Mordechai Vanunu Interviewed
By Hesham Tillawi
Al-Jazeerah, October 21, 2005
Below is the transcript of an eye-opening radio (telephone) interview that took place between peace activist Mordechai Vanunu and talk show host Hesham Tillawi on the television program Current Issues, in September 2005.
TILLAWI. ‘Well, I do believe that we have Mordechai Vanunu with us…Mordechai, are you with us?
TILLAWI. Good Morning, I know that it is 4 o’clock in the morning there in Jerusalem. Folks, Mordechai Vanunu has spent 18 years in an Israeli jail for telling Israeli nuclear secrets. He was lured to Rome by Israeli agents and kidnapped and then sent back to Israel where he spent 18 yrs in prison and 11 of those years in solitary confinement. That is true, Mordechai?
VANUNU. Yes, that is right.
TILLAWI Now, Mordechai, I have a question for you. What was it that you really felt that you must tell the world about, what was it about the Israeli nuclear program that you felt to yourself, ‘you know I cannot continue like this, I cannot remain silent on this, I have got to tell the world about it.’ What was it?
VANUNU Well, the most important point is that it was the same situation that we have right now, namely that these people continue to lie and to cheat the world as well as their own citizens by denying the truth, by declaring that they do not have atomic weapons while at the same time I was working there helping to produce them. At that time there were more than 200 atomic weapons, in 1986, and it was at that time that they started to produce the most horrible of all weapons, the hydrogen bomb…all of this in secret, in lying and in cheating the world and all of its citizens. So I said to myself ‘It is impossible to keep these secrets. I must report about them and to try and stop it.’
TILLAWI Mordechai, there are a lot of nations that have nuclear weapons. What is it about Israel having them that makes you so nervous?
VANUNU Because Israel wants to use them, to cause genocide and holocaust on other innocent citizens. It has always been a part of Israel’s secret policy. And also by having them, Israel will use them as a threat to avoid making peace with the Arab world as well as imposing her policies on those peoples. As long as she has them, she will continue on in her policies of not making peace, of occupation and of neglecting the Palestinian suffering caused by the refugee camps that have existed for more than 50 years.
TILLAWI One of the Israeli professors said a few months ago that ‘we have the nuclear capability of hitting every major European city,’ is that true to your knowledge?
VANUNU Yes, it is true. They can bombard any city all over the world, and not only those in Europe but also those in the United States, and by this threat what they are doing is to send a secret message to any leader and to any government that they have the ability to use them aggressively and to blackmail them, to blackmail Europe and the United States, every where, in every state around the world. It was Europe and the United States who helped them get this power, and now that Israel has it, she is coming back and saying to them ‘We will not obey any orders that you give us. No international law, no international agreement, no UN resolutions,’ and all because of these atomic weapons tha! t they have.
TILLAWI Where do you live now Mordechai?
VANUNU Since my release in 2004 I am not allowed to leave the country, all this after serving 18 years. So I decided that I wanted to be someplace where I will not see the ugliness of Jewish society, so I decided to stay in East Jerusalem among Palestinians and among foreigners. Right now I am staying in the guesthouse of St. George’s Cathedral, the Anglican Church. I cannot leave Israel, so I am living amongst the Palestinians and under Israeli occupation, because East Jerusalem is part of the occupation since 1967.
TILLAWI Now, you also have converted from Judaism to Christianity, is that right?
TILLAWI Now, I have a question for you, and I do not want to put you on the spot, but two things happened in your life that are profound. The first is that, according to some people, you betrayed Israel and in their eyes you are considered a traitor, but that is not what I want to ask you about. What I do want to ask you is this: What is the process that went through your head twice in your life? One of them is when you decided to expose the nuclear capability of Israel, your own country, and the other one which is also profound was when you changed your religion to Christianity. Now, those two things are profound and I do not think that there are too many! people in the world who have two major shifts in their lives like these. What made Mordechai Vanunu betray his country and then change his religion?
VANUNU Yes, this is a very good question and very important. You are right, it is not usual to have a person come to these hard conclusions. As far as my conversion, it started at the very early age of 15 or 16. I was raised in the Jewish religion and in a Jewish family. Israel and Judaism were considered as one nation, one big family, one tribe. I began criticizing and rejecting Judaism over the point of view that these Jews are teaching injustice through their Judaism. In the same way that Jesus Christ also criticized Judaism 2,000 years ago, I was unwilling to accept what they teach, and later converted to the opposite of Judaism. The Jewish tribe teaches that there is only one Chosen people of God. The! y teach of their superiority, taking literally word-by-word the writings in the old bible. And I decided therefore that after 2,000 years these ideas were nonsense. There are 6 billion people around the world, and all of them are equal, all are part of the human race. There is no such thing as a super race. We should all respect and love each other, and that was the beginning of my rejecting Judaism and my accepting of Christianity, of following the teachings of Jesus Christ and of accepting humanity. I am not a religious man, I am not going to become a priest. I did all of this for my humanity and for my beliefs. So, I chose my own way and began criticizing the Jewish faith. Those who teach Judaism run the lives of those under them, telling them what they must do every hour of every day, issuing many orders about everything, from waking up in the morning to going to sleep, but at the same time they do not teach them to respect other human beings, to accept non-Jews and to believe ! that non-Jews are like them. They teach that only the Jews are the chosen people. So, this is Judaism, a collection of primitive traditions thousands of years old that have not changed. The world has changed in the last 2,000 years and the Jewish people need to accept and understand this change, and especially if they want a democratic country. You cannot have a state and run it as they did 2,000 years ago. They came to Palestine in the name of the Bible and in the name of their god and took this land that was promised to them thousands of years ago. In the name of this god, they took the land, expelled the people and gave them hard, cruel, barbaric lives for the last 60 years. This way of thinking, this faith cannot exist within this new age, and it was this that also led me to expose Israel’s nuclear secrets.
TILLAWI Mordechai, you have been living amongst the Palestinians for a while now. What do you think, are they the terrorists that we have all been hearing about?
VANUNU I have been living amongst the Palestinians now for 15 months, but I have been following the Palestinian situation now since the 1980’s. Now I am here living among them, watching them, meeting with them, eating with them, enjoying life with them and seeing how the Israelis have succeeded in portraying them all over the world as terrorists. But this is not true. They are very peaceful people and lovers of peace.
TILLAWI What do you think should happen? How do you think that this conflict should be settled?
VANUNU Well, if the Jewish people want a solution, it can happen only by one way, and this is by accepting the Palestinians and by treating them as equal human beings. If the Israelis want peace, then the proof that you want peace is by respecting the people of the other side and seeing them as equals. The Jews must stop seeing themselves as being part of a master race. The only solution is one state, one society where everyone has equal rights and have the same rights in all categories. If the Jews have the right of return based on what happened 2,000 years ago, then the Palestinians have the right of return after 50 years as well. With one state, there will be no more conflict over land and there will be no more enemies. Israel will the! n not need atomic weapons because she will learn to live in peace with her neighbors instead of trying to live as a racist supremacist state. The Israelis are not willing to accept this though because they want a Jewish state. Therefore, a secular, non-religious state is the only solution.
TILLAWI. Of course, Israel will not accept this option because of demographic concerns.
VANUNU Yes, that is true and has always been part of Israel’s plan. This has been the reason for Israel not accepting refugees and for isolating the Palestinians in places such as Gaza.
TILLAWI. What do you think of the Gaza withdrawal?
VANUNU The Gaza withdrawal was nothing but a big piece of propaganda trying to show how the Jews were being forced off their land. Of course, what they do not say is the fact that this land was Palestinian land and that it was taken from them by force. So the Zionists used this for brainwashing the people in the United States into thinking about Jewish suffering. But secretly the plan is to use this as a way of isolating 1.4 million Palestinians. The demographic issue is very strong in the mind of the Jewish people and so what they want to do is to eventually move all the Palestinian people into this very small area. All the while, the Sharon government continues to build more settlements in the West Bank.
TILLAWI Back in 1999, 35 members of Congress wrote a letter to President Clinton a concerning you. His response to that letter was “I share with you your concern over Vanunu’s plight and over Israel’s nuclear program. We have repeatedly urged Israel to adhere to the treaty and to accept comprehensive international atomic energy safeguards and inspections.” To your knowledge, have the Israeli nuclear sites ever been inspected by an international nuclear agency?
VANUNU No, it has never opened its program to international inspections.
TILLAWI So, why are we after Iran then to open its doors to inspections, but no one is asking Israel to do the same? Why is that?
VANUNU This is a very strange situation that has been developed and accepted by the Western states since the 1960’s. It goes back about 40 years. My view is that Europe and America are and have been under a long-term agenda of blackmail by the Israelis. In the first case, the Israelis constantly bring up the Holocaust and what happened to the Jews during WWII, blaming the West for it and then using this as the justification for possessing nuclear weapons as a way of preventing this from ever happening again.
TILLAWI. Mordechai, do you know how many Atomic Weapons they possess?
VANUNU At the time that I first revealed Israel’s nuclear weapons program, they had more than 200 atomic weapons and were able to produce every year about 40 kilograms of plutonium. This amount can be used in making 10 atomic weapons each year. What that means is that since 1986 they were able to make another 200.
TILLAWI In your opinion, against whom do the Israelis plan to use these weapons?
VANUNU Their target has always been the Arab states.
TILLAWI How real do you think this threat really is?
VANUNU It is very, very real. Very, very close. It’s easy. It’s simple. All that they need is one crazy leader in the government. They may use it one day to make the world see that they are very powerful and thus force the world to let them continue on with their racist apartheid state for the Jewish people while not accepting any other solutions and to continue rejecting any real solutions for these problems involving the Palestinian people.
TILLAWI Now, what is your situation? You have a trial coming up soon?
VANUNU My situation now is that they have renewed my restrictions for the 2nd year. I cannot leave the country and I cannot speak to foreigners. I am not allowed to speak to you, but I continue to give interviews, so they came and arrested me on November 11th and questioned me and now have put me in a trial. It began a few weeks ago and will continue on through next year. They are accusing me of giving interviews to foreign media. I also am not allowed to go into the occupied territories, so I cannot go into Bethlehem. That is the situation now. I am facing trial and am under restrictions.
TILLAWI So, in other words you will be getting into trouble for speaking with us tonight?
VANUNU, No, it was for interviews that I gave before. For speaking to you tonight Tillawi I will have to face another trial.
TILLAWI. Mordechai, I want to thank you for being with us. It has been a very informative interview, and I just want to say thank you again and good luck to you.
VANUNU Thank you very much and good luck to you and to your audience, and I hope to be with you all one day soon. Thank you.
TILLAWI Okay folks, that was Mordechai Vanunu, former Israeli nuclear scientist who told the world what was happening in Israel.
***An audio version of this program can be accessed by going to www.currentissues.tv and clicking on the photo of Mordechai Vanunu. Please tune in to Current Issues every Thursday evening at 9pm eastern time to hear the latest and most important news with regards to what is taking place in the Middle East. It is a no-holds-barred program that isn’t afraid to tell the truth about the dangers that mankind is facing with regards to Zionism and its policies. Hesham Tillawi can also be heard Tuesday evenings at 9pm eastern time on the internet radio program entitled The Crescent and Cross Solidarity Hour with co-host Mark Glenn. The live program is dedicated to an examination of what is taking place in the Middle East and around the world from a Christian/Muslim perspective. An easy to install ! player program is required in order to listen to the show, which can be accessed at the following site:
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