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Keeping Hope Alive

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"The peace of the world begins in Jerusalem"-Rev. Theodore Hessburgh, Jerusalem, June 2005

On my first trip to Israel Palestine, just before sundown on the first day of summer in 2005, I first crossed paths with Mordechai Vanunu in the courtyard of St. George's Cathedral.

Two days later-and just days within his disbanding of the USA Campaign to Free Mordechai Vanunu- he answered two of my many question in this message to USA Christians:

On April 21, 2004, Vanunu's long time friend and supporter, Susannah York published a few of the letters Vanunu wrote her from prison between 1996-2004.

She wrote:  

I became involved in the Mordechai Vanunu campaign about 12 years ago when I read his poem I Am Your Spy at a benefit for him in London which came about because of my involvement in the peace movement. The poem explained how he was just a cog in a vast machine.

[READ it here: ]

We started corresponding - I am one of very many people around the world who has been writing to and receiving letters from Mordechai over the years.

People ask me what I feel about him. I like him, I like this man. You feel that here is a hero for our times. Inside this interesting grown-up man there is also a child that believes in faith and hope and charity.

I gradually became part of the campaign and then eventually a trustee and this is my third visit to Israel on Mordechai Vanunu business. This is obviously the most important and the most joyful of the visits. I am going to be back in Bristol on Friday doing a concert for Mordechai and for Shakespeare's birth and it is good to welcome him back to the world. [1]

Vanunu remains an open air prisoner captive in occupied east Jerusalem, still forbidden by Israel to leave the state and speak to foreigners. His Supreme Court appeal fighting three months in jail for speaking to foreign media in 2004, is still to be announced. 

I had not even heard the name Vanunu, until 2004, when I stumbled upon his incredible story while doing the research for my first book, KEEP HOPE ALIVE. In this excerpt from it, I speak through the fictional characters Jake and Riad, and put only a few words into the mouths of the actual people who very well could have conversed on Thanksgiving Eve, 1987:

In 2004, I wrote:

Louise stretched, locked eyes with Khaled, and said, “What we need are more people who are impatient with evil and patient with people — more people with the courage to fight for social justice and not worry that when they step out on nothing but the truth, it will be a very long time before they get to land, but when they do, it will be on very sound ground.”

Jake finished plucking his bird, sat back, then declared, “Before you go, I have a few questions about your Middle East Communications Group. I want to know why there are never any moderate Muslims speaking out against the terrorists. Why, when Sadat was assassinated back in 1981 by radical Muslims, did none of the Muslims condemn the murder, and still haven’t? Sadat was making progress. Peace seemed possible over there, and his own people murdered him.”

Cid agreed readily. “Jake that is a problem the Jewish people also express. Moderate Muslims are too often mute, but I never hesitate to condemn terrorism when it comes from our leaders in Israel or America.”

Khaled jumped up and began to pace around the fire, and the neighbors sat back down. “Look, you are not an Arab in the United States! You have no idea the racist attitudes many of us have experienced from certain Americans and so, have been too silent about many things! But we most certainly agree that any violence done to another is wrong! The misguided Muslims who resort to violence are not following what the Koran really teaches. What I read in the Koran is that it proclaims the unity, omnipotence, omniscience, and mercy of God, as well as the total dependence of all human life upon him. It is true part of the problem is we Palestinians do not want to call attention to the fact that we are Arabs because we Arabs are the target of racism in the USA! We do not want our children to be labeled and scorned, so we have failed to speak out as we should!

“Please understand that the Koran has 192 references to God’s compassion and mercy, and only 17 references to his wrath and vengeance. The true meaning of infidel is one who is ungrateful, or one who denies the existence of the Supreme Being. Everyone gathered here tonight is a person of the book and should never be labeled as an infidel. I am sorry for the actions of my brethren who are focused on wrath and vengeance, violence and destruction. They are not true Muslims! I do understand they are acting out of a deep despair caused by the injustice they have been acutely living with for fifty years. Please have some mercy and understand that until we address the root of the problem, there will be continued instability in the Middle East. My people have been forgotten by the world!

“Every violent retaliation only solidifies the opponent’s despair, and more violence has become their answer. First Sadat was assassinated, and then twenty thousand Muslims were killed in a twenty-seven day bombing in the city of Hama, for that had been their headquarters among the innocent people. This overkill of innocent people must stop!

“Tell me, Jake, how do you justify the 1982 Israeli-backed Christian militia, which annihilated 1,000-1,500 Palestinian and Lebanese civilians in Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps? Ariel Sharon was in charge of the training, and he trained the attackers in the art of terrorism! Why isn’t he being condemned for terrorism, too?”

Cid jumped in. “Khaled, I agree; that attack was cold blooded murder, and Sharon and the entire Israeli government should be held accountable.”

Jake spoke while chewing on his cigar. “Hey, that’s a good point; I don’t even remember hearing about any investigation into that matter. But I am more concerned about all the plane highjackings and learning about the underground Israeli nuclear program. Last October, when I took Terese to London for our anniversary, I read an incredible story of a Jew named Mordechai Vanunu in the London Sunday Times.19

“I have yet to read or heard a word from the American press about Vanunu who had worked in a very compartmentalized position in the secret underground Dimona nuclear research center in the Negev. The nuclear plant had a sign outside claiming it was a Textile factory and it seems that when Vanunu finally realized he was involved in the horrific work of manufacturing weapons of mass destruction, he shot two rolls of film inside of the restricted areas. Seems security was very lax and this low level tech was able to obtain the keys in the shower room that opened the doors to what Israel has not admitted to. Anyway, Vanunu quits the job and leaves Israel and carried around the undeveloped film for nearly a year as he traveled throughout Europe. He ended up in Sydney, Australia and converted
to Christianity.

“A few weeks after he shared his story with a British reporter, I think his name was Peter Hounam. Anyway, Vanunu and this reporter returned to London, and while the London Times was verifying the photos, Vanunu mysteriously disappeared. The photos proved the fact that Israel had become a major nuclear power, but not a word has been heard from my government nor press!

“The Sunday Times reports this incredible news that Israel’s underground plutonium plant has material for two hundred nuclear warheads of advanced design, but not a word have I read about it or heard from the US media! It makes me wonder about all the iron curtains the media and government have raised as a shield from the truth.”

Riad interjected, "That's not all, Jake, and the facts are that even before that story ran, the Mossad had lured Vanunu to Italy, abducted him, and dumped his drugged body onto an Israeli cargo vessel bound for Israel. Vanunu has been charged with treason and is being tried in a closed-door trial. Incredible what a democracy can get away with when the media fails to do what it is commissioned to: investigate and report the truth!”

Khaled stretched his legs toward the fire and looked into Cid’s eyes as he spoke. “Jake, Israeli’s nuclear program has been an open secret for some time, but has never received attention from the American press. I know my Palestinian brethren have done many bad things. I do not excuse or defend them. But, when they see America turn a blind eye to the many bad things the Israelis do, well, it just continues the cycle.”

Jake chewed his cigar as he spoke. “If I may play devil’s advocate here, I would say Israel is only trying to protect itself from hostile neighbors. But then, by that logic, why shouldn’t the twenty-two Arab countries also have the right to do the same? All I know is that the first casualty of war is Mother Nature. This really gets my Irish up!

“The killing of innocent people and destruction of the environment has become acceptable collateral damage. God is within all life, and creation is God’s dwelling place. And besides, people are to be caretakers of creation. No religion owns God, no denomination can own Jesus and no people can own any land! The best they can do is possess it. I hate to think what the Supreme Being feels when we obliterate the face and word of God in creation. Be it with bombs or over construction, it makes me crazy when people are blind to the sacredness of all life. Jesus taught me to pray for my enemies, forgive my enemies, and do good towards my enemies. It’s no wonder they crucified him. The message JC brought about the Peacemakers being the children of God, was not popular 2,000 years ago, nor is it now.” -Pages 100-101

"The peace of the world begins in Jerusalem"
-Rev. Theodore Hessburgh, Jerusalem, June 2005

The Rest:

16 Days in Israel Palestine

Vanunu's letters to Susannah York:


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Eileen Fleming,is a Citizen of CONSCIENCE for US House of Representatives 2012 Founder of Staff Member of, A Feature Correspondent for Producer "30 Minutes with Vanunu" and "13 Minutes with Vanunu" (more...)
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