Another "dissident" unable to Claim his Peace Prize - But this one is Jewish.
A touch of hypocrisy, anyone? Why aren't the pages of the Western press full of stories about Vanunu? Surely this is just as newsworthy as some flake in China who never did anything but irritate and finally outrage his government with seditious remarks.|
Why don't we give Julian Assange a Nobel Prize? And then we will see if the US will still be singing the "Freedom of Speech" tune.
(CLERMONT, Fla.) - The International League for Human Rights awarded the Carl-von-Ossietzky-Medal to israeli whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, but Israel did not allow Vanunu to travel to Berlin where he was scheduled to receive the award. So instead, the award winning ceremony became a protest rally.
"Not knowing what is behind the walls of Dimona, where the Israeli government officially denies having nuclear weapons, it was very important that Vanunu came out and said, listen, Israel has hundreds of nuclear warheads and you should know about it and you should act about it."
In 1986, Vanunu, a former nuclear technician at Negev Nuclear Research Center, disclosed information on Israel's nuclear weapons programme to British journalists. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison and was only released in 2004. Still he is not allowed to contact foreign embassies or speak to journalists.
On 7 December 2010, I spoke with Nicole Thompson, Press Officer of the Day for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding Mordechai Vanunu's right to leave the state and receive the 2010 Carl von Ossietzky Medal at the awards ceremony in Berlin, which is NOW being replaced with a protest and the launching of an International Campaign: "Freedom to travel for the whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu"
I reminded her that Israel’s statehood was contingent upon upholding the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and I will persist to contact this Administration until I receive a statement vis-a-vis Vanunu's right to movement and free speech and Article 13: 2 UN UDHR:
“Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”
Here is a link to More information
Conditions of his parole prohibited him from speaking with journalists, supporters, or non-Israelis of any kind. He was restricted from travelling within the country and barred altogether from leaving it.|
In 2007, Vanunu was found to be in violation of his parole, in part for attempting to travel from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, and it landed him in jail for another three months. Being a convert to Christianity and an advocate for Palestinian rights did not help his case, but only served to increase the scorn heaped upon him by his countrymen.
Although the term “whistleblower” is usually appended to Vanunu’s name, the description is weak and understated. He was more like the “siren” that alerted the world to Israel’s undeclared nuclear bombs and the introduction of weapons of mass destruction to the Middle East.
Israel is widely believed to be the only nuclear-armed power in the Middle East, with around 200 warheads, but it has a policy of neither confirming nor denying that. The Jewish state has refused to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or to allow international surveillance of Dimona in the southern Negev desert.
Nuclear whistle-blower or peace activist fighting against a worldwide nuclear armament race? A man motivated by greed or ideology? Ynetnews takes a look at perhaps the most infamous spy in modern Israeli history.
Mordechai Vanunu was born in 1954 in Morocco. He came to Israel at the age of nine, when his family settled in Beersheba. He spent his military service in a combat engineering unit and later got a Bachelor's degree in physics.
In 1976 he began working at the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission's Negev facility, as a nuclear technician. While at the IAEC, he began studying for his Masters in philosophy and geography at the Ben Gurion University and became a radical-left activist. Aware of his political activity, he was questioned by IAEC's security officials several times, but was allowed to continue his pursuits.
In 1985, Vanunu was fired from the IAEC. Before leaving, he was able to photograph the compound, taking two rolls of film of the facility's layout. Later that year he immigrated to Australia and converted to Christianity. While in Australia, he contacted several media outlets in order to make public the information he had come across while working at the IAEC.
In early September 1986, the Sunday Times brought him to London, where he gave them the photos, as well as additional information about Israel's nuclear weapons program.
The Times began looking into Vanunu's past, trying to establish both his personal credibility as well as that of the information he offered. The Israeli defense establishment learned of the impending publication and decided to try and stop it. A Mossad tracking unit was assigned to find and retrieve the 'nuclear whistle-blower'. They eventually caught up with him in London.
On September 30, 1986, the later-to-be-revealed Mossad agent dubbed "Cindy" lured Vanunu to fly to Rome with her. Upon arrival in Italy, he was overpowered by Mossad officers who secretly transported him back to Israel, supposedly by ship. Vanunu was placed in solitary confinement in the Ashkelon Prison and a comprehensive gag order was placed on the entire operation.
Although some of the information provided by Vanunu to the British press was already known, the Sunday Times report created a vast public response since it was, by far, the first time an Israeli source publicly claimed Israel was in possession of nuclear weapons – hydrogen and neutron bombs, to be exact. The publication echoed further, with the uncanny betrayal of an Israeli citizen selling his country's nuclear secrets – which of course meant there were security breaches in Israel's most covert defenses.
It wasn't until November that Israel admitted Vanunu was awaiting trial. The Jerusalem District Court held all legal proceedings in the case behind closed doors; and after an 18-month trial Vanunu was found guilty of espionage and treason. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison, all to be served in solitary confinement.
Although under heavy guard, Vanunu was able to let the world know he was abducted by righting "Vanunu M was hijacked in Rome. ITL. 30.9.86, 21:00. Came to Rome by fly BA504," on the palm of his hand and flashing it before TV cameras on his way to one of the court hearings. He spent 11 years in solitary confinement, and it was only in 1999, after a long legal battle and petitions filed with the High Court of Justice indicating his sanity was at risk, that the court order he be allowed to join the general prison population.
Vanunu's motives for revealing Israel's atom secrets were never completely made clear: The defense establishment believed his motives were both monetary – he was promised a hefty fee of $75,000 by the Sunday Times; and the animosity he had towards the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission for firing him. Vanunu himself has always maintained he was motivated by pure ideology, his wish to create a public debate regarding Israel's nuclear policies and his desire to stop the global nuclear race. Both Vanunu and the Sunday Times still deny any money ever exchanged hands in return for the information.
Many groups dedicated to stopping a worldwide nuclear race rallied to his aid over the years, working to better his confinement conditions and pushing for his early release from prison.
In 1993, then-Justice Minister David Libai, revealed that the photos provided by Vanunu and published by the Sunday Times were later used as intelligence by a Fatah terror cell, which took a bus of IAEC workers hostage on March 1988. The terrorists killed two of their 11 hostages before the Israeli SWAT team was able to overtake them.
On April 21, 2004, Vanunu completed serving his 18-years sentence. He was place under various security restrictions prior to his release, and orbidden from leaving Israel, entering any of the Palestinian Authority territories, and talking to foreign press. He is also required to report all his actions to his parole officers.
Declared a "prisoner of conscience" by Amnesty International, which described his imprisonment as "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment... such as is prohibited by international law," he received the Right Livelihood Award in 1987, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Tromsø in Norway in 2001.
Vanunu has also been mentioned for the Nobel Peace Prize every year from 1988 to 2004, the last time by Irish Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Corrigan. In 2005 he received Norway's Folkets fredspris – the Peace Prize of the Norwegian People. In September 2004, Yoko Ono named Vanunu the winner of the John Lennon Peace Prize.
In July 2004, Vanunu was "adopted" by Nick and Mary Eoloff – devout Christian pacifists from St. Paul, Minnesota.
In 2007 Vanunu was sentenced to six months in prison and a three-year suspended sentence after being convicted on 15 counts of parole violations, including violating military orders prohibiting him from talking to foreign journalists and leaving Israel.
Mordechai Vanunu has appealed for asylum in Belgium twice – in 2005 and in 2008. Both petitions were denied.
There is an extensive international campaign to have Vanunu freed, and a petition containing thousands of signatures from eminent persons in almost all countries of the world. The Jewish government in Israel ignores all of this and refuses to lift any restrictions on him. The Western media, most particularly the United States and Canada, apparently refuse to publish any information on these 'human rights violations' about which they claim to care so deeply - so long as you're in China, or Iran, or some other country the US doesn't like this week.
Here is a link to a site containing more information, and the petition signatures:
This information appears to be unknown in the West, but Vanunu was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in both 2009 and 2010, but requested that his name be removed from the nomination list.
“He [Vanunu] has written letters to us this year and last year also, where he stated explicitly that he did not want to be a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. The reason he gave was that Shimon Peres had received the Nobel Peace Prize, and he alleged Peres was the father of the Israeli atomic bomb and he did not want to be associated with Peres in any way.” – Geir Lundestad, Director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute and Secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, 24 February 2010.
For the first time in the history of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, a preemptive request to withdraw a nomination—by the nominee—was made.
It was revealed last week that in a letter to the Committee, Mordechai Vanunu had asked for his candidacy to be rescinded. It was unusual enough for Geir Lundestad to acknowledge that a nomination had even been received, let alone publicly disclose Vanunu’s request. But for Vanunu—a man who should have been awarded the Peace Prize long ago—it was in full keeping with the dignity, integrity and uncompromising nature of one to whom the world owes a great debt.
In 1953, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion appointed a young Shimon Peres to become Director-General of the Ministry of Defense. Acting in this capacity, Peres helped draw up the 1956 Protocol of Sèvers (in the run-up to the British, French and Israeli attack on Suez). Those meetings led him to enlist France’s help in constructing the Negev Nuclear Research Center.
Peres’ critical involvement in developing Israel’s nuclear capability was detailed in “Shimon Peres – The Biography” by historian Michael Ben-Zohar. According to Reuters, “The book divulges new details of how Peres served as a behind-the-scenes architect of Israel's military might, securing weapons secretly and buying an atomic reactor from France.”
It was specifically because Peres had pioneered Israel’s nuclear weapons program that Vanunu asked his name be taken off the list of Nobel candidates. He wanted no association with the alleged “dove,” who as foreign minister was the recipient of the 1994 Peace Prize along with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian National Authority President Yasser Arafat.
It was during Israel’s “Grapes of Wrath” campaign in Lebanon that the April 1996 Qana massacre took place. At a United Nations compound near the village of Qana, 800 Lebanese civilians had sought refuge from the fighting. Showing utter disregard for both the U.N. and the civilians they sheltered, the compound was shelled by the Israelis, killing 106 innocents and injuring more than 100.
Israel first said Hezbollah positions and not the U.N compound was their target (although they were aware of its exact coordinates). They later said the facility was inadvertently hit due to “incorrect targeting based on erroneous data” and the use of outdates maps (the ever-shifting explanations offered by the Israelis for a deliberate strike of a U.N. facility would later be repeated in the 2008-2009 Gaza War).
It was then Prime Minister Peres who finally justified the attack by blaming Hezbollah for it, using the tired, discredited, and oft-repeated “human shield” excuse (yet another tool used again by the Israel Defense Forces to rationalize the massacre of civilians in the Gaza War).
A subsequent U.N. investigation concluded it was unlikely that the shelling of the Qana compound was due to gross technical or procedural errors. An investigation conducted by Amnesty International found that the attack was “intentional and is condemned.” Human Rights Watch's report similarly stated, “We have declared this a massacre that was intentional using very highly accurate missiles and explosives.”
As the person who exposed Israel’s nuclear weapons program, Vanunu’s conscientious, principled position of requesting his name be removed from consideration for the same Peace Prize won by the man who fathered it, is admirable.
The Nobel Committee should not only continue to consider Vanunu however, but award its Peace Prize to him, if for no other reason than to redeem itself as a body recognizing deeds, not hopes.
An ignominious spotlight would then shine on Israel for preventing Vanunu from traveling to Norway to accept it, although he would still likely decline the Prize. If permitted to hold a press conference, it would give Vanunu the opportunity to tell the world of Peres’ shameful role in introducing nuclear weapons to the Middle East, to talk of the massacre at Qana that occurred under his leadership, to speak about the war crimes committed in Gaza and of Israel’s brutal occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
It is time once again for the Siren to sound.