Knesset Member, Organizations Call for the Release of Mordechai Vanunu
Biggest Ever Anti-Nuke Protest at Dimona

May 26, 2000
by Rayna Moss

Almost 200 people marked Women's International Day for Disarmament and Peace at a protest demonstration near Israel's major nuclear reactor in Dimona today, calling for Israel to dismantle its nuclear weapons and to open all its nuclear facilities to independent local and international inspection.

Nick and Mary Eoloff, adoptive parents of Mordechai Vanunu,
with Knesset Member Issam Makhoul (with beard and glasses).

This was the largest anti-nuclear protest ever to take place in Israel, as well as the most diverse in composition.

The Dimona demonstration and rally were organized by a coalition of women's, green and human rights organizations and movements, including Green Action, the Movement of Democratic Women in Israel, the Israeli Committee for Mordechai Vanunu and for a Middle East Free of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Weapons, One Out of Nine, Adala (Justice), the Association for the Defense of Bedouin Rights, Hadash (Israeli Communist Party), Physicians Against Nuclear War, New Profile, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, the Alternative Information Center, the Lesbian Feminist Community and for the first time - the Hebrew Israelite Community, a Black Hebrew community based in Dimona city.

General view of the rally. Center: musical band of the
Hebrew Israelite Community in Dimona.

The participants heard speeches by Knesset Member Issam Makhoul (Hadash), who in February of this year initiated the first ever parliamentary debate on Israel's nuclear policy; Nuri al-Ukbi, founder of the Association for the Defense of Bedouin Rights, who spoke on behalf of the Bedouin residents in the Dimona area; Rela Mazali, whose New Profile organization challenges the militarization of Israeli society; Dr. Perla Peres of Physicians Against Nuclear War; U.S. anti-nuclear activist Felice Cohen-Joppa, editor of the Nuclear Resister newsletter; author Yael Lotan and nuclear physicist Daniel Rohrlich of the Israeli Committee for Mordechai Vanunu and others.

MK Issam Makhoul speaking at the demo. Center: Hagar Roblev,
MC and national coordinator of the demo.

While nearly all speakers called for the immediate release of imprisoned nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu - and were enthusiastically applauded - the crowd was visibly moved by the personal statement of Mary Eoloff, Vanunu's adoptive mother. "We had a wonderful visit with Mordechai yesterday," she told the protesters, "and he asked me to tell you this: Nuclear weapons will lead to a second holocaust. The Dimona reactor is a second Auschwitz. The State has no right to kill civilians, but that is exactly what these weapons are for - killing civilians." Eoloff likened Vanunu's disclosure of Israel's nuclear secrets to a person breaking into a burning house to save the people inside. "For this, he was silenced and imprisoned," she said, saying that he appreciated all efforts that are made for his release and all protests against nuclear weapons, and urged Israelis to continue and expand their anti-nuclear struggle.

Mary Eoloff speaks at the rally.
All photos courtesty of Ms. Haya Shalom.

A poem by prominent Israeli author Orly Kastel-Blum, "Whistles", which ridicules government statements that Israel's nuclear facilities are absolutely safe, was read, and dedicated to the memory of Yafka Gavish and Inbal Perlson, two Israeli anti-nuclear activists who had for years protested at Dimona.

The rally ended with a short performance by a band from the Hebrew Israelite Community in Dimona, who dedicated their song to Mordechai Vanunu. Improvising while singing He Has the Whole World in His Hands, they led the participants in a new verse: "He Has Mordechai Vanunu in His Hands".