By Hatim Kanaaneh
Silly thoughts come and go. That is why we call them passing thoughts. But some silly thoughts come out of the blue and stay. How can one fall asleep with such a heavy responsibility weighing on his mind? Alan Robock and Paul Jay on the Real News Network convinced me that a disaster of the size I foresee is sure to lead to a global nuclear winter so severe that even my roommates, the cockroaches, cannot survive it.
It all started with a silly friend from Hawaii asking a silly question from me as his sole source of expert information on Middle East issues: “Supposing your dream of a single state west of the Jordan River with real democracy and equality for all its current residents were to come true, who then will be in charge of Israel’s nuclear weapons? Can a half Arab state be trusted with such lethal arsenal?”
The guy is back in The Hawaiian Islands luxuriating, no doubt, at the warm sands of a secluded cove in the shade of a palm tree. While he is being soothed into a heavenly repose by a curvaceous Hula dancer swaying in synch to the lull of ocean waves, I am tortured by acute insomnia because of his casual question, flung at me as if it were the most natural of elemental thoughts based on absolute and undisputable assumptions: Israel has a couple of hundred megaton nuclear bombs; Israelis are trust-worthy and know how to handle dangerous explosives, whether nuclear or Arab in nature; Arabs are curious, witness how they always touch freshly painted surfaces to verify the validity of a sign saying “Wet Paint;” Arabs are likely to mess around with any new toy that they receive; And equality and democracy, especially if purveyed by America and its allies, will be dumped in one lumpsum on the waiting Middle East masses, witness how they did it in Iraq, in Afghanistan and in Libya and how forcefully they are trying to shove it whole down the parched throats of the Syrians.
For the benefit of the less informed reader, let me here enlighten you with some basic facts about myself so that we establish the ground rules of this discourse: I am conscientious about my responsibilities to a degree some call anal; I am so boringly punctilious, reliable and trustworthy it is sickening; and I lack curiosity and personal initiative to such a degree that if my wife were to point me north and say: “Go;” I would reach the North Pole before I stop regardless of distractions. I am good at math and science generally: In my college days I read Scientific American for over two years free of charge by changing my name and address every time the free trial period ran out. I now do Sudoku on daily basis. And I speak Hebrew. And, now that I am retired, I have all the time in the world on my hands. Hence my volunteering my services to take over responsibility for Israel’s nuclear program the moment the dream one state solution of Israstine comes to pass. Mind you, this would also serve to resolve another basic conflicted issue for me, that of serving in Israel’s armed forces or national service so that I can qualify for all the perks Israel grants the families of its Jewish veterans, the underlying cause for our Palestinian families in Israel sinking below the poverty line some six folds the rate of Jewish families.
I may blame my Hawaiian friend for the acute onset of my current insomnia and high state of preparedness for the coming crisis. But the first rumblings of anxiety about the prospect of a nuclear mess on the heel of any peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict has been with me for a while now. Nearly a decade ago when the late Mu’aamar Kaddafi proposed the name Israstine I was so charmed by the prospect of peace materializing overnight that I sought out Mordechai Vanunu and sized him up as my technical advisor once I would assume my responsibilities in my soon-to-come position. And not much later, when president Obama came on board as the new member of the clique of nuclear power brokers I sought to establish a relationship with him through the backdoor. One learns to be discreet in such matters. So when I wrote him I didn’t bring up the core issue of our new relationship. I simply mentioned that his late parents and I attended the University of Hawaii during the same period. And I alluded to the edgy state of affairs in Israstine as a mere hint of what I aimed at. He didn’t respond to my letter directly. I guess he is even more discrete on the nuclear issue than I am. Still, in a most subtle and indirect manner I must admit that I can pick up finely coded secret messages directed at me in every major speech he makes. I am fully aware of his own awareness of my positive vibes to him in response. I must admit I had similar telepathic bidirectional communications with the late Kaddafi and with Saddam Husain before their heroic martyrdom. But one has to be very subtle with nuclear issues. It is akin to the very nature of the animal we all are involved in taming: It has to be handled with utmost secrecy and intelligent care. That is why no one in my village knows any of this except the sheik of our mosque. He wanted me to share the information with the nuclear adviser cleric of Morsi of Egypt. But the guy went underground, figuratively and literally speaking.
And my friend basking in the Hawaiian sun, his tanned skin cooled by the spray of the Pacific surf, doesn’t know how much I worry about him. For, if the nuclear genie ever gets out of the bottle, the very sand he now sprawls on will fry his skin crisp, believe me. That was why I started the conversation with him in the reassuring manner that I did. I didn’t want him to worry. I shared with him a couple of recent events and let him reach his own conclusions. That was how he came to ask me the rhetorical question about the fate of Israel’s nuclear weapons with the advent of the impending peace and unity of all the Semites in the Middle East: First I told him about my visceral reaction when I first received an invitation to a gala event held at a plush venue in New York under the code name “The Tipping Point”. The shock impact of what that title really meant came only with the evening’s MC’s explanation. I had assumed that the term referred to the Tipping Point over which I was boiling with excitement, the one Israeli Zionist leaders had set for us, the Palestinian citizens of Israel as the level at which we would become an existential threat to Israel. I knew that Israel’s founding father and first Prime Minister, the late David Ben-Gurion (Hold your horses now! If Saddam and Kaddafi rate the genteel courtesy, then he does too, at least when one is writing in English. In Arabic you can use whatever expletive your heart desires. No one reads it anyway.) had set the demographic red line at 15% of Israel’s total population. Then came the late Yitzhak Rabin (ditto!) and raised that Tipping Point to 20%. He was a gentler and kinder sort of leader, we all know. In dealing with stone-throwing Palestinian children in the First Intifada he issued an order to break their bones. Others have since simplified that to “shoot to kill” even when the kids are running after soccer balls.
Few outside our community, we the Palestinian citizens of Israel, can appreciate the thrill that the terminology used by such leaders to describe our “demographic threat” causes us. I take such hyperbole personally. When they call my reproductive biology “the demographic ticking bomb” and assign it the same level of explosiveness as the Iranian nuclear bomb, both being called an “existential threat” to Israel, I get so excited I blush. From there the jump is easy to an imagined private party with araq, mezza and music to which my wife and I dance till we reach the axiomatic “Tipping Point.”
Exhilarating, isn’t it? Alas, it turns out that when the folks at the gala dinner talked about ‘The Tipping Point” they had something altogether different in mind. They were alluding to the impending switch in the misinformed American public opinion from its recent near consensus that Arafat was the leader of the Amalikites who marched against the peaceful kingdom of Judea and Samaria to where the “average American housewife” will now start to recognize Palestine as a different place from Pakistan. In actual fact I came out of that event convinced that indeed, we are at the cusp of a public relations feat that promises to turn the tide against Zionist Hasbarah worldwide, thanks to the BDS campaign and to its innumerable allies not least the hosts at the gala event. The implicit Tipping Point in public awareness internationally in recognizing the historical injustice done to the Palestinians is indeed fast approaching. When even the American Secretary of State uses the “A” word in reference to Israel, seismologists have to take notice.
– Hatim Kanaaneh is a physician who has struggled for over four decades to improve the health of his Palestinian community in Galilee against a culture of anti-Arab discrimination. He is the founder of the NGO The Galilee Society and the author of the book A Doctor in Galilee and of a forthcoming fictional trilogy. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.