Pebbles and ripples

By Mordecai Briemberg | 1997-11-01 12:00:00

A growing number of plays, books and films are appearing in support of Vanunu.BY MORDECAI BRIEMBERG

LAST YEAR, in September, our committee erected a large visual display in a central Vancouver square. It "told" the story of Mordechai Vanunu, then entering his 11th continuous year of solitary confinement in an Israeli prison, for having publicly documented his country's secret nuclear weapons program.

A young couple wandered by, paused, examined the display, spoke with us... and decided they would write and produce a play with another telling of Vanunu's story. Their play - Vanunu: I Am Your Spy - was performed at the Vancouver Fringe Festival this September, to critical theatrical acclaim and enthusiastic audience response. An "intensely intelligent performance... elegantly staged," in the words of the drama critic for the main entertainment weekly. The professional theatre company wants to tour the play across Canada.

A Pebble And A Ripple

Last year in October, an international conference was held in Tel Aviv, chaired by Nobel Peace Prize winner Joseph Rotblat. The presentations of the politically diverse experts and whistle-blowers who spoke there have been published in book form. Voices for Vanunu is distributed by the London committee of the Campaign to Free Vanunu and for a Nuclear Free Middle East (89 Borough High Street, London SE1 1NL, England or by e-mail: This well laid-out paperback is a unique compendium of practical information and philosophical reflection on the Vanunu issue, as well as an encouraging illustration of the dynamic of action.

You will not easily find elsewhere an account of the personal impact of Vanunu on another weapons scientist. Dr. Vil Mirzayanov, former director of the Moscow institute secretly developing chemical weapons, recounts how Vanunu inspired him to become a whistle-blower. Mirzayanov compares the Russian state's punishment with that of Israel's. Dr. All Yaroshinkaya, from the Ukraine, speaks of the connection between Vanunu's actions and her own investigative exposés of Chernobyl cover-ups. Daniel Ellsberg, once a top Kennedy adviser, chillingly provides insider revelations of nuclear madness and, embracing Vanunu as "my brother," inspiringly explains why whistle-blowing is a practical morality.

Joseph Rotblat contrasts the cases of Vanunu and Klaus Fuchs. Nuclear experts Dr. Frank Barnaby (U.K.) and Dr. Thomas Cochrane (U.S.) review the technical history of Israel's nuclear weapons program.

Vanunu's lawyer Avigdor Feldman leads us through the labrynthian darkness of the concept of "secrecy" in Israel. Knesset member Azmi Bishara contextualizes Israeli state torture of Vanunu in that country's "tribal" political culture. Meir Vanunu (brother) and Peter Hounam (the London Sunday Times journalist who broke the original story) share revealing aspects of Mordechai's life, his thinking and behavior.

And the voice of actor Susannah York, a trustee of the campaign to free Vanunu, is vibrantly audible in the melding of other's poetry with her personal reflections on the "yawning gap between living and surviving."

This (conference) pebble also had ripples. It injected into the Israeli mass media the first sustained and serious discussion of nuclear issues. It seems these "voices for Vanunu" emboldened the conscience of other Israelis. This year, and for the first time: a Vanunu play was written and performed in Tel Aviv (later touring London and Edinburgh); a documentary film was made and shown at the Jerusalem film festival; a youth group "No More Hiroshimas" began; a Knesset member (Dedi Zucker) is petitioning the Supreme Court to release Vanunu from solitary.

Even in the U.S., 12 members of Congress now call for Vanunu's release.

Do you know an M.P. of conscience who might join the respected international voices for Vanunu? Speak with them, and be a pebble to start another ripple.

Mordecai Briemberg attended the 1996 international conference in Tel Aviv. There now are Free Vanunu committees in 19 countries. You can contact the Canadian committee at: 123 North Sea Avenue, Burnaby, B.C. V5B 1K4 and at web page

Peace Magazine Nov-Dec 1997

Peace Magazine Nov-Dec 1997, page 15. Some rights reserved.

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