| The Left lionises Edward Snowden, but who will stand up for Israel’s Mordechai Vanunu?

The Left Lionises Edward Snowden, But Who Will Stand Up for Israel’s Mordechai Vanunu? ~ , Political director of The Huffington Post UK.

This is a tale of two whistleblowers. Let’s begin with Edward Snowden. The former US National Security Agency contractor has been hailed by the liberal left for exposing mass surveillance on an “almost Orwellian” scale (to borrow a line from a US district judge). He was voted person of the year for 2013 by Guardian readers and took the runner-up spot – behind the Pope! – in Time magazine’s annual list. On 25 December, Snowden appeared on Channel 4 to give the “alternative Christmas message”, warning viewers that the types of surveillance mentioned in Nineteen Eighty-Four “are nothing compared to what we have available today”.

On Christmas Day, another whistleblower spoke out – but inside an Israeli courtroom, rather than on British television. “I don’t want to live in Israel,” declared Mordechai Vanunu, who served 18 years behind bars for blowing the whistle on Israel’s nuclear secrets. “I cannot live here as a convicted spy, a traitor, an enemy and a Christian,” he told Israel’s High Court, in English, having vowed not to speak Hebrew until he is allowed to leave the country.

Vanunu was jailed in 1988 for leaking details of his work as a technician at a nuclear facility near Dimona to the Sunday Times two years earlier. On 29 December 2013, the court rejected his petition, on the grounds that he continues to possess information that could jeopardise Israel’s national security. Andrew Neil, the former editor of the Sunday Times, disagrees. “He told us everything,” Neil told me. “We drained him dry.”

Neil calls Vanunu’s revelations the biggest scoop of his 11-year editorship of the Sunday Times. “Everyone knew Israel had the bomb but what we didn’t know was the huge extent of its nuclear facilities and also its ability to make the hydrogen bomb,” he tells me. “[The Vanunu story] told the world that Israel was basically the sixth nuclear power.”

As a result, Vanunu has been persecuted by the Israeli state for almost three decades. For the first 11 years of his 18-year prison sentence, the former nuclear technician was held in solitary confinement in a nine-foot-by-six-foot cell. His treatment was condemned by Amnesty International as “cruel, inhuman and degrading”; Vanunu has described it as “barbaric”.

This barbarism has continued since his release in 2004. Vanunu has been subjected to restrictions on his freedom of speech and movement. He is prevented from talking to foreign journalists, visiting foreign embassies or owning a mobile phone and has repeatedly been placed under house arrest for breaching these strictures; hence his repeated attempts to try to leave the country.

It is worth repeating: in Israel, which styles itself as the “only democracy in the Middle East”, it is a crime for whistleblowers to meet foreigners. So, where’s the outrage? Where are the human rights activists? The liberal interventionists? Their silence is a stark reminder that it is far easier to champion the cause of an American critic of the US than an Israeli critic of Israel. (Especially when that critic is a Jewish convert to Christianity, as Vanunu is, and has dared to say: “A Jewish state is not necessary.”)

Not a single national newspaper in the UK covered Vanunu’s recent appearances in court. Over the past few years, the British press has deigned to mention his name on only a handful of occasions. Little has changed: “The day after we published the [Vanunu] story, all the British newspapers either ignored the story or rubbished it,” Neil recalls.

Vanunu has been ignored and forgotten. Those who criticise Snowden for fleeing to Russia by way of Hong Kong don’t have a clue. It is only because Snowden went on the run and, crucially, appeared on television and did interviews that the rest of us have been able to benefit from his information. The Israelis, as Neil notes, “feared the propaganda effect” of Vanunu. The Sunday Times had lined up a series of TV interviews for him, but before he could do them he was drugged and kidnapped by Mossad and taken back to Tel Aviv for trial.

Vanunu recently compared himself with Snowden, saying that the former NSA analyst “is the best example for what I did 25 years ago – when the government breaks the law and tramples on human rights, people talk… He speaks for everyone and that’s what I did.”

Like Snowden, Vanunu isn’t a traitor. He is a whistleblower who, in Neil’s words, “took the view that if Israel should have nukes, that should be a matter of public record [and] debate”. He could have sold Israel’s nuclear secrets to the highest bidders in Moscow or Damascus. He didn’t. The Vietnam war whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg calls Vanunu “the pre-eminent hero of the nuclear era”. “More Vanunus are urgently needed,” he wrote in theLos Angeles Times in 2004. “That is true not only in Israel but in every nuclear weapons state, declared and undeclared.”

Indeed, it is. Double standards, however, abound. Can you imagine how the west would treat an Iranian Vanunu? How hysterical do you think the response would be in London or Washington – or Tel Aviv! – if an Iranian nuclear scientist were to come forward with, say, photos of secret warheads, only to be locked up by the mullahs and sentenced to solitary confinement?

For 27 years, Vanunu has been deprived of his liberty – for blowing the whistle, for telling the truth. It is a moral and geopolitical disgrace. We cannot afford, in good conscience, to forget the plight of Israel’s Snowden. To quote the Northern Irish Nobel peace laureate Mairead Maguire: “We cannot be free while he is not free.”

Mehdi Hasan is the political director of the Huffington Post UK and a contributing writer for the New Statesman, where this blog is cross-posted

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| Israeli court says nuclear hero Mordechai Vanunu must remain a virtual prisoner!

Israeli court says nuclear hero Mordechai Vanunu must remain a virtual prisoner ~  Redress Information & Analysis.

As we predicted, Israel’s Supreme Court has dismissed a request by nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu to leave Israel.

Vanunu, who served 18 years in prison for telling the world the truth about Israel’s nuclear secrets, was released from prison in 2004, but he is prohibited from leaving the apartheid state, visiting the occupied West Bank or approaching foreign embassies and speaking with foreign nationals. He also is not permitted to communicate with others online.

Mordechai Vanunu

Mordechai Vanunu: Israeli Supreme Court rules must remain imprisoned in the Jewish ghetto.

On 25 December Vanunu told a Supreme Court hearing that he wanted to leave the supremacist Jewish state. “I don’t want to live in Israel,” he said, adding that he is often subjected to harassment by the Israeli public whenever he is recognized.

However, on 29 December Supreme Court Justice Asher Grunis denied Vanunu’s appeal, stating:

The restrictions are intended to prevent future dissemination of classified material. In recent years the court has examined the necessity of the restrictions several times, and each time has been convinced that they are necessary for state security. The evidence shown here, including the covert evidence, indicates that the plaintiff is still a source of classified information, and is not hesitant to disseminate the information.

Reacting to the ruling, Vanunu wrote: “No justice in Israel democracy. The Supreme Court, by its Chief Justice Grunis, rejected my appeal to be free from Israel state, after 27 years in Israel prison.”

He told the writer Eileen Fleming: “All the secrets I had were published in 1989 in an important book, by [Nuclear Physicist] Frank BarnabyThe Invisible Bomb: Nuclear Arms Race in the Middle East.

In 1986, Barnaby was hired by the the Sunday Times to vet Vanunu’s story and he testified at Vanunu’s closed door trial:

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.

 

Israel’s political leaders have, he said, consistently lied about Israel’s nuclear-weapons programme and he found this unacceptable in a democracy. The knowledge that Vanunu had about Israel’s nuclear weapons, about the operations at Dimona, and about security at Dimona could not be of any use to anyone today. He left Dimona in October 1985.

Keeping Vanunu in chains in the Jews-only state, prohibited from travelling or talking to foreigners, has nothing to do with Israel’ security. It is about vengeance, pure and simple – Old Testament style.

So, please help keep Vanunu’s case alive by signing this petition, calling on the media to seek and report the truth about Israel’s nuclear deceptions and Vanunu’s nearly 10-year struggle for his right to be free from Israel.

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| Remember Mordechai Vanunu, Israel’s heroic nuclear whistleblower!

Remember Mordechai Vanunu, Israel’s heroic nuclear whistleblower ~ Redress Information & Analysis.

He should have received the Nobel Peace Prize. Instead, he spent 18 years in solitary confinement.

He should be celebrated internationally as a man who has sacrificed his freedom for the truth and for the wellbeing of humanity. Instead, he has been stripped of his right to travel and prohibited from talking to foreigners.

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Mordechai Vanunu: still fighting for his freedom, 27 years on.

Today, Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli nuclear whistleblower, is almost forgotten. But he has not given up the fight for freedom.

Vanunu is appealing to the Israeli Supreme Court to set him free – free to leave Israel, the Times of Israelreports.

“I don’t want to live in Israel,” he told the court in English – he won’t speak Hebrew while imprisoned inside the Jews-only state.

Vanunu, who converted to Christianity in the 1980s, told the court that he is often subjected to harassment by the Israeli public whenever he is recognized.

Blaming the media for wrecking his public image, Vanunu said he didn’t see a future for himself in the apartheid state.

Vanunu compared his past actions to those of US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

“Snowden is the best example of what I did 25 years ago – when the government breaks the law and tramples on human rights, people talk. That’s what he did, he speaks for everyone, and that’s what I did – I spoke for everyone.”

Vanunu is prohibited from visiting foreign territories, including the occupied West Bank and embassies within Israel, and can only meet with foreign nationals after securing permission from security forces.

In 1986 Vanunu leaked details of Israel’s military nuclear programme to The Sunday Times, blowing the cover off Israel’s so-called “nuclear ambiguity”.

It is unlikely that Vanunu’s plea for freedom will be accepted. That is hardly surprising – the Jews-only state is a vengeful entity, Old Testament style.

But where are the international human rights warriors? We hear none speaking for Vanunu.

Their silence is not just deafening. It is criminal.

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| Belligerent Israel has 80 nuclear warheads, can make 115 to 190 more, report says!

Israel has 80 nuclear warheads, can make 115 to 190 more, report says ~ Batsheva Sobelman, Los Angeles Times.

JERUSALEM– Israel has 80 nuclear warheads and the potential to double that number, according to a new report by U.S. experts.

In the Global Nuclear Weapons Inventories, recently published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, proliferation experts Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris write that Israel stopped production of nuclear warheads in 2004.

But the country has enough fissile material for an additional 115 to 190 warheads, according to the report, meaning it could as much as double its arsenal.

Previous estimates have been higher but the new figures agree with the 2013 Stockholm International Peace Research Institute yearbook on armament and international security. The yearbook estimated 50 of Israel’s nuclear warheads were for medium-range ballistic missiles and 30 were for for bombs carried by aircraft, according to a report in the Guardian.

Although widely assumed a nuclear power, Israel has never acknowledged possessing nuclear weapons or capabilities and continues to maintain its decades-old “strategic ambiguity” policy on the matter, neither confirming nor denying foreign reports on the issue.

In 1986, Mordechai Vanunu, an Israeli nuclear technician,leaked the country’s alleged nuclear secrets to a British newspaper, and said Israel had at least 100 nuclear weapons. Vanunu was later convicted of espionage and treason and wasreleased from jail in 2004 after serving 17 years.

Israel continued to adhere to its vagueness policy after comments made by then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2006 were interpreted by many as an inadvertent confirmation that Israel had nuclear weapons.

Following Sunday’s reports, Israeli defense analyst Amir Oren wrote that the ambiguity policy has done “its duty honorably and can now retire.” In the current regional conditions, Israel could benefit from giving up the vagueness, he wrote in Haaretz.

Founded in 1952, the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, is nearly as old as the state. It acknowledges two “nuclear research centers,” one in central Israel, the other in the Negev desert.

The facility at Soreq is under supervision of the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, whose inspectors routinely ensure it is being used for research purposes only.

Earlier this year, an IAEA team inspected the facility at Israel’s request for a first-ever comprehensive safety review, a concern after the nuclear accident at Fukushima, Japan, in 2011.

The 40-year-old facility at Soreq is expected to be phased out by the end of the decade and replaced with a particle accelerator, according to Israeli media.

But the nuclear facility in Dimona, a location in Israel’s southern Negev desert, is off-limits for the IAEA and not under its supervision. According to foreign reports, that is where the nuclear warheads have been produced since 1967.

Of the many multilateral agreements on nuclear issues the IAEA offers, Israel has signed a few and ratified fewer, mostly relating to nuclear safety issues. But it is not a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. In 2010, Israel dismissed a demand from the parties to join.

(A letter from Henry Kissinger to President Nixon in 1969 describes U.S. concerns that Israel “make no visible introduction of nuclear weapons” or “undertake a nuclear test program”. According to the letter, the Israeli government told the U.S. it “would not become a nuclear power.”)

Dimona, Israel

A satellite image of Dimona, Israel, where Israel reportedly built nuclear warheads. (Space Imaging / July 4, 2000) 

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Nuke Holocaust 2

 

 

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