The roulette wheel continues to spin and the ball falls into a different numbered slot every time. Following Defense Minister Ehud Barak's estimate that around 500 Israelis will be killed in the event of a counterattack by Iran, Israel Air Force performance analysts have recently published a study calculating that around 300 Israelis will die if Israel launches a war against Iran.
On the surface, it seems like a 40 percent discount that we probably get for Passover. But when one reads the fine print, one cannot remain unalarmed. Barak predicts fewer than 500 deaths (if everyone runs for shelter ), whereas the analysts foresee at least 300. Whereas Barak's estimate may refer to 100 deaths, the new estimate allows for 1,000, 10,000 or more - any number that is higher than 300, and there are plenty of them.
Overwhelmed by the numbers? Do you fear that the flames of last summer's cost-of-living protest will be taken over by less metaphoric flames? Are you skeptical about the logic of a preemptive strike on Iran, which a U.S. Congress report says will delay the Iranian nuclear program by six months at most? Are you worried about the home front's preparedness on the eve of war, with miserably maintained bomb shelters and incomplete coverage by the Iron Dome defense system, still unable to sustain barrages of long-range missiles? Do you long for the fallout shelter in the Jerusalem area that the media say has been built to accommodate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Barak in the event of war, and wonder what will protect us?
The provision of gas masks is even more scandalous. The ongoing preoccupation with a hypothetical nuclear bomb has shifted focus away from the concrete threat of chemical weapons, which subsequent governments have ignored for years. The Iranian and Syrian arsenals contain countless incredibly deadly, ready-to-launch chemical warheads. The unrest in Syria increases the danger they might fall into Hezbollah's hands and be used by Syrian President Bashar Assad to deflect attention from the genocide he is carrying out. The Israeli government is focusing on prospective threats at the expense of an existing one that can be averted rather easily. Even at the height of the Iranian and Syrian crises there isn't a systematic plan to hand out gas masks to the entire population, and those who were lucky enough to receive one already cannot rely on its dubious effectiveness.
It should be noted that the budget required for the production and distribution of gas masks to the entire population is not great. It is smaller than the cost of the development and purchase of Iron Dome batteries, as well as that of the swine flu vaccines that the government purchased in the blink of an eye but never used. One might expect the prime minister - who keeps bringing up the Holocaust and swearing that it will never be repeated - to recall that millions of European Jews were gassed to death, and pay more attention to the danger of chemical warfare. Instead, he ignores it and plays Russian roulette with our lives.
So, dear Bibi, ahead of the hot summer, we've got a tiny request. Give us gas masks. It will benefit you too. It will save you inquiries further down the line. After all, you don't want to see Jews gassed to death, especially not while you're in office. People say you're quick to lose your cool, and here's a good reason to. Time is running out so please hurry up. Don't buy local - get us the good stuff from abroad, like those used by the American or German armies. It's not that hard. With a bit of luck, the Germans won't even charge you for them. We're waiting for those gas masks.
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