A Letter from the U.S. Campaign Coordinator
April 21, 2004. A day of freedom and celebration. What an incredible day it was - Mordechai Vanunu finally walked out of Ashkelon Prison! I will never forget the joy I felt when I saw him stride up to the prison gate, and with a wave and a smile, acknowledge his supporters outside. Or how wonderful it was to watch him meet and individually greet dozens of his supporters that evening at St. George's Cathedral. The late Sam Day, long-time coordinator of the U.S. Campaign to Free Mordechai Vanunu, was definitely with us in spirit.
I've heard peace and anti-nuclear prisoners describe how disorienting it can be to leave prison after even a six month sentence. I was impressed by the man who emerged from 18 years behind bars. Mordechai was composed, warmly thanking his supporters, strong and clear with his message for nuclear disarmament, and clearly not broken by his treatment in prison - including more than 11 1/2 in solitary confinement. He walked away from that prison, determined to leave the past 18 years behind him and begin a new life.
The week leading up to his release was an intense one in Israel for our small group of slightly-sleep deprived campaigners. There was a deluge of phone calls from the international press. Israeli activist Rayna Moss, whose phone number was on our press releases, answered well over 60 in just one day! We had posters printed, wrote press packets and printed and collated both English and Hebrew versions, and compiled a schedule, map and other helpful information for the delegation of about 80 people who were about to arrive from around the world to welcome Mordechai to freedom. In between meetings, we hired buses to bring us all to and from the prison, wrote and translated more press releases, bought needed supplies, figured out room assignments at the Old Jaffa Hostel, and picked up people at the airport.
I am very grateful as I write because I know very well that none of this essential activity could have happened without so many people supporting the work of the campaign! The U.S. and British campaigns shared expenses such as deposits to reserve restaurants for our large delegation, printing, supplies, rental of buses, cell phones and a meeting hall, translation fees, etc. We also bought Mordechai a gift of a laptop computer, something he had wanted for a long time. And of course, there were the unanticipated expenses that fortunately, we were able to cover due to the generous donations of so many. One such huge expense came when we had to cancel our celebration dinner at a Jaffa seaside restaurant the night Mordechai was released. The press had learned the location of the event, swarmed the restaurant and showed it on TV days before Mordechai's release. After we had to cancel, Bishop Riah graciously invited our large delegation to St. George's Cathedral so that Mordechai could meet his supporters, and we scrambled at the last minute to rent two buses to take us from Jaffa to Jerusalem.
Unfortunately, the campaign is not over. Mordechai Vanunu is forbidden to leave Israel. And this is just one of a long list of oppressive restrictions that the government has slapped on him, now that he is out of prison . We still have work to do until Mordechai is truly free. And your support is still very much needed to see this hard-fought struggle through to that end.
The most immediate expense is for advertisements. Along with campaigners in other countries, we are gathering signatures of well-known people around the world on a petition calling on the Israeli government to lift the restrictions and allow Mordechai to leave the country. We will publish the petition and names of signers in at least one Israeli newspaper, and as many more as we can afford.
We continue to collect funds for Mordechai, as well, because when he does leave Israel, he will need that foundation to help rebuild his life.
Donations for Mordechai and for the continuing work of the Campaign should be made payable to the U.S. Campaign to Free Mordechai Vanunu. If you wish, please indicate if you'd like the contribution to be "for the Campaign" or "for Mordechai" (on the memo line of the check is fine). Support for both is greatly needed and will be deeply appreciated.
One important note: Only donations "for the Campaign" - not for Mordechai - may be tax-deductible, if for $50 or more and made payable to the Progressive Foundation. If you have any questions, please call me at 520-323-8697 or email email@example.com
When the campaign has ended, the remainder of campaign money will be given to Mordechai. Please be as generous as you are able.
For a nuclear-free future,
P.S. We've produced a quality postcard using the graphic from the poster that dozens of supporters held in front of Ashkelon Prison on April 21, with a picture of Mordechai and the words "Thank You, Mordechai Vanunu - Peace Hero, Nuclear Whistleblower". If you send a donation of $50 or more, we'll send you a packet of 10 postcards! (If you'd like to purchase postcards, see "how you can help".)