Clinical psychologist Ilan Diamant, never met Israel’s nuclear whistleblower but his opinions regarding Vanunu reminded this American -who has met and interviewed Vanunu- of the Expert Opinion of Charles Barnaby in the Matter of Mordechai Vanunu
By Eileen Fleming
The Guardian’s obituary of Frank Charles Barnaby reported the nuclear weapons scientist died on the first of August at 92, and acknowledged he was “one of the most effective critics of the international arms race. As the cold war superpowers competed with ever more advanced weaponry to wage a war that could never be won, Barnaby helped amass an arsenal of reliable information and informed argument to keep an anxious public aware of the deadly devices being developed supposedly to keep the world safe.”
In September, Haaretz published an interview by Ayelett Shani with Clinical psychologist Ilan Diamond, who responded regarding loyalty that:
The question is not what happened in childhood, but what the person did with those experiences. How they have succeeded in coping with crises, in maturing. Because all of us, potentially, can be disloyal, we examine the candidates’ inner strengths and their ability to adjust, particularly during crises and transitions in life…
I will use the simplest example: Mordechai Vanunu [who spent 18 years in prison for revealing Israeli nuclear secrets]. Everything I say is based on open sources. Let’s examine the transitions in his life. He grew up in a religiously observant family but dropped out of his religious high school and abandoned religion; some say that because of this he was also compelled to sever relations with his family. After a few years, he moved from the right side of the political map to the left – even radical – side. At this stage he was already working at the Negev Nuclear Research Center and he was summoned for a reprimand because of his political activity. He chose to ignore this and thus demonstrated an inability to accept authority and a problem with adjustment. After he was fired he began to wander around the world and converted to Buddhism and afterward to Christianity…”
I interrupt to correct Clinical psychologist Ilan Diamant by citing this 2005 interview with Mordechai Vanunu who informed this American writer:
“I was born in Marrakesh, on October 13, 1954. I was the second oldest of eleven; the first seven of us migrated from Morocco in 1963 after the Zionists came and convinced the neighborhood that Israel was the Promised Land. Instead of the land of milk and honey, we were banished to the desert of Beersheba.
“In 1963 the Zionists came to my village and encouraged everyone to migrate to Israel. There was no family discussion; my father just told us we were leaving, and six months later, we boarded the train to Casablanca and got on a World War II military ship. The ship kept going up and down, and everyone was crammed into an open space; people everywhere kept throwing up. After four days, we arrived in Marseilles. This was a great place, but we had to leave for Israel. The next boat was bigger and modern, and the journey was smoother. When we arrived in Israel, the Interior Minister assigned us to Beersheba, but all the rest of our family had been assigned to Nazareth, and we wanted to go there, too. We had no choice, and home was a small hut in the desert. There was nothing in it and we had nothing much with us. After a few days, my mother left for Nazareth; it was chaos, and we had nothing to do to occupy us.
“Outside, there was only desert, but I walked a few hours everyday so I could be in the Old City. I started exploring around a Mexican-looking town, never talking with anyone, but always watching everyone. Three weeks later, my mother returned, and then my uncle, Joseph, arrived and took us up north to see some more newly arrived family. We stayed for two months, and then moved into a new apartment in Beersheba. I went to the fifth grade and met a few friends, but they were strange people. They were Romanians and a lot of Middle Easterners, who used bad language and seemed cheap to me. Even the school supplies were inferior to those I had had in Morocco. Even the ice cream was not ice cream; it was just ice, and there was no Pepsi.
“I didn’t like it at all, and wondered why I had to be there. There were only Jewish people around; I never saw an Arab or Palestinian then, and the old mosque was uninhabited. My mother had babies every two years. I preferred to be alone, but I was never lonely. Even when I walked with my father on Saturday to pray, I didn’t talk, but I wondered about God and truth. My father became even more orthodox as I turned away. I couldn’t accept all the teachings and decided I would not accept any of them.
“I was a good student and stayed out of trouble. When I was thirteen years old, I got mad at my parents and decided I would punish them. I began my first hunger strike and it lasted three days. My parents acted like they didn’t care, and it was not until I got very weak that I got their attention. I also remember getting really mad at my mother before a Jewish holiday. I had new clothes I wanted to wear on Friday night, but she insisted that I wait until the next day. We locked horns, but she had the power and won in the end. I fumed the entire evening.”
“At fourteen years old, I began to doubt, and by sixteen, I left Judaism for good. I didn’t know if God even existed, and I didn’t even care. I decided I would decide for myself what is good and what is bad; I didn’t need anyone telling me the rules. For me, it was about doing to others what I wanted them to do to me; I didn’t need any other rule. I was sent to Yeshiva, the Jewish boarding school in the Old City. I experienced a great disconnect from God. I didn’t talk to anyone about any of it. I kept everything within and continued to wonder about finding my way, my direction, and the purpose of my life. I have always searched for answers.
“I kept my mouth shut about not following the faith and excelled in secular studies. With everything else, I just went through the motions–in the eleventh grade, two friends and I were listening to the radio. It is a big sin and crime to use electricity on the Sabbath. The rabbi caught us and called my father to come get me, and when we had almost reached our house, I smelled that he was going to beat me, so I ran the five meters back to school without looking back. The next day, the rabbi sent me for an intensive week of Jewish studies. I was angry for the entire week. After that, I returned back to my boarding room. My two friends and I had become outcasts; we were forever ignored by the other students. The isolation became very comfortable, and I began walking in the desert alone every night without any fear. I would just walk around and imagine that I would find my way, and have some success.
“I passed all my classes except for English and Hebrew studies. At eighteen years old, I had my mind and health checked by the Israeli army doctors and was assigned to be a pilot. But I failed the hand-eye coordination test and three weeks later, they sent me to the Engineering Unit, where I learned about land mines, bridges, and explosives. I started training with fifty others and was the most unenthusiastic of the bunch. I stood back from it all and saw it as if it were just playing stupid games.
Mostly, everyone else was serious, but I just didn’t care; all I could see was the futility. The day I left home for the service, my mother walked me to the bus. She gave me all the Jewish stuff–you know, the phylacteries; the leather straps for the head and left arm. I put it all aside until I got my first leave, and then I returned it all home and never said a word about it. I never spoke with my parents about rejecting their faith.
“When I was in prison my mother came to me and told me that I was suffering because I was a Christian. I know I caused them a lot of pain and they have suffered because of my case. I forgive them even though they rejected me and my Christian faith. I have always thought for myself and made up my own mind.
“I really had no idea what I was doing by getting baptized a Christian, I just felt like I had to do it. It was my way to be a new being. It wasn’t until after my trial that I started to read the New Testament. While I was in prison I would read aloud for ½ hour twice a day. I would read the entire New Testament and begin it again when I finished the Book of Revelation. I did this for me as well as for my captors. Not so much the prison guards but the ones who watched me on camera 24 hours a day…
Regarding traitors Clinical psychologist Ilan Diamant stated:
Betrayal for money is relatively rare. The motives of most of the well-known traitors were ostensibly ideological… For example, Marcus Klingberg [an Israeli scientist who crossed the lines and spied for Russia]. He claimed he didn’t even want anything in return, that he only wanted to save the world. Vanunu said something similar at one point. That’s a matter of rationalization.
A few days before Vanunu was lured from London to Rome, where he was clubbed, drugged 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 and he also went to Jerusalem to provide expert testimony at Vanunu’s closed-door trial.
Barnaby testified: 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 Isreal’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.
To this day Vanunu remains captive in Israel.
LEARN MORE HERE
30 Minutes with Vanunu, which are freely streaming at YouTube.
- Vanunu still has more nuclear secrets to spill, Israeli court declares - December 29, 2021
- 9/11 and a 20th Reflection of That Day - September 5, 2021
- Mordechai Vanunu: Final Annual Update and this Writers Next Steps - June 19, 2021