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A cheap feast in other peoples misery (catching up with mordechai vanunu in israel) - politics


One of my favourite pieces of music is the Sex Pistols' classic 'Holidays in the Sun' - a song that begins with the line, 'a cheap anniversary in other people's misery'. This would have made a decent epitaph for my feast in Israel, aside from that the $3000 air permit meant that it wasn't just cheap.

I went to Israel full of apprehension. Just deliberate what we all know of the background of paranoia and pain that hangs over that land is adequate to make anyone apprehensive, but I also went shipping a dark cloak-and-dagger - that I was a associate of Mordechai Vanunu's, and I was edgy about the effect I'd get be supposed to this truth all of a sudden befit public.

My acquaintance Morde was implementation an 18-year prison judgment for doing amazing that most colonize in this fatherland care about heroic. Morde told the world about a cloak-and-dagger stash of WMD's ('weapons of mass destruction') that are being residential in an underground factory in the Negev desert. Most citizens I know think he did the world an gigantic favour, but most ancestors in his own kingdom wish Morde had kept his mouth shut. Indeed, most Israelis consider him as a traitor!

In order to try to absorb this feelings towards my friend, I tried chatting to local associates about their line to nuclear weapons. The reaction I conventional was alarming! "They're only there as our last resort" one coherent young journalist said to me. "Just in case we get finally overrun. " "Well . . . what happens then?" I asked. "Well", he said, "then we annihilate everybody!"

Tragically, this was not an cut off example. Approximately every time I wanted an belief from taxi-drivers, cafe people or inn staff as regards Israel's nuclear capacity, the word 'Armageddon' would come up. And these apologists seemed quite accommodating of the fact that in order to air strike this certain blow aligned with their neighbours, they might as a matter of fact need to take the rest of the world with them!

Thankfully not every Israeli took this position. Indeed, the 'Free Vanunu' crusade itself had a bright local conditional of dynamic peace campaigners.

These local activists were some of the most impressive ancestors I met for the duration of my stay in Israel. Even in Australia they would have been impressive - above all young, idealistic Academia students, with a binder to world peace and international disarmament - impressive but not extraordinary in our context. In this framework though, developing up in an location so overshadowed by violence and fear, these brave young souls stood out like shining lights.

The violent side of Israeli background was never more certain to me than it was on the day of Morde's release. I had traveled many thousands of miles to be reunited with my alone on the day that he walked free. In my dreams I had imagined our get-together countless times. Morde would walk all through those gates with his personal effects in one hand, and me and a few associates and category would be there to clinch him and lead him away. I didn't especially realise until I reached the prison just how far from realism my imaginary description of that scene would prove to be.

There were hundreds of us at the prison, and the vast adult years were not Morde's friends. As the time of his announcement drew near, I tried to move towards the prison gate where I had all the time imagined in my opinion continuance as Morde walked out. I soon found in my opinion squeezed into the central point of an angry mob.

It was absolutely one of the nastiest experiences of my life. The whole mass of men seemed to be furious with aggression, and each creature was competing to claw his way to the front, for what exact drive was not completely clear. Thankfully I could not appreciate the chants that were being sung to the tune of 'here we go, here we go, here we go', but I was told later that the words for 'death' and 'traitor' had been focal to all the mantras that were chanted that day.

On contemplation I now think that it was a good thing that by the time Morde came all through those prison gates the law enforcement had packed us as one so tightly that I wasn't able to move a limb. What banned me from administration out to clinch Morde also not permitted my neighbours from feat him with more sinister intent.

Thankfully the car with my associate in it got away with no more than a injured panel and a shower of eggs. One contender did administer to mount his bike in time to catch the car, but after slamming into the side of the vehicle he lost his mount, and the 'free man' was able to proceed in peace.

Back at the gaol effects then on track to unravel. With their anger unresolved, the mob in progress to vent their anger on other targets. I found in my opinion swept up in this like a wave contravention over my head. One back up I was on foot towards my bus. The next instant I was surrounded by a mob led by an angry rabbi, screaming at the top of his voice. 'Go home' was the only express I could understand. In the same way unambiguous even if were the rough hands that were being positioned on my body, the kicks that were hallway on my legs, and the spittle that was accumulating on my face.

I didn't see any path of break in this situation, so I sited my hands at once in a attitude of prayer and bowed my head, effective on the hitherto lucrative approach that if you junk to fight back, guys are commonly very hesitant to beat you up. It worked. A man grabbed me from after with both hands and hauled me out of the centre of the mob. I made it back to my bus lacking additional incident.

All of this would have been water off a duck's back had Morde and I then been able to board a plane and fly back to Australia. Sorry to say the the system had ruled that this 'free' man must not be allowable to leave the country, nor go anyplace near a border or a external embassy, nor have any acquaintance with 'foreigners'. The 'foreigner' restriction was aimed at the external press. Even so, technically, I wasn't acceptable to spend broad time with my old acquaintance lacking risking as him re-arrested!

We were reunited for a moment on the dusk of that same day of his release. Alas I cried so much that I actually didn't get the attempt to tell him all of the effects that I had geared up for that moment. All I can hope for now is that one-day we will catch up by the book - i don't know over a few beers back here in the land of Oz. I know that Morde would like that.

Getting Morde out of Israel is actually the next big challenge for the Vanunu campaign. I don't know how hard this will prove to be. I do know that I had a bloody hard time being paid out myself. In my case it wasn't that they didn't want me out (they held off the departure of the plane until I got on board). They just seemed gritty to let me know that they didn't want me back.

I had been warned by the other peace activists of bullying tactics employed by airport staff. Ironically, I at the outset made it by means of all four collateral checkpoints exclusive of being stopped. It was only as I proceeded to the final gate that a young man in a suit fixed up with me and said, "Excuse me sir, but can I see your passport. " He then told me that there had been a 'problem' and that he would need to hold on to my passport until the 'problem' had been resolved. I was then shuffled into a small room to begin a three-hour course of action of interrogation, body probing and luggage examination.

In the end the verdict was that I was free to go and that there was nil be suspicious of about the inside of my bags, but that the bags themselves were be suspicious of and that none of them could be taken on board as hand luggage. This meant that I could carry with me my camera, but not in my camera case, my laptop, but not my mainframe case, my video camera, but not the bag with the shoulder strap that I lugged it about in, my toothbrush and paste, but not my toiletries bag, and even my Palm-pilot portable keyboard, but not the barely vinyl dust-jacket that I kept it in. I could take what I liked, so long as I agreed it in my arms.

It was just a game, all the same they managed to keep above-board faces all over the whole ordeal. For my part I refused to get on board exclusive of the bulk of my carry-on items. In the end they decided to give me a large cardboard box to put them in.

And so my cheap festival in other people's misery came to an end. But now the real work begins. For I returned home, but I left my acquaintance confidential the confines of St George's Cathedral in Jerusalem, where the good bishop has existing him sanctuary.

Morde can't leave the Cathedral grounds. He has at least two the media on every exit, compelling shifts to cover his actions 24-hours per day. If Morde tries to walk out into the street, he'll be directly surrounded and identified, and given the amount of locals that would count it as a point of pride to be dependable for his death, Morde's life in the open maybe wouldn't last more than a few minutes.

I'd like to see my acquaintance back here in Australia. I astonishment if the Australian administration has the courage to offer him citizenship?

DBS. April 2004

'Fighting' Member of the clergy Dave Smith - Community Priest, commune worker, expert fighter, minister of three - met Vaunu in Sydney in 1986. They have been acquaintances ever since.

Vanunu is featured in Member of the clergy Dave's book, 'Sex, the Ring & the Eucharist'. Get a free preview copy when you sign up for Dave's newsletter at www. fatherdave. org


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