American organization lobbying Senate for Vanunu's release
By Nitzan Horowitz, Ha'aretz Correspondent
Monday, September 6, 1999
WASHINGTON - An organization
of American activists calling itself the "U.S. Campaign to Free Mordechai Vanunu" is
currently attempting to recruit U.S. senators for a joint appeal to President
Clinton to press
Israel to release Vanunu on humanitarian grounds.
Vanunu, 44, is serving 18 years in prison for publishing information
on the atomic reactor in Dimona, where he had worked for nine years.
The organization, headed
by Samuel Day of Wisconsin, was encouraged by its success in organizing a
similar appeal in the House of Representatives
several months previously. That appeal included the signatures of 36 representatives,
who wrote that Vanunu had suffered enough for "a crime of conscience."
Clinton replied to that appeal writing: "We are closely following
the matter of Mr. Vanunu's incarceration", the president wrote. "We
are particularly concerned by reports of the conditions under which he
is being held. I also share your concerns on the matter of Israel's nuclear
program. We have consistently implored Israel to sign the [Nuclear Non-proliferation]
Treaty, and to accept the conditions of the Atomic Energy Commission. We
will continue to raise these subjects in our discussions with Israel."
Last month, the organization hired the services of lobbyist Tim Rieger
in order to push their campaign in the Senate. Two Jewish senators, Paul
Wellstone (D-Minnesota) and Barbara Boxer (D-California), have already
expressed support for Vanunu's release.
Sen. Wellstone, a member
of the Foreign Affairs Committee, recently sent the president a letter asking
him to: "Review Mr. Vanunu's case
on humanitarian grounds, as I believe that this case may involve international
human rights issues that transcend national boundaries and that these issues
should be considered in reviewing Mr. Vanunu's case."
Wellstone is acting on behalf of the Mary and Nicholas Eoloff, the Minnesota
couple who adopted Vanunu two years before. Sen. Boxer has said that the
Vanunu case has exceptional significance, as it involves an act of conscience
- exposing the production of nuclear weapons in the hopes of realizing
His supporters hope to come to Israel to meet with Justice Minister
1999 Ha'aretz. All Rights Reserved
|'Mordechai is our seventh son'
By Nitzan Horowitz
WASHINGTON - The state of Minnesota views Mordechai Vanunu as the legal
son of Mary and Nicholas Eoloff, the St. Paul couple who adopted the Israeli
security prisoner two years ago. The Eoloffs are veteran peace activists
who have campaigned against nuclear weapons and for global disarmament.
* "We acted out of frustration. We joined the Organization for
the Release of Vanunu, had hundreds of people sign petitions, and sent
letters to Congress, to the government, to the president, and received
no reply. We wanted to find a way to help him, and so we decided to adopt
him. We hope he'll come to the U.S. He's our son."
* How many children do you have? "Six. In their 40s. Mordechai
is our seventh son. I hope the adoption will accelerate his release."
* Have you met with him? "Yes. Three times. The last time
was in September 1998."
* What do think the odds are of that happening soon? "I
hope the coming of a new government will increase his chances. Israel always
claimed to hold him for security reasons. The new government says that
it wants reconciliation, and seems less intimidated. Those are good signs.
I'm more optimistic that during the Netanyahu regime."
© copyright 1999 Ha'aretz. All Rights Reserved