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An Israeli against sanctions: Uri Geller

Uri Geller - the psychic and former Israeli paratrooper - has issued an
appeal against sanctions in Iraq.  Mr. Geller's statement is noteworthy not
only because of his celebrity, but also because he deals head-on with
sanctions in the context of the security of Israel.  

As Mr. Geller writes (of Israel's refusal to retaliate during the Gulf War),
"... When Saddam bombed our cities to provoke us, we defied him.  Now it is
time for us to summon the same kind of bravery to defuse a different kind of
Iraq crisis. ... Resisting Saddam's mocking call to arms was the toughest
decision Israel ever took. Now we must take another, even tougher - and
demand an end to the devastation in Iraq." 

Thanks to David Muller for the original post.  And a tip-of-the-hat to Mr.
Geller, whose courage and conversance with this issue are plainly evident in
what follows.

Drew Hamre
Golden Valley, MN USA

Uri Geller

<Iraqi youngsters are suffering an epidemic of cancers. Countless babies are
being born deformed. Uri Geller pleads with the United Nations' leaders to
end the slow massacre of civilians and insists - "Saddam is our enemy. The
children are not.">

When I was a few months old, a British sniper's bullet shattered the window
of my parent's apartment in Tel Aviv, showering my crib with glass. My
memory, of the cold shards on my face, of my mother's screams and my own,
may be images reconstructed from subconscious echoes - but I remember
clearly how my father showed me, years later, the hole in the wall where the
bullet struck. 

I have always felt that brush with death made me forever an Israeli. Though
I was sent to school in Cyprus, and made famous in America, and feted in
Mexico, and though I found peace in Japan and raised my family in England, I
am an Israeli. Like Israel, I was birthed in war. 

In 1991, when Saddam Hussein fired salvoes of Soviet-made surface-to-air
Scud missiles at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, I feared Israel would retaliate,
and our state, and probably the whole world, would find its death in war. 

It rapidly became plain that Saddam was not arming the Scuds with chemical
or biological weaponry - much later we learned that the US-made Patriot
missiles, credited with intercepting all but two Scuds, in fact missed their
mark every time. A US Army spokesman said President George Bush had not been
lying, because "intercept does not mean destroyed; it means a Patriot and a
Scud passed in the sky". 

I do not think Israel's courage in the Gulf War has been fully acknowledged.
We are a nation inured to war - but when Saddam bombed our cities to provoke
us, we defied him. 

Now it is time for us to summon the same kind of bravery to defuse a
different kind of Iraq crisis. 

Since January Allied jets have been bombing Iraq. The West does not seem to
care that we will still be bombing in January 2000. Sanctions have been
slowly squeezing the life out of the country since 1990. There is no sign
they will be lifted by 2000. 

We will enter the new Millennium waging a one-sided war against Iraq,
because its mad despotic leader once threatened us with a conflict too awful
to contemplate. 

I do not underestimate the Arab threat to Israel. I believe that terrorist
groups, including Osama bin Laden's massively wealthy organisation, have
acquired portable nuclear 'suitcase' devices. Washington sources say Bin
Laden paid $30 million in cash and $700 millions-worth of Afghan heroin to
Chechens, in return for several of the 43 atomic suitcases missing from the
ex-Soviet arsenal. 

Alexander Lebed, former Russian head of security, has told the US House of
Representatives that a single suitcase detonated in a city could kill
100,000 people. 

But it is not probable that any of these cases are in Saddam's hands, or
that he dictates Bin Laden's strategy. 

And it is certain that no nuclear weapons are held by babies or young
children in Iraq. Yet it is the children who are dying. 

The bombs are killing some. When an American AGM-130 missile ploughed into a
Basra housing complex in February, 17 people died and 100 were wounded.
These are United Nations figures. Ten of the dead were children. Six more
were women. 

The figures are negligible compared to the human cost of sanctions. The UN
children's fund (Unicef) estimated that between 5,000 and 6,000 Iraqi
children die of disease and starvation every month. The mortality rate for
under-fives has more than tripled since sanctions were imposed, and a
quarter of infants are malnourished. 

Nasra al Sa'adoun, the Sorbonne-educated granddaughter of an Iraqi Prime
Minister, told Western journalists in Baghdad: "We have no electricity, no
clean water, no trains, no safe cars, and you are bombing us every day. I
tell you, we would rather have a real war than this slow death. This is

Genocide is not too strong a word. The ten-year total for child deaths
caused by sanctions is put at 500,000. Unicef, the World Health Organisation
(WHO) and ex-officials of the UN such as Denis Halliday, who was
Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Iraq, all testify to these estimates. 

Health-care has dwindled to nothing. The UN reported: "Public health
services are near total collapse - basic medicines, life-saving drugs and
essential medical supplies are lacking throughout the country." 

Useless components for vital equipment gather dust in Iraq's warehouses,
because sanctions make it impossible to import even life-saving products in
practical ways. Syringe plungers arrive one year - medics are still waiting
for the needles 12 months on. The UN, struggling to render such a
humanitarian blunder in bureaucratic jargon, says this is a problem of

Most horrific of all is the tenfold increase in cancers. Within ten years 44
per cent of Iraqis will develop cancer, according to John Hopkins University
and Baghdad's Profesor Mikdem M Saleh. Radiation levels in Basra are 84
times above WHO safety limits, and the city hospital sees grotesquely
deformed foetuses and babies every day. 

This horror has been caused by the radioactive DU (depleted uranium) which
is used to coat Allied warheads. DU is increasingly used instead of titanium
as a low-cost, armour-piercing outer shell on missiles. Some estimates
suggest 900 tonnes of radioactive waste, which will cease to be hazardous
only after 4.5 billion years, litters Iraq. 

Resisting Saddam's mocking call to arms was the toughest decision Israel
ever took. Now we must take another, even tougher - and demand an end to the
devastation in Iraq. 
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