Thursday, 21 April 2005

 Release Vanunu and anti-nuclear demonstration at Dimona

“I am become death, the destroyer of worlds” – Oppenheimer

Mordechai flanked by friends

Speaker from Hiroshima  

The demo was held a mile away from the nuclear installation. Mordechai Vanunu saw us off from St George’s. He was quiet, perhaps thinking of the continuing restrictions which confine and muzzle him but pleased that his friends and supporters were marking the first anniversary of his release from Ashkelon prison after 18 years of confinement by protesting at Dimona. He is also pleased that tomorrow he will be inaugurated as Rector of Glasgow University.

There were only about 40 in the group. Few passers by saw us standing in the Negev desert, but there were six reporters from Israeli TV and newspapers. In fact the activities of the Vanunu delegation (from the International Campaign to Free Mordechai Vanunu), most of whom are from the US, have been very well reported here in Israel.

The day before yesterday there was a vigil outside the Knesset in the morning, a press conference in the afternoon, and a candlelight vigil in the evening. During the morning vigil, three members of the group made presentations to the Knesset Constitution, Law and Judiciary Committee. Yesterday morning there was a vigil at Ministry of Justice in Jerusalem, and in the afternoon one at the Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv.

At Dimona, Raina Moss pointed out the potential danger for a nuclear disaster like Chernobyl and told us that the plant is responsible for cancers in workers and other people living in the area.

Carmel Martin, from London, talked about Ash Wednesday, saying that since 1984 ash has been used to write on the walls of the MoD building in London, as well as being scattered on the steps and marked on the foreheads of the demonstrators as a sign of repentance for our complicity in the production of nuclear weapons.

Cathy Kelly said that we are part of a critical mass of critical people. Six years into his imprisonment, Mordechai was sent a mail order catalogue. He ringed one item – a pair of shoes in which he would walk out of prison. Cathy was in Jenin after the destruction of 100 three-storey homes, a family living in each storey. People had called her a human shield but she said this was wrong because individuals can never shield Palestinians or Iraquis against the armed might of the military.

A young Israeli read some of his poetry. We are part of the solution, he said. People are hungry in Israel while billions of shekels are spent on manufacturing nuclear weapons at Dimona.

Mairead Maguire: “Why did people not speak out against the killing of six million Jews? Where were you mothers when they started making nuclear weapons? These weapons do not protect us: they endanger us. Mordechai is needed out in the world today. Israel must sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty   – Israel can lead weapons of mass destruction disarmament in the Middle East.”

A member of the Knesset, the only one speaking out against Israel’s nuclear weapons, then said: “You are the world, the superpower. You will overcome. Saddam Hussain said that Dimona is what lead to Iran ’s nuclear project. Dimona is a factory of death and is a great danger to the Israelis. It is time to open this reactor to international inspection and then close it. It is not just this country’s problem, nor is it just this generation’s problem.”

Aki, an Israeli campaigner against nuclear weapons for 50 years, said that Israel ’s nuclear weapons programme was the idea of one man, David Ben Gurion, and that it was built with funds that he obtained separately from the state’s finances so that there was no mention of them in Israel’s budget or government accounts. The reactor was supplied by the French who were grateful to Israel for attacking Egypt. The Israeli government continues to deny that Israel has nuclear weapons. Aki told us that Kissinger and Nixon reached an agreement with Golda Meir that, in return for Israel undertaking not to perform any nuclear tests, no pressure would be put on Israel to get rid of its nuclear weapons, and Israel could continue to deny their existence.

Finally three ‘Grannies for Peace’ sang songs they had written in Hebrew. The last was based on There’s a Hole in your Bucket, and the final line was that Israel has now lost all its morality.



Dimona (published photo)


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