many chafe against.

Meanwhile, moderate orthodox rabbis are starting their own conversion court, to work with people whom the Hareidi would conceivably turn away.
posted by zarq at 1:39 PM on May 15, 2015




The problem with "getting" nuclear weapons is obtaining the uranium. I've seen a suggestion that they could get it from Jordan, which has one of the world's largest - and untapped! - uranium reserves, vastly more than any of its neighbours.

Including Israel, of course, thank you Moses.

So, my source said (I don't recall where it was) if Jordan suddenly announces a new mining project, you know what's going on.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:38 PM on May 16, 2015


According to the article the Saudis are going to buy "off the shelf" weapons from Pakistan. Presumably uranium is included.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:05 AM on May 17, 2015


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