Plundering the treasures of conquered lands has always been a fair game, from Neolithic herds and Sabine women to works of art: Byzantine statuary adorns St. Marco’s in Venice, and Elgin’s marbles are in London to stay. But moving a land itself across an international frontier is a novel concept, one which is being tried in the Middle East, as Robert Fisk reported from Beirut in the Independent (November 5):

Israel occupies Arab land: most of the Palestinian West Bank, part of the Gaza Strip, all of the Syrian Golan Heights and 10 per cent of Lebanon. But now, it turns out, Israel is taking the land of Lebanon—quite literally—to Israel. Thousands of tons of Lebaneses oil are being secretly trucked over the border into Israel from the south of Lebanon to fertilise the farmlands of Israeli Galilee. Israeli bulldozers are stripping the topsoil off Lebanese farmland . . . to help Israeli farmers two miles further south—on the other side of the border—to grow tomatoes and olives . . . . And the Lebanese government, needless to say, has vainly complained to both the U.N. and the European Union about the theft.

The Lebanese land will not be used to grow legumes: The Israelis oppose land for peas.

Israel’s principal Muslim enemy these days is not in Lebanon but in Iraq, whose leader possesses chemical and biological “weapons of mass destruction.” The Israelis, however, apparently have a biological trick or two up their own sleeves, as Uzi Mahnaimi and Marie Colvin report in the Sunday Times of London (“Israel planning ‘ethnic’ bomb as Saddam caves in,” November 15):

Israel is working on a biological weapon that would haira Arabs but not Jews, according to Israeli military and western intelligence sources. The weapon, targeting victims by ethnic origin, is seen as Israel’s response to Iraq’s threat of chemical and biological attacks. . . . In developing the “ethno-bomb,” Israeli scientists are trying to exploit medical advances by identifying distinctive genes carried by some Arabs, then create a genetically modified bacterium or virus. . . . The scientists are trying to engineer deadly micro-organisms that attack only those bearing the distinctive genes. The programme is based at the biological institute in Nes Tziyona, the main research facility for Israel’s clandestine arsenal of chemical and biological weapons. A scientist there said the task was hugely cortplicated because both Arabs and Jews are of Semitic origin. But he added: “They have, however, succeeded in pinpointing a particular characteristic in the genetic profile of certain Arab communities, particularly the Iraqi people .” The disease could be spread by spraying the organisms into the air or putting them in water supplies. The research mirrors biological studies conducted by South African scientists during the apartheid era. . . . The “ethno-bomb” claims have been given credence in Foreign Report, a Jane’s publication that closely monitors security and defence matters. It reports unnamed South African sources as saying Israeli scientists have used some of the South African research in trying to develop an “ethnic bullet” against Arabs. It also says Israelis discovered aspects of the Arab genetic make-up by researching on “Jews of Arab origin,” especially Iraqis.

To paraphrase Murphy, if a weapon of mass destruction can be developed, it will be. Once the weapon exists, it is tempting to use it—as documents discovered recently at Great Britain’s Public Records Office reveal. According to the documents, Winston Churchill contemplated drenching Germany with poison gas in the last year of World War II. As the Guardian reported on November 2, Churchill discussed the possibility in a memorandum to General Sir Hastings Ismay, secretary of the war cabinet, in July 1944:

“It is absurd,” he wrote, “to consider morality on this topic when everybody used it in the last war without a word of complaint from the moralists or the Church. On the other hand, in the last war the bombing of open cities was regarded as forbidden. Now everybody does it as a matter of course. It is simply a question of fashion changing as she does between long and short skirts for women.” . . . He told Ismay he wanted “a cold-blooded calculation made as to how it would pay us to use poison gas, by which I mean principally mustard. We could probably deliver 20 tons to their one. . . . We could drench the cities of the Ruhr and many other cities in Germany in such a way that most of the population would be requiring constant medical attention . ” . . . In a chilling passage [as if the rest aren’t], Churchill continued: ” . . . if we do it, let us to it 100 per cent. In the meanwhile, I want the matter studied in cold blood by sensible people and not by that particular set of psalm-singing uniformed defeatists which one runs across now here and there.” . . . But by then the military chiefs had decided enough was enough. . . . Churchill succumbed, but not without sending Ismay and the chiefs of staff a bitter memo on July 29, 1944. “I am not at all convinced by this negative report,” he said. “But clearly I cannot make head against the parsons and the warriors at the same time. The matter should be brought up again when things get worse.”

Churchill, at least, was no hypocrite, and he opposed the high-minded farce of the Nuremberg trials. Ideologues like Lenin, Pol Pot, and Janet Reno, on the other hand, are very good at singing psalms on human rights while justifying mass-slaughter Here is the attorney general’s opinion of the rest of us, as expressed in an unjustly forgotten interview (60 Minutes, June 26,1994):

A cultist is one who has a strong belief in the Bible and the Second Coming of Christ; who frequently attends Bible studies; who has a high level of financial giving to a Christian cause; who home schools for their children; who has accumulated survival foods and has a strong belief in the Second Amendment; and who distrusts big government. Any of these may qualify a person as a cultist but certainly more than one of these would cause us to look at this person as a threat, and his family as being in a risk situation that qualified for government interference.

That Reno is a friend of both Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright is unremarkable and befitting. “Most friendships, Sir”—as Dr. Johnson reminded his young friend Boswell—”are mere leagues in vice, or conspiracies in folly.” In politics, they are invariably both. That they also tend to end stickily for one or both parties—as evidenced by the Führer and the Duce, or Che and Fidel—ought to be remembered by our polyglot secretary of state and her foreign associates. On November 3, the German TV network ZDF reported from New York on a meeting between Albright and Joschka Fischer, the leader of Germany’s Greens and the junior coalition partner in Gerhard Schroder’s government. In no time at all, according to ZDF, Albright and Fischer were addressing each other with the informal “DM.”

While it is not surprising that these two should converse in a language which neither of them regards as foreign—and not in Enghsh, which they both had to learn from scratch—it remains to be seen whether this level of instant intimacy will prompt Fischer to nominate Albright as the next Bundespräsident(in). This may prove a more enticing prospect to Albright than Vaclav Havel’s offer of the presidential suite at the Hràdcany. As has been pointed out in these pages, the Czech army is a less impressive toy than the one Albright is used to playing with—but the Bundeswehr just might do.

In the meantime, Mrs. Albright’s vision of a New European Order based on human rights may be on a collision course with Islamic law. At a U.N. meeting on Islam’s perception of human rights, held on the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, a U.N. spokesman optimistically suggested that Islam had made “many positive contributions . . . many Islamic traditions . . . enriched human rights.” As the BBC reported (November 9):

The Organisation of the Islamic Conference has welcomed the [U.N.] initiative . . . . Diplomats from Islamic countries say that after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the UN began to redirect its energies from the fight against communism to the fight against Islam. They say their legal systems, based on Sharia law, are too often seen as incompatible with UN human rights conventions, based on Judeo-Christian values. But, they say, the universal declaration of human rights should encompass all values, including Islamic ones.

Richard Holbrooke—that fearless champion of Islamic rights—would no doubt endorse the initiative. Holbrooke is said to be sponsoring an “Albanians with Disabilities Act” after his friend Gica, a Kosovo Liberation Army guerrilla and a sheriff of Junik (a KLA bastion), was wounded following one of Holbrooke’s visits to Kosovo last year. As Reuters reported on November 3:

It seems the sheriff, eager to establish his authority in an altercation with a motorist, fired a burst from his machine gun into the ground. He was last seen limping from the scene, trailing blood from his shoe, having shot himself in the foot.

Meanwhile, closer to home, the U.S. Navy is doing its best to keep up with American troops in the Balkans. An article in the Washington Times (November 7) painted a vivid picture of the new, ecumenical Navy:

The Norfolk Naval Base is home t o the U.S. military’s first mosque. The Masjid al D’Wah, opened a year ago, is a small space in a building that also houses a synagogue and two chapels. For the Navy’s Muslims, it’s a recognition of Islam’s growing presence in the military and an affirmation that they can fulfill duties to both God and country. “People are very, very proud of this room, ” said Lt. Malak Ibn Noel, the mosque’s imam, or religious leader, and the first Muslim chaplain in Navy history.