Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, April 2009
The Jewish State Vs. Mordechai Vanunu:
A Case of Christian Persecution
By Eileen Fleming
ccun.org, April 14, 2009
On April 10, 2009, Billy Briggs reported from occupied east Jerusalem that Mordechai Vanunu informed him, "I was walking here this morning and a car drew slowly up alongside me. There were four men in the car wearing sunglasses. One of them shouted at me…the car followed me…the man call out again in Hebrew. 'You are garbage,' he said. But I kept on walking and ignoring him." 
When Vanunu entered the foyer of his rundown backpacker's hotel the men "leapt from the vehicle, flashed ID cards and ushered him into the back seat. Residents and traders, many of whom know the famous Israeli, stood and watched his public humiliation.
"They took me to the local station and warned me not to go to Bethlehem this year to celebrate Christmas. They said they'd be watching me and that I should also not speak to journalists or foreigners." [Ibid]
The Shin Bet has developed a ritual of publicly harassing Vanunu at Christmas and Easter time because he is a Christian convert; an unpardonable sin for particular people.
When the whistle blower of Israel's WMD Program emerged into the light of day after 18 years in a windowless tomb sized cell on April 21, 2004 he announced:
"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."
On December 19, 2004 over 40 journalists, seven T.V. cameras and a SRO crowd gathered for a press conference in East Jerusalem to listen to Mordechai Vanunu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mairead Maguire and Issam Makhoul, a Member of the Knesset, who said:
"Only those who struggle for total disarmament of the Middle East, including Israel, of all weapons of mass destruction - nuclear, biological and chemical - has the moral right to condemn Iran for its nuclear project. The countries that equip Israel with the means to launch nuclear warheads, that supply it with submarines and enable it to develop its missiles, do not have the moral right to condemn the Iranian nuclear project. Anyone who opposes the Iranian project must also oppose the Israeli nuclear arsenal.
"Along with Mordechai Vanunu, I and other Israeli activists refuse to be silenced. We continue to demand, that our government reveal the truth about its WMDs, enable a full international inspection of all WMD sites and dismantle its arsenal. To this end, we are currently involved in organizing an international conference on a nuclear-free Mediterranean area, to be held in April 2005. This date marks the first anniversary of Vanunu's release from prison. This date will hopefully mark the beginning of an anti-nuclear movement in Israel.
"Mordechai Vanunu is not a traitor, he is an Israeli hero. The nuclear bomb does not protect Israel, it endangers Israel."
Mairead Corrigan Maguire urged the Israeli government to free Vanunu from the restrictions that have held him hostage in Israel and to "let Mordechai come home for Christmas."
When the press asked Vanunu why he refuses to speak to the Israeli media in Hebrew, Vanunu answered in Hebrew: "The government of Israel refuses to recognize my human rights. I am prohibited from speaking to foreigners. I say to the Israeli public: I am not your enemy. All I want is for Israel to abolish its nuclear weapons, to respect the rights of the Palestinian people and to let me go free."
Continuing in English, Vanunu stated, that he has no further secrets to reveal about Israel's nuclear reactor and that he demands the right to express his anti-nuclear views, to speak freely to the media and to write his prison memoirs. All he wants for Christmas, Vanunu said, was to be free to leave Israel and celebrate with his adoptive family in the USA. 
Vanunu still hasn't made it home for Christmas, and in fact was arrested on two Christmas Eve's:
In 2004, Vanunu attempted to celebrate his first Christmas Eve Mass as a Christian in the Little Town of Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, which is in Occupied Territory. Instead of mass, Israel arrested him and Vanunu spent Christmas Eve behind bars and was charged with "attempting to leave the county." [The distance is less than five miles.]
On Dec. 25, 2007, Vanunu wrote:
Bad news, the police come to the American Colony to arrest me. I was meeting a young German girl who wanted to know more about my story. They took us to the police questioning me [and held] me until midnight 24:00. Not so impressive all this again arrest. I think the police was waiting for my arrest in Bethlehem…Any way life will continue as I am doing all the Time. vmjc
On Dec. 27, 2007 Vanunu wrote: They were very harsh to the young German girl, they were questioning here like by the KGB, or Stasi, she was in a separate room. She was still there after I left at 24:00. I did not go to Bethlehem, because I knew they were waiting for me. So do what ever you can, you are in a free country. I did not meet Vanunu until June 2005, but I read about his Christmas Eve arrest [in an internet email from Jerry Levin on Christmas Eve] and I could not comprehend how a democracy could deny anyone from worshiping any where they desired. However, I had not yet taken my first trip to the Holy Land, so I did not know how much I did not know about Israel and occupied Palestine.
The injustice of any one who has served their time for what ever crime and is still being persecuted got my Irish up, and as it was a Christian in the Holy Land, I was flaming mad! So, on Christmas Eve 2004, I spent hours at my computer emailing Mr. Bill O'Reilly-the champion of the "war on Christmas" and my local paper; the Orlando Sentinel, and dozens of top USA media outlets, in the naive belief that the Fourth Estate would report on a case of religious persecution against a Christian by the Jewish state. How little I knew then how deluded I was -but ignorance can be a bit of bliss and the rejection by lack of interest, only fueled my desire to persist to plead Vanunu's cause because freedom of speech and the press are my most precious liberties, and also how I define democracy. In 2004, I naively believed Vanunu's ordeal was unusual and that the USA Fourth Estate cared about the best interests of Americans and would seek the truth and report the truth-no matter how ugly or brutal. After my first of six trips to Israel Palestine in 2005, I grew up very quickly. In 2007, Israel "blocked clergy from reaching their churches and Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem and elsewhere in the Holy Land…
The Israeli authorities are arbitrarily denying entry to clergy and volunteers belonging to or working for Christian institutions and service providers. The clergy being harassed and denied entry to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) join tens of thousands of ordinary foreign passport holders of Palestinian and non-Palestinian origin who wish to be with their families, work or study, as well as tourists and pilgrims…In addition, there appears to be a new policy by Israel to refuse entry or visa extension for foreign, primarily Western, Christian volunteers working with various Christian organizations here. This is affecting the viability of these organizations and the normal connection with their supporters and fellow Christians in the countries that contribute to the presence of these Christian workers. They represent mainstream Christian and faith-based groups, such as the World Council of Churches and the American Friend's Service Committee that advocate non- violence and brotherhood and are in no way a threat to the security of Israel…Israel has continued to pursue both policies and practices that fail to comply with International Humanitarian Law."
Although Vanunu was released after 18 years in prison on April 21, 2004, he has been held captive in East Jerusalem under the draconian restrictions of the British Mandate.
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."
On November 24th, 2006 Vanunu wrote: My lawyer succeeded to reveal a few very important facts:
1. This General of the Army also was not allowed to see all the secrets that he is required to protect by these restrictions that they claim I know them. So, he gave orders of restrictions without knowing what he is protecting or that he is also following orders blindly, and Mossad Sheen Bet using its authority for just punishing me. 2. He testified that it is not a crime for me to talk with foreigners in general anywhere. 3. He testified that I can speak freely to any Israeli citizens about anything; it is not his concern what I am saying to them. These Israelis can give this information to any foreigners. It was difficult for the Judge to understand why this dichotomy exits between foreigners and Israelis. It means that it is not about secrecy but about something else."
When I saw Vanunu in July 2007, we crossed paths directly in front of Saint Stephen's Church. Vanunu had learned a few weeks prior that he was sentenced to six months in jail for speaking to media in 2004. Vanunu smiled when he told me that the site was "the very spot where they stoned to death the first Christian martyr for freedom of speech."
Vanunu's Supreme Court appeal is imminent and the 5th year of restrictions that deny Vanunu the right to leave the state and the right to speak to non-Israeli's expire April 21, 2009.
Israel's statehood was contingent upon upholding the UN 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 Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.-Article 13:2
Political stability in the Middle East begins when states that claim to be democracies-are indeed one.
http://www.theage.com.au/world/a-defiant-spirit-20090410-a2vs.html http://www.rense.com/general61/vanu.htm Press Release Dec. 24, 2007, from www.RightToEnter
Eileen Fleming, is the Founder of WAWA: http://www.wearewideawake.org/ Author "Keep Hope Alive" and "Memoirs of a Nice Irish American 'Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory" She produced "30 Minutes With Vanunu" and "13 Minutes with Vanunu" because corporate media has been MIA all during a Freedom of Speech Trial in Israel.
-- Only in Solidarity do "we have it in our power to begin the world again."-Tom Paine http://www.wearewideawake.org/
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