Noam Chomsky on Vanunu

(from the Summer 2001 newsletter of the British Campaign to Free Vanunu, 185 New Kent Rd., London SE1 4AG England)

The kidnapping of Mordechai Vanunu by the government of Israel, the farcical trial, his imprisonment for 15 years, and the savage and sadistic punishment he has been forced to endure rank high among the current crimes of states that claim to recognize human rights and democratic principle. The tolerance of these crimes by Israel's sponsors and allies is a continuing disgrace, for which they should be called to account by their citizens.

Vanunu merits enormous respect for his courage and integrity in revealing to the world what those who wished to know already knew, if not in detail then in essentials: that with Western complicity, Israel had developed a substantial nuclear capacity, alone in the region. The nature and severity of the threat posed by these programs is underscored by General Lee Butler, Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Strategic Command in the early 1990s, under the Bush and Clinton administrations. "It is dangerous in the extreme," he warned, "that in the cauldron of animosities that we call the Middle East, one nation has armed itself, ostensibly, with stockpiles of nuclear weapons, perhaps numbering in the hundreds, and that inspires other nations to do so." It takes little imagination to spell out the likely consequences, or to recognize what they portend at a moment when this "cauldron of animosities" is on the verge of boiling over once again.

To free Mordechai Vanunu from the criminal torture to which he has been subjected is surely within the power of the United States and its allies.

It is just as surely within the power of an aroused public to demand that there be no further delay in bringing this shameful episode to an end, so that those committed to peace and justice can welcome Vanunu and honor him for his contribution to the cause he has served so well, and to dedicate themselves with renewed vigor to carrying in forward, inspired by his example.

- Noam Chomsky