From the inside looking out: The Passion of Mordechai Vanunu

December 4th, 2006
by Jerry Levin

A friend responding to my latest report on the trials of Mordechai Vanunu described his travails as a "pathetic little Kafka tale." Down home in Alabama we have another way of describing those ordeals, You can't win for losing."

Take for instance his civil suit against the Israeli newspaper, Yediot Aharanot. It was launched while he was still in prison for revealing Israel's secret atomic and hydrogen bomb making program through an article in the London Times. "The newspaper published stories about me saying I was sending information out how to build bombs to the Hamas,"said a still incredulous Mordechai. "When I came out of prison the trial started."

"We bring to testify the head of the Shabak [Ed: aka Shin Bet, the Secret Service, equivalent to the FBI in the United States]. He said that he received the information from his people and that he didn't check it. And we proved that I don't know any information about how to make bombs. But a year ago they win in the court."

"How? Why?"

"The judge decided that the newspaper has the right to publish the story because it received it from the Shabak. Shabak is like the voice of god."

"So you lost."


"What do you mean, "big?"

"Well, if newspapers publish lies about me, you would think I have the right to receive compensation from the newspapers and they would be denied to publish more lies. But the judge decided, no, I should pay Yediot Aharanot $10, 000.00. How can a newspaper be damaged by publishing such stories about me? So we are appealing this decision. The hearing could be soon."

Turning to the criminal charges against him for speaking to foreign journalists, I asked if his defense intends to call any more witnesses beyond the army general who signed the orders restricting his freedom of movement and speech.

"Yes, Peter Hounam, the reporter who in 1986 wrote the story I give the London Times about Israel's nuclear bomb program. They have charged me that when I was released from prison in 2005, he was involved in a big interview which I gave to the BBC. But the allegation is not true because the interview was done by an Israeli journalist. But they deported him anyway. So we are negotiating about this,"

"About what?"

"Well, he has accepted to come, but the government wants to complicate the case by insisting to decide that they can refuse to let him come back. So they are saying he must have the same restrictions on him that they put on me. But he says that if they confine him to a hotel he will not come."

"So what is being negotiated?"

"We accept not to bring him, if the government cancels this charge about the BBC interview. If they don't take it out, we will bring him."

"Do you see an element of persecution in all this governmental pressure?"

Unhesitatingly, Mordechai answered. "There is. It is my Christianity that they cannot accept. That is the source of my problems with my case."


"Yes, because even if they understand they need to make justice with me and let me go and let me speak, they have a problem with their people. What to do about a Christian man who was born a Jewish man who became a Christian and who received respect from all over the world. They don't want this man to be receiving a good image especially with the young Israeli generation. So that is the first point.

"The second point is, because Israel is a Jewish State, the government believes they have the right to have the bomb. But I am coming and saying they don't need to have the bomb. They need to make peace. And that is another source of the problem for them. But even with that I don't understand why they are persecuting me. What are they afraid from?"

"But they say they know what they are afraid from. They say you have more secrets."

"But they know that this is blah, blah, blah, because my secrets are twenty years old. All this nuclear weapons has continued to develop and all what I had was published twenty years ago. There is nothing new from me. And now North Korea has built the bomb. Iran is going to build the bomb. So what information can I contribute when it is twenty years old? Israel should let me go. They have had their revenge. Even killers murders in Israel are released after fifteen years, seventeen years. They let them go. Run away do what ever they want."

"Are you hopeful?"

"I have my scenario that includes the hope that Israelis are also human beings and that one day they will wake up because they must wake up and become normal society. Because there still is danger that what they saw in the past one hundred fifty years, all those extreme nationalists, dictators, right wings that brought tyranny to Italy, Spain, Germany, South Africa, Russia all of them collapsed because they were not normal society. Their people woke up because they wanted normal society. But here we don't have normal society. Here is Jewish religion society and even liberals here are speaking like they are dictators.

"Israel is not like the United States. People came from Europe to build new society in the name of freedom, liberty for all the human beings. But they didn't respect the Indians in the beginning and the blacks. But then one day they woke up and start giving them rights. That is what normal society does. But here it is not normal society. It is about religion. So my scenario is when the Israel people who want normal society wake up it will be a total disaster for the Jewish

"Supposing five years from now when I'm eighty and you are fifty-five, we are still here talking about your situation; we are talking about how every year the government renews the restrictions and the courts agree; and we are talking about your scenario that has stayed just a

"I hope when you are eighty I will meet you in Washington DC. But for that to be we need to do some extraordinary acts to get out from here.

"What kind of extraordinary acts?"

"I can tell you this way. Israel kidnapped me from Rome in 1986 and put me in prison. So I'm calling to the CIA and to all the world to kidnap me from Israel."

"Kidnap you?"

"Yes, if some one, or any organization will help me to try to get out from here. I will do it. And the Israelis know it very well. I am ready to leave the country in any way."

"Even being spirited out?"

"Yes, because I am not allowed to go to foreign embassies where I can ask for asylum. That's why they watch me, because they don't want me to get out from here."

"You want the CIA, special forces, whatever to do a reverse Entebbe?"

"Yes," he said with a big grin, "the Marines. But I don't think your military your defense establishment like me. Otherwise they would have helped me long ago. But the real government of the United States is the Pentagon. That is the power behind Israel. They give Israel two billion dollars and military power in support. And so those military maybe don't like me because I am speaking against nuclear weapons and I am speaking for peace. So they are worried."

"What you want to do is dangerous."

"Yes. But you have done it. So I will be happy for anyone to take me out from this prison."

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