Rabbis from Europe and Israel ask Katsav to pardon Vanunu

September 27, 2001

By Joseph Algazy, Ha'aretz Correspondent

Twelve prominent rabbis from Europe and Israel asked President Moshe Katsav on Tuesday to pardon Mordechai Vanunu on "humanitarian grounds." They said his release from jail would "demonstrate the strength of Israeli democracy and improve Israel's standing in the world."

Mordechai Vanunu:
Convicted of selling
Israeli atomic secrets
in 1988.
In 1986, Vanunu leaked details about Israel's nuclear program to The Sunday Times. He was convicted of selling Israeli atomic secrets at his 1988 trial and was sentenced to 18 years in prison, of which he has served 15.

Among the rabbis who signed the petition are Rabbi David Rozen, former head rabbi in Ireland; Rabbi Yitzhak Newman, former head rabbi of the Royal Air Force and community rabbi of the United Synagogue in London; Rabbi Meir Shimon Vershovski, former head rabbi of Strassbourg, France; and Rabbi Ya'acov Milgrom, professor emeritus of the University of California who now resides in Jerusalem.

The rabbis' petition was sent to the president's residence in Jerusalem by Dr. Daniel Rohrleich, who participated in a demonstration calling for a pardon for Vanunu that took place Tuesday outside the president's residence. Similar demonstrations were held in front of Israeli representatives' residence's throughout cities in Europe, the United States, Australia, India and other places in the world.