Mordechai Vanunu’s Christmas Update was TWEETED on Wednesday and this reporter notes Vanunu’s 30 year wait for freedom from Israel.
By Eileen Fleming
Mordechai Vanunu’s Christmas Update TWEET included this wedding photo collage:
Vanunu Mordechai @VanunuMordechai Merry Christmas,and a Very Happy new year 2016. Freedom of speech and Freedom of movement.2016 Freedom year.
On 30 October 2015, Mordechai Vanunu wrote regarding his 8th Supreme Court Appeal: “I had a court hearing on [October 26, 2015]. We appealed all the restrictions. I even spoke to the Judges. They gave to the police 90 days to end their investigation for last arrest, after that they will decide.”
American Mainstream Media has ignored all of Vanunu’s Supreme Court Appeals to end the human rights restrictions, which have denied his right to leave the only democracy in the Middle East ever since his release from 18 years behind bars on 21 April 2004.
However, this American author and Senior Non-Arab Correspondent for The Arab Daily News began documenting Vanunu’s saga after meeting him in east Jerusalem in 2005.
I told Vanunu that I would tell; as in WRITE the Vanunu saga UNTIL Israel allowed Vanunu the right to leave the state.
But more importantly, I accepted my ‘mission from God’ to persist in reporting because I dissent from US collusion in Israel’s Nuclear deceptions [and occupation of Palestine] and because the Establishment of Israel’s very Statehood was contingent upon upholding the UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS:
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
In September 2015, Vanunu granted his first interview to Israeli media speaking only in Hebrew in his first appeal to the Israeli public who consider him a traitor:
“I got married three months ago. I can’t get a job here, so she is the breadwinner. I want to live my life, start my life anew. I’m finished with this entire [nuclear] story, and I’ve said this hundreds of times. I have no more secrets to tell, and I want them to let me leave and go live abroad with my wife, and that’s the end of the story.”
LEARN MORE: Vanunu gets 7 day’s House Arrest and Journalism’s Role
Photo of Mordechai Vanunu copyright Eileen Fleming, June 2009
Before Vanunu is finally free to leave Israel, Americans should know a few excerpts from “Beyond Nuclear: Mordechai Vanunu’s FREEDOM of Speech Trial and My Life as a Muckraker 2005-2010” which follows:
In 1986, Mordechai Vanunu was a midlevel technician on the night shift within Israel’s underground WMD facility in the Negev Valley. The sign out front proclaimed it was a Textile Plant. All employees signed a secrecy agreement and all jobs were compartmentalized.
Because Vanunu was a good worker, he was cross-trained in many areas and when he realized he was a cog in the making of weapons of mass destruction he decided to document the facts by photographing the evidence.
Vanunu easily obtained the keys to restricted areas after they had been carelessly left in the shower room by a supervisor. Vanunu shot two rolls of film in top-secret locations but did not develop the film until ten months later while in Sydney, Australia.
On 5 October 1986, London’s “The Sunday Times” published Vanunu’s photos in a front page story under the headline “Revealed: the secrets of Israel’s nuclear arsenal” just as Vanunu was being kidnapped by Mossad in Rome and transported back to Israel.
Israel convicted Vanunu of treason and espionage in a closed-door trial and locked him up for 18 years, most all of it in solitary.
Vanunu has not set foot into the Dimona in 30 years and International Inspectors never have.
On April 21, 2004, Vanunu was released from Ashkelon Prison and ever since has lived under the draconian 1945 British Mandate State of Emergency Regulations.
After WW II, Attorney Yaccov Shapiro, who later became Israel’s Minister Of Justice, described the Emergency Defense Regulations which deny Vanunu his inalienable rights as “unparalleled in any civilized country: there were no such laws in Nazi Germany.”[N.S. Ateek, “Justice and Only Justice” p.34]
In June 2005, I was just an American in east Jerusalem writing my first historical fiction when I met Vanunu.
I realized my childhood dream and became a reporter because Vanunu told me:
The French were responsible for the actual building of the Dimona. The Germans gave the money; they were feeling guilty for the Holocaust, and tried to pay their way out. Everything inside was written in French, when I was there, almost twenty years ago. Back then, the Dimona descended seven floors underground.
In 1955, Perez and Guirion met with the French to agree they would get a nuclear reactor if they fought against Egypt to control the Sinai and Suez Canal. That was the war of 1956. Eisenhower demanded that Israel leave the Sinai, but the reactor plant deal continued on.
Did you know that President Kennedy tried to stop Israel from building atomic weapons? In 1963, he forced Prime Minister Ben Guirion to admit the Dimona was not a textile plant, as the sign outside proclaimed, but a nuclear plant. The Prime Minister said, ‘The nuclear reactor is only for peace.’ Kennedy insisted on an open internal inspection. He wrote letters demanding that Ben Guirion open up the Dimona for inspection.
When Johnson became president, he made an agreement with Israel that two senators would come every year to inspect. Before the senators would visit, the Israelis would build a wall to block the underground elevators and stairways. From 1963 to ’69, the senators came, but they never knew about the wall that hid the rest of the Dimona from them.
Nixon stopped the inspections and agreed to ignore the situation. As a result, Israel increased production. In 1986, there were over two hundred bombs. Today, they may have enough plutonium for ten bombs a year.
“30 Minutes with Vanunu” was taped a few weeks after Vanunu’s Freedom of Speech Trial began:
I asked Vaunu if the British Mandate had expired, why hadn’t the British Mandates restriction and Vanunu replied:
The reason given is security but it is because Israel is not a democracy unless you are a Jew.
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.
When I decided to expose Israel’s nuclear weapons I acted out of conscience and to warn the world to prevent a nuclear holocaust.
Just prior to the taping of “30 Minutes with Vanunu” he told me:
Many journalists come here to the American Colony, from CNN and NY Times. They all want to cover my story, but their EDITORS say no…CNN wants to interview me; but they say they can’t do it because they don’t want problems with the Israeli censor. BBC is doing the same thing. Sixty Minutes from the United States from the beginning they wanted to do a program, but because of the censor situation they decide not to do it.
On July 2, 2007, Israel sentenced Vanunu to six more months in jail essentially because he spoke to foreign media in 2004!
The Jerusalem Post reported:
In listing the factors that he took into account when determining the sentence, Judge Yoel Tzur referred to an appeal against the state, which Vanunu had lodged in 1998, while still in prison.
In that appeal, a doctor testified in Beersheba District Court that Vanunu suffered from chronic paranoid schizophrenia…
Tzur said that although Vanunu’s lawyers, Avigdor Feldman and Michael Sfard, had not presented the doctor’s testimony in court, he would still take it into account because Vanunu’s condition was said to be chronic.
From 1986 to 2004, Israel kept Vanunu in a tomb sized cell without windows. For the first two years, a harsh light over his head burned 24/7 and a camera documented his every move.
Vanunu told this reporter that when he did nod off to sleep, “A guard would come and shine a brighter light into my face and say, ‘Just checking if you had committed suicide yet.’”
In this excerpt from “30 Minutes with Vanunu” Israel’s nuclear whistleblower speaks about State Torture by Solitary Confinement:
Vanunu spent nearly twelve of his eighteen years in solitary confinement, and when released from solitary, he was forbidden to mix with Palestinians.
Vanunu would not mix with the Israeli prisoner population for fear of his life and he ate alone for 18 years.
On 23 September 2008, the Jerusalem District Court even reduced Vanunu’s freedom of speech jail sentence from six to three months, “In light of (Vanunu’s) ailing health and the absence of claims that his actions put the country’s security in jeopardy.”
On 6 July 2009, Israel’s Supreme Court stated, “Pending a review of his conduct, Vanunu will be able to ask for the restrictions to be lifted and be allowed to travel abroad… The state’s representative noted that six months may be too short a time period to determine a change in Vanunu’s behavior and that the state will reconsider the restrictions based not only on Vanunu’s behavior but a host of other considerations, including the time that had lapsed since he divulged state secrets to the British paper.”
On May 23, 2010, Israel sent Vanunu back to solitary confinement for 78 days essentially because he spoke to foreign media in 2004!
It is now thirty years since Vanunu “divulged state secrets” and about ten since Vanunu told this reporter, “All the secrets I had were published in 1989 in an important book, by [Nuclear Physicist] Frank Barnaby, The Invisible Bomb: Nuclear Arms Race in the Middle East.”
A few days before Vanunu was lured from London to Rome and kidnapped by the Mossad, he spent three days being interviewed by Frank Barnaby. Barnaby had been employed by London’s “Sunday Times” to review the 57 photos Vanunu had obtained at various restricted locations in the Dimona.
Barnaby also went to Jerusalem to provide expert testimony at Vanunu’s closed-door trial.
I found the fact that Vanunu was able to smuggle a camera and films into and out of Dimona and photograph highly sensitive areas in the establishment astonishing. I very vigorously cross-examined Vanunu, relentlessly asking the same questions in a number of different ways and at different times…
I found Vanunu very straightforward about his motives for violating Israel’s secrecy laws; he explained to me that he believed that both the Israeli and the world public had the right to know about the information he passed on. He seemed to me to be acting ideologically.
Israel’s political leaders have, he said, consistently lied about Israel’s nuclear-weapons programme and he found this unacceptable in a democracy.
The knowledge that Vanunu had about Israel’s nuclear weapons, about the operations at Dimona, and about security at Dimona could not be of any use to anyone today.
He left Dimona in October 1985 and the design of today’s Israeli nuclear weapons will have been considerably changed since then… Modern nuclear weapons bear little relationship to those of the mid-1980.
A total of 1,200 pages of transcript of that closed door trial have been released and Vanunu told the court: “I wanted to confirm what everyone knew, I didn’t want Israel to go on denying that it had nuclear weapons, and Shimon Peres to go on lying to (then US president) Ronald Reagan, saying that we didn’t have a nuclear arsenal. I also wanted controls to be placed on these weapons.”
In the 80’s, Vanunu was transported to and from his closed door trial in a crash helmet, handcuffs and leg-irons, inside a van with blacked out windows that blasted noise to assure Vanunu would not communicate with journalists or supporters. During the court hearings, two Israeli security agents flanked him at all times in order to be able to cover his mouth if he began to reveal anything they deemed secret. The public, the press and all observers — even Amnesty International — were excluded from the hearings and the court’s judgment was censored before publication.
On January 25, 2006, the first day of Vanunu’s freedom of speech trial only two reporters from minor media showed up for the historic court case.
No reporters showed up for Vanunu’s February 22, 2006, court date to hear that Israel had gotten Microsoft to hand over all the details of Vanunu’s Hotmail account before a court order had been obtained by alluding that he was being charged for espionage.
Microsoft obeyed the orders and gave them all the details… three months before I was arrested and my computers were confiscated…
It is strange to ask Microsoft to give this information before obtaining the court order to listen to my private conversations. It means they wanted to go through my emails in secret, or maybe, with the help of the secret services, the Shaback, Mossad…
Sfard [Vanunu’s attorney] proved that the police had misled the judges who gave the orders to arrest me: to search my room, to go through my email, to confiscate my computers and that they misled Microsoft to believe they are helping in a case of espionage.
The State came to the court with two special secret Government orders; Hisaion [documents or information that are deemed confidential by the government and kept from the court, the defendant, and lawyers.]
This allows the prosecution to keep documents related to my court hearing secret. One was from the Minister for Interior Security and one from the Minister of Defense.
In April 1999, thirty-six members of the US House of Representatives signed a letter calling for Mordechai Vanunu’s release from prison because they believed “we have a duty to stand up for men and women like Mordechai Vanunu who dare to articulate a brighter vision for humanity.”
President Clinton responded with a public statement expressing concern for Vanunu and the need for Israel and other non-parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty to adhere to it and accept IAEA safeguards.
When I last saw Vanunu in November 2013, he told me he had recently declined a CNN reporter’s request for an interview because “Everything is already on the Internet”
This reporter is most grateful for having documented the Vanunu saga which will end when Israel frees Vanunu; which could happen any day before January 24, 2016!
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