Nobel laureate compares Israeli nuclear arms to gas chambers
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire on Sunday compared Israel's alleged nuclear arsenal to Hitler's gas chambers and called on Israel to lift travel restrictions on nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu.
Maguire, awarded the 1976 prize for her Northern Ireland peace campaign, was at the prison gates to welcome Vanunu when he was released in April after serving an 18-year sentence for disclosing Israel's nuclear secrets.
"When I think about nuclear weapons, I've been to Auschwitz concentration camp," Maguire said during a joint press conference with Vanunu in Jerusalem.
"Nuclear weapons are only gas chambers perfected... and for a people who know what gas chambers are, how can you even think of building perfect gas chambers?"
Israeli foreign ministry officials were unavailable for comment. In the past, Israeli officials have expressed disgust at comparisons between Israel and the Nazis, who systematically murdered 6 million Jews during World War II in an attempt to wipe out all the Jews of Europe.
Israel follows a policy of nuclear ambiguity, neither confirming nor denying it has nuclear arms.
Since being freed from prison, Vanunu has been under rigid Israeli restrictions barring him from traveling abroad or speaking to foreigners, a prohibition he regularly flouts.
Vanunu said at the press conference that he has become estranged from his biological family and wants to spend Christmas in St. Paul, Minnesota with his adoptive parents, peace activists Nick and Mary Eoloff.
"I, as a Christian, am demanding from Israel, let me go and celebrate Christmas with my family and my friends around the world," he said. "They should give me my total freedom, I suffered 18 years in isolation in prison. They should not continue to punish me."