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Hope Floats!

by Mary La Rosa Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2004 at 11:51 AM

Hope floats! eternally light above these darker times. Hope floats! and gives cause to celebrate the small and large gestures we make individually and together towards one another. Hope floats! and gathers momentum, purpose and solidarity. Hope Floats and carries the human spirit higher as the work continues...."

Hope floats! and in terms of simple physics is more buoyant than any or all combined negative energies required to repress or oppress the human spirit.

One such triumph of hope and spirit is Mordechai Vanunu, who celebrates the will power that survived almost eighteen years of confinement in an Israeli prison. Eleven and a half of those years were spent in solitary confinement under the "secret" security measures of Shin Bet "secret" police who directly and indirectly supervised his prison conditions.

Last April, in compliance of his time sentenced and served to the State of Israel, Mordechai Vanunu left Ashkelon prison a free man. He presently is forced to live in a contradiction of what determines a man to be free.

Since April he has been exiled from the Free World and held in further captivity by the State of Israel, as represented and motivated by Zionist paranoia of free speech and "loose" interpretation of the moral and ethical codes of Justice.

Presently trapped inside the country that he rejects as much as it rejects him, he wishes to leave and is joined in such sentiment by a majority of citizens in Israel, including blood relatives who think he should be allowed to leave. Since his release in April, he has been threatened by radical right wing extremists who follow him everywhere and exemplify to the Israeli public and world at large, an image of bullying with intent to cause harm. They have been purposefully incited by various newspapers polls. They are part of the reason which makes it necessary for him to stay safe in the sanctuary of St George, an Anglican Cathedral in Jerusalem.

Mordechai Vanunu is being restricted by a justice system that seems to reek of the prejudice of an 18 year old vendetta that extends far beyond the principles of law and which may have grave complicity in a pending law suit that involves a journalist who allegedly received information from the prison authority that outrageously linked Mordechai to helping the Hamas prepare explosives and which was published in a popular Israeli news media while he was still in prison.

The Nobel nominated Mordechai Vanunu has petitioned the courts to lift all of his restrictions in order for him to leave Israel and begin his new life with all the rights of a free man. The state presented a case against Mordechai that not only denied his lawyers the right to access important documentation of how and why a 50 year old brain with memories from 18 years ago could possibly be a threatening mentality with potential harm Israel. One can only wonder why the State of Israel wishes to be represented to the FREE WORLD as a place that would repress a person's thoughts in some future mentality.

Keeping this bizarre and contradictory theory in mind while "remembering" what any student of the amygdala and hippocamus already knows: that no two memories are ever the same, the State of Israel seems determined to grasp at some pre determined guilt yet to be enacted or perhaps, even thought of by Mordechai Vanunu. This is a new level for the Israeli Justice system, suppostition based upon the assumption of what secrets one "might" have and what crime one might commit via an 18 year old memory.

His other restrictions include no online chatting, which sounds a bit like the punishment one would dole out to one's teen age child for infractions of curfew. He may not maintain contact foreigners and in particular, foreigners who are journalists.

One must wonder if such restrictions have ever been imposed on other Israeli citizens who commit crimes of a nature grievous to the security of government?

When the imfamous Israeli hacker, Ehud Tenenbaum, The Analyzer, was tried and convicted and eventually punished (with no jail time) for hacking into USA computer systems, including USA defense systems and NASA, Boaz Guttman, the former lead Israeli investigator in the case, said, "He caused huge damage in the U.S., and tomorrow this criminal will be in the local papers as a hero."

Were any of his "memories" or "intelligence" ever considered to be a future threat because of previous computer knowledge? and accessability? Since then, he has sucessfully marketed a "protection" business that consists of hacking into other people's computers in order to show you your vulnerablitites.

Vanunu would clearly and without secret, like Israel to be held responsible for its nuclear weapons' manufacturing.

And it sadly appears that it is still not a secret that Israel can not bear any closer scrutiny and accountability into nuclear manufacturing or whether it is entirely safe to live around such plants. Only recently, the people living near Dimona, the 50 year old nuclear plant that many Israeli scientists have called to shut down, were given iodine tablets.

Bearing in mind, some of the more recent political scandals involving lies and political corruptions over money, should Israeli citizens naively believe their best interests are served via a few iodine tabs?

It appears that the only democracy in the Middle East can not reconcile itself to any threat of criticism. This is sadly reflected in this USA country where any criticsm is always deemed comprable to anti-semitism. And if you are a Jew who criticizes, you will likely be labeled a self loathing Jew. I take great exception to the term "self loathing Jew". And I personally know of no Jews who are self hating in their dissent. For that matter, they are fiercely proud of their Jewishness and how it is most undemocratically is represented by a majority in Israel who have remained silent over human rights issues.

This strange and very undemocratic phenomena appears to be presently nurtured in the United States by funding and ignorance of Israeli politics and political parties. And rather than make an American public aware of the different factions at work within Israel, US representatives usually either can not or will not do their homework in order to have a better perspective and awareness of the issues.

In his very first public appearance, Mordechai Vanunu was overt and completely honest. He greeted loyal supporters who waitied outside of his prison with their gags over their mouths, symbolizing the injustice of the restrictions he would experience upon his release.

"I am proud of what I did"

He continued by expressing what we all suspected, that he was cruelly and inhumanely treated in prison for his conversion to Christianity and finally, the man of conscience called out to Israel, all Israelis and the world in general to investigate the dangers to be found operating and maintaining nuclear facilities, in particular the one he previously worked in 18 years ago.

This final irony of the man who tells the truth about weapons of mass destruction and is being further punished for his conscience about it is that his story and timing MUST be compared to those who have told lies about such weapons of mass destruction and are still either perpetuating those lies or are now blaming others.

Hope floats! for Vanunu. No state can repress his spirit and will. Hope floats for the international honors he will receive while restricted against his will behind Israel's borders. Hope floats for the example his conscience brings each and every young man and woman who questions acting out an unjustifiable violence while serving as Israeli soldiers. Hope floats above the plans to harm him. Hope floats in the hearts of those who continue to love and support him.

The Jewish state is sometimes confused over religious issues and even whether or not to have them, or to what degree to allow their application.

And what once seemed to unite all Jews is now being questioned in order to keep the politically "right" kind of Jew inside and the "other" politically incorrect Jew out. An even darker trend with a deeply disturbing message seems to discriminate against non violent Jewish peace activists while ignoring the violent right wing Jewish extremists. It is alarming to follow which group is being repressed, tear gassed, and shot and which group is becoming more visible, more prevalent in Israeli society.

Above that low and base perception floats a woman's group, IWPS, the Internationinal Woman's Peace Service. IWP is comprised of 16 women who support Palestinian and Israeli anti-occupation groups in non violent resistance to end a brutal and illegal occupation.

For three years now this team of women have documented human rights abuses, and non violently intervened on behalf of the men, women and children being abused in occupied villages of the West Bank. Hope floats! with the angels of check points, in fields and demonstrations and Hope floats! for the opressed people who have been ethnically cleansed from living on their holy land.

Most recently Hope floats a little higher for this creative art project. Hope floats for the San Francisco based Break the Silence Mural project ( comprised of Americans, American Jews and Palestinian Youths.

Recently IWPS and BTS got together and organized an art project for the children in the Aamer household because of the great distress that has been imposed on their daily living conditions. Their house is cut off from the rest of their village by the Separation Fence. Two gates signal the Israeli Army and more recently the army constructed a 24 foot high concrete wall that is 44 feet long which is directly in front of the house.

At first the army would allow no visitors. Now, because of the publicity, the army allows for approved visitors.

Recently on July 18th, mural artists appeared and were eventually allowed to enter the Aamer's home. What followed was six hours of painting by 20 children and 5 adults.

For the children it was a way in which to transform and even re create part of the horrible existence that is imposed upon them.

Hope floats! on part of an ugly wall.

Hope floats! and is the Float itself! Or rather is, The Fotillas of Hope: May 15, 2004 in Sydney Harbour, the good ship Eureka, had an Oz style send off celebrating the first of the Flotilla boats to set sail up the coast of Australia in order to bring attention and awareness to the various detention centers set up and run by the Australian government as part of their infamous "Pacific Solution" towards housing "illegal humans". The inhabitants of these prison like camps include families with small children who continue to live imprisoned for no crime other than seeking a better life. Up along the coast of Australia, good people rallied against to one government's xenophobia that keeps asylum seekers, mostly from Indonesia and the Middle East, off the shores of mainland Australia. But in many ways at the core of this amazing adventure is the love and compassion that can be found among the people who are members of Hope Caravan ( Founder, Stavros Georgopoulos puts it like this: "The word HOPE says it all. HOPE for global justice, HOPE for peace and HOPE for freedom and liberation of all peoples".

Stavros, who feels that every person, near or far, has a special talent or creative contribution to bring to Hope Caravan, does not act alone. HOPE floats and in doing so attracts these others to float along, float higher by example. Although most of Hope Caravaners are Australian, there is international participation and camaraderie. The international diversity of the group members also includes a broad sense of spirituality in maintaining aspects of positive actions. Individual talents seem to merge when and where they are most required and are generously afforded to one another.

Because of the creativity and computer smarts of one man, Matt Hamon..Hope Caravan and Flottillas of Hope websites have undergone a metamorphisis in appearance and accessibility. And for those who did not directly participate in the great sailing adventure, Matt was the mercurial Master of Communications, administraor and graphic designer.. that kept all avenues, including satelite messages running between the sailors and land crew.

Journalists, like Mary Dagmar Davies made a huge effort to regularly translate Australian politick and reactions about the inhumanity of the Pacific Solution to readers in Australia and abroad.

And, in case there be any doubt about sailing and sailors, it was a female skipper, Ruth Boydell, who helped give Stavros his first sailing lessons and (eventually) his worthy sea legs. It is difficult to mention one member and not another and so there must be a little mystery and intrigue to discover further the individuals involved in the Flotillas of Hope project and Hope Caravan and the flow of their special energies and talents into this grass roots group. I can only tell you that even terminal illness did not dim the bright and positive goodness of eternal HOPE.

To discover more and why there are at least two potential adventure/blockbuster stories involved with Hope Caravan's interests and adventures, please visit any of the enclosed websites sites.

While it is devastatingly sad to say that the government of Nauru (recently replaced and presently "reviewing" the situation) did not respond in a favorable way to landing on its shores with gifts for the refugees and the children, response did come from one who is interned on Nauru, but who is able to project outside of his own personal strife and bring recognition to all refugees!

"Greeting to you and peace in heart, I am grateful to you for your humanitarian activities and sympathetic concerns with those who have been fettered in trap for such a long and indefinite time in the hell of Nauru. Yesterday was international refugee day all over the world; there are 25 million human beings homeless in deplorable circumstances without food, shelter and lack of basic facilities on the globe. They have been fled from persecution and brutality and tyranny regime and they have been displaced by long run conflict and war in their regions, most of them lost every things they were owned except rescued own body. According to our experiences the world capitalist's leaders and their puppets seem very cruel and callous about those who have nothing to eat who have nothing to wear, and who have no home and shelter to live, but the world leaders and especially feudal people are heedless and reckless about their miserable situation."

"Nodaway human beings are hungry for equal rights, peace, and solidarity and co-operation on the world but the world leaders spread more violence, diversity and animosity among people on the world. They are trying to divide nation from nation, ethnic from ethnic, rich from poor they use different instrument to demoralize people under their rule. We all have been witness of their crimes they committed against humanity, they scarified hundred of thousands of innocent people for their own economic benefits and their own political advantage. We Nauru refugees were hopeful that humanist people of Australia who decided to come on Nauru would be given permission to land to Nauru. We expected they would come to our prison and meet Iraqi asylum seekers started a hunger strike about ten days ago and their protests still continues their situation are very bad and intolerable, unfortunately their protest and demands have been ignored by Dimia officials, they have not been told anything yet. I fully appreciated and complimented your great activities you are doing for refugees and asylum seekers."

Posted June 25, 2004

One particular highlight during the trip that was tantamount in causing a great display of online and f2f emoting of joy and happiness and is proof indeed that HOPE floats! was the release of aslyum seeker and refugee Aladdin Sisalem .

Since December 21 2002, Alladdin had been detained by the Australian government. Because of his "particular" illegal status, having been born in Kuwait to an Egyptian mother and Palestinian national father, Aladdin was left behind in solitary confinement . After almost a year fighting the darkest depression of his 25 years, this young man was finallly brought to mainland Australia where he was met in Melbourne by another young man, his Brother of the Heart, Australian Matt Hamon and eventually after more determined advocacy, re united with the cat, Honey..who was the only living creature that gave him any direct comfort on Manus Island, where the figures supplied by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs set the cost of this one man's solitary confinement at the detention center at Papua New Guinea at 6, 666 per month for Australian tax payers to consider.

All of Aladdin's story evolved via constant effort, constant creative planning, designing, adaptation and brainstorming by individual members and team supporters. One simple but brilliant Mary Dagmar Davies idea involved school children wearing heart stickers on their sleeves, thus "wearing their hearts on their sleeves" for the detained children who were not presently able to become their classmates.

One might begin to project, with curiosity and anticipation, what Papa Stavros will conceive and nurture for next year's human rights effort. One can almost imagine a Human Rights Fleet hitting all the major ports.

The work continues at Hope Caravan along with the poignant reminder what anyone involved in any form of activism understands to be frustration and sadness, especially for any of those who can never be helped by any effort, no matter how great..but for their memory, the energies are flowing stronger and Hope floats! eternally light above these darker times. Hope floats! and gives cause to celebrate the small and large gestures we make individually and together towards one another, on behalf of one another.

Hope Floats! and gathers momentum, purpose and solidarity. Hope Floats and carries the human spirit higher as the work continues...

Poem to the Israeli Government: "I Have No More Secrets To Tell"

Justice justice must you pursue

love him or hate him here still is vanunu

to put a legal system to simple test

does state serve justice best?

or does justice serve state less by law

and more by prejudiced intelligence

fabricated half truths and mistakes

that decide and seal the fate

of a Christian man doomed in a Jewish state

How poignant is this Jewish non Jew

Mordechai Vanunu

and what is exactly a Jewish state?

Is it the determined majority or the plurality of convenience?

Is it ultra exclusive or moderately inclusive?

If a state makes welcome the Jewish French but not the Jewish dissidents, could dissidence make one less Jewish?

or just less desireable?

We must remember our history about un desireables:

not only Jews but gypsies and homosexuals

the legion of unwanted immigrants and refugees

the darkness of skin deciding fates

the female sex of a child born into unworthiness.

Justice justice must you pursue

and that must mean justice

even for vanunu

especially for vanunu

and for eighteen years of conscience

to stop the proliferation of nuclear hell

The real secret of the Ashkelon cell:

a bible, defiance, endurance, dreams.

Mordechai Vanunu

Mary La Rosa is a librarian and artist who lives 20 miles away from the site of the next GOP Convention in a city that lacks proper healthcare for all.

The US Campaign to Free Mordechai Vanunu

The International Womens Peace Service

Break the Silence Mural Project

Hope Caravan

Fatima's Wish


"To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based

on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but

also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to

emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see

only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we

remember those times and places - and there are so many - where people

have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at

least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a

different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't

have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite

succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should

live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous

victory." Howard Zinn (You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A

personal history of our times, p. 208)

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