JERUSALEM: Mordechai Vanunu trial eclipsed by news of Palestinian elections

CPTnet
4 February 006

JERUSALEM: Mordechai Vanunu trial eclipsed by news of Palestinian elections

by Jerry Levin

[Note: the following is an excerpt of an essay Levin sent to his
supporters. People wishing to see the entire article may contact him at
guest.993507@MennoLink.org.]

Here's a Palestine election day story that you probably did not see in your
local, regional or national mainstream press outlets. It took place in a
tiny but definitely not crowded court room in West Jerusalem where the
second trial of Mordechai Vanunu got underway. "At first, the judge arranged
the trial for the 15th of January," Mordechai explained good naturedly while
waiting for the proceedings to begin. "But then he moved it, because the
Israel government wanted it be on the day of the election."

"Why?"

So all the attention by the public and the media would not be on Vanunu but
on the elections.

Vanunu, of course, is the irrepressible whistle- blowing former Orthodox-Jew
turned-Anglican-gadfly who in 1986 revealed to a British newspaper the fact
of Israel's nuclear armaments program. After letting that particular cat out
of the bag, he was kidnapped to Israel by secret agents and sentenced to
eighteen years in solitary confinement.

After serving the full eighteen-year term, Vanunu was released from jail,
confined to Jerusalem and forbidden to give interviews to foreign
journalists. He has observed the travel restriction scrupulously; but the
minute he was released in April 2004, he launched a nonstop campaign of
civil disobedience by talking to foreign reporters.

So after eight months of deliberately thumbing his nose at what he considers
an intolerable infringement on his right to speak publicly, his room in the
guest house of Anglican St. Georges' Cathedral was raided by Israeli police.
They seized all of his materials-- tapes, DVDs, notebooks, computers-- and
took him away for hours of interrogation.

"And this trial relates back to that raid over a year ago?"

"Yes, that was the beginning. And now we have this trial about how they want
to continue to interfere with me. See, what I say to the reporters is only
what I said in 1986. What I am doing that is new, now that I am out of
prison, is expressing my political views about what I found out then. I
don't know any new secrets. They don't want me to talk against Israel making
nuclear weapons proliferation in the Middle East. They don't want me to say
that they should be abolished because in 1986 they already had 230 atomic
bombs and the hydrogen bomb. They don't need all that for defense. Those are
holocaust bombs. They are for extermination."

When the session ended, Vanunu said, "We don't know what will be the
outcome, verdict and maybe a sentence." But again he reiterated what he darn
well thinks it ought to be. Acquittal, of course. "This is about freedom of
speech," he said. "Either there is freedom of speech for Vanunu or there is
no freedom of speech for him. Because what I did since leaving the prison is
just expressing my views; and that is my right to do."

The trial as currently scheduled takes up again on February 9 and 12.