The following is excerpted from
BEYOND NUCLEAR: Mordechai Vanunu 's FREEDOM of SPEECH Trial and My Life as a Muckraker
Chapter 16: MYSTICAL CHRISTMAS EVES
"The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." - John 1:5
On Christmas Eve evening of 2007, I picked up my snail mail and opened up a card from Jerusalem. Vanunu made me laugh out loud, for he addressed it to: "Eileen Flaming" not Fleming, which is my actual name.
I picked my Christmas Eve mail up three years to the very hour to when I had first read an article by Jerry Levin about Vanunu's 2004 Christmas Eve arrest for attempting to travel the less than two-hour walk from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. Levin had been a CNN Mid East Bureau Chief in the 1980's and a secular Jew when he was kidnapped and held hostage by the Lebanese Hezbollah. Levin escaped his captivity unharmed shortly after a mystical Christmas Eve experience and he then became a committed Christian. Jerry was my guide through Hebron on the first day of summer 2005 and it was on that very evening that I met Vanunu for the first time.
It was from Jerry Levin's Christmas Eve 2004
article about Vanunu's Christmas Eve that I also learned that Vanunu had been
released from Ashkelon eight months prior. I hadn't heard a word about it when
that happened and learning about that at the same time as another arrest, set
my Irish temper off and flaming. I spent hours that evening at my computer
emailing letters to the editors and my congressional reps about how unjust of
Israel to deny someone the right to worship in the next town. How ignorant I
was to think they would care, for I had not yet learned that what Vanunu had
been subjected to, is standard operating procedures against Palestinians every
day of the year.
In 2004, Vanunu had attempted to celebrate his first Christmas Eve Mass back in the world, 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 night in prison and Israel claimed Vanunu was "attempting to leave the county" but he has no passport or visa and was only carrying a Santa hat. I tried to comprehend how a democracy could deny anyone from worshiping anywhere and anyhow they desired.
I read Jerry's article just moments after my own mystical Christmas Eve experience. After my husband who played piano and our daughter who sings at a local Methodist church, left for two services that evening, I spent an hour walking in the woods adjacent to our home with our dogs. When I returned to our circular driveway, the very moment I stepped onto the pavement and off the dirt road, a security light that had not lit since the summer before turned on.
"How weird is that!" I thought as that light had been extinguished since 25 September 2004, when Hurricane Jeanne blew through and became the reason why I did not have scheduled surgery the day after. Due to many years of rollerblading and dancing, my left kneecap had wedged itself out of place and I was unable to bear any weight on my left leg. The orthopedist informed me that the only way to fix me, was to cut my knee wide open, remove and reattach my knee cap and put me in a leg cast for six weeks.
I spent three weeks on bed rest and three times a day I massaged my knee with Holy Land olive oil from Taybeh. The night before I was scheduled for surgery, Hurricane Jeanne blew over our sanctuary and downed dozens of trees along our quarter mile driveway and left us without electricity for many days afterward. I canceled my surgery as there was no way to even get to the main road and on the day after that, I asked my orthopedist for a physical therapy prescription. He warned me surgery was my only long-term solution, but gave me the script and I have proved him wrong. The combo of bed rest, olive oil, prayer and a change in my life style, six year later I roller blade two or three times a week, dance a little and do a lot of Pilates, and have not needed any surgery.
In the moment after the security light on my circular drive lit for the first time in three months on Christmas Eve 2004, I felt it a confirmation that the "lemon aide' out of Hurricane Jeanne had been the healing of my left knee.