Thirty-Six House Members Ask Clinton to Intercede With Israel for Vanunu
'I Am Your Spy' summer 1999
The U.S. House of Representatives weighed in this spring with substantial support for anti-nuclear prisoner Mordechai Vanunu with an appeal to President Clinton to intercede with Israel for his release on humanitarian grounds.
Thirty-six Members of Congress--some 17 per cent of House Democrats--signed a letter initiated by Rep. Lynn Rivers of Michigan. The total was almost three times the number who issued a similar appeal two years ago.
"We believe that Mordechai Vanunu has suffered enough for his crime of conscience," the letter declared. "Mr. Vanunu stands for the ideal that every child has the right to live in a world that is free of nuclear destruction."
With Representative Rivers at a March 18 Washington news conference were Nicholas and Mary Eoloff, the St. Paul, Minnesota couple who have adopted the 44-year-old Vanunu, imprisoned in Israel since 1986 for blowing the whistle on Israel's unacknowledged nuclear weapons reactor at Dimona, where he once worked as a technician.
The Eoloffs were joined by their congressman, Rep. Bruce Vento of Minnesota, who said, "Mr. Vanunu's commitment to global peace and to living in a world free from the threat of nuclear devastation should be commended, not condemned. Yet, ironically, Mr. Vanunu's commitment to human rights has cost him his freedom. He has paid too high a price for his act of conscience. It is time to right the scales of justice by allowing for his immediate release and return to his adoptive home of St. Paul."
Signers of the letter, mostly Democrats, represented all regions of the United States. There were nine from California (including half the congressional delegation from the San Francisco Bay area), five from Michigan, four from Minnesota, two each from Oregon, Illinois, and New York, and one each from Ohio, Vermont, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Hawaii, Guam, and the Virgin Islands.
In 1997 a lobbying effort by the U.S. Campaign to Free Mordechai Vanunu secured 13 House signers, most of whom signed on again this year. The 1999 effort, conducted with the help of Washington-based Women Strike For Peace, brought volunteers to the Capitol from California, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. In addition, hundreds lobbied their Representatives by mail, telephone, fax, and on the internet.
Lynn Rivers, Michigan