The Ongoing Misery of Mordechai Vanunu

On May 11, 2010, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that Mordechai Vanunu, will “serve a three-month jail sentence handed to him by Jerusalem District Court and not community service.”

Vanunu is scheduled to return to jail on May 23, 2010, because the ‘justices’ refused his offer to do community service in occupied east Jerusalem as they do not view that side of town to be a part of their community.

On May 12, 2010, Amnesty International urged the Israeli government not to re-imprison Mordechai Vanunu.

If Mordechai Vanunu is imprisoned again, Amnesty International will declare him to be a prisoner of conscience and call for his immediate and unconditional release,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Luther continued, “The ongoing restrictions placed on Mordechai Vanunu have meant that he has been unable to move to the USA to live with his adopted family, placing a huge strain on his mental and physical health. They are not parole restrictions since he served his full 18-year term. They arbitrarily limit his rights to freedom of movement, expression and association are therefore in breach of international law.”

On April 30, 2007, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, convicted Vanunu on 14 (out of 21) counts of violating a court order prohibiting him from speaking to foreign journalists in 2004. Vanunu was also convicted for traveling the four miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem when he hoped to attend Christmas Eve mass at the Church of the Nativity, his first Christmas after being released from 18 years in jail (most of it in solitary) on April 21, 2004.

On July 2, 2007, Israel sentenced Vanunu to six more months in jail for speaking to foreign media in 2004.

On September 23, 2008, the Jerusalem District Court reduced Mordechai Vanunu’s six month jail sentence for speaking with foreign media in 2004, to three months, “In light of (Vanunu’s) ailing health and the absence of claims that his actions put the country’s security in jeopardy”.

On December 21, 2009, Uzi Eilam, a former head of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission told PRESS TV that Vanunu, “served the regime because his revelations helped Tel Aviv intimidate others…I’ve always believed he should be let go. I don’t think he has significant knowledge to reveal (about Dimona) now.”

On May 10, 2010, Uzi Even, an Israeli scientist, Tel Aviv University chemistry professor, former worker at Israel’s Dimona reactor and a former member of Israeli parliament spoke on Israeli army radio: “The policy of nuclear ambiguity, by which we fool only ourselves and nobody else, is not good for us any more. It was good, effective and successful for close to 40 years, but over 40 years many things changed and now I am telling you clearly, this policy is no longer in our interest.”

The restrictions that have held Vanunu captive come from the Emergency Defense Regulations which were implemented by Britain against Palestinians and Jews after World War II.

Attorney Yaccov Shapiro, who later became Israel’s Minister Of Justice, described the Emergency Defense Regulations as “unparalleled in any civilized country: there were no such laws in Nazi Germany.”

Israel kidnapped Vanunu in 1986, but Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states: “No one shall he subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention”, including abduction of a person by agents of one state to another state.

Vanunu was charged with and convicted of treason and espionage.

Section 99 of the Israeli Penal Code, treason is defined as “an act calculated to assist (an enemy) in time of war…delivering information with the intention that it fall into the hands of the enemy.”

Section 113 defines aggravated espionage as “deliver(ing) any secret information without being authorized to do so and with intent to impair the security of the state” and a sub-clause provides for a penalty of seven years for the unauthorized collection, preparation, recording or holding of secret information; if this is done with intent to impair the security of the state and then, the penalty is increased to 15 years.

Vanunu served 18 years in jail and has been subjected to 24/7 surveillance ever since 21 April 2004.

Frank Barnaby, the Nuclear Physicist, who was hired by the London Sunday Times to interrogate Vanunu, testified at his closed door trial, “I very vigorously cross-examined Vanunu, relentlessly asking the same questions in a number of different ways and at different times…I found Vanunu very straightforward about his motives for violating Israel’s secrecy laws he explained to me that he believed that both the Israeli and the world public had the right to know about the information he passed on. He seemed to me to be acting ideologically.”

But, Vanunu was rendered defenseless during that closed door trial when the court ruled that his motivations were not ideological and they refused to allow Vanunu’s own statements regarding his intentions to even be considered in his defense.

During my interviews with Vanunu, he informed me that “All the secrets I had were published in 1989 in an important book, by Frank Barnaby, The Invisible Bomb: Nuclear Arms Race in the Middle East.”

On November 24th, 2006 Vanunu wrote:

“My lawyer succeeded to reveal a few very important facts: This General of the Army also was not allowed to see all the secrets that he is required to protect by these restrictions that they claim I know them. So, he gave orders of restrictions without knowing what he is protecting or that he is also following orders blindly, and Mossad Sheen Bet using its authority for just punishing me. He testified that it is not a crime for me to talk with foreigners in general anywhere.He testified that I can speak freely to any Israeli citizens about anything; it is not his concern what I am saying to them. These Israelis can give this information to any foreigners. It was difficult for the Judge to understand why this dichotomy exits between foreigners and Israelis. It means that it is not about secrecy but about something else.”

Israel’s statehood was contingent upon upholding the UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS.

Article 19 affirms: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 13 guarantees: Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Eileen Fleming is the author of Keep Hope Alive and Memoirs of a Nice Irish American Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory and the producer of 30 Minutes With Vanunu. Email her at Read other articles by Eileen, or visit Eileen's website.

16 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. mary said on May 16th, 2010 at 8:54am #

    Correct Eileen. Israel cannot face the truth whomsoever speaks it and it knows no law.

    This e-mail just came in 10 mins ago.

    ‘Just heard via Mohammed Omer (15mins ago) that Noam Chomsky was denied entry through the Allenby bridge. He was supposed to give a lecture at Bizeit university. Doesn’t it show how afraid the Israelis are of the truth?’

  2. Eileen Fleming said on May 16th, 2010 at 9:26am #

    Thank you Mary for this news alert and here’s hoping Emile Zola’s insight will soon be reality: “If you shut up the truth and bury it under the ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through it will blow up everything in its way.”

  3. bozh said on May 16th, 2010 at 11:21am #

    Let us recall, please that zola’s statement represents a wish, conclusion, or prediction.
    I have a more plausible conclusion: either have a timocratic world governance with near-idyllic of idyllic structure of society or world governance [democratic, but so what?] by a minority of people and with permament underclass.
    {Just what we had everywhere for at least 10 k yrs!}

    The latter final solution appears indeed horrendous, but is a possibility. More likely outcome wld be setup of an idyllic society.
    Another possibility wld be an interspacial collission or warm up to the degree that no human survives.
    But good news is that in infinity of time even with a governance by chosen, our evanescence is ergodic; i.e., having zero chance of not happening! tnx

  4. Mulga Mumblebrain said on May 16th, 2010 at 12:37pm #

    Before the truth prevails I’m afraid that the truth-tellers will face fanatic and vicious resistance. After all, as far as the die-hard Zionists are concerned the non-Jewish truth-tellers are just ‘anti-semites’ and the likes of Chomsky simply ‘self-loathing Jews’. Still with the likes of Chomsky on one side and the other infested by the likes of Melanie Phillips and Daniel Pipes, I know which side I prefer to be on.

  5. jon s said on May 16th, 2010 at 2:41pm #

    I’m pleased to report, in the wake of yesterday’s demo -that the Left in Israel is alive, at least it has a pulse. A few thousand of us demonstrated in downtown Jerusalem, which the Right considers to be it’s home turf. Unfortunately, media coverage was practically non-existent .
    Ha’aretz , which one would expect to be sympathetic, had not a word. The right-wing Jerusalem Post had this:

  6. jon s said on May 16th, 2010 at 2:43pm #

    And denying entry to Chomsky: pure stupidity.

  7. Deadbeat said on May 16th, 2010 at 2:50pm #

    jon s writes …

    And denying entry to Chomsky: pure stupidity.

    On the contrary. Denying entry to Chomsky is pure political genius. That may not have been the intention but the CONSEQUENCE is what matters.

  8. Don Hawkins said on May 16th, 2010 at 3:34pm #


  9. AaronG said on May 17th, 2010 at 5:25am #

  10. mary said on May 17th, 2010 at 10:57am #

    They are not.

  11. mary said on May 17th, 2010 at 10:59am #

    dan e I do beg your pardon. You’re right they are. I was on the wrong article.

  12. Deadbeat said on May 17th, 2010 at 12:48pm #

    Sorry to see commentary on the Blum article closed but I guess such critiques of Blum’s position who essentially opened the door for such criticisms by inviting his critics to comment must have gotten too hot to handle.

  13. Ismail Zayid said on May 17th, 2010 at 1:00pm #

    Mordechai Vanunu had the ‘audacity’ to tell the facts as they are in relation to the Israeli nuclear arsenal. Telling the facts is not allowed in Israel. The same is shown in the case of the denial of entry to Noam Chomsky. It was expected that he will relate many of Israeli crimes in the field of the violations of Palestinian human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This is not tolerated by Israel even by if stated by Jewish persons like Vanunu, Chomsky or even declared Zionists like Judge Goldstone.

  14. dan e said on May 17th, 2010 at 2:34pm #

    Attn DV editors: I submitted a comment on this thread somewhere below Deadbeat’s comment, I think just before or just after my post about the Blum thread being closed, but it seems to have disappeared. ??

  15. Eileen Fleming said on May 17th, 2010 at 5:39pm #


    It Is After Considerable Contemplation….

    It is after considerable contemplation that I have lately arrived at the decision that I must withdraw from the two performances scheduled in Israel on the 30th of June and the 1st of July…

  16. Mulga Mumblebrain said on May 18th, 2010 at 12:11am #

    jon’s great ‘demonstration’ was apparently a group of Left Zionists’ ie a bunch alike to ‘Left Afrikaaners’ or ‘Left Klu Klux Klan’. As Zionism is pure fascism and racism in the cause of the last European settler project, one predicated on the view that one tribe, resident there, amongst others, thousands of years ago, has exclusive right to the possession of the land, to the exclusion of all others (involving their eradication or expulsion) all this based on nothing but group narcissism and tribal mythology, it can never be ‘Left’. To be Left means, above all else, belief in the brotherhood of humanity, which fundamentalist Judaism and its bastard offspring Zionism, reject absolutely, in favour of a brutal hierarchy with Jews, but not ‘self-loathing Jews’ who put their humanity before their tribal loyalties, at the very top. These ‘Left Zionists’ were blathering on about withdrawal to the Green Line, apparently seeing Judaic apartheid, aka Zionism, as being acceptable within Israel, where the victims of a ‘Jewish’ state (itself a clear declaration of the apartheid nature of such a state) will merely be the 20% of ‘Israeli Arabs’, third-class citizens being abused in and more and more vicious manner. Of course my more cynical, but realistic, impulses, based on decades of witnessing Zionist perfidy, have me half-convinced that this ‘Left Zionism’ is just another smokescreen, designed to confuse foreign opinion, presenting the ‘pretty face’ of Israel, prepared to ‘compromise’ by ‘allowing’ a Palestinian state in the Occupied Territories. How magnanimous! Of course, this ‘state’ will not be allowed an army, or control of its airspace, or unfettered foreign relations with whom it chooses. Such ‘privileges’ are only for the elect. And, yes, regretably, it must be ruled by stooges acceptable to Israel. In fact, when you look closely, the differences between ‘Left Zionism’ and Likudnick Zionism are tissue thin, merely those of tactics, but all driving towards the ultimate goal of ‘Eretz Yisrael’.