When I was looking up the quote by Arundhati Roy with which I ended my last post, made at an Occupy Wall Street meeting recently, I came across another thing she said in a recent speech that got me thinking about the state of freedom of the press, one of America’s supposedly cherished values.
Roy’s story was that when appearing on the Charlie Rose show on PBS on one occasion, he asked her if she believed India should have nuclear weapons. She replied, “No I don’t believe India should have nuclear weapons. I also don’t believe the United States should have nuclear weapons, and I don’t believe Israel should have nuclear weapons.”
Rose apparently cut her off quickly, saying, “That was not my question. My question was do you believe India should have nuclear weapons.”
She gave an identical reply: she said this went on for five minutes or so, “and in the end, they didn’t broadcast the programme.”
There can only be one reason for that: she mentioned the unmentionable subject in Western political discourse, which is that Israel has nuclear weapons. That a commentator like Rose should have made strenuous efforts to ensure that unmentionable subject was not mentioned, even to the point of censoring the item right out of his program, makes one wonder if in fact there is some widely understood ukase, handed down from on high, that has been adopted by all “responsible” American commentators, to the effect that Israel’s nuclear weapons should never be mentioned publicly. If that is true, it is shocking. And the evidence seems to suggest it is true. How many times, while some American representative is muttering away about how dangerous Iran is, and how destabilizing it would be for them to get nuclear weapons, how many times have I longed for some questioner to ask, “How about Israel’s nuclear weapons? Why do you never mention them? Is it not conceivable that an Iranian nuclear weapon might correct a dramatic power imbalance in the region?”
No one ever raises this question. I have never heard it raised in an interview with a Western powers spokesperson, although any journalist worth his salt should raise it as his or her first question, in my opinion.
As we all know, the unquestioned existence of Israel’s nuclear weapons is the hypocritical bomb lying at the heart of all Western policy in the region. They never objected when Israel got these weapons. They never objected when India and Pakistan got these weapons. Now they are threatening an outbreak of World War III if Iran should get them.
Talk about double standards!