Knesset Member Issues Hiroshima Day Appeal to Pardon Vanunu

by Rayna Moss

Marking the 56th anniversary of the August 6 and 9 nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Knesset Member Issam Makhoul appealed to Israeli President Moshe Katzav to pardon nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu and release him from prison, where he has spent the last 14 years.

Makhoul, a member of the Hadash party (Democratic Front for Peace and Equality), brought the nuclear issue to the front and center of Israeli public attention in February 2000, when he initiated the Knesset's first-ever debate on Israel's secret nuclear arsenal.

In his letter of August 8, 2001 to President Katzav, Makhoul wrote:

"The memory of the hundreds of thousands of Japanese victims of the atom bomb must continue to be engraved on the conscience of all humanity, as inspiration to halt the manufacture, proliferation and stockpiling of nuclear weapons and all weapons of mass destruction... and for creating nuclear-free zones and zones free of all weapons of mass destruction, including in the Middle East.

"This is an opportunity for the President of the State of Israel to raise awareness in Israel to the terrible significance of the generations-long suffering in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and to raise awareness to the importance of the humane, conscientious and moral struggle against the crime of manufacturing and stockpiling nuclear weapons, including by Israel.

"Mr. President, from this historic viewpoint, and in this humanitarian context, I appeal to Your Excellency, and propose to seize the opportunity of this 56th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the President of the State of Israel to take a historic step, and announce a pardon for prisoner of conscience and prisoner for humanity, Mordechai Vanunu. This step would send forth a meaningful humane, democratic and moral message.

"Respectfully,
KM Issam Makhoul"

[When not attempting to perfect her famous vegetarian mock-Bolonaise sauce, Rayna Moss is an Israeli peace activist still trying to locate stuff she put away when she moved 2 months ago.]