What with all the evidence Iran is likely to obtain a nuclear weapon very soon (err?) Israel is making sure the country whose leader threatened to wipe Israel off the map (if you say so) doesn’t get that far. So Israel’s far right tosspot of a Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently stated:
“The greatest danger mankind faces is a radical regime, without limits to its cruelty, obtaining nuclear capabilities”
Quite right. Nuclear weapons should be reserved only for those states with moderate aims and a superb human rights record. States like America and Israel.
So with such rhetoric condemning the potential of radical and brutal regime achieving nuclear armament, it will come as no surprise to cynics around the world that Israel tried to sell nuclear weapons to Apartheid South Africa.
Such a revelation would be an embarrassment to the state of Israel regardless of the context, but with the current climate the timing of this finding has a sweet sense of irony.
You see, Israel aren’t all too happy with a certain judge Goldstone and his report (pdf) because, horror of horrors, it attributes blame towards Israel for the “22 days of dead and destruction” in Gaza (Amnesty International). Naturally Israel and her defenders weren’t going to let this stand. After all, you have a greatly respected Jewish, pro-Israeli judge criticising the actions of Israel. The result of this has been defenders of Israel have thrown everything they possibly can at Goldstone’s methods and character, some of it valid criticism, some of it total shite.
But the most recent attack has been Goldstone’s record in Apartheid South Africa. Now his actions in South Africa at the time were unjustified, yes, and criticism is valid here, although it conveniently ignores the role he played in bringing apart a peaceful end to Apartheid. The origin of this story came from the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronoth with an article entitled “Judge Goldstone’s dark past”. Sasha Polakow-Suransky who came across the documents about the attempted sale of nuclear weapons in research for his forthcoming book The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s secret alliance with apartheid South Africa mentions a humorous irony of Yediot Ahronoth’s revelation:
“In October 1985, as it happens, the editor of Yediot Ahronoth’s weekend magazine, Aharon Shamir, came to South Africa to meet with a mid-level Foreign Ministry functionary. When the bureaucrat complained that South Africa was being denounced everywhere as undemocratic but could not risk giving blacks the vote, Shamir advised: “Give the blacks the vote very slowly. See how it works. Bit by bit. If you see that your bit by bit approach is not working, change it. But make the world believe you are sincere. You have to be hypocritical to survive.”
Woops. Still, at least people actually involved in these relations are criticising Goldstone because of this
“Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, who denounced Goldstone as “a man of double standards,” because he “sentenced black people to death” appears to have some double standards of his own. Rivlin was no doubt fully informed of Israel’s military alliance with South Africa during the 1980s, given that he served on the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of the 12th Knesset from 1988-1992–a position that gave him nearly unfettered access to sensitive military documents and high-level discussions of Israel’s defense doctrine. These were the peak years of arms sales to South Africa, exceeding $1.5 billion in 1988 and approximately $800 million in 1989.”
Still, I’m sure the pro-Israel lobby will come across a new and perhaps more effective method of attacking judge Goldstone. A fiver says someone claims he walks around naked except for novelty socks.