Jewish Journal

Israel Kept Silent About Weapons of Mass Depiction and Weapons of Mass Distraction

by Pini Herman

March 21, 2013 | 2:02 pm

Weapons: Atomic, Biological, Chemical, Information

Its been ten years since the invasion of Iraq and the “weapons of mass destruction” that were never found.  I can’t find any mention of Benjamin Netanyahu saying that he was mistaken when he spoke with absolute certainty about Iraq’s WMDs in September 2002 before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

In 2004, Israeli lawmaker Yossi Sarid, a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, said that Israeli intelligence knew beforehand that Iraq had no weapons stockpiles and misled US President George W Bush. Sarid told the Associated Press:

It was known in Israel that the story that weapons of mass destruction could be activated in 45 minutes was an old wives' tale....Israel didn't want to spoil President Bush's scenario, and it should have.

Israeli critics of its government say Ariel Sharon maintained the state of alert for its own political reasons, to help galvanise public opinion in favour of harsh steps against the Palestinians.  Essentially using the Weapons of Mass Destruction scenario as a Weapon of Mass Distraction.

Why is a demographer engaged in “political analysis?” Being a demographer, I’m often put into the situation of actually looking at data and then seeing the depiction of masses of people who aren’t actually there or seeing masses of phenomenon that are depicted as non-existent and are very much present.  Often these “weapons of mass depiction” also serve as “weapons of mass distraction” to enable the masking of policies, actions, avoiding discomfort and maintenance of relationships.  For the most part, in democracies, there isn’t intentional deception, but rather mistaken assumptions, pursuit of convenience and avoidance of confrontations, disruptions and change.

Some weapons of mass depictions that I have pointed out in the past have been what I believe to be the “million American Jew mistake,” tons of Kaparot chickens ending up in landfill instead of in the hands of the needy; large numbers of Israelis immigrants in the U.S. when their numbers are very modest; nonprofits displaying great public benefit when it is rather modest, non-existent or may be actually harmful to the public.  Inaccurate mass depictions often serve as mass distractions which lead to continuing victimization, disempowerment and they are often stumbling blocks put up before individuals and public that can be blinded to the point of distraction, continuing to trip over obstacles.  One of the primary injunctions of Judaism is “Do not put obstacles before the blind.”

To continue with Benjamin Netanyahu, he seems to have followed Prime Minister Begin's 1981 mistaken understanding and depiction of Iraq's nuclear capabililty. Marlfrid Braut-Hegghamer wrote recently in an NY Times Op Ed:

Netanyahu’s proposed solution for dealing with Iran — a targeted attack — also builds on a historical lesson from Iraq. Unfortunately, it is the wrong lesson. In 1981, Israeli pilots destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor complex as it stood on the verge of becoming operational. As Avner Cohen, an expert on nuclear weapons, recently wrote in Haaretz, this decision resulted from Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s flawed interpretation of intelligence. (His decision was strongly opposed by Shimon Peres, then defense minister and deputy prime minister.)

Israelis tend to credit this attack for denying Iraq a nuclear weapons capability. However, sources that have emerged since 2003 demonstrate that the attack created an unprecedented Iraqi consensus about the need for a nuclear deterrent and triggered a more intensive effort to acquire them. By the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq stood on the threshold of a nuclear weapons capability.

There are many ways to depict and analyze something and all should be open for discussion and examination.  It would be nice if people would also own up their errors rather than creating new distractions.

Pini Herman, PhD. has served as Asst. Research Professor at the University of Southern California Dept. of Geography,  Adjunct Lecturer at the USC School of Social Work,  Research Director at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles following Bruce Phillips, PhD. in that position and is a past President of the Movable Minyan a lay-lead independent congregation in the 3rd Street area. Currently he is a principal of Phillips and Herman Demographic Research. To email Pini: pini00003@gmail.com To follow Pini on Twitter:

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Bruce Phillips is Professor of Sociology and Jewish Communal Studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles. He has conducted Jewish population...

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