Israel’s Mordechai Vanunu is as much a hero as Edward Snowden

Duncan Campbell writes: Ten years ago today, a man emerged from prison to be greeted by a crowd of his supporters embracing him with carnations and a crowd of his enemies drawing their fingers across their throats. He had served 18 years in prison, 11 of them in solitary confinement.

The man was Mordechai Vanunu, the whistleblower who, in 1986, came to Britain to tell the Sunday Times the story of the then secret nuclear weapons facility at Dimona in Israel. Out alone in London and disillusioned with the length of time the story seemed to be taking to reach publication, he was lured by a woman from Mossad to Italy. There, he was kidnapped, drugged and smuggled out of the country to Israel, where he was convicted of espionage.

On his release from prison, he was led to believe that he would soon be free to leave the country where he is vilified and regarded as a traitor. When I interviewed him in Jerusalem six months later, back in 2004, he was still hopeful that, having served his time, he would be able to start a new life abroad. It has turned out to be an empty hope. Last December, he failed in the high court of justice in his latest bid to be allowed to leave. Does Edward Snowden, as he adjusts to life in Moscow, wonder whether he will still be haunted and hunted by the US government for decades to come?

No one seriously claims that the man who was exhaustively debriefed by the Sunday Times nearly 30 years ago has any secrets up his sleeve. The decision to restrict his movements seems to be based more on a desire to inflict punishment on an unrepentant man than for security concerns. A pacifist who has urged the Palestinians to pursue their aims by non-violent means, he was not a spy but was driven to his actions by a horror of Hiroshima and the possibility of a nuclear war in the Middle East. [Continue reading…]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

2 thoughts on “Israel’s Mordechai Vanunu is as much a hero as Edward Snowden

  1. Norman

    Just what kind of threat does he pose today? Perhaps it has to do with telling the world of his treatment in his own country? One has to ask why the people who prevent this man from leaving, what are you afraid of? His imprisonment within his own country, whether in an actual prison or under house arrest, being prevented from leaving the country, accomplishes what end? A hero to some, a traitor to others. How sad.

  2. pabelmont

    Norman: I doubt he presents any threat at all. He told damaging facts back then. Has he more secrets he hasn’t yet told? Well — perhaps. And I imagine the world knows how he was (and is now) treated. Not much harm to Israel there.

    No. He is being punished and made an example: if you are a traitor to Israel, your life will be made a living hell. If you contemplate whistleblowing, contemplate the horror that will follow. Little better than Israel treats people living in OPTs. they cannot escape. You can.

    Don’t become a whistleblower!

Comments are closed.