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Beyond Nuclear and Irish Tempers
Thursday, 25 March 2010 06:01
by Eileen Fleming

Recently Representative Patrick Kennedy was lambasted by the media for “having a melt down” when his Irish temper erupted erupted on the floor of The House over The Media's apathy regarding War, Peace, US funding and our troops in Afghanistan versus its obsession with ex-Rep. Eric Massa.

Kennedy’s Irish temper has nothing on mine, for I have vented greater frustration with The Media ever since 25 January 2006, while they ignored, but I stumbled into documenting the first day, and every court date since of Mordechai Vanunu’s, Freedom of Speech trial and appeal in Israel. Vanunu is man who told the truth in 1986 that Israel had gone nuclear and as of this writing, he continues to pay the price: denied the right to leave the state, denied the right to have a life. April 21, 2010 will mark the sixth year since Vanunu was released from 18 years in Ashkelon Prison. If Israel had allowed Vanunu to leave the state in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 or 2009, I would not now be writing my third book: Beyond Nuclear: My Experiences of Mordecahi Vanunu: 2005-2010.

But, because of a serendipitous crossing of paths with Vanunu on the first evening of summer in 2005, I stumbled into being a writer who chronicled many of the stories the whistle blower of Israel’s Weapons of Mass Production Facility in the Negev, told her of his childhood, time in the Israeli army, university activism and through his crisis of conscience at the Dimona. Vanunu also shared with me how he stumbled into Christianity just days before loosing total control over his life when the Mossad tracked, trapped and kidnapped him on 30 September 1986, and he then endured 18 years –most all in solitary confinement-in a tomb sized cell in the Israeli prison of Ashkelon. Released on 21 April 2004, to open air captivity in occupied east Jerusalem, Vanunu has endured 24/7 surveillance by Israeli SECURITY who monitor his every email, phone call and potentially every meeting he has ever had with hundreds-if not thousands-of internationals over the last nearly six years.

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“Sometimes they are long meetings. Sometimes they are short. Sometimes they are in public. Sometimes they are not,” Vanunu told me after another serendipitous crossing of paths with him on the 9th Day of Av, 16 July 2007, which was two weeks after he was sentenced to six months more in jail for talking to foreign media in 2004.

Because I am currently writing my third book, I am rereading all I have written about Vanunu since I met him on my first of seven trips to Israel Palestine in 2005. Exactly a year ago I wrote: Vanunu Mordechai J.C.; like a prisoner in a world of mystery - Bob Dylan

The following is but an excerpt from an email VMJC: Mordechai Vanunu, wrote on March 20, 2009:


Vanunu often times writes in third person and cryptically. The J C. stands for John Crossman, the name Vanunu chose when he was baptized at St. John of the Cross Church in Sydney, Australia, just a few weeks prior to being kidnapped by the Mossad and enduring eighteen years in an Israeli jail; and as of April 21, 2009 five more denied the right to leave Israel and denied the right to speak to non-Israeli citizens.

In 1986, Vanunu was convicted of treason and espionage, but what he really did was tell the truth-in words backed up with two rolls of film that proved Israel had already manufactured upwards of 200 nuclear warheads by 1985. 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 interrogated by Nuclear Physicist, Frank Barnaby. Barnaby had been employed by the London 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.

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."[1]

A total of 1,200 pages of transcript of that closed door trial have been released.

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. [2]

The transcript also revealed that Peres, the then prime minister, told the court that Vanunu's revelations "caused serious damage to Israel and their publication led certain Arab countries to harden their stance, to our disadvantage." [Ibid]

Peres stated in a radio interview, "It is not up to Vanunu, or the judiciary, or the media, but the competent bodies to decide on the nature of our deterrent forces. A certain amount of secrecy must be maintained in some fields. The suspicion and fog surrounding this question are constructive, because they strengthen our deterrent."

Peres reiterated the fiction that Israel would never be the first in the Middle East to introduce nuclear weapons into the region and added that Israel "entered the atomic age not to arrive at Hiroshima but to arrive at Oslo." [Ibid]

“You cannot talk like sane men around a peace table while the atomic bomb itself is ticking beneath it. Do not treat the atomic bomb as a weapon of offense; do not treat it as an instrument of the police. Treat the bomb for what it is: the visible insanity of a civilization that has ceased...to obey the laws of life.”- Lewis Mumford, 1946

Peres was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for playing a part in achieving the Oslo Declaration of Principles. Ever since, Peres has been most instrumental in helping to destroy the agreement.

On March 1, 2009, Vanunu wrote in his letter to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee:

I cannot be part of a list of laureates that include Simon Peres. Peres established and developed the atomic weapon program in Dimona in Israel…Peres was the man who ordered [my] kidnapping…he continues to oppose my freedom and release…WHAT I WANT IS FREEDOM AND ONLY FREEDOM….FREEDOM AND ONLY FREEDOM I NEED NOW.

During one of my interviews with Vanunu in June 2005, on top of Papa Andréa's Restaurant in the Old City, where they serve the fish with head and skeleton intact and fries on the side, I asked Vanunu why wasn't he seizing the opportunity that his own web site offered him and write his own story. At the time he was attending many political meetings, church activities and meeting many internationals. I asked him why wasn't he busy writing his own book, especially as others had written books about him but never paid him for his story. Neither did the London Sunday Times, for Vanunu was kidnapped before he ever signed a contract with them.

Vanunu replied that Israel had forbidden him to publish anything. I replied, "So what? You have been forbidden to speak to foreigners and you have done that since April 21, 2004. What difference does it make if you write down the same words that you have been saying out loud? So what if you post those words on your website and send it off to editors of newspapers and magazines? You would be shining a light on Israel's injustices and also the insanity of demanding you not speak your mind. It is your RIGHT!"

Vanunu shrugged and went silent. It was not the first time, nor the last, that I asked a question and received the same response. I told Vanunu that I would then tell his story to America, because I believed that when USA Christians learned the truth about him, everything would change for Vanunu and Palestine. Vanunu looked at me like I was crazy, smiled and said good luck. I told him I didn't need luck, I needed a miracle and I certainly was clueless as to what an impossible mission I had taken-to try to raise awareness in the US about Israeli injustice.

One of the very first questions I ever asked Vanunu was if he chose the name John Crossman because of St. John of the Cross, the Spanish mystic poet and Carmelite brother who was an ardent disciple of Theresa of Avilla’s reforms.

Vanunu replied, “I haven’t read him.”

Not many have, and even fewer understand what he was talking about. John and Theresa greatly agitated the church hierarchy during the time of the Spanish Inquisition for exercising their rights of freedom of conscience, thought, speech and the press, for both were prolific writers. John was slandered and abused for his views and spent months in prison in solitary praying and writing.

John wrote about contemplative prayer-the prayer of silence, no longer a common practice today, but it was back in the days of John of the Cross. John wrote about the contemplative life as the way to divine union of the soul with God in this life. This can only happen through making friends with the silence; and the silence has many demons one will face, for in the silence our egos can be dismantled. In silence we are faced with our self and that can be a most painful process; but we also get glimpses of the infinite and come to realize who we are meant to be. That requires an open heart and is the way to a transformed mind, what Jesus was talking about when he said you must be born again-to see with new eyes that God is in everyone and every circumstance…

Vanunu told me, "In 1963 the Zionists came to my village and encouraged everyone to migrate to Israel…When we arrived in Israel, the Interior Minister assigned us to Beersheba...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.

"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.

"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.

"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…I was angry…I had become [an] outcast… 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.”

John of the Cross knew freedom and contentment in every circumstance. His every thought, deed and action rose up from within his heart/conscience and poured out of him in actions, prose and poetry; the visible expressions of his love for God and god in all people. John of the Cross wrote about the soul united with God and he express in words, what is inexpressible: a mystical experience.

All are called to be mystics; and like the prophets, mystics are misunderstood and misinterpreted.

While imprisoned, John of the Cross penned poetry to express God's Agape love for all; pure, perfect and transforming when it becomes sacrificial love: love in action-doing something compelled by compassion to help another at great cost to oneself and doing it all for love of God first, which also leads to love of everyone else.

In paraphrase of Jesus, no greater love is there that of the one who has lay down his/her life; agenda for another-be it enemy or friend. In 1987, from Ashkelon Prison, Vanunu wrote: "I have no choice. I'm a little man, a citizen, one of the people, but I'll do what I have to. I've heard the voice of my conscience and there's nowhere to hide."

When Vanunu emerged from his windowless tomb sized cell after 18 years on April 21, 2004, he boldly affirmed:

"I am not harming Israel. I am not interested in Israel. I want to tell you something very important. I suffered here 18 years because I am a Christian, because I was baptized into Christianity. If I was a Jew I wouldn't have all this suffering here in isolation for 18 years. Only because I was a Christian man."

I once wrote an Op-ed and called Vanunu a prophet. When he read the piece, he emailed me and in bold letters wrote: "DON'T CALL ME THAT!"

In the spirit of freedom of speech, I do and prophets do NOT predict the future-as much as they point out impending doom and provoke us to at least think about God.

Vanunu pointed the way to Israel's clandestine weapons of mass destruction program underground in the Negev desert in 1986. In 2009, the Dimona remains un-inspected by IAEA inspectors. Vanunu is considered a traitor by many Israelis, but prophets are never recognized or respected by their own. The Hebrew prophet Jeremiah spent much of his life under house arrest in Jerusalem, for being a truth teller. We know more about the personal life and struggles of Jeremiah than any other Hebrew prophet. Jeremiah, translates as "The Lord throws"-as in hurling. He had few friends and is considered primarily a prophet of doom.

Jeremiah was intensely introspective, self-critical, timid by nature but honest and open about his feelings. Jeremiah never married and began prophesying in Judah from 604-586, a time of storm and stress when the doom of entire nations-including Judah itself-was being sealed. Jeremiah had been the king's friend and confident, but the prophet soon entered a dreary round of persecution and imprisonment, alternating with only brief periods of freedom, and lived under virtual house arrest for speaking his conscience.

"I cannot keep silent…Disaster follows disaster; the land lies in ruins…My people are fools; they do not know me."-Jeremiah 4:19.

In November 2009, Vanunu suffered another crisis of faith and has wrote, "RELIGION IS BULLSHIT." [3]


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