May 3, 2004
On April 21, Mordechai Vanunu, an Israeli citizen who worked as a technician at the country's Dimona nuclear plant, walked out of prison after 18 years. Eleven of those years were in solitary confinement. The "crime" for which he spent all those years was revealing to the world that Israel had developed nuclear weapons.
For the last year and a half, we were bombarded with talk about Iraq's supposed Weapons of Mass Destruction. But U.S. politicians and the mainstream media don't mention that these weapons have existed in the Middle East for decades – possessed by Israel. In fact, Israel held at least 100 to 200 nuclear bombs when Vanunu exposed the dirty secret. Nonetheless, to this day, Israel refuses to admit it has these weapons.
Vanunu revealed details of Israel's nuclear program to the London Sunday Times, which published an article about it on October 5, 1986. He provided 60 photos that showed the bomb factory, including plutonium spheres used as bomb triggers. Right after that, he was kidnaped by the Israeli secret police when he was visiting Italy and was returned to Israel, where he was found guilty of treason in a secret trial.
Vanunu is a pacifist who denounced "the dangerous illusion that nuclear arms can be a means of defense. Only peace between States can offer security." When Israel offered to release him from prison in 1998 on the condition that he no longer denounce nuclear arms, he refused. Coming out of prison, he said, "You didn't succeed to break me, you didn't succeed to make me crazy." At his release from prison, Israeli rightwingers shouted "Death to traitors!" He responded, "to all those calling me a traitor, I'm proud and happy to do what I did."
Vanunu may be out of prison, but he's not free. The Israeli government put numerous restrictions on him. He can't go abroad for a year, he can't speak with foreigners, he can't go to airports or ports, can't go to the border, enter foreign embassies or discuss even what was already published in the Sunday Times. If he violates these restrictions, he was told he'll go back to prison.
This is a man who has had the courage to stand up for his convictions. He deserves our support and solidarity.