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.
In front of me I had noticed an old man, hunched over shoulders, walking very slowly and muttering to himself, but not until I passed him by and I recognized the voice that called out to me, "Hi, remember me?"
That I realized it was Vanunu.
previously, Vanunu had received a six-month jail sentence as outcome to his
freedom of speech trial. We had crossed paths in front of St. Stephen's
Dominican Church on Nablus Road.
Photo of Vanunu by Meir Vanunu, Nov. 2007 in front of statue of St. Stephen
Vanunu smiled when he said, "This is the spot where they stoned to death the first Christian martyr for freedom of speech."
St. Stephen was indeed the very first Christian martyr to be stoned to death for speaking truth to power and Vanunu had quit giving interviews, as he said, "Because the media has never helped me."
Amy Goodman's interview with Vanunu in 2004 was used as major testimony against him in his freedom of speech trial that began the same day Hamas was democratically elected on 25 January 2006.
Amy Goodman was a
2008 recipient of The Right Livelihood Award, known as the Alternative Nobel,
which Vanunu was awarded in 1987, and received at a belated ceremony in
Jerusalem in 2005. Vanunu wrote in his acceptance speech from Ashkelon prison:
"The passive acceptance and complacency with regard to the existence of nuclear weapons anywhere on earth is the disease of society today.
"This struggle is not only a legitimate one - it is a moral, inescapable struggle. What we who are opposed to nuclear arms are saying is this: it is not we who broke the law, who violated human and civil rights, but the governments which chose to create the greatest threat to human life that ever existed. Never in human history was there such a threat to the very existence of mankind and to all life on earth.
"And no government, not even the most democratic, can force us to live under this threat. No state in the world can offer any kind of security against this menace of a nuclear holocaust, or guarantee to prevent it.
"By returning to the pre-nuclear era we are the sane civilians, we want to live - and we say to the governments, "no nuclear arms!"
"We must arouse people and warn them. Ours is the role of the angry prophet.