A New Serenity for the Prisoner

Editor's note: In mid-December Mary and Nicholas Eoloff of St. Paul, Minnesota made their fifth visit to Mordechai Vanunu at Ashkelon Prison in Israel since adopting him as their legal son in October, 1997. After granting them permission for the visit, Israeli authorities withdrew it and then finally restored it on the last day of the Eoloffs' one-week visit. Here is their report.

By Mary and Nicholas Eoloff

It had been 15 months since we last saw Mordechai. We had been planning the visit since September, and on our last day in Israel we were finally connected with him in the small prison visiting house.

He looked tanned, fit, and thinner than the last time we had seen him.

We hugged and hugged. We wanted to take him right home with us. He seemed as glad to see us as we were to see him. He said he hoped that next time the interval between visits would not be so long.

We told Mordechai how good he looked to us-thinner and more relaxed than we had seen him before. He explained that nowadays he spends hours outdoors in the healthy sunshine. Our questions poured out in a flood:

How are you?
How is the new commander treating you?
How is the food?
What do you need?

Mordechai answered the barrage of questions with a description of his daily routine. For him one of the highlights of his day is the 6 a.m. daily head count, when, for the first time in eight years, he is included as an inmate of Ashkelon Prison.

Attorney Seeks Re-Hearing

Attorney Avigdor Feldman, citing new evidence,
has asked the Ashkelon Prison parole board
to reconsider its denial of parole for
Mordechai Vanunu when he became eligible
for it in May, 1998.

Since late November the board has been
pondering a decision as to when, or even
whether, a rehearing will be held.

He explained that being included in the head-count restores to him his dignity as a person, even though the new prison commander continues to treat him with disdain.

Mordechai spoke happily of the fortnightly visits of his brother Asher, a Jerusalem school administrator. He recalled recently holding Asher's infant son in his arms. He longed to hold the little boy again.

He seemed exhilarated by press coverage of the late November erlease of censored transcripts of his secret trial. He showed us the newspapers he had kept. He was angered by their constant reference to him as a spy. Like others, he had no idea as to why the government had decided to release the transcripts.

A new serenity seems to have come over Mordechai.. He is soft spoken and good-humored. He no longer responds angrily to the occasional taunts of fellow-prisoners and provokations by guards. He is more at peace with his surroundings.

At the same time, he is committed to a non-nuclear world. He also spoke fervently to us about the need for a just solution of the differences between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Mordechai is grateful for all the letters and cards he continues to receive from friends and justice-minded people throughout the world. He is eager to be freed and to come to the United States..

And we are eager to bring him home.