Hiroshima 広島市 Day Again (may we have many)

Last year at this time I wrote about the “MAD“ness of nuclear arma­ments. In essence:

There does not seem to be much value in having nuclear weapons.

They may exist for a MAD (Mutu­al­ly Assured Destruc­tion) pur­pose. And yet, many peo­ple tell me that Israel’s ene­mies don’t care about MAD, because they (as well as dis­pen­sa­tion­al­ist Chris­tians) believe that they will be in “a bet­ter place” after the destruc­tion. For those of us who believe that it is this world that counts, our task is to avoid such a destruc­tion. And then there’s the argu­ment from deter­rence. If Israel’s ene­mies are “MAD” enough to risk such destruc­tion, then, there is no deter­rent val­ue in any nuclear weapon.

I’m not a par­tic­u­lar­ly gullible per­son. In the ear­ly 1980s I worked with Yitz Green­berg. He would often refer to Elie Wiesel’s account in Night. Green­berg would bow his head, almost close his eyes and in a near whis­per, say that at one point dur­ing the Sho’a babies were tossed live into the cre­ma­to­ria in order to save the (approx­i­mate­ly) 2¢ it would have cost to gas them first. Faced with accounts like this, I tell peo­ple that I can believe any­thing.

Once I under­stood that I could believe that any­thing is pos­si­ble, I real­ized that I should be able to attempt to imag­ine the impos­si­ble (or at least the “high­ly unlike­ly”), as a form of exer­cise, to pre­pare myself.

Some­time since 1967 or so I con­sid­ered the pos­si­bil­i­ty of dis­play­ing an ambigu­ous­ly non-exis­tent nuclear device in the Kotel plaza. Think of the var­i­ous state­ments that makes.

ambiguous nuclear device in the kotel plaza

ambigu­ous nuclear device in the kotel plaza

Con­sid­er also the like­li­hood of a nuclear attack by one of Israel’s nuclear-armed ene­mies. Unless, of course they are com­plete­ly MAD, in which case noth­ing we might do would have any affect on their actions, why would any coun­try that wants to destroy Israel with a nuclear device also be will­ing to:

  • Destroy the entire Pales­tin­ian Arab pop­u­la­tion
  • Destroy the holy city of Jerusalem (Al Kuds with its mosque and shrine)?

We can assume that a mod­ern nuclear device (i.e. sig­nif­i­cant­ly larg­er than “Lit­tle Boy”), even if dropped on Tel Aviv, would destroy much of the sur­round­ing area and make it unin­hab­it­able for a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time.

little boy, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima

lit­tle boy, the bomb dropped on Hiroshi­ma

What does any­one gain?

uninhabitable for a significant amount of time

How long a time is “significant”?

Our fam­i­ly has in per­son­al (though dis­tant) inter­est in Cher­nobyl (or as translit­er­at­ed from the Ukrain­ian: Chornobyl).

Hillel (Harry) Hurvitz

Hil­lel (Har­ry) Hurvitz


My pater­nal grand­fa­ther (and his father before him) was born in Cherni­hiv (or as we learned to pro­nounce it: Chernigov). Both Cher­nobyl and Chernigov are in what seem to be two love­ly, agri­cul­tur­al­ly fer­tile riv­er val­leys. The two cities are less than 50 miles away from each oth­er (as the crow flies, over two sets of hills/mountains with a third riv­er val­ley in between).
zone of alienation

from east (right) to west (left) Chernig­nov, Cher­nobyl and the ‘Zone of Alien­ation’


An arti­cle that appeared at tree­hug­ger (That’s an unashamed name!) on August 4, 2010 shared an inter­est­ing report. Near­ly 25 years have passed since the “acci­dent” of 1986. Since then, an area of near­ly 200 square miles, “the Cher­nobyl exclu­sion zone” was iso­lat­ed because of the nuclear dis­as­ter occurred. That area has been near­ly free of human con­tact. No humans have been “poach­ing”. Nonethe­less, ani­mals still strug­gle to sur­vive there.

I have heard that cur­rent nuclear pow­er-plant safe­guards are far bet­ter than they were in the mid 1980s. Yet, when­ev­er I do a Google search for some com­bi­na­tion of these three or four words:

  • nuclear
  • pow­er
  • civil­ian
  • safe­guards

I come up with sites that deal with Pak­istan, Iran, Israel, or India but not the civil­ian nuclear pow­er plant indus­try the Wikipedia arti­cle for which is exten­sive. How­ev­er, the arti­cle pri­mar­i­ly lists the major acci­dents, not what kinds of safe­guards have devel­oped. It is hard to know how safe any of these reac­tors are. In fact only on August 1, 2010, it seems, at least one drone crashed into the Bushehr reac­tor in Iran.

not sanguine

We were told that the kind of “acci­dent” we have expe­ri­enced this past sum­mer of 2010 in the Gulf of Mex­i­co with the Deep­wa­ter Hori­zon oil spill was high­ly unlike­ly. But that’s the way it is with acci­dents.

In Daniel Gilbert’s review of the recent book BEING WRONG, Adven­tures in the Mar­gin of Error by Kathryn Schulz, he presents the ques­tion: “why we don’t know we are mak­ing [errors]?” Indeed. And, when it comes to “unin­hab­it­able for a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time”, I’d rather be safe than sor­ry.

so what should we use for energy?

Of course, none of what I’ve writ­ten above answers the big ques­tion of how we con­tin­ue. I’ve also read that wind and solar col­lec­tion farms are nowhere near the scale we would need to pow­er our cur­rent uses.

I don’t, yet, have an answer for that ques­tion.

The fol­low­ing but­ton dates from the 1980s. It may be Isare­li made, though in its man­u­fac­ture, and the clum­sy style of its Hebrew let­ter­ing, it appears Amer­i­can made. It match­es Amer­i­can, Eng­lish-lan­guage ver­sions that date from the same peri­od. The text trans­lates as “Nuclear Pow­er? No Thanks”.

nuclear power, no thanks

כֹח-גרעיני? לֹא-תודה

Date: 1980s
Size: 3.81
Pin Form: straight clasp
Print Method: cel­lu­loid
Text כֹח-גרעיני?
לֹא-תודה

your lapel buttons

Many peo­ple have lapel but­tons. They may be attached to a favorite hat or jack­et you no longer wear, or poked into a cork-board on your wall. If you have any lay­ing around that you do not feel emo­tion­al­ly attached to, please let me know. I pre­serve these for the Jew­ish peo­ple. At some point they will all go to an appro­pri­ate muse­um. You can see all the but­tons shared to date.

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