Israel’s media recently re-explored the memories and lessons of the October 1973 War, which broke out on Yom Kippur. Many conclude now, forty years later, that the war- which took the life of thousands of Israelis, Syrians and Egyptians- could have been averted if the Israeli government would have shown political wisdom and answered the offers to hold negotiations regarding the territories it conquered in June 1967. But the hard-headed and short-sided view of the rulers of the country at the time saw military might as the default solution to the country’s problems.
It seems as if this view is also guiding the present government, which is entirely devoid of any political wisdom. “In the fog that is covering the Middle East, we have to realize we can only rely on ourselves, and build an army which will deter any enemy.”- So said the minister of defense Moshe (Bugi) Ya’alon, in a ceremony to commemorate the memory of the fallen armor brigade soldiers in the battle of Latrun (11.9). A day earlier, minister Ayalon said in the graduating ceremony of marines in the naval base in Haifa: “At the end of the day, we have to rely on ourselves, on our power, and on our deterrence.”
The very same ceremony was also attended by Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, who said, regarding the bloody conflict occurring in Syria, that “in these days the principle which guides me in most of my duties as prime minister is more relevant than ever: if I am not for me, then who is? If we are not for ourselves, then who is? We are for ourselves”.
This orchestrated and timed message, which is being propagated on the eve of Yom Kippur and when the media is discussing the lessons of the 1973 War- is meant to terrify the Israeli public. Instead of fully engaging in the negotiations with the Palestinians on the bases of a just solution; instead of ceasing from military operations and violations of the sovereign borders of neighboring states; instead of halting the arms war- Netanyahu and Ya’alon propose to forever live by the power of the sword in the new Metzada.
The arrogance of these statements- is without any basis in reality. The state of Israel is deeply dependant on the United States- politically, economically and especially militarily. It was recently published that the US awarded Israel with a strategic cover for the last four Israeli airstrikes carried out in Syria during the past year. And it has long been reviled that during the 1973 War itself, the IDF managed to shift from defence to offense only thanks to the “air train” of military equipment from the US.
However this wasn’t the only outrageous thing that Netanyahu said in his speech. Among other things he stated that “now it must be guaranteed that the Syrian government will be dismantled from its chemical weapons.” Are Israel’s hands so clean, that it can ask the United States to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction?
190 out of the 196 member-states of the UN have signed the international treaty to ban the development, manufacturing and use of chemical weapons. But the state of Israel remains one of the only countries which have yet to ratify this international treaty. According to documents of international human rights organizations, during the “Cast Led” military operation, Israel made use of White Phosphorus in Gaza- which is an illegal chemical weapon. Israel was the first country in the Middle East to develop nuclear weapons, and is one of only four countries in the world which never signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Israel also possesses arsenals of biological weapons.
Therefore, Israel’s government’s hypocrisy cries out to the sky: Netanyahu assumes that Israel has the right to arm itself with any kind of weapon of mass destruction, and refuse to sign international treaties, but other countries in the region – such as Syria and Iran – must be prevented from having these weapons or the ability to manufacture them.
The good of all people in the region dictates a Middle East free of any and all weapons of mass destruction. Syria’s official entrance into the treaty against the proliferation of chemical weapons, and the accord reached in Geneva between the foreign ministers of Russia and the US regarding the dismantlement of the chemical weapons held by Syria- are important steps in the path to making the Middle East a safer place.
Now the ball is in the hands of Israel: will Israel also sign the international treaties and disarm its weapons of mass destruction? For Netanyahu and Ta’alon- the answer is clear. But for those citizens of Israel who are unwilling to live in the nuclear and chemical Metzada that these two are building for us- it is now the time to demand an Israel free from weapons of mass destruction.