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General News    H3'ed 6/17/09

A Sunday with Vanunu

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Occupied East Jerusalem, June 15, 2009- Mordechai Vanunu and I, first crossed paths on the first day of summer in 2005, which was five days before my return to the USA from my first 16 Days in Israel Palestine .

On my last evening of my seventh trip to occupied east Jerusalem, Vanunu and I had a drink at the American Colony. Vanunu had a Taybeh beer, which is produced in the last remaining self-sufficient and last remaining Christian village in the entire West Bank.

I ordered a Vodka tonic and Vanunu warned me, that I should never have more than one shot a day. I replied, it was only my first and I had my last in the taxi on my way to Ben Gurion Airport. I knew it would be hours before I cleared SECURITY and the game we played  had gotten tiresome for me- and I imagine it a death unto them who make a paycheck for interrogating those who are Telling the Truth at Ben Gurion...

For the first eight days of my ten day trip, I was embedded with CODE PINK activist's, but missed their June 14th demonstration during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech at Tel Aviv University against Israel's invasion of Gaza, illegal settlements and the apartheid wall.

"Heavy handed police treatment of the CODEPINK: Women for Peace delegation began immediately after members of the group unfurled several pink banners that read "Free Gaza" and "End the Occupation."  CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin and New York activist Zool Zulkowitz were physically dragged across the street...A French journalist who was a member of the CODEPINK delegation, was arrested as she crossed a small street in an attempt to take photos of the demonstration...Israeli police and military violently shoved the group back into a wall. Delegation member Tighe Barry from Santa Monica, California was struck in the face with the butt of a military rifle and pushed to the ground...he was treated for a concussion, an injured neck and an asthma attack.

"When President Obama spoke in Cairo on June 4, a separate CODEPINK delegation that had just returned from six days in Gaza in early June, held a demonstration right outside Cairo University holding signs that read "Stop funding Israeli War Crimes."  Egyptian police allowed the demonstration to take place.

"Is this the great democracy that the
U.S. taxpayers pay for with $3 billion dollars a year?" cried Medea Benjamin as she was being dragged away by the police." Ann Wright, retired US Army Reserves Colonel, former U.S. diplomat, CODE PINK activist who has visited Gaza three times in the past three months, co-leading two delegations of over 120 committed justice and peace activists.

Although I missed all that action, I had the blessed opportunity to reconnect with Vanunu after suffering a major failure of communication last year; and now, that is all water under the bridge.

Vanunu admitted, "I was isolating myself from my supporters" but the times have changed and he is meeting with anyone who stops by his table between the hours of 3-5 PM, in the garden restaurant of the American Colony, in occupied east Jerusalem. I arrived at 5:30 to attend a book reading with him and he informed me that Tony Blair had rented the entire second floor for one million a year and Jimmy Carter was at the moment having a meeting with Uri Avnery and Adam Keller.

Vanunu was smiling and hesitant when he said, "I have to ask you something that I thought sometimes. That you were FBI or CIA. With all these things you write, I thought someone else is telling you to write all these things."

I laughed out loud- but not surprised- and replied, "In a way, someone does tell me what to write down. I only write what I hear in my heart and that is where I hear God; what ever He-She is, I don't know, but I have no doubt That Mystery is guiding me. Everything is connected and God is within every situation."

Vanunu leaned back and scanned the garden, then leaned in and said, "I don't really know you."

I laughed again and replied, "Anyone can. Just read KEEP HOPE ALIVE."

The day before, I had given him a copy inscribed that he appears on page 102 and throughout Chapter 11, and I speak through Jack, Jake, Terese, Brother Harold, Kat and Riad.

However, it was Vanunu who inspired me to became a citizen journalist, and three weeks after my first trip to occupied east Jerusalem I established my website and have been reporting from day one of Vanunu's historic FREEDOM of SPEECH trial in the 'democracy' of Israel which began on January 25, 2006.

On July 2, 2007, Israel sentenced Vanunu to six months in jail for speaking to foreigners-who happened to be media- in 2004.

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