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Vanunu's 'Secret'

When governments substitute paranoia for law.

 
By Eileen Fleming 
 
12/11/07 "ICH" --- - On January 8, 2008, Mordechai Vanunu's appeal begins fighting a six month jail sentence for speaking to foreign media in 2004, after his release from 18 years in jail, most of it in solitary confinement. Israel maintains that the little man who exposed its WMD Program in 1986 is still a 'security' threat and that he has more secrets he has yet to reveal. 
 
During Vanunu's captivity in East Jerusalem, he has spoken with hundreds of internationals, but he is no longer talking to media. When I last saw him in July 2007 and asked him why, he told me, "All the interviews I have given haven't helped me." 
 
If Israel had allowed Vanunu to leave Israel in 2004 as he desired this committed Christian and civilian journalist would never have met him. But Israel held him under the draconian British Mandate Emergency Regulations in Jerusalem, which among many restrictions forbid him to speak to any foreigners. 
 
After WW II, Attorney Yaccov Shapiro, who later became Israel's Minister Of Justice, described the Emergency Defense Regulations as "unparalleled in any civilized country: there were no such laws in Nazi Germany."[ N.S. Ateek, Justice and Only Justice p.34] 
 
In March, 2006, Vanunu informed me, "This administration tells me I am not allowed to speak to foreigners, the Media, and the world. But I do because that is how I prove my true humanity to the world. My freedom of speech trial began January 25, 2006 for speaking to the media, the same day as the Palestinian elections." 
 
The USA MSM has been missing in action all during Vanunu's historic year and a half long freedom of speech trial. But, in 2005 and 2006, Vanunu spoke with me on video in the spirit of Article 19 of the UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS, which Israel's statehood was contingent upon upholding:
 
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. Article 19 
 
During Vanunu's 18 years in jail, he lived in a tomb sized cell without windows and was psychologically and emotionally tortured. For the first two years Vanunu was deprived of sleep and watched on a camera. A bright light in his cell shone constantly and when ever he closed his eyes, a guard would immediately enter and shine a brighter light into his face and claim they were just checking if he had committed suicide; yet! 
 
On 9/18/04 in London, Yoko Ono awarded Vanunu a peace prize founded in memory of and in the spirit of John Lennon's "Give Me Some Truth" released in 1971. 
 
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth
I've had enough of reading things
By neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth 
 
And what is truth? 
 
In December 1998, the Anglican Rev. David B. Smith, of Australia, compiled, formatted and published LETTERS FROM SOLITARY: Letters from Mordechai Vanunu to David Smith written during his 11 years of solitary confinement.
 
Reverend Smith wrote:
 
I first met Morde late on a Friday night. We were running a little coffee-shop-type setup outside the church building in Kings Cross and Morde just wandered in...His English was not terrific, but we managed some pretty serious conversation at our first meeting. Morde had recently completed studies at university. I had completed university just before entering seminary. Morde had been studying philosophy. I had just completed my honours degree in philosophy! Morde’s interest had been in existentialism. Mine had been also! Morde’s chief figure of interest was Nietzsche – the belligerent German atheist. Mine was Kierkegaard – the eccentric Christian preacher. Morde had read Kierkegaard, and my first introduction to Kierkegaard had been in a course comparing him to Nietzsche. We found we had plenty to talk about. 
 
It was a curious scene that developed that night. Two figures in the middle of the Cross, locked in passionate discussion about theories of meaning and existence. In Morde’s broken English we managed to discuss Nietzsche’s concept of ‘staring into the abyss’ of your life and embracing your despair, and Kierkegaard’s optimistic alternative – throwing yourself into the abyss and finding that the abyss is God and is able to support you. 
 
At the time my own faith was deeply intertwined with these concepts. For Morde though, I don’t think I realized exactly how much was at stake in his thinking until much further down the track. Some months later Morde would embrace the Christian faith, and let go of much of his former life. At an academic level he was also very self-consciously embracing Kierkegaard and rejecting Nietzsche. This is significant, for Kierkegaard was always on about taking ‘risks’, or ‘leaps of faith’, as he would call them. 
 
The one complete work of Kierkegaard that had been translated into Hebrew, and which Morde had read, was his eulogy on Abraham, entitled ‘Fear and Trembling’. In it Kierkegaard reflects on Abraham’s call to go and sacrifice his son Isaac. How can this be right, when it seems to be a betrayal of his family, and is contrary to his reason and even to his conscience? Yet Abraham knows that this is what he has been called to by God, and so he sets out upon his task, albeit with ‘fear and trembling’. 
 
Morde would make his own leap of faith. He would come to the front of St John’s church and say out loud ‘Now I give myself to God. Now I do what I must do.’ True to the Kierkegaardian spirit, Morde made his decision alone... 
 
...It has been extraordinary to read and hear some of the things people have said about Morde – that he was a ‘professional spy’, a ‘trained terrorist’, a ‘brilliant con-man’. How much time did such people spend actually trying to get to know the guy? ‘For God’s sake’ I feel like shouting ‘this man is my friend. You obviously don’t know him at all.’ 
 
As clever as Morde was (and is) at an academic level, when it came to the subtle art of spying, Morde was downright naive! I’ll never forget the incident at the airport where Morde misplaced the bag with the entire collection of Dimona photos! Where had he put it? It was found at the top of the escalators, where he had left it when he went to check in! Not exactly the behaviour of a professional secret agent.
 
The naivete was evident too in the matter of the money he was supposed to be paid. "They say they are going to pay me something for the photos" he told me one Sunday morning. He added "I will give the money to the church here and it will help in the ministry."  
 
On 27th February 1987, Vanunu wrote:
 
 ...now I know that my task in this world is to devote myself for working and helping other people, and my task here in Israel is to show that I was born Jewish but I find that JC is our savior. This will not make my life easy here but this faith will keep me strong and make my suffering bearable.......Yet I am not allowed to see a priest. They cannot succeed to take from me one of the most important human rights in a democratic country. I wrote a letter to the Bishop Samir Kafity (Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem) and I asked him to send me one of the priests.......Next week is the trial. I am not worried or afraid because I know what I did and I know who I am. I believe that what happens to me is God’s will, and I will wait for my release. 
 
.......I don’t know a lot about what is going on outside the prison because they keep me isolated. Even my lawyer I see only one time a week, and my brothers every two weeks for one half hour. My parents came to see me one time; they didn’t like my faith. I think someone sent them to me because I know my parents. I am a Christian; they will not come to see me again. I have sorrow for them, but as Jesus said, who wants me must leave his parents and follow me. My brothers are not concerned about my faith. Everyone wants to know why I became a Christian and I send them to learn of Kierkegaard’s philosophy. There I find love and Jesus, and everyone has to open his heart to find this love, and then Jesus will be wherever we might be....... 
 
 
On 5 June 1987, Vanunu wrote:
 
…I am spending 24 hours every day alone in a cell reading the Bible and other books. Praying every morning and evening, and trying to know more of God’s words. Here I am alone in my faith but by reading the New Testament I feel encouraged, and it gives me strength. The life of the Lord JC is the way I am following, and his words to the Jews are what I can say to the Jews here today…I feel that the spirit of God is with me all the time, and now here he keeps me alive and gives me the power to stand in this country, and to say the Lord JC is the truth… 
 
On November 27, 1987, Vanunu wrote:
 
......But now I know that all that they want is to break my faith, my soul, to separate me from my brothers in Christ. So I have to be more concerned about what they are doing. And be stronger in my faith and keep my faith deep in my heart with me here in my small cell......God called me to know him and to be his servant and I accept his mission. All what I have done is from my conscience......I did my decision alone by the voice of God who called me in my heart. And the same thing happened with my action against nuclear weapons. From the beginning it has come to me from my belief from inside - my values, my respect for the human being and the human right. And of course everyone knows and understands all about nuclear weapons - the new holocaust that is hanging over our lives...... 
 
On 28 January, 1989, Vanunu wrote:
 
...Most of my time here I am using to be very strong in my faith, by reading the New Testament every day in a loud voice and praying......Now I am waiting for my next appeal to the Supreme Court…I was not a spy. And the people here and in all the world have the right to know what their Government has been hiding from them in the nuclear issues. I am not guilty. I did my duty. If I did not have this information, I could not publish it, but God chose those who will do his mission. I believe that I served God’s mission…to do peace, to make the people aware of the nuclear holocaust…No one can change this truth and no one can change my faith and my mind... 
 
In June 2006, Vanunu told me, "When I decided to expose Israel's nuclear weapons I acted out of conscience and to warn the world to prevent a nuclear holocaust...The Dimona is 46 years old; reactors last 25 to 30 years. The Dimona has never been inspected and Israel has never signed the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty; but all the Arab states have...Twenty years ago when I worked there they only produced when the air was blowing towards Jordan ten miles away. No one knows what is happening now... 
 
"The only way to peace is peace; the only way is non-violence. The only answer to Israeli nuclear weapons, their aggression, occupation and oppression, the wall and refugee camps is to answer them with truth and a peace-full voice. When I became the spy for the world I did it all for the people of the world. If governments do not report the truth, if media does not report the truth, all we can do is follow our conscience...Israel is the only country in the Middle East where America can right now find WMD's. America can also find where basic human rights have been denied Christians, right here in Israel...
 
 "My Christian conversion was also considered as treason and led to me receiving more time in jail than any murderer has ever served. The Israelis have this very beautiful article about freedom and liberty but they want to destroy anyone who criticizes them for revealing the truth to the world. The world must look and see what kind of democracy Israel is when one speaks out the truth. Israel is not a democracy unless you are a Jew." 
 
Anyone who speaks with Vanunu for even a few minutes will understand that the 'secret' Vanunu has that can harm Israel is bad PR and the example of what happens to truth tellers when governments substitute paranoia for law.

Eileen Fleming, Reporter and Editor http://www.wearewideawake.org/ 
Author "Keep Hope Alive" and "Memoirs of a Nice Irish American 'Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory"
Producer "30 Minutes With Vanunu."

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