A Call for The Release of Mordechai Vanunu, and For the Abolishing of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Israel

About 20 supporters of Mordechai Vanunu held a vigil outside the Peres Center for Peace in Tel-Aviv on October 4, calling for the release of nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu and for abolishing all weapons of mass destruction in Israel. The vigil was an annual event, held at a different site each year, called by the Israeli Committee for Mordechai Vanunu to mark the 14th anniversary of Vanunu's abduction by Israel.

Holding signs and banners that read "Peres Center for Nuclear Holocaust", "Free Vanunu", "A New Middle East Without The Bomb" and "Dismantle the Dimona Reactor", vigilers stood for two hours at one of the busiest intersections in the country during rush hour, reaching a captive audience of many thousands, leafletted and spoke with commuters and passers-by.

This year, the anniversary of Vanunu's imprisonment was overshadowed by the ongoing violence and bloodshed in Israel and the Occupied Territories, as the Israeli army and police supress Palestinian protests, leaving more than 50 people dead and thousands wounded. Many Israeli peace activists were attending protest actions that were held at the same time and some vigiliers had come directly from a rally in Jaffa.

The tension and fears of the public were vocally expressed, with many passers-by shouting: "You want to destroy our only line of defense" or "Why aren't you protesting the riots?". However, it was also obvious that the issue of nuclear weapons has ceased to be a taboo subject, and there were many dialogues that ended in agreement. Even a policeman who was sent to keep order, politely asked us to not block the road, and then took a leaflet and stayed to discuss the issues.

Employees of the Peres Peace Center were mystified about the vigil until we explained why we were there. They then invited us into the center for cold drinks and to use the bathrooms, an offer we declined.

While unquestionably ending the bloodshed and acting in solidarity with the Palestinian people is the major task of Israeli peace activists right now, we must also remember Mordechai Vanunu, imprisoned and silenced for 14 years, who is once again being subjected to the inhuman punishment of indefinite solitary confinement, and the terrible danger that Israel's nuclear arsenal poses to the entire Middle East.

Rayna Moss