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Analysis Last Updated: May 26th, 2010 - 00:26:50

Israel�s dirty secret is out
By Linda S. Heard
Online Journal Contributing Writer

May 26, 2010, 00:18

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Cast your mind back to South Africa circa 1975 when the segregation of white and non-white citizens was official government policy.

This was a time when mixed marriages were prohibited and one million black South Africans were stripped of their nationality before being sent to reserves known as �homelands.� Certain jobs were restricted to whites only, while government buildings, public transport, parks and shops had separate entrances for different racial categories. Drinking fountains, public toilets and even graveyards were segregated.

Families were pulled apart when certain members were subjected to racial tests; children whose skin was darker than their parents or whose hair was more curly were sometimes abandoned. Those who raised their voices in protest were tortured, imprisoned or killed; their leaders were made to disappear under a system of detention without trial.

Spearheading this ugliness and brutality was P.W. Botha, who together with his massive security apparatus was blamed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for many of the horrors of white rule.

At a time when the US and Britain had discontinued weapons trading with South Africa -- and when the UN General Assembly had requested its members to sever their political, educational, cultural, sporting and transportation links with what had come to be seen as a pariah state -- Israel was keen to supply this evil white supremacist regime with nuclear weapons.

In recent days, a top secret 1975 military agreement signed by the person who is today Israel�s president, Shimon Peres, and P.W. Botha, then the South African Defense Secretary, has been declassified in response to a request by American academic and author Sasha Polakow-Suransky.

Code named �Chalet,� the deal centers on the delivery to South Africa of nuclear-capable Jericho missiles. Minutes of a meeting disclose Botha�s stipulation that the �correct payload� should also be made available in �three sizes� -- believed to be a euphemism for nuclear and chemical weapons besides the conventional type. The documents confirm an earlier admission by a former South African naval commander, Dieter Gerhardt, who, following the collapse of apartheid, disclosed Israel�s intention to equip South Africa with eight nuclear missiles and warheads.

'Nuclear ambiguity'

It�s unsurprising the Israeli authorities did their best to prevent the South African government from releasing the agreement and memos, which not only blow a hole in Israel�s carefully contrived so-called policy of �Nuclear Ambiguity� but also show that Israel has no compunction about selling such weapons of mass destruction to despised regimes.

Particularly damning is a declassified letter dated Nov. 22, 1974, from Shimon Peres to the then South African Information Secretary Dr. E.M. Rhoodie thanking him for facilitating cooperation between their two countries �based not only on common interests and on the determination to resist equally our enemies, but also on the unshakeable foundations of our common hatred of injustice and our refusal to submit to it.�

Our common hatred of injustice!! That, coming from the representative of a country known for its brutal occupation and segregation of its citizens to one that existed upon racial lines sounds like a sick joke. It seems that Peres would say anything to get his country into bed with South Africa whereas, today, Israeli politicians bristle at any outside comparison between South Africa under apartheid and the Jewish state.

The documents vindicate Oxford University students who harangued Peres as a war criminal as he attempted to deliver a lecture at Balliol College in 2008. In an unsuccessful attempt to get the lecture canceled, South African academics and anti-apartheid veterans had written to the college to remind its master of Peres� role in assisting apartheid South Africa procure weapons at the time it was subject to an international weapons embargo.

In fact, Israel supplied South Africa with six or more warships, patrol boats, military electronics and computers, missiles, warplanes, rockets, radar bases, weapons technology and tanks that were used to murder non-white South Africans.

Israel�s embarrassment is compounded by the fact that the individual who signed the �Chalet� agreement is today its president. However, despite the clear evidence, the president�s office has chosen to deny the claims that were first reported in Britain�s Guardian newspaper. �There is no truth to the Guardian report,� said a spokesperson for the presidential office, Ayelet Frisch, without elaborating further or condemning the agreement and supporting documentation as forgeries.

For Israel, the timing of these revelations couldn�t be worse. It comes when President Barack Obama has embraced the concept of a nuclear-free Middle East and makes a mockery of US attempts to ignore Israel�s nuclear arsenal on the basis that Israel is a moral and responsible democracy that would never sell to rogue entities. The disclosure also provides grist for the mill of Arab states that have long been pressing the international community to ensure Israel comes clean on its WMD status and signs up to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Enough is enough

With Israel�s ethical credibility in tatters, it remains to be seen whether it will be supported by the international community for much longer. This week, Australia has taken a leaf out of Britain�s book by expelling an Israeli diplomat in connection with the Mossad�s alleged cloning of British, Australian and European passports for use by their hit squads.

Israel�s democratic rights of free speech have also been challenged in recent weeks when it was found that Anat Kam, an Israeli journalist, had been secretly placed under house arrest for alleged treason, while another, Uri Blau, is hiding out in London following his expose of Israel�s murder of a Palestinian.

The fact that the Israeli nuclear whistleblower, Mordechai Vanunu, has been thrown back into jail for �the crime� of chatting with a Norwegian woman exposes Israel�s lack of free speech and has spurred Amnesty International to give him the designation �Prisoner of Conscience.� Israel�s free speech credentials were also challenged last week when the respected US academic Noam Chomsky was refused entry to the West Bank to speak to the students of Ramallah�s Bir Zeit University on the grounds that Israel doesn�t like what he says.

One by one, Israel�s fabricated ethical pillars are being toppled. When stripped of its fa�ade what remains is a nuclear-armed occupier that has proved itself willing to sell its WMD to corrupt regimes. Moreover, it is holding the 1.5 million residents of Gaza under siege while threatening Iran with military strikes, as well as saber-rattling against Lebanon and Syria. This is a country that pays only lip service to the concept of free speech and is prepared to track down and assassinate its enemies wherever it finds them in violation of international law.

When, oh when, will Washington and its allies have the courage to say enough is enough . . . and mean it!

Linda S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at

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