The International Press and in particular the Israeli Media have been buzzing all weekend regarding a new poem by German writer and Nobel laureate Gunter Grass, in which he calls Israel’s Nuclear Whistle Blower, Mordechai Vanunu, a “paragon” “modern-day hero” and a “righteous man, who has remained loyal to his country the entire time.”
Vanunu told the AFP, “I am very happy to be in the league of Gunter Grass. Vanunu would be happy to get from the interior ministry of Israel the title ‘persona non grata’ and they can send me out of Israel.”
Earlier this year, Grass angered Israel in his piece entitled, “What Must Be Said” and has been barred from entering Israel ever since.
In his new poem, Grass compares Vanunu to the Biblical Joseph, who was thrown into a cistern by his brothers, and I wrote Vanunu asking for comment on that, but he replied:
Thank You Mr’ Gunter Grass for your poem “What Must Be Said”. Some one else had said it very clear 26 years ago this week in London. And for that they awarded me, 26 years in Israel prison…
Israel’s nuclear power endangers an already fragile world peace…But why do I forbid myself to name that other land in which for years—although kept secret—a usable nuclear capability has grown beyond all control, because no scrutiny is allowed. . . .
Only thus can one give help to Israelis and Palestinians—still more, all the peoples, neighbour-enemies living in this region occupied by madness—and finally, to ourselves as well. Thank you.
Vanunu referred to “Was gesagt werden muss” (“What Must Be Said”), which drew attention to the “nuclear power Israel” endangering peace and concern over the consequences of a potential Israeli attack against Iran and slammed the West’s hypocrisy.
In the poem just released entitled “Hero of our days”, Grass praises Vanunu as a “model” because “he helped to bring the truth” to the public and writes that Vanunu, the son of a rabbi, “pursued the study of the Torah’s rules and then decided to convert to Christianity.”
Grass never interviewed Vanunu, but I have.
Vanunu explained to me that while he lived in his hometown of Marrakech, Morocco, his father ran a successful grocery store until 1963, when Vanunu was nine years old and the Zionists arrived and convinced his father to move the family to Israel.
“I grew up in an Orthodox Jewish home, but rejected it all by the eighth grade. When I went to the University, I became an existentialist.”
This very week 26 years ago, Israel kidnapped Vanunu and the London Sunday Times published the front-page story of Israel’s WMD Facility:
Vanunu told me, “I really had no clue what I was doing by getting baptized a Christian; I just felt like I had to do it. It was my way to become a new being. It wasn’t until after my trial  that I started to read the New Testament.
“While I was in prison, I would read aloud for a half hour, twice a day. I would read the entire New Testament and begin it again when I finished the Book of Revelation. I did this for myself, as well as for my captors–not so much the prison guards, but the ones who watched me on camera twenty-four hours a day. Once I covered up the camera that spied on me and was punished with one month in solitary, without any books or radio; no contact with anyone anywhere was allowed. It was just them, watching me, constantly watching me.”
I asked, “Who are they?”
“The Shen Beet, you know, like the FBI and the Mossad, like your CIA— they were watching me. They tortured me by keeping a light on in my cell constantly for two years. They told me it was because they were afraid I would commit suicide, and the oppressive camera was for my safety. They recruited the guards and other prisoners to irritate me. They would deprive me of sleep by making loud noises near my cell all night long. I chose to read them 1 Corinthians 13 instead:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with THE TRUTH! It always protects, it always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails.
“For the first five years, twice a day I would loudly pray by reading Bible verses. I would also read the Anglican service from the Book of Common Prayer. I did it twice a day, everyday, for five years. I began to see I had become like a machine. I knew if I continued I would lose my mind. So after that, I only prayed in silence. Although I knew I was driving them nuts with my loud praying, it was driving me nuts, too. I changed my routine. I was allowed outside every day for two hours; I had been jogging around in circles for the two hours, but now I changed my routine. I began to alter that and all my routines so I would not be like a machine. I refused to eat when they brought my food in. I would decide everyday what time I would eat and what I would eat. I chose a different time everyday to do anything. The camera was there to learn my behavior so they could manipulate me. I knew I had to constantly change my routine. I began reading more books about health, nutrition, history, philosophy, and literature, and kept my prayer life quiet.”
I asked Vanunu, “When you were baptized in Sydney, just a few months before you were abducted and tried, you took the name John Crossman. Was that because of St. John of the Cross and his The Dark Night of The Soul?”
Vanunu replied, “I haven’t read him.”
I explained, “Not many have, and even fewer understand what he was talking about. John of the Cross, was a Spanish poet and mystic who wrote about the contemplative life and the divine union of the soul with God in this life. He was an ardent disciple of Theresa of Avilla’s reforms, which greatly agitated the church hierarchy during the time of the Spanish Inquisition. He received a great deal of abuse for his thoughts and spent a lot of time in prison, writing.”
In their new book “Spies Against Armageddon” Israeli journalist Yossi Melman and CBS News correspondent Dan Raviv write:
“Shin Bet and Malmab [the director of security for Israel’s defense community] claim that Vanunu continues to be a security risk because of the knowledge in his head. Thus, they insisted that he banned from leaving Israel and his movements were restricted.”
Last week, on “The Daily Show,” Jon Stewart held up a photo of Bibi at the UN with his cartoon bomb and said, “Bibi, bubbe. What’s with the Wile E. Coyote nuclear bomb? Like you don’t know what a BOMB looks like-just go downstairs and have a look.”
A few weeks ago, a friend of Vanunu’s who owns a bookstore in Jerusalem, emailed me that he wanted to help Vanunu and if I would mail him copies of BEYOND NUCLEAR: Mordechai Vanunu’s FREEDOM of SPEECH Trial and My Life as a Muckraker: 2005-2010 he would give all the proceeds to Vanunu.
When I mailed a box of 38, I was told the books should arrive in Israel by September 11th, but as of this writing the book seller has not received them, and so I wonder if SECURITY is holding them?
Inside the box, I included this letter:
Hoping these books will soon be occupying space on planes heading all over the world and VMJC’s FREEDOM will follow. Please let me know after you receive this @ email@example.com
Between 13-16 September, I will be in Virginia following up with Ron Paul, some senators and reps RE: these questions [and now more!] that I delivered to Ron Paul’s Media Rep on August 26th:
Dear RON PAUL,
Will you support the grass roots initiative that is seeking to establish every June 8th as USS LIBERTY REMEMBRANCE DAY?
In April 1999, thirty-six members of the US House of Representatives signed a letter calling for Israel’s Nuclear Whistle Blowers release from prison because they believed
“we have a duty to stand up for men and women like Mordechai Vanunu who dare to articulate a brighter vision for humanity.”
Were you one of the 36?
Thank you for consideration,
Founder of WeAreWideAwake.org
Columnist for deliberation
Candidate for US HOUSE, D. 5, Fl
Producer “30 Minutes with Vanunu” and “13 Minutes with Vanunu”
Author of “Keep Hope Alive” and “Memoirs of a Nice Irish American ‘Girl’s’ Life in Occupied Territory” and BEYOND NUCLEAR: Mordechai Vanunu’s FREEDOM of SPEECH Trial and My Life as a Muckraker: 2005-2010
If I ask what is the meaning of the word Phoenix, how would you respond?
Is it the city in Arizona? The media/communications group in Boston? The thunderbird of American Indians? A sculpture at the Nepenthe restaurant in Big Sur, California? The second Mars landing spacecraft?
Lord Darrell Duppa suggested the name “Phoenix” for the city in Arizona, as it described a city born from the ruins of a former civilization.
Elsewhere, the Phoenix has been referred to as a bird living in Arabia, near a cool well, singing a beautiful morning song.
Is it also the Phoenix that lived in Phoenicia (Lebanon) next to a well where, at dawn, it bathed in the water of the well, and the Greek sun-god Helios stopped his chariot in order to listen to its song?
The Greeks subsequently pictured the bird more like a peacock or an eagle and identified it with their own word Phoenix, meaning the colour purple-red or crimson or a palm tree.
Originally, the Phoenix was identified by the Egyptians as a stork or heron-like bird called a benu, known from the Book of the Dead and other Egyptian texts.
Is the Phoenix one of the sacred symbols of worship at Heliopolis, closely associated with the rising sun and the Egyptian sun-god Ra? Historians say it is.
How about the Phoenix Garuda, the bird of the Hindu god Vishnu? He considered the bird an emanation of sunlight, being in appearance and size much like an eagle.
Is it in Persian Ferdowsi’s epic Shahnameh (The Book of Kings), in which the Huma bird appears as the presumed “bird of paradise”?
In China, the Phoenix is called the businiao; literally “immortal bird”, whereas the fenghuang is a mythical bird of local Chinese origin, similar to the Phoenix.
In Japan, the Phoenix is called fushicho, literally “immortal bird”, and the local parallel is called ho-o (kanji).
In Russian folklore, the Phoenix appears as the Zhar-Ptitsa, or firebird, subject of the famous 1910 ballet score by Igor Stravinsky.
Kokko is a mythical bird of iron and fire from Finnish folklore, Turul is the correspondent in the myths of the Magyars. Adarna may be considered a Philippine version of the Phoenix.
The Phoenix has long been a symbol of rebirth, immortality, and renewal.
The most recent reference to the Phoenix described in Wikipedia as the name given to a mission to Mars: “Phoenix was NASA’s sixth successful landing out of seven attempts and was the first successful landing in a Martian polar region. The lander completed its mission in August 2008.”
Another modernization of the Phoenix comes with J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter’s sign of the Secret Order of the Phoenix, of the ancient world and of the modern initiates of those orders.
As Friedrich Schlegel wrote in Athenaeum, “The Phoenix has been a powerful literary and religious symbol for thousands of years.”
Why is the myth of the Phoenix important as a symbol of rebirth today? Increasingly large numbers of people have experienced what the Phoenix symbolizes.
In earlier times, people spent their entire working life in one job, living in the same place, interacting with the same people.
That has all changed. People now lose jobs when technology replaces them with machines or by company moves. The idea of careers in life-long jobs is obsolete.
Those out of work (rising in flame) must be reborn with new skills for new jobs, moving to new communities, rising out of the ashes of obsolescence.
The Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz announced September 25, 2012, that Harvard law professor and Israel advocate Alan Dershowitz had broken the deadlock between Israel and the Palestinian Authority with a revolutionary new plan for a settlement freeze. Details of the plan, however, indicate that the deadlock will be easy to repair.
Dershowitz is admired among Israelis for applying his courtroom tactics of distorting the truth in defense of Israel. His credibility among Palestinians is less well known, and rests upon his efforts to prevent the demolition of Palestinian homes, which he cleverly accomplishes by giving them to privileged Jews.
Such skills enabled him to obtain an agreement from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to resume the peace process in return for the settlement freeze. This reporter has since been able to talk to Professor Dershowitz and get the following details about the plan, not all of which have yet been shared with President Abbas:
- All settlement activity, including construction, annexation of Palestinian lands and demolition of Palestinian homes will be frozen whenever and wherever the temperature drops below freezing. [Note: freezing occurs at higher elevations in the West Bank in the few hours before dawn five to ten nights per year, in January and February.]
- The Palestinian Authority and Israeli government negotiators will conduct peace talks at any time that the temperature at the site of the talks remains above freezing.
- The talks will be located on top of the nuclear reactor in Dimona.
- The Palestinian Authority will be represented by any of the children below the age of 16 currently held in an Israeli prison.
- Israel will be represented by the chairperson (currently Dani Dayan) of the Yesha Council of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
- The negotiation teams are not permitted to take bathroom breaks at the same time.
- The Israeli representative will retain control of the reactor temperature at all times, including bathroom breaks when the Palestinian representative is alone above the reactor.
- The talks will continue as long as the Palestinian Authority negotiates in good faith.
- The good faith requirement applies only to Palestinian negotiators.
- The Israeli government shall provide the definition of the term “good faith” and any amendments that may be made thereto during the period of negotiation.
Dershowitz considers himself “an honest broker”, a statement with which renowned broker Bernie Madoff heartily agreed when I visited him in prison last week. “President Abbas is a very easy man to work with,” said Dershowitz. “He has instructed Palestinian ambassadors to participate in ceremonies marking the Holocaust, and he is not asking Israel to reverse its prohibition against ceremonies marking the Nakba (ethnic cleansing) of Palestine.”
Abbas was also optimistic. “I believe that we can negotiate as equals. Israel has already indicated that out of the 4.7 million registered refugees, it will accept the return of as many as a hundred that were twenty-five years or older when they voluntarily left of their own accord at the request of Arab leaders and without fear of Israeli ethnic cleansing activities in 1948, as well as an unlimited number of those who have died abroad. In addition, they have promised to return all Palestinian land and remove all settlements and settlers from such land, provided that they decide what constitutes Palestinian land. (See “Ehud Barak’s (latest) ‘Generous Offer’ to the Palestinians”.)
I have already recognized Israel’s right to exist, and this is a good basis for begging them to permit the existence of a demilitarized Palestinian state surrounded by Israeli territory without water or mineral rights or air space, on which a remnant of the Palestinian population may live. I owe it to my people to achieve this dream.