4.0908 News from Israel (4/189)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Sun, 20 Jan 91 16:45:15 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0908. Sunday, 20 Jan 1991.

(1) Date: Fri, 18 Jan 1991 13:06 IST (12 lines)
From: Isaiah Gafni <HNUGI@HUJIVM1>
Subject: Re: 4.0870 Use of Metaphor in Justifications for War (1/80)

(2) Date: Sun, 20 Jan 91 15:05 +0200 (40 lines)
Subject: Saturday Night

(3) Date: Sun, 20 Jan 91 15:05 +0200 (82 lines)
Subject: Bomb Shelters and Gas Masks

(4) Date: Sun, 20 Jan 91 15:05 +0200 (55 lines)
Subject: Sunday: Further News [eds.]

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Fri, 18 Jan 1991 13:06 IST
From: Isaiah Gafni <HNUGI@HUJIVM1>
Subject: Re: 4.0870 Use of Metaphor in Justifications for War (1/80)

Eight Iraqi "metaphors" fell on us last night without any provocation.
My first thoughts after removing my gask mask this morning was to wish
my learned "Humanist" colleagues much success in their continued

Isaiah Gafni
Dept. of Jewish History
The Hebrew University
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------46----
Date: Sun, 20 Jan 91 15:05 +0200
Subject: Saturday Night [eds.]

Saturday night.

After two nights of air raid sirens, jumping up to get to sealed room,
putting on gas masks. Two real ones so far; two false alarms.

A bit tiring - but relief that the weapons are conventional, and that so
few people are seriously hurt.

Schools were closed on Thursday and will remain closed. Since both
parents work here, one will have to stay home. Meanwhile most
non-essential industries and stores are closed.

The Patriot missiles that the US are giving us will be too late and too

The big question is "Does Saddam have chemical warheads on his
missiles?" There is little doubt that he will use them if he has.

The elimination of the missile launchers seems a difficult if not
impossible task.

Generally, morale seems high. People are told to stay close to home, to
have gas masks ready. They, for the most part, listen to instructions.

The peace rallies continue with the thoughtless, fatuous theme "No blood
for oil" playing a leading role. Has anybody rallied to protest the
attack of Iraq on Israel, the uninvolved? To protest the attacks on
civilian concentrations in cities? I doubt it.

__Bob Werman

(3) --------------------------------------------------------------88----
Date: Sun, 20 Jan 91 15:05 +0200
Subject: Bomb Shelters and Gas Masks [eds.]

There is some lack of clarity in the reports about the use of bomb
shelters in Israel. As a matter of fact, there are now two rather
different kinds of bomb shelters in use in Israel.

The standard bomb shelter is built below ground. For the past 25 years
it has been a requirement to provide bomb shelters in all buildings
erected. Older buildings often do not have such shelters; their
residents depend on neighborhood community shelters which are also
found in public areas in the cities. These bomb shelters are [almost]
all vented to the outside world.

With the advent of the threat of poison gas attacks, it was decided not
to use these shelters [except in rare cases where special ventilation is
provided and the shelters can be closed hermetically]. The possible
damage that can be produced by poison gas, particularly the threat to
human life, is far greater than anticipated from a conventional war head.
Since the great majority of the existing shelters can not be
hermetically sealed, and since they are located at ground level or
below, where the denser-than-air poison gases concentrate, a new type of
improvised shelter was instituted throughout Israel.

The new shelter was a room in a home or apartment, located as high as
possible, that could be isolated and sealed, prefer- ably with only one
window. These shelters were prepared by put- ting sponge stripping
around the window and door edges, closing the windows and taping all
joints and edges and placing tape on the glass of the windows to prevent
splintering in the case of blast. In addition, a thick plastic curtain
was pasted over the windows to prevent splintered glass from entering
and providing a secondary defense against the entry of gas. The door
edges were provided with thick strips of plastic tape to be used to seal
them when the doors were closed. Finally, a wet towel was to be placed
at the bottom of the closed door.

It was estimated that the use of such a room would reduce poison gas
induced morbidity/mortality risks by a factor of 10 as compared to the
exposed condition. This safety factor would be greatly improved by the
compulsary use of gas masks [special models for children, incubators for
infants] and the presence of such additional measures as automatic
atropine injections and anti liquid burn powders - all provided to each

So some 8 times already, all of Israel has sat, sealed into their
anti-poison gas rooms, wearing masks and waiting. Some 20 casualties
from blast and shrapnel have thus all far been mild. Property damage
produced by the missiles has, in a number of cases - on the other hand -
been extensive. No one resents or regrets the choice of people over
property. Several elderly people choked to death by not pulling out the
plug on the mask - all on the first day. One Israeli Arab child choked
to death when parents forced her to wear the mask. No poison gas has
been used - thus far.

Learning to use the masks properly, not fastening the straps too
tightly, talking, breathing without hyperventilating has been a
universal experience. Initially large numbers of people found them-
selves sweating unbearably, clouding the glass so as to blind oneself.
Others, particularly children, vomited, for the most part after remov-
ing the mask. Learning and reuse helped in almost all cases. Radio and
TV instructions repeated over and over again helped.

A story: sitting in the anti-gas room, members of the family try to put
on a brave face, make jokes. How we all look like elephants; how an
elephant would approach one of us and mistake him/her for his mother.
Only the dog, a rather stately collie, sits quietly and does not appear
at all excited. We pity the dog, for he is the only one without a mask.
But then we remember that - without a mask - he is our pigeon in the
coal mine, the measure of poison gas that has leaked in.

__Bob Werman
(4) --------------------------------------------------------------61----
Date: Sun, 20 Jan 91 15:05 +0200
Subject: Sunday: Further News [eds.]

Last night we slept the sleep of the dead. No sirens, no alarms, no
putting on gas masks, all the accumulated exhaustion and tension helped
make the sleep deeper.

Children seem to suffer the most. Adults are very good; the civil
defense services and medical support - including psychological - appear
to be first rate and improving all the time, learning from each

Schools are still closed, with fear of large concent- rations a major
consideration. The psychological comfort of the home is another factor.

One child asks - after being told that gas mask drill is to make it
perfect, if there is need - "Should we practice dying so that we can do
it perfectly when there is need?"

Children are frightened to go out, even in gardens next to the house.
The thought of having to go to school soon frightens other.

The peace rallies seem obscene here; it is the kind of empty headed
"fairness" that would have said, "Let's not give weapons to either the
fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto or to the Nazis." There IS a good side;
there is a bad side. The bad side is already armed and entrenched, the
good side is only beginning to get its act together. Don't the peace
rally participants understand that support for Saddam Hussein is the
major effect of all peace activity at this point? That this must be the
last thing that anyone should do?

The attempt to drag Israel into the war by sending missiles into
civilian concentrations is absolutely Satanic. In a speech yesterday,
King Hussein of Jordan insisted that Israel is responsible for the
Middle East crisis. Iraq had nothing to do with it. Cynical lying will

Israel will not lay down and die before Saddam Hussein. That is a
simple fact. The activities of the peace movements is perceived here as
both disciminatory and discouraging. This is not our fight, but Saddam
attacks our civilians. We dispise the situation, but we will not melt
away. We will not stop; we will defend ourselves. That should be clear
to all.

__Bob Werman