On 3 March 2010, Representative Patrick Kennedy was lambasted by the media for "having a melt down" when his Irish temper erupted on the floor of The House over The Media's apathy regarding War, Peace, US funding and our troops in Afghanistan and its obsession with ex-Rep. Eric Massa who was facing allegations of sexual misconduct.
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 and every court date since of Mordechai Vanunu's Freedom of Speech trial and appeal in Israel. Vanunu is the 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.
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 me of his childhood, time in the Israeli army, university activism and his crisis of conscience that led him to shoot two rolls of film in top secret locales in the Dimona's seven story underground WMD Facility located in the Negev desert.
In 2005, Vanunu recalled the last time he was there, "At that time there were more than 200 atomic weapons, in 1986, and they started to produce the most horrible of all weapons, the hydrogen bomb in secret, in lying and in cheating the world and all of its citizens. So I said to myself it is impossible to keep these secrets. I must report about them and to try and stop it."
I was more interested in learning how and why Vanunu had become Christian just days before losing total control of his life when the Mossad tracked, trapped and kidnapped him on 30 September 1986. Vanunu then endured a closed-door trial, was convicted of treason and espionage and sentenced to 18 years, most all spent in solitary confinement, in a tomb sized windowless cell in Ashkelon prison.
Released on 21 April 2004, to open air captivity in occupied east Jerusalem, Vanunu has been subjected to 24/7 surveillance by Israel 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.
"Sometimes they are long meetings. Sometimes they are short. Sometimes they are in public. Sometimes they are not," Vanunu told me after another chance crossing of paths with him on the 9th Day of Av, 16 July 2007.
The 9th day of Av is the day the Jewish Temple was destroyed, and I was on my way down Nablus Road in East Jerusalem just after attending Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions/ICAHD media kick off day for the rebuilding of the first of 300 homes to be rebuilt this summer, out of the over 18,000 Palestinian dwellings Israel had at that time destroyed. As of this writing, that number tops 24,000.
Under International Humanitarian Law and the Fourth Geneva Convention, the occupiers are to maintain the status quo, not pilfer the resources of the indigenous population or transfer their population into occupied territories. Israel denies the fact that they are occupiers and the American government and mainstream media have played along.
Indigenous Palestinians are denied building permits by Israel while USA fundamentalist Christian churches financially support and pray for the illegal settlements, which are in fact colonies erected on legally owned Palestinian land.
Twenty-five internationals, dozens of Israelis and scores of Palestinians had created a community upon the rocky land of the Hamdan family of nine with intent to hand the keys of the house over to Hassan Yussef Hamdan and his family fourteen days from the 9th of Av.
The Hamdan clan has legally owned the land and has the deed that was filled-out in Hassan Yussef's great-grandfather's name, during the Ottoman Empire. The oldest son, Mohammed's grandmother, Um Mohammad addressed the media in Arabic which was translated into English by Nadia another ICAHD volunteer, while the foundation of the house was being poured, "We own twenty-five pieces of land, twenty-five meters is one piece. After building our home here, we received papers demanding we demolish our own home. We got a lawyer in Tel Aviv, and after paying $10,000.00 she did nothing. The soldiers came under our window and we hired another lawyer and had to pay 70,000 shekels within two hours to hold off the soldiers. The soldiers came back two more times, after more negotiations the soldiers came back a third time and destroyed our home."
ICAHD spokesmen, Meir Margalit admitted, "We are here because we are embarrassed and ashamed of our government. A decent person cannot handle what this government puts innocent people through. We are doing this for both sides; for the innocent families and to keep the moral values of Judaism alive."
American Israeli, Aviva Joseph wrapped it up when she informed the crowd, "We are here building on the 9th day of Av, the day the Jewish Temple was destroyed. I was born in Chile into an Orthodox Zionist home. Both my parents are Holocaust survivors. When I was ten I use to go to Bethlehem, but after the first intifada, things began closing down; physical walls and psychological walls. I lived in Gilo, some call it a settlement, some a neighborhood and I lived in a small box with my own myth. Now I live in California and things you see from there you can't see here and other things you must come here to see what cannot be seen anywhere else. I love Israel but until I began listening to the voices of the marginalized did I see I was living my own myth. The work is not just in the head, but in the heart; opening both sides to a new paradigm with compassion. It must be like hydrogen and oxygen the sides coming together; who could have thought that would make water?"God's Side and The 9th of Av: Number 9, Number 9, Number 9
As I made my way back to my hotel imagining jumping in the pool but still in awe of the selflessness of the community of internationals, Palestinians and Israelis I had just left who were building a home under a cloudless sun, when I was jolted from my reverie by the unmistakable voice of Mordechai Vanunu.