We learned from Jeremy Corbyn that 68 Members of the 2 Houses of Parliament had signed the letter of invitation to Vanunu. This was a notable increase, although Khalid Mahmood who had assured me he supported, had not signed, nor Gisela Stuart, who said she would consider it. Jeremy said he would make sure they did next time. I did not identify any MPs there other than Jeremy, who himself had to leave for a while, apart from a brief appearance by Baroness Jenny Tonge. Hopefully that would not be the case if VM was there himself!
After an introduction by Jeremy, Avigdore Feldman spoke of the 30 years he had represented VM after being brought by force to Israel. He said that the Israelis did not want to kidnap him in England. It was in his view the most horrific human rights abuse to a single person with the intent of punishing him until the end of his life. He mentioned the effect of the 11+ years of detention in solitary confinement on VM’s mental health and the main restrictions he continues to face including not being allowed to speak with anyone who is not an Israeli citizen. Very difficult where he lives in East Jerusalem. He has now approached the court 10 times but they still claim he has some terrible secret. He denies he has any as he knew the situation 30 years ago.
A book on Israeli armaments 1948-2011 doesn’t mention Vanunu in its 500 pages. He is a “non-being” and nuclear weapons are not an issue in Israel. How many have been developed since? why does Israel go on lying that they don’t have nuclear weapons while Vanunu is charged with revealing them? The Government is continuing to lie to the people living with an air of unreality, yet since the beginning o f the development of nuclear weapons in Israel in 1965 some 2-3,000 people worked on it but maintain a “stupid solidarity”. He is pessimistic about VM’s future. He remains in solitary isolation. He was a whistleblower before there was any support for such people and he acted on his own initiative.
This was followed by a clip from the BBC film made by Christopher Mitchell where VM speak of his sacrifice of freedom and life for this case. This was in response to the Chernobyl disaster. The Sunday Times seriously debated publishing its article in 1986 by VM is glad that it did and feels that his mission was accomplished. When he was released from prison in April 2004 he spoke to the press in English, breaching the conditions imposed on him. He maintained the price was worth it.
Peter Hounam, a journalist based in Scotland, had spoken the evening before at the Front Line Club. He felt that it would have been difficult to protect VM even if he hadn’t been taken to Rome. He did the right thing because highly destructive fusion weapons were being developed. The press hardly ever cover it. Israel worked with South Africa on highly sophisticated delivery systems. Each had the same type of weapon. South Africa launched its weapons from a base in the Cape into the South Atlantic. There was close collaboration with South Africa providing fissile materials and Israel technical expertise. (Israel launched medium range missiles onto the Med.) Israel now has 6 submarines which can fire Cruise Missiles, 5 of which given free by the German Government as part of reparations for WW2. They were not supposed to be used for nuclear purposes but equipped so they could. More. They can reach any part of the world. If, as is being claimed, these Israeli weapons are being deployed as part of NATO then this implies massive collusion with Israel’s cover up of their very existence. If we are still wondering why governments and media remain silent while VM goes to jail for warning of danger to humanity we know that all are implicated. We need to think more realistically why countries are not are not speaking out or helping VM.
The Sunday Times should be asked what it is doing to help VM. There was a small piece last Sunday and there will probably be something this weekend. The British Government has been silent on Vanunu’s abduction and has an obligation to see him returned to Britain.
Nancy Walters from Amnesty International said they had been taking the matter seriously for decades and referred to the late Alex York. She asked us to go to the website where there is a petition to get the ban on travel for VM lifted. There is a need to push the UK Government to tell Israel of their Human Rights commitments and violation of Civil Treaties.
In discussion I pointed out that there were two Face Book Causes: Free Mordechai Vanunu with over 5000 supporters and Tell Nuclear Truths (TNT) with over 20,000. Surely these should be taken into account in any campaign. I said that I had come along on behalf of Eileen Fleming who has been leading campaigns and written extensively in books and articles, some recently published in the Arab Daily News.
Concern was expressed over Germany’s actions and it was urged that questions should be asked. Was this recent? Evidently it was about 5 months ago. There had been a political row in Germany which resulted in a fatality.
Jeremy Corbyn referred to future opportunities to raise issues in the wider context of meetings on restricting nuclear weapons. UN 2015 – last month there had been a failure of NPT to convene a weapon free conference. All have said that they are in favour of it. 142 states are supporting a conference in Vienna in December on the Humantarian effects of nuclear arms.
One speaker felt the International Trades Union movement should give support and that VM’s fate was tied up with that of Palestinians. Avigdor Feldman said that he had not previously been in favour of associating the two issues but as things are now so bad he had altered his mind.
As for VM himself. He had made a decision not to speak to Israeli journalists. It was felt that here were some among them who do support him. It is understood that he is stubborn, but that is what has carried him through this ordeal.
Avigdor Feldman was asked to take our love and support to VM and we were asked to send him e-mails, requesting that he doesn’t reply in contravention of the conditions inposed on him.