Israel Must Revamp

Israel Must Revamp

September 22, 1995 - Uri Dan & Dennis Eisenberg - The Jewish Press The Intelligence File

Humanity was, and possibly still is, threatened by Iraqi biological weapons.

It will not be forgotten, particularly by those living in the greater Tel Aviv area, that Israel was a primary target of Iraqi missiles during the Gulf war. If Saddam goes to war again, it's logical to assume that Israel will once more be an intended victim.

Rolf Ekeus, head of the UN team investigating Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, told the German newsmagaine Der Spiegel this week that Iraqi bombs loaded with deadly bacteria were ready for use in 1991. Saddam Hussein didn't use them for fear of massive retaliation.

However, were he, as his runaway son-in-law General Hussein Kamel put it, to find himself with his back to the wall, he would try to get himself into the history books as "the man who wiped out Israel."

Saddam admits to possessing a mere 50 kb. of bacteria for "medical research." But, counter Ekeus, the Iraqis have 1,000 times that amount of bacteriological material.

It isn't the first time Israel has been threatened with unconventional weapons. In the early 1960s, Egypt's president Nasser hired ex-Nazi scientists to build rockets to fire radioactive material into densely inhabited areas of the Jewish State.

Isser Harel, then Mossad chief, took bold steps to abort the danger. He even called off the hunt for Nazi war criminals to focus the agency's efforts on "discouraging" scientists from working in Cairo. At the time there were only two million Jews in Israel, and resources were meager.

Harel's efforts paid off when most of the scientists fled. Nasser and his generals came to inspect their rocket - and were nearly killed when the missile went up, did a U-turn, and came straight back down again.

In 1981, Menachem Begin also took direct action when his intelligence chiefs warned of the atomic bomb being assembled in a French-built nuclear power plant on the outskirts of Baghdad. He sent in the air force, which destroyed Saddam's nuclear power plant together with its embryo bomb.

Today the same European powers, with France in the lead, are calling for an end to the embargo on Iraq. France and Germany were among the countries which supplied Saddam Hussein with nonconventional weapons in the first place. Now they want to continue their lucrative trade.

Hussein Kamel is detailing the billions of dollars spent by Iraq on illegal arms. Saddam's half-brother Barzan Tikris is currently in Geneva sitting on the countless millions skimmed off from the massive sums of money involved in the deals.

What about Iran?

Premier Rabin repeatedly calls on the nations of the world to act against Iranian-directed terrorism and Iran's massive buildup of conventional and unconventional weapons. Apparently, Iran will have its own atomic bomb within five years - leading inexorably to the question: What is Israel doing about this threat to its very existence?

Appeals to the international community are worse that a wasted breath. Such cries for help dissipate energy at a time when the country's entire intelligence network must be reconstructed to face the challenges of the 21st century.

Israel is to depend on itself. That much was demonstrated when Egypt's Nasser threatened to invade. Despite sympathetic clucking sounds from around the world, no one lifted a finger to bring Nasser to heel. The job had to be done by Israeli soldiers.

And one thing is certain.

Jonathan Pollard warned Israel of Iraq's bellicose intentions, and it unconventional weapons programs before the Gulf War. He also warned that Syria's Assad was amassing large quantities of chemical and unconventional weapons.

By its own agreement with Israel, the U.S. administration should have given this information to Jerusalem. But it was deliberately blocked by then secretary of state, Caspar Weinberger.

If, thanks to Pollard, the information was made known to Israel, how was it that the Shamir-Rabin-Peres trio that ran the country for most of the Eighties did nothing whatsoever to act on it?

Was it like the situation in 1973, when the Mossad repeatedly warned the Golda Meir government that Egypt and Syria were going to attack on Yom Kippur? Military intelligence rejected the information as being accurate - and the consequence of that war are still living.

Inspired by the spirit of Isser Harel and by past Mossad success such as its alleged slaying of George Bull, who was building a "super-gun" to fire shells from Iraq into Israel, a massive effort should surely be under way to confront the challenge posed by the mullahs of Teheran.

Today, there is little sign of any such effort in preparation.

Shimon Peres, currently calling most of the shots in the Rabin government, was, after all, the man who bitterly attacked Begin for bombing Iraq's Osirak reactor in 1981. It is this mind-set which is so troublesome when the vital question of ensuring our safety arises.

Among all the doubts, Pollard emerges as a truly great Jewish hero. He passed on information to try and save Israel from its enemies - information which was Israel's due.

Reports from Washington suggest that Bill Clinton is planning to free Pollard just before the next presidential election, as a gesture to Israel. As Israeli elections are due at roughly the same time, the plan would also bolster the sagging popularity of the Rabin government.

Pollard should be freed. Now. He has been abominably treated. Who says so? None other than non-Jewish American judge Stephen Williams, who called the sentencing of Pollard a "gross miscarriage of justice."


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