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Parliament, Mordechai Vanunu, Kuttab, Congress and Goldstone

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On October 27, 2009, in the House of Parliament, two UK politicians are on the record discussing Israel's nukes, a nuke free Middle East Peace and Mordechai Vanunu.

Peter Kilfoyle is from Liverpool and Ivan Lewis's responsibilities include the Middle East, Counter Terrorism, Counter Proliferation, South East Asia and Far East, North America, Drugs and International Crime and Migration and he is a member of the Labour Party.

Members: Correspondence Middle East: Peace Negotiations

Mr. Kilfoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his most recent assessment is of the threat to peace in the Middle East posed by Israel's possession of nuclear weapons. [295257]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made clear on 20 October 2009, Official Report, column 757, the UK has voted consistently in support of a nuclear-free Middle East as part of a drive for nuclear disarmament around the world.

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We continue to believe that a negotiated solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, delivering a viable Palestinian State alongside a secure Israel, is a critical part of achieving peace and security in the region.

Mordechai Vanunu

Mr. Kilfoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Israel on the situation of Mordechai Vanunu. [295258]

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Mr. Ivan Lewis: We raised Mr Vanunu's case with the Israeli Government on a number of occasions during his detention. After Mr Vanunu was released, we then raised the conditions of his release with the Israeli Government.

We will continue to follow the case and should we judge that the circumstances have changed to mean that an intervention by the UK is likely to achieve significant movement than we will consider making further representations. [1]

The last time I saw Vanunu was on June 14, 2009, and he told me:

"They renewed the restrictions to not speak to foreigners until November. I meet foreigners every day. I am talking
with people every day. But I am not writing or announcing - I am waiting for a new court date. The Central Commander of the General Army testified in court that it is OK if I speak in public as long as I do not talk about nuclear weapons." [2]

The last time I phoned Vanunu was on July 6, 2009 a few hours after Israeli Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish continued to deny him the right to leave the state for another 6 months claiming his "case is still generating great interest, like any other security-related case. The media's attention he gets is proof of that."

My interviews with Vanunu focused on his childhood and how his faith helped him endure 18 years behind bars and five more under surveillance in occupied east Jerusalem denied the right to leave the state while being battered around in a freedom of speech trial in a kangaroo court beginning January 25, 2006-the same day Hamas was democratically and transparently elected.

The last thing Vanunu said to me:


"You have freedom of speech and freedom of movement. Do what you want. But I am not publishing anything. Everything is already on the Internet."

Here is a 1:19 minute excerpt from "30 Minutes with Vanunu" and I personally delivered 50- copies to offices in the Senate and the House in late 2006; but not one rep could be bothered to send me a reply.

Vanunu's Message to Hillary Clinton re: The Apartheid Wall Another time Vanunu's name came up in Congress was in April 1999, when thirty-six members of the House of Representatives signed a letter calling for Vanunu's release from prison because they believed "we have a duty to stand up for men and women like Mordechai Vanunu who dare to articulate a brighter vision for humanity."

President Clinton responded with a public statement expressing concern for Vanunu and the need for Israel and other non-parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty to adhere to it and accept IAEA safeguards.

Last Friday, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen introduced H.Res.867, calling on the Obama Administration to "oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration" of the Report of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, known as the Goldstone Report.

This is a dangerous resolution that endorses the Obama Administration to continue to shield Israel from accountability for war crimes it committed, as documented by the Goldstone Report, before, during, and after its assault on the Gaza Strip in December 2008-January 2009.

The resolution also undermines support for the universality of human rights and contains numerous inaccuracies regarding the Goldstone Report.

On October 10, 2009, Jonathan Kuttab spoke at a Sabeel Conference in Cedar Falls, Iowa:

"People who approach social change from such a faith perspective always have a different outlook and always manage to maintain their strength and activism even when others may say that it's a hopeless situation and nothing can be done, because, in part, our understanding of reality is different.

"I think you've heard Rev. Naim Ateek talk about the difference between optimism and hope. I think anybody who looks at the current situation cannot be optimistic! Look at it! The forces arrayed against what we want are tremendous-militarily, politically, in terms of influence with the media, in terms of money, in terms of technology. Look at the situation of the Palestinian people-totally desperate. Not only are our enemies tremendously powerful in controlling every aspect of our lives, our own people are divided, disheartened, our leadership-God bless them-our supposed friends sometimes worse than our enemies! We can't really be optimistic. The facts of the reality on the ground every day are getting worse and worse. Settlements are expanding. We can't even get a freeze on settlements. Where then is our hope?

"Our hope is of a different quality. It's actually a spiritual quality. It is a realization that the apparent facts can be deceptive-that God ultimately is sovereign. And in the kind of world that He created is constructed in such a way that this type of evil situation cannot persist. That somehow it carries within itself the seeds of its own destruction. That ultimately, success does not depend on us. That we are not called on to achieve great victories and wonderful results. That we are only called to obedience, not to success. That we are called upon to do the right thing and to trust God ultimately for the outcome. That somehow justice in the end will prevail. That the evil will be called to justice. How, when, we don't know. But we have that faith, and we operate with hope, and we proceed with confidence.

"That's not human, that hope. And we sometimes ask, 'Can't you tell us something?' [general laughter]. ... I'm reminded of Elijah's servant in the Old Testament. When the forces of Samaria were surrounding the place where he and his master the prophet were in Samaria, he said, 'Look, look look! All the forces are arrayed against us!' And his master prayed to God, 'Open the eyes of my servant so he will see a little bit of the true reality.' Now, I don't profess that I am that wise. But I have been challenged, and I have jotted down a few, five or six, signs of hope that confirm my deep feeling that something is about to happen and to change. That the pundits are wrong. That the situation is not hopeless. That the overwhelming forces arrayed against us are not the ones who will have the final say. That somehow things will change for the better.

"So I would share with you some of those signs. And I'm sure that if you thought deeply enough and reach inside you will be able to detect additional signs of hope. The first one that came to my mind is a strange one. It is the level of Israeli arrogance. Sign of hope? Yes. Israeli politicians have always been arrogant; that's not new. But recently we have seen such a level of utter arrogance and contempt for international law, for public opinion, for other countries, even for public opinion in the United States. They feel the power. They have the power. They no longer appeal for sympathy and support. They force and they dictate to those in the Congress and the media. They threaten more than plead with American politicians. They demand and openly defy what the U.S. administration wants. They don't ask their supporters any more to ask their supporters to write letters to Congress-did you know this?-because they have somebody in each Congressional office that dictates and threatens and cajoles rather than pleads.

"The government of Israel was even glad, almost, for the decision of the International Court ICJ in the case of the Wall, the near-unanimous 14 to 1 decision declaring the Wall to be illegal. 'We will do what we want. We will show them who is powerful and what matters.' Sign of hope? Yes, because the Bible teaches that pride goeth before the fall. And that level of arrogance means that they no longer care as much, pretend as much, try as much to justify, hide as much, deceive as much. It is now much more blatant, not only for the Israeli government but also for AIPAC in this country. They are now over-reaching in their arrogance. In my humble opinion, if I had spiritual eyes with which to see reality, I'd have to say that this is a sign of hope for all of us.

"A second sign of hope-the election of Barack Obama. Now, it does not mean that I am expecting him to do much better over all. But I am not optimistic about either his willingness or his ability to confront the forces of the pro-Israeli lobby. We've seen him back down already, after he made it very clear how important it was for his global policy, for his relations with the Islamic world, for his new orientation towards international law, to obtain at least a settlement freeze. He backed down. Nonetheless, his election is a sign of hope because he was elected in large part by the efforts of ordinary people of the grassroots. Jumping over the heads of the political party machine, contradicting the expectations of the pundits, in the face of racism which continues to be in this country. Ordinary people managed to be inspired by his message and to believe that, 'Yes, we can.' Now that's a sign of hope and that's the message to all of us. We don't need to convince anybody in Congress. We can go above their heads. We can bring about the change that is necessary. We can redefine America's interests in the Middle East despite the lobbies and despite the powerful interest groups. So yes, we do have reason for hope.

"The third sign for hope is the existence of a new discourse that Phyllis [Bennis] talked about, in human rights, in international law, with the creation of a permanent International Criminal Court, which can take applications directly from individuals and organizations, which I am certain at some point will be taking up the issues of war crimes. There is a new discourse; there is a new discussion; there is a new appreciation and understanding of the situation in the Middle East, of the violations of human rights, of the torture that takes place, of the violations that are occurring.

"I remember 15-20 years ago that it was such an uphill fight to convince ordinary people that torture-torture!?!-actually takes place, that the Jewish people who went through the holocaust could possibly be doing the kinds of things that they are doing. There was a psychological block-'No way, not Israel.' There is a new discourse now. Everybody knows and accepts and understands what is happening here.

"The Gaza war opened the eyes of so many people and created a new reality. I'm sorry we don't see its consequences yet! Hasn't changed a single vote in Congress. Hasn't really led to any reduction in U.S.-hasn't really done those things that the pundits look for and measure and comment about. But something has changed; the discourse has changed. The bad news is that it's a lot of work for all of you to translate that into something more concrete, but in reality the discourse has changed.

"We are living in a new and different world, internationally and in the United States. It is now different.

"Fourth: There are now clear signs of changes among American evangelical Christians. Too many of us have somewhat written off the evangelicals as being hopelessly hooked on eschatology, prophecy, Hal Lindsey, the televangelists, end-day theologies, total unqualified support for Israel ... total opposition to any kind of pressure on Israel, total commitment of money and time and political influence. In fact, people talk about Jewish power or Jewish influence-no, it was usually Christian influence, of evangelicals backing the power of AIPAC and its lobby. Now, over the last year or two, we are seeing very clear signs of strong leaders within the evangelical community saying, 'We are very conservative theologically, but don't assume that we are conservative politically. Don't count us as being in the pocket of either the neocons or the Israeli lobby. We care about global warming, because we are stewards of the earth.' Evangelicals now I'm talking about, not mainline churches, not liberals, not Presbyterians ... I'm talking about dyed in the wool, Bible-thumping conservative Christians, who take the Bible very seriously, and who are now looking at it and reading it a little bit differently, thank you very much. They're discovering that their Bible does teach about justice, does teach about reconciliation, does not teach militarism, does not teach racism.

"And I think there is a tremendous opportunity now to wean many of these Christians away from Christian Zionism and from the lobby, and they are standing up publicly and indicating that their faith and their understanding of scripture is not what the televangelists say it is, and they are getting involved and concerned in the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

"Another sign of hope comes from the American Jewish community, comes from J-Street, comes from something I only learned this morning from Jeff Halper, that six or seven Jewish senators-Jewish senators!-refused to sign the letter to Obama telling him to back off Israel.

"Something is happening, within the American Jewish community, and I think we all have the responsibility and the duty to re-open as much as possible, or at least seek to re-open, bridges of community and co-operation with anyone who is willing in the Jewish community, to engage them directly, not to accept the fact that they refuse to invite us and talk to us, challenge them directly, lovingly, that out of concern for them ... and for fighting anti-Semitism, and for concern for Israel and Israelis, they need to hear us and listen to us and work with us.

"Even at a time when Israel is moving to the right wing-so far off to the right that you can hardly imagine-I find some of the bravest voices, some of the most forthright positions, being taken by Israeli Jews who are even more critical of Zionism and more forthright in their repudiation of its racism and discrimination than even Palestinians dare to be. Is that a sign of hope? It's definitely a sign of hope.

"Finally, what is happening within the Palestinian community itself? The mere survival, continued willingness to stand up and confront, of ordinary Palestinians is astonishing to me. I'm Palestinian, but I was more privileged than most. I carry a U.S. passport; I have a Jerusalem Identity Card, perhaps even more powerful than a U.S. passport sometimes [laughter]. I speak Hebrew; I am an attorney; I have the ability to travel in and out. I don't live under the same pressure that most Palestinians live under.

"I am totally amazed at the willingness of people in Palestine today to continue to be steadfast! To continue to have faith in God, first and foremost-I'm not talking about Christians only. I'm talking about Muslims, too, who've given up faith in their leadership, and in the international community, and in the Arab countries, but who continue to look up to God, knowing that God is just and will hear their cries. And sometime, eventually, they don't know when, they don't know how, but they will be able to get justice.

"The people of Palestine have not forgotten, have not rolled over and played dead yet. Looks like the leadership probably has. But not the people.

"In fact, they recently held the convention for Fatah, first time in about 20 years, and managed to get rid of a lot of the old Guard, including some very corrupt leaders like ... who used to be the Secretary General ... he was voted out, and the new ... council ... maybe at least three-quarters or 80 percent of them are among the young people who were active in the first Intifada, who have practiced and seen the power of non-violence and who know how counterproductive it can be to try to use armed struggle.

"Yes, they still talk about resistance and no they have not renounced ... but basically they know-even Hamas knows-how counterproductive it could be to do suicide attacks or these flimsy rockets.

"There is now a new atmosphere among the Palestinians, that we are a nation, that these may not be effective methods to use. But there is still a commitment to a new and better future. Despite everything there is still a willingness to compromise, a willingness to find a new way to live with our Jewish Israeli neighbors. There is still a lot of talk, whether it is about a genuine two-state solution or a one-state solution, nonetheless a solution that allows both people to live in that land. That continues to be the majority position of the Palestinian people. And I find in their willingness to continue to stand and to resist and to be steadfast a sign of hope.

"Oh yes, their leadership has been foolish enough to buckle under the pressure of the United States and Israel and agree to a postponement of the discussion of the Goldstone investigation. But there was such an outcry from the grassroots, from civil society, from ordinary people-from Sabeel-saying, 'This is wrong.

"Our leadership erred in allowing this to be postponed.' And hopefully something will be done about it. But that action, in a strange way, is now reinforcing the lesson that our leadership, cowardly and weak as it might be, is not going to be allowed to accept the type of scenario that ... was describing, none of which, by the way, can occur unless there is a compliant Palestinian leadership. Our people will not allow our leadership to sign on to something that fails to address at least the minimum requirements of justice. And that is a sign of hope.

"Now, you may tell me that despite everything I have said, 'It looks like diplomacy is breaking down. It's failing. There are no negotiations taking place now. There is very little prospect of any breakthrough in diplomacy.' Well, of course there isn't.

"Some of you may want to add that to your lists of signs of hope: The failure of this false diplomacy, the failure of the attempt by the United States to work out a little deal with Israel and with a compliant Palestinian leadership to allow the occupation continue, to give it some kind of legitimacy, to allow the situation to fester. It is not going to work.

"What will work? What will happen? I don't know. But I have hope! And I have faith! And I have confidence that things will be different. And it is this that gives me the ability to continue. And it is this that gives me and all of you and all of us the motivation to work. We know the odds. We know the forces arrayed against us, but we do not give up. We continue, we fight the good fight, and we believe that it will end in justice at some point.

"You know, there's a lot of talk about South African Apartheid. And I think in this audience a lot of you are old enough to remember how it happened.

"At the beginning, it did look hopeless, and helpless. It did look like nobody was listening. It did look like all the powerful countries in the world were lined up behind South Africa, that all the multinational corporations were clear on where they stood on that issue, that most people did not care.

"There was a lot of apathy, and there was a lack of concern. Who was advocating for Nelson Mandela and his people, after all they were almost communistic and certainly terroristic, certainly not the kind of people that we want. And the struggle was long, and it took a lot of organization, a lot of leafleting, a lot of meetings, a lot of letters, a lot of demonstrations here and there and everywhere, a having a hard time getting five or ten people together to march or to do a little protest.

"But eventually everybody knew the South African regime would fall-because it was an unjust regime. When, we didn't know. It was a powerful country; South Africa had a lot of resources.

"Incidentally, I have news for you: Israel is much more vulnerable than South Africa ever was to outside pressure-much more vulnerable. But people in the movement knew, believed, had hope. In fact, they didn't have any doubts. The knew it was going to collapse. When? How? Violently, non-violently, they didn't know, but they knew that regime was not going to last. And I tell you today, this occupation is not going to last! [Applause]

"How will it end? When will it end? Will it be some kind of arrangement like in South Africa that allows everybody to manage to live together eventually, or-God forbid-a bloody, violent confrontation? I don't know.

"I just know that that level of evil and oppression and racism and discrimination cannot last! It carries within itself the seeds of its own destruction because this is the kind of world that God has created! And ultimately all we can do is hope to be agents of change in the provident and right direction!

"Another reason why I think non-violence is absolutely essential, because we can't be agents of death and destruction and killing. We must be obedient to what we believe is right. And let me tell you that not only Sabeel but the majority of Palestinian Christians is perhaps the only community since the day of Christ where the majority of Christians are true pacifists and did not believe in violence.

"Somehow in other countries and in other times other communities of Christians managed to find excuses to fight and to kill and join the military forces of their respective countries, but Palestinians-by the grace of God-the majority of them do not believe that this is the way of the cross, the way of Christ.

"We do believe in justice! And we do believe in a just God! And we will not turn over and play dead. We will fight the good fight, with others, with our brothers and sisters, for that day when justice will prevail again in the Holy Land.

"That is my faith, that is my hope, that is my belief. Thank you." [3]

"Words must mean something [and] violence and injustice must be confronted by standing together as free nations, as free people"[and] Human destiny will be what we make of it."-President Obama, Prague

The UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict Goldstone Report: Human Rights in Palestine Conclusions and recommendations to the international community:

Article 1975:


[d] The Mission recommends that States involved in peace negotiations between Israel and representatives of the Palestinian people, especially the Quartet, should ensure that respect for the rule of law, international law and human rights assumes a central role.

Israel's statehood was contingent upon upholding the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

"On 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." - May 14, 1948. The Declaration of the Establishment of Israel

"Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country."-Article 13:2 UN UDHR

"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." -Article 19. UN UDHR

Related:

November 26, 2008: THE Ongoing NAKBA and Vanunu
Read more...


1. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmhansrd/cm091027/text/91027w0012.htm

2. http://www.wearewideawake.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1314&Itemid=221

3. fosna.org

 

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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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