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Democracy in Name Only

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Mordechai Vanunu grew up in an Orthodox Jewish home but abandoned the faith by his mid teens. He became interested in the existentialist writers and was an atheist for nearly two decades before he converted to Christianity. He was baptized just weeks before he was kidnapped by the Mossad, endured a closed door trial and then spent the next 18 years in jail-most of it in solitary for telling the world the truth: that Israel had gone nuclear.

Although 'freed' in April 2004, he is forbidden to leave Israel, forbidden to speak to media and to foreigners under the draconian restrictions of the Emergency Defense Regulations which were implemented first by Britain against Palestinians and Jews after World War II.

After WW II, Attorney Yaccov Shapiro, who later became Israel's Minister Of Justice, described the Emergency Defense Regulations which denies Vanunu the inalienable rights of freedom of speech and movement as "unparalleled in any civilized country: there were no such laws in Nazi Germany."[N.S. Ateek, Justice and Only Justice p.34]

On May 14, 1948 The Declaration of the establishment of Israel stated:

"One the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations."

In the spirit of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights -which Israel agreed to uphold and was contingent upon its statehood-Vanunu does speak to media and foreigners, and could very well face more jail time.

In my March 2006 interview with the Whistleblower he stated, "This administration tells me I am not allowed to speak to foreigners, the Media, and the world. But I do because that is how I prove my true humanity to the world. My freedom of speech trial began January 25, 2006 for speaking to the media, the same day as the Palestinian elections."

Only three journalists were present to cover the first day of that historic case which was to resume October 30, 2006, but which has now been postponed to a future date which is unknown as of this writing.

Just before my first journey to Israel and Palestine in June 2005, a Palestinian American warned me, "Don't visit Vanunu, if you see him, and don't speak to him. He's not allowed to speak to foreigners and you could cause him trouble."

I responded, "OK, I won't track him down, but Jerusalem is a small town and if our paths cross, I will speak to him. What kind of government is that, that will tell a human being who they can and cannot talk with?"

I did not cross paths with Vanunu until the third Tuesday in June which was five days before I returned to the USA. I had spent a most horrific day in Hebron-the most painful experience in my life. Hebron is where 450 Israeli settlers are protected by 3,000 IDF. Above the narrow winding stoned streets a thick deeply sagging netting is strung for protection from all the huge rocks, shovels, electronic equipment, furniture and all manner of debris that have been flung onto it by the settlers in hopes it will give way and hit any Palestinian who is passing underneath it.

Many of the formerly Palestinian homes in Hebron have graffiti such as "GAS THE ARABS" and Stars of David painted upon them. I felt like I had entered into every movie set and photograph I had ever seen of the ghettos during World War II.

When I returned to my room at the Ambassador Hotel that afternoon I had no intention of going back out. But the second I got out of the shower, the phone rang and it was Tony from Ramallah, [an Internet connection] who happened to be in Jerusalem that day seeing a Doctor. Tony invited me to dinner and we walked towards the Old City in search of a restaurant. On our way was St. George Cathedral where Vanunu had been living, and we stopped in hoping to invite him along. As we entered the courtyard, Vanunu was leaving for a meeting. I imagine if we had arrived a few minutes later we would have missed him completely and I most likely would never have crossed paths with the Whistleblower of Israel's WMD Program.

But, that chance meeting led to my opportunity to spend a few hours with Vanunu over the next few days. I was curious as to what kind of a kid he had been and why he became a Christian. What I learned is in Chapter 11 of Keep Hope Alive.

It is remarkable, perhaps even miraculous, that Vanunu is not crazy from being locked up in solitary for most of the 18 years he spent in jail and the frustrations of the past 2 ½ years of restrictions against him that keep him captive in Jerusalem.

What Vanunu told me in June about his time in jail was, "The Shen Beet, you know like the FBI and the Mossad, like your CIA were watching me. They tortured me by keeping a light on in my cell constantly for 2 years. They told me it was because they were afraid I would commit suicide, and the oppressive camera was for my safety. They recruited the guards and other prisoners to irritate me. They would deprive me of sleep by making loud noises near my cell all night long.

"I chose to read them 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 instead; Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with THE TRUTH! It always protects, it always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails.

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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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