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by Mary La Rosa
Friday, Feb. 25, 2005 at 4:50 PM
Israel has created a purgatory in which a free man is held prisoner because of nineteen year old memories in a fifty year old brain. What sensible motivation deprives a free man of his right to leave and make a new life?
" Waiting , waiting , waiting" still echoes up and down corridors of a prison in Ashkelon, Israel.
"Waiting, waiting, waiting" is still the mantra that sustains a man confined to a solitary cell for eleven and a half years, and enduring seven further.
"Waiting, waiting, waiting" is the holy whisper, the breath, the wellspring of hopeful murmurs from a man in sensory deprivation; enduring various degree and combination of psychological tortures most often induced under twenty four hours of electric light exposure.
"Waiting, waiting, waiting" are the words Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu recently spoke to me over the phone from East Jerusalem where he lives in sanctuary under the protection of the Anglican Church and under the detention and further restrictions imposed upon him by the state of Israel, since the conclusion of his prison term last April.
Mr. Vanunu asserts his rights as a free man when he speaks to me and the rest of the free world. And in doing so he affords us a glimpse into his current life as controlled by the Israeli justice system especially as it applies to dissidence, free speech and non violent struggle to be free. Mordechai Vanunu is not entitled to his free speech because, according to the state of Israel, he is a present security risk of nineteen year old memories collected while working as a technician in a nuclear plant. He has been banned from speaking to foreigners because expressing his free speech is considered probably dangerous.
It would appear, Mordechai is being further punished for what he did in the past and for that which might exist in some future. Only a theoretical physicist could give measure to this furture crime in some exspansion of concurrent time. And what a ludicrous conundrum that is most serious and one that gives pause to look further into the grave nature of prejudice cast against Vanunu during his stay in prison and now continued in some form of misdirected nationalist vengeance against a man who continues to declare himself whistleblower and man of conscience.
Almost a year ago, he walked out the gates of Askelon Prison, and declared himself free and proud of what he had done.
Almost every aspect of the Vanunu case and how he has been treated and is currently treated, causes blight on the principles and definitions of personal freedom. In a civilized society , Mordechai Vanunu , would not have been drugged or kidnapped in order to stand trial for telling the truth when his government was lying. And it follows that in a civilized society, Mordechai Vanunu would be now free to leave the country that punished him. But by Israel's present standards, a fifty year old brain with nineteen year old memories of life as a technician before during and after endlessly cruel electric light treatments, is subject to consideration as some kind of national security threat.
In the civilized free world, upon release, he would have been either allowed to leave or be deported as an undesireable. While restricted from making contact with the world, the world continues to make contact with him and wishes to honor him, even as he endures ongoing hatred and physical threat fuelled by tabloid medias.
From the free world:
Yoko Ono presented him with a Peace Award, in absentia, Setember 16 2004
And he was recently elected Rector of Glasgow University in Scotland.
He was once again nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, which has become an annual nomination since 1989.
Mordechai Vanunu continues to call for complete nuclear inspections, accountabilities and disarmament, especially and including Israel. He has rather purposefully given interviews for expressly the purpose of explaining his motivation(s) as a whistleblower and his rights as a free man in order to tell everyone about these motivations and to continue to express that he has no more secrets. Considering the hatred perpetuated against him while he was still in prison, it would seem a pre-requisite for the man to speak out for himself and make the world at large familiar and more clear about his intentions as a man of conscience.
He is not sorry and he insists that he has neither new secrets nor regrets about the old secrets. On behalf of world peace, he expressly wishes for all countries to lay down their nuclear weapons. And he wishes to begin rehabilitation and a new life outside of Israel as soon as possible, where he can continue to speak out for a world peace through nuclear disarmament.
The question should also follow, does Israel have any more secrets? And why are there secrets at all? Is there a “secret” Israeli government that is keeping secrets and agendas from its citizens and allies? Why do devious governments always hold to the belief that the general public most be "protected" from the truth? and for our own "good"? A truly democratic government is accountable to all citizens via honorable and ethical obligation. There are checks and balances to oversee the practice of how representatives fulfill their duties to state and citizen.
Vanunu's freespeech and opinion about Israel, is not a secret and he has been very specific and direct in expressing this opinion that Jews do not need a specific state separate from the rest of the world in which to be respected as free men and women. Vanunu feels that Jews are entitiled to live anywhere and everywhere that free men and women live.
He is not popular for these thoughts , but neither is he alone. Do unpopular views have a respectful place in the type of democracy currently practiced in Israel?
"Waiting, waiting, waiting" continues to be Mordechai's devoted practice along with the practice of the religion of his free choice: Christianity.
With reference to Christianity, and salvation throughout the length of his prison term, there seems evidence of a trend to punish him for his conversion as well as for whistleblowing. Why else would it be necessary for a large group of armed men to charge into the sanctuary of St George’s Cathedral in order to take Mr Vanunu into custody for further questioning? Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal and his Anglican community were frightened and outraged by such behavior !
"In the 100 years of the Cathedral's history such an event has never taken place" said the Bishop.
Mr Vanunu was co-operative as usual, even stoic as they dragged him off to police headquarters.
The visiting Christian pilgrims at St George's Cathedral House were both terrified and horrified.
A Purgatory where free is not so free seems specifically created for Vanunu. After completion of his prison term, such reasoning and conditions about his personal freedom defies common sense, common justice and common trust in any legal system especially one based upon democracy. And there is also the deeper darker hint of prejudice, perhaps even racism. Mordechai Vanunu is not only a Christian convert, but a Moroccan Jew and even before his conversion to Christianity, his family experienced Israel in a way very different from the Ashkenazi colonialist experience.
Mordechai Vanunu's Moroccan ethnicity is genetically linked closest to the original peoples of Canaan, including the Palestinian people and indigenous inhabitants of Canaan, more so than to any European "settlers" of Israel. In an enlightening and positive work called, "Sharing the Land of Canaan" Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh, who has an area of expertise in zoology and genetics, and who is also by ethnic background a Christian Palestinian, writes about "genetics versus zionist mythology" in a well developed but succinct work concerned with the future of the land he calls Canaan. He reports an interesting conflict of data pertaining to suggestions of ancestral populations with common gene pools that actually reveals North African, Arabian, and Kurdish Jews and other Near Eastern Jews ( Sephardic and Mizrachi) as being closer genetically to Palestinians and other Arabian populations than to the Ashkenazi Jews, who came to "settle" .
Prior to the publication of this book , he wrote Letter to the Society of Histocompatability and Immunity on the Use and Abuse of Genetics His letter condemns the use of genetics and racism as an excuse for dispossession and ethnic cleansing of any original and existing peoples.
Mordechai Vanunu lives peacefully among the Palestinians of East Jerusalem and feels warmth and closeness in this society and perhaps also feels a bit safer from Jewish right wing extremists, who openly cavort in their threats against him and presently now have made serious threats against the Israeli government. The trend in Israel, as it appears almost daily in Haaretz and Jerusalem Post, is to tolerate violence from religious extremists who support exclusive religious agendas that seem to excuse violence. This is particularly clear in the treatment of Vanunu. While theories of hatred and revenge hold him in detention with restrictions; radical extremists run free to damage Israel physically and psychically.
The Prime Minister of Israel Ariel Sharon has hired extra protection around his wife's grave site because of hideous threats from extremists. This necessity bespeaks a spiritual illness in this kind of criminal behavior and offense. The mentality that would desecrate a Jewish gravestone in Israel, is the same that descerates Jewish gravestones around the world . Vanunu is not wrong in his premise. Jews do not need a state in which to learn proper behavior towards other Jews or non Jews. Civilized people can learn to live in respect of one another, by simply doing so.
As a librarian I often like to tell and retell ethnic legends and stories. I have always been fascinated by stories about golems. I believe that the present leadership in Israel, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon specifically, has created two HUGE golems. Both golems have been created from the blood and the water of the land and are related by blood to the one Patriach. Both golems are now "out of control" . One golem is thousands of displaced refugees created by ethnic cleansings and massive punishments. The other golem is displaced settlers created by ethnic preferences.
Jews and non Jews can be made to feel safe and safer all around the world. We can not build a wall around our differences and hope to keep out the deviants. Someone is always wanting to either escape or crash.
These are difficult times for peace activists and protectors of human rights. It is even more difficult to be a conscientious objector or a whistleblower. In a free and civil society it is very important to distinguish the violent criminals from the non violent dissenters. Real criminals have little value to a safer society. Conscientious objectors and whistleblowers often must choose between personal safety and silence; conscience or complicity. Mordechai Vanunu does not regret the action or his conscience about the action.
He has always been entitiled to his complete freedom. Freedom is his right as a human.
Vanunu has never been broken while waiting. And his spirit will survive further psychological devices and obstructions against his free will.
In Israel and in Hebrew "yeffe nefesh" was once beautiful term now used more sarcastically to describe those leftist "beautiful souls" who employ a conscience, and extending that conscience outward from within. Nefesh! it is all about soul!
Bli nefesh , being without soul, is the equivalent to acting like a monster would act; like a robot or a golem. Only someone without a soul can remain silent when righteousness demands speaking out.
Silence = Complicity.
In a world that needs more, Mordechai Vanunu is yeffe nefesh.
Mary La Rosa is a librarian and artist living close to NYC
from the First Circle:
Gran duol mi prese al cor quando lo ’ntesi,
però che gente di molto valore
conobbi che ’n quel limbo eran sospesi
“We are lost, afflicted only this one way:
That having no hope, we live in longing” I heard
These words with heartfelt grief that seized on me
Knowing how many worthy souls endured
Suspension in that Limbo
Dante' s Inferno, Canto IV (31-35)
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