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Free Vanunu, Too

If we’ve learned anything from Joseph, the hero of this week’s parasha, we must demand justice for Israeli spy Mordechai Vanunu

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A 2005 demonstration in support of Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu. (Awad Awad/AFP/Getty Images)

Last week, Gil Troy argued persuasively in Tablet Magazine that Jonathan Pollard, the American Jewish intelligence analyst convicted of espionage for Israel, should be set free. After 24 years in prison, Troy wrote, and with the harmful impact of his acts questionable, it is time for American Jews to overcome their trepidation of supporting Pollard’s release—a trepidation, Troy claimed, born of the community’s fundamental insecurity and overblown fear of appearing more loyal to Israel than to the United States.

Although I harbor no particular sympathies for Pollard and have little tolerance for his heinous crime, I found myself swayed by Troy’s reasoning. Several points in particular appealed, chief among them the opinion of several experts concerning the scope of the damage caused to national security by Pollard’s actions. While Pollard unquestionably jeopardized American interests by handing off classified documents to Israeli operatives, it is nearly impossible to chart the flow of information that pursued—while some in the intelligence community believe that the information Pollard set loose eventually landed in Soviet hands, others state that a number of the breaches attributed to Pollard were actually the work of Aldrich Ames, the CIA double-agent unmasked seven years later. This being the case, Troy wrote, it is strange to see Pollard paying a far steeper price for his actions than others have for comparable misdeeds; the punishment did not fit the crime.

Crime and punishment seem to be this week’s theme. In the weekly parasha we read of Joseph and his cycle of fateful twists: Betrayed by his envious brothers and sold into slavery, he rises to a position of prominence, is wrongfully accused of attempted rape by Potiphar’s scorned wife, wins Pharaoh’s butler his freedom, and watches with dismay as the butler forgets his promises and abandons Joseph to his shackled misery. The story, we all know, has a happy ending, but this week we’re left to ponder its rocky beginning—Joseph, a man with a vision, is harassed, imprisoned, and betrayed by those who are supposed to be his brothers and protectors.

To an extent, this is the story of Jonathan Pollard. But it also the story of another maligned Jewish spy, another man punished beyond necessity or reason, another man deserving, at the very least, of our attention: Mordechai Vanunu.

His story is a complicated one. Born in Morocco to a renowned Marrakech rabbi, he moved to Israel at the age of 9, in 1963, with his parents and several of his 11 siblings. He studied in an ultra-Orthodox yeshiva, served in the Israel Defense Forces, and then found a job as a technician at the Negev Nuclear Research Center in Dimona, which may or may not be the site of Israel’s nuclear-weapons production.

Nine years later, in 1985, having earned his bachelor’s degree from Be’er Sheva’s Ben Gurion University, Vanunu decided it was time to leave his demanding job. He was growing increasingly critical of Israel’s policies and felt he needed a change of scenery. He traveled to Nepal, where he briefly considered becoming a Buddhist, and then to Australia, where he was eventually drawn to the Anglican Church and converted to Christianity. In Sydney, he also met Peter Hounam, a journalist for the Sunday Times in London, and began telling him about life inside Israel’s top-secret facility. Viewing nuclear weapons as a concrete threat to world peace, and seeing Israel’s leadership as belligerent and untrustworthy, Vanunu wanted to publicize information about Israel’s nuclear capabilities, a direct challenge to the Jewish state’s long-standing policy of deliberate ambiguity on the matter. Eventually, Vanunu followed Hounam to London and provided him with intricate accounts of Israel’s bomb-making process, including some snapshots.

The Times vetted Vanunu’s stories with nuclear experts; they all checked out. But such a vetting process can be time-consuming, and Vanunu became restless. He wanted the information out there as soon as possible and approached other newspapers, including the tabloid Sunday Mirror, owned by media mogul and Parliament member Robert Maxwell. Several credible sources have since argued that Maxwell—who drowned in 1991 after mysteriously falling off his yacht and was subsequently given a stately funeral in Jerusalem—was an informer for the Mossad and that he alerted his superiors as soon as he learned of Vanunu’s existence. Whatever the case may be, the Israelis were soon on Vanunu’s track.

After toying with the possibility of assassinating Vanunu—in explaining why he had rejected that option, the former head of the Mossad, Shabtai Shavit, said, “Jews don’t do that to other Jews”—the Mossad decided to kidnap Vanunu and take him back to Israel. To avoid upsetting British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the organization engaged the services of Cheryl Bentov—codename Cindy—a blonde, American-born agent who lured Vanunu to Rome, where he was jumped, drugged, and thrown in a freighter headed for Israel. There, he faced a secret trial and was sentenced to 18 years in prison, 11 of which he spent in solitary confinement. His appeals for parole were all denied, often under ludicrous pretexts; in 2003, for example, lawyers for the state argued that if Vanunu was released, the Americans, then on the cusp of war with Iraq, would abandon their quest to find Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction and target Israel’s instead. In April of 2004, having served his full sentence, Vanunu was released.

His ordeal, however, was far from over. The terms of his release are draconian: He is forbidden from using telephones or the Internet, forbidden from approaching foreign embassies, forbidden from leaving Israel. He has also repeatedly been arrested for various infractions—some real, some imagined—often on symbolic dates, including two arrests on two separate Christmas Eves. European governments and international human-rights organizations continue to lobby on his behalf.

Like Jonathan Pollard, Vanunu took a harmful and objectionable path to serve his ideological convictions. Like Pollard, he paid the price for his transgressions. Like Pollard—at least, if we support Gil Troy’s argument—he continues to be needlessly punished. For one thing, whatever secrets Vanunu might have known date to 1985, the last time he’d had any access to his former place of work. One hopes that if Israel is indeed pursuing nuclear weapons it had the wherewithal, sometime in the past quarter of a century, to refresh its technologies and update its methods. In addition, whatever information Vanunu does possess was already conveyed to the media in full, both before his arrest and in the occasional illicit interview after his release. At this point, he has nothing new to say.

Why, then, does Israel continue to insist on curbing the freedoms of a man who’s paid his debt to society in full? The most likely explanation is that Vanunu, now a cause célèbre, is capable of damaging not Israel’s security but its image, asking, for example, why the United States continues to provide Israel with more than $2 billion in military aid per year despite an American ban on funding countries that proliferate weapons of mass destruction. Like Pollard, Vanunu is more of an embarrassment than a threat.

If we insist on finding a silver lining in the sordid stories of these two men, Vanunu and Pollard, we might do well to think of Joseph, another principled man who enraged everyone he’d ever met and who inspired perfidy and hard-heartedness in strangers and siblings alike.

But Joseph prevailed, and if we believe Pollard should too, then we must consider the case of Vanunu. Just last month, the International League for Human Rights—a group headed by Robert Arsenault, a former director of congressional relations for the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews—awarded Vanunu the Carl von Ossietzky Medal, named after a German pacifist imprisoned and murdered by the Nazis after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1935. A host of Nobel laureates, including Mairead Maguire and Günther Grass, called on Israel to allow Vanunu to fly to Berlin to attend the prize ceremony, scheduled for December 12. If we’ve learned anything from the stories of Joseph and Jonathan Pollard, we must join in their call.

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25 years = injustice!

What ever information Pollard sold a quarter of a century ago is old news now, as is everything Vanunu knew about Israel’s Dimona plant where he worked the night shift as a lowly technician twenty-four years ago.

In April 1999, thirty-six members of the House of Representatives signed a letter calling for Vanunu’s release from prison because they believed “we have a duty to stand up for men and women like Mordechai Vanunu who dare to articulate a brighter vision for humanity.”

President Clinton responded with a public statement expressing concern for Vanunu and the need for Israel and other non-parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty to adhere to it and accept IAEA safeguards.

During Vanunu’s closed door trial, Defense witness and the Sunday Times journalist who broke Vanunu’s story, Peter Hounam, testified that “We did not pay him money, but only covered his expenses… Money did not motivate him.”

Sunday Times journalist Wendy Robbins wrote, “Mordechai never asked for nor received a single penny for his information… he blurted out the whole tale without first setting out any financial preconditions. Mordechai got nothing out of the whole episode. He never `sold’ Israel’s secrets — he told them.”

Vanunu told me, “All the secrets I had were published in 1989 in an important book, by [Nuclear Physicist] Frank Barnaby, The Invisible Bomb: Nuclear Arms Race in the Middle East.”

Barnaby testified, “I found Vanunu very straightforward about his motives for violating Israel’s secrecy laws he explained to me that he believed that both the Israeli and the world public had the right to know about the information he passed on. He seemed to me to be acting ideologically.

“Israel’s political leaders have, he said, consistently lied about Israel’s nuclear-weapons programme and he found this unacceptable in a democracy.”

Before quitting the Dimona, Vanunu shot 56 photos in top-secret locations and also exposed how lax SECURITY was, for he obtained the keys to the top-secret locations when a supervisor carelessly left them in the shower room.

Vanunu’s photos and testimony proved to nuclear physicists that Israel had become a major nuclear power by stockpiling between 100 and 200 atomic bombs within the seven underground levels where plutonium production, and secret nuclear weapons were assembled without any knowledge, debate or authorization from its own citizens. Israel has yet to allow International Inspectors into the aged Dimona plant, which is leaking and endangering the health of its own citizens.

In 1963, when Vanunu was nine years old the Zionists came to his home town of Marrakesh and convinced his Orthodox father to abandon his general store and pack up the first seven of his eleven children for the land of milk and honey. Instead, the Vanunu’s were banished to the desert of Beesheva, an ethnically cleansed Palestinian village.

A few months later, Shimon Peres, then Israel’s Deputy Minister of Defense met with President John Kennedy, inside the White House.

Kennedy told Peres, “You know that we follow very closely the discovery of any nuclear development in the region. This could create a very dangerous situation. For this reason we monitor your nuclear effort. What could you tell me about this?”

Peres replied, “I can tell you most clearly that we will not introduce nuclear weapons to the region, and certainly we will not be the first.”

By September of 1986, Peres was convulsing over Vanunu, who had been employed as a lowly tech in his progeny; Israel’s clandestine underground nuclear weapons centre in the Negev called the Dimona.

Peres ordered the Mossad, to “Bring the son of a bitch back here.”

Peres ordered Vanunu’s kidnapping that included a clubbing, drugging and being flung upon an Israeli cargo boat back to Israel for a closed-door trial, 18 years in jail, six years under 24/7 surveillance and another 78 days in solitary confinement that began 23 May 2010.

On 11 October 2010, Israel denied Vanunu’s appeal to leave the state.

Also in October, it was announced that Vanunu was awarded the 2010 Carl‐von‐Ossietzky‐Medal which he is to be awarded in Berlin on 12 December 2010.

Within days of the announcement of a record 205 nominations for 2009’s Nobel Peace Prize, [one of several prizes endowed by Swedish industrialist and dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel] Vanunu declined that honor in a letter to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee in Oslo:

“I am asking the committee to remove my name from the nominations…I cannot be part of a list of laureates that includes Simon Peres…Peres established and developed the atomic weapon program in Dimona in Israel…Peres was the man who ordered [my] kidnapping, he continues to oppose my freedom and release. WHAT I WANT IS FREEDOM AND ONLY FREEDOM. FREEDOM AND ONLY FREEDOM I NEED NOW.”

On 22 November 2010, I snail-mailed the following letter and enclosed a copy of “BEYOND NUCLEAR: Mordechai Vanunu’s FREEDOM of SPEECH Trial and My Life as a Muckraker: 2005-2010″ by eileen fleming and the LETTER to Netanyahu, Barak, Yishai from the International League for Human Rights on the official letterhead.
Read Text here:

Dear President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Clinton,

“As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act…When we fail to pursue peace, then it stays forever beyond our grasp. We know the path when we choose fear over hope. To denounce or shrug off a call for cooperation is an easy but also cowardly thing to do. That’s how wars begin. That’s where human progress ends…the voices of peace and progress must be raised together…Human destiny will be what we make of it…Words must mean something.”- President Obama, Prague, April 5, 2009.

As a child of the Cold War, I share the Dream of multitudes; who share the Dream Vanunu dreamt in 1985-of a Nuclear Free World.

Please help FREE VANUNU NOW so that he can personally receive the Carl Von Ossietzky Medal in Berlin on 12 December 2010.

Most sincerely,

Eileen Fleming,
Founder of
Staff Member of
A Feature Correspondent for

Producer “30 Minutes with Vanunu” and “13 Minutes with Vanunu”
Author of “Keep Hope Alive” and “Memoirs of a Nice Irish American ‘Girl’s’ Life in Occupied Territory” and BEYOND NUCLEAR: Mordechai Vanunu’s FREEDOM of SPEECH Trial and My Life as a Muckraker: 2005-2010

Chumpsky says:

I can’t even start to imagine why or how anyone could compare Vanunu to Josef Ha Tzadik. As far as security concerns I’m not the mossad or the Israeli government to decide what best course to take in his case. Unfortunately I must say the same about Jonathan Pollard and the US. I don’t know what security concerns may be involved and therefore curb any opinion I have. Both these men committed crimes of betrayal and therefore in general can not be trusted. Admittedly I have more sympathy for Pollard but I think that for crimes of treachery justice needs to be hard. The lives of many could have been endangered by the acts of these two men.


The point of the column is not to compare Vanunu to Joseph — a comparison little by way of evidence could support — but to suggest that this week, as we read about Joseph’s wrongful imprisonment, we take the time to think about Vanunu and Pollard, about justice and compassion, and wonder — even if we strongly reject the actions of both men — whether or not they should still be punished.

Indeed worth pondering. As a side note, I appreciate the publication of this column earlier in the week. Kol hakavod.

Pollard didn’t make any deamge to the US…

Frayed Knot says:

The difference between Pollard and Vanunu is that should Pollard be released (and I’m not sure he should) he can longer do any sort of damage to the US. Should Vanunu be released, he will become the latest celebrity in the pantheon of anti-Zionist Israelis, actively working to delegitimize the state of Israel. I suppose that’s why Liebowitz seeks his release.

Chumpsky says:

“The point of the column is not to compare Vanunu to Joseph — a comparison little by way of evidence could support — but to suggest that this week, as we read about Joseph’s wrongful imprisonment, we take the time to think about Vanunu and Pollard, about justice and compassion, and wonder — even if we strongly reject the actions of both men — whether or not they should still be punished.”

Hi Liel,

If you want to bring into play the story of Joseph against these two cases I think the parallel is flawed. Joseph was innocent and it is therefore only logical to question the injustice of his situation. Vanunu and Pollard are not. I would feel more compelled to compare Joseph’s plight to Gilad Shalit’s sad situation and why we are not doing more to have him release, if we can’t help him physically at least we can say tehillim. As for Vanunu and Pollard we should also pray and feel compassion not because they are innocent men that have been unjustly held captive but simply because they are other Jews who are suffering (and so baring the burden with your fellow.) As far as their punishment is concerned G-d will provide for their release and I have them in my prayers for release from captivity.

Chumpsky says:

The difference between Pollard and Vanunu is that should Pollard be released (and I’m not sure he should) he can longer do any sort of damage to the US. Should Vanunu be released, he will become the latest celebrity in the pantheon of anti-Zionist Israelis, actively working to delegitimize the state of Israel. I suppose that’s why Liebowitz seeks his release.

This is true as well! Thank you for this insight Frayed. The truth I don’t watch TV I’m not aware of the impact which as you pointed out could be devastating!

As soon as the Pharaoh Obama has a dream about cows and then another one about bushels, and is prepared to make Vanunu his economic counselor and Viceroy, the idea of freeing Vanunu by Israel should be considered. After all Obama’s USA is our friend, and we should help. Menatime only Liel and Eileen are dreaming. A chassidic Rabbi once said: Don’t sleep so much and you won’t dream.

Wow–talk about half truths. Why are the terms of his release so draconian? Because he has publicly stated that he intends to blab as much as possible.
If you read in depth about his life you will see that he is probably mentally ill, and his behavior is a form of revenge on his father and on his upbringing and does not stem from any sort of higher ideology. He was used by the Daily mail and paid a heavy price for it.

Liel Leibovitz appears to be the Tablets Galloway. And you want our support for this kind of insanity and reporting. The tablet is becoming a rag sheet not a serious Jewish Magazine. The time has come to pull the plug with this garbage herald as Truth.

If I understand Liel Leibovitz’s logic, to be equitable, Israel should put Vanunu back in jail until Pollard is released. Or perhaps they should both be released, equitably, with similiar restrictions?

James Price says:

Vanunu’s crusade to expose the crimes of the Zionists began with selling his story to the Times (of London). His crusade ended via the lure of sex with an attractive undercover agent. A more selfless actor on the stage of political activism one cannot find.

Vanunu did NOT sell his story and Pollard did do harm!

During Vanunu’s closed door trial, Defense witness and the Sunday Times journalist who broke Vanunu’s story, Peter Hounam, testified that “We did not pay him money, but only covered his expenses… Money did not motivate him.”

Sunday Times journalist Wendy Robbins wrote, “Mordechai never asked for nor received a single penny for his information… he blurted out the whole tale without first setting out any financial preconditions. Mordechai got nothing out of the whole episode. He never `sold’ Israel’s secrets — he told them.”

According to Ian Williams’ article in the July/Aug. 1993 Washington Report “although Pollard insists he was motivated by concern for Israeli security, he was paid (and is still being paid) a handsome salary by the Israeli government. His Israeli handlers also provided gifts and trips to Europe for Pollard and his wife, Anne. The severity of Pollard’s sentence was based on secret testimony by [then-Defense Secretary] Caspar Weinberger, who is on record as saying that Pollard was lucky–he should have received three life sentences. Pollard provided Israeli intelligence with more than 1,000 classified U.S. documents, some consisting of hundreds of pages, comprising overall some 360 cubic feet of paper.

“According to American investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, Pollard sold information on nuclear targets in the Soviet Union to Israel. U.S. defense sources suggest that what caused the most bitter anger against Pollard in the Pentagon and throughout the American intelligence community was the fact that the information compromised human agents in the Soviet Union and elsewhere. U.S. intelligence sources have concluded that the Israeli government bartered this information to the Soviet Union.”

One can certainly debate what should (or not) be done with Vanunu and Pollard, but let’s be honest about their respective guilt.

Eileen Fleming’s comment is refuted by Vanunu’s own letters in which he stated that he intended to share the money received for the information with the Anglican Church of Australia.

Please put into “Günter Grass” + member Waffen SS. Done?
Than put into it “Carl von Ossietzky Medal”. Done? Fine!

Now you know who in Germany is calling on Israel to free Mordechai Vanunu. He is not at all interesting for these people, they only do it to blame Israel.

Awarding of the 2008 Carl von Ossietzky Medal to Anarchists Against the Wall and Bil’in Popular Committee

Thank you!

Dear Ittai- indeed in 1986, V did plan on giving any money he might receive for his story to the Anglican Church he was baptized at, but he NEVER signed the contract with the London Sunday Times.

Indeed, V was guilty of telling THE TRUTH after suffering a crisis of Conscience about being a cog in the manufacturing of WMD.

PS: V returned to atheism in Nov. 2009.

It appears from all accounts that Vanunu is a person who is very disturbed and does deserve our compassion and our pity but MOST CERTAINLY not our trust. He was more than willing to divulge delicate y dangerous information before and there is no reason to imagine why he wouldn’t do it again. His knowledge of the specifics of Dimona may be outdated but the location of key elements of a nuclear power plant rarely changed due to the danger in doing so. What ever his motives are he simply can not be trusted. May he finally return from all his past ways and come back to G-d, for his sake and for the sake of all Israel


Moshe Pesach Geller says:

Dear Liel,

Spoken like a true American. But for here in Israel the qualifying difference between the two is clear:

Pollard sought to serve Israel and the Jewish People, whether in your opinion, rightly or wrongly and without being a traitor to the U.S. And he wasn’t charged with being a traitor.

Vannunu, sought to harm Israel and the Jewish People, was a legal as well as spiritual traitor, converted to Christianity. He made lifelong decisions that speak amply as to which ‘god’ he serves. He must live lifelong with the consequences of his choices.

Israeli/Ramat-Gan says:

Vanunu is Meshumad so I find it appropriate that the Left-Wingers are jumping to defend him. All Left-Wingers are sort of Meshumadim.

Miha Ahronovitz says:

Pollard and Vananu confuse me and confused Liel. He compares them to the biblical Joseph. Oh, well… I did not know that Pollard was a Stanford graduate. In stories about Rosenberg trial and execution, Pollard, Vananu and even Madoff. (Madoff and Pollard are best friends in prison), the whole idea of being a good Jew is hazed. All these people wanted to be good people and good Jews. In Kabbalah this is a sign that God has hidden intentions and tries to tell us something: that Madoff, Pollard, Vananu, Rosenberg serve a purpose. Maybe some of them said prayers before and during what they did. How many Pollards, Vananu’s, Madoff exists who were never discovered? Go and see Woody Allen movie “Match Point”.

ThrueToHistory says:

There is a significant difference in the behavior of the men in question. Pollard expressed regret and cooperated with the US interrogators and the court. He believed he does no harm to US due to his naïveté or stupidity. Vanunu continues to be proud of his voluntary act of espionage and expresses nothing but arrogance and hatred.
Vanunu continues his personal crusade against Israel. He makes very clear his intentions. As to his trial. It is an acceptable in every democracy when dealing with national security breaches to have a closed door process. “Beautiful people” that support Vanunu will stay anti-Israeli with or without Vanunu release. And yes, “meshumadim” have shown to be anti-Semites too. That is what history teaches.

Differences between Pollard and Vanunu:
1)Pollard spied for an ally of the US while Vanunu’s material was intended for Israel’s enemies.
2) Under the 1983 Memorandum of Understanding between the US and Israel, Israel was legally entitled the information that Pollard passed on to the Israelis. The recepient of Vanunu’s material was not legally entitled to it.
3)Pollard never had a trial reaching a plea agreement with US prosecutors; Vanunu had a fair trial and was never offered a plea agreement
4)After reaching a plea agreement with US prosecutors, the notorius anti-Israel US Defense Secratary Weinberger presented the court with a 46 page classified document to the sentencing judge. Based on this document Pollard received a life sentence with no eligibility of parole. This document has never been shown to Pollard or his attornies(despite having the hightest security clearance); an obvious breach of due process. Vanunu had access to all documents in his case and was granted parole.
5) Pollard has expressed remorse, Vanunu has not.
6) Vanunu has repeatedly violated terms of his parole, Pollard has never left prison as a parolee.
7)Unfathomably, the Nobel committee selected Vanunu as a Nobel Peace candidate despite his having every intention of assisting Israel’s enemies in succesfully implementing their diabolical nuclear war ambitions by weakening Israel’s deterrent capabilities. Pollard’s information about Syrian, Iraqi, Lybian and Iranian nuclear, biological, and chemical military capabilities was meant to prevent these nations from waging war–which in a normal world would be regarded as peace prize worthy.
8) Vanunu’s information was used to weaken the Jewish State while Pollard’s was intended on strenghtening it.
9) Vanunu’s information is still relevant today and is still classified. Pollard’s information-more than a quarter century old-has no relevance today.

10)Former CIA Director James Woolsey, former head of the Senate Intelligence Committee US Senator Doncini and Lawrence Korb, former assistant secretary of defense under Ronald Reagan, have called on the Obama Administration to grant clemency to Pollard. No US or Israeli official has called on anyone to free Vanunu.
11)Pollard was never accused of treason while Vanunu’s acts were treasonous.
12)Pollard has been a hero of the right wing (as his information would harm the idols of the left wing–Israel’s enemies) while Vanunu is an iconic figure in left wing cirlces (as his information would harm the darlings of the right wing–Isael and its supporters)
13) Pollard’s life sentence is far beyond the average 2-4 yrs. normally imposed on a person with a similar indictment. In fact, it’s the most severe sentence imposed on any spy within the past half century in the US (including leaders of spy rings [such as Bll Walker] convicted of spying for enemy countries). Vanunu’s sentence was never wildly exaggerated beyond the norm.
14)Pollard is proud of his heritage and his Judaism; Vanunu is not (he converted to Christianity and has repeatedly said that at the first opportunity he will leave Israel–and divulge more classified information)
15)Pollard has spent 7yrs.! in solitary confinement while Vanunu has spent 78 days.
16) Vanunu claims to have more classified informaton that he is eager to disseminate while Pollard has none.

One final comment: stopping nuclear armaments is not always wise and in the interest of peace. It is only wise and peaceful when the element stopped is a threatening one bent on conquest and with offensive intentions. Truman’s atomic bombs were peaceful in that it’s intent was to stop the war. Vanunu is well aware that Israel has never engaged in any war for the sake of conquest or with the stated objective of “pushing their enemies into the sea” as the regimes he’s empowering have reiterated repeatedly. Vanunu is a dangerous left-wing monster while Pollard is a truly hapless hero who’s spying made this world a safer place. His destiny (so far) has been to be a political football without sufficient regard being paid to the merits of his case or the utter cruelty that succesive US govts. have displayed toward this individual.

It comes as no surprise that Lebovits champions the cause of this monster as he is a darling of the left wing while not giving a care for POllard. To take the double standard further, just imagine that Pollard had more information to provide that would be of use to the Taliban, do you think that anyone in the US (besides people like Lebovits) would be clamoring for his release?! This is the exact case with Vanunu!

I don’t have time to go into the other nonsense that Lebovits presents such as that he spied for monetary gain–a claim explicitly rejected by the FBI’s investigative team (that determined that his motives to be ideological).
I am appalled that Tablet would give voice to this drivel especially during the season when we celebrate Israel’s war heroes of yore while condemning the informants of yesteryear.
The past 2 decades have been filled with Israel making one political blunder after another in an efort to placate the left wing chorus. In doing so it has stripped Israel’s youth and society of the understanding of Jews’ histroical, legal, religious and moral claim to its ancestral homeland. Liel Lebovits is a prime example.

Just to clarify a point. Spying or espionage is conducted by one entity against another. Generally the entity is a state, corporation or group, but even an individual qualifies. The product of such an undertaking is for use by the spying entity in the furtherance of its interests.

Vanunu was not connected with any entity seeking to further its interests, and there has been no discernible evidence that he was seeking to further his own interest in any traditionally definable way. Vanunu can be most accurately described as a whistle blower or leaker; someone who brings information to the public at large in the belief that it will benefit the public realm. One may agree or disagree with the tactic, but it’s clearly a different category. Just because it is in the interest of a state or corporation to define this type of activity as espionage does not mean that it is.

Vanono says:

“Vanunu can be most accurately described as a whistle blower or leaker; someone who brings information to the public at large in the belief that it will benefit the public realm.”

And getting a nice piece of tush and a pile of media attention to stroke his ego had nothing to do with it. Even the Chofetz Chaim tell us to judge everyone to the side of merit but DON’T BE NAIVE. Vanunu may have the whole lot of people believing his story, he may even believe it himself but his actions tell the truth about his situation; He’s arrogant and proud and wants has much attention has he can get by any means necessary. He’s already thrown Israel under the bus once. He’s do it again if he’s given a chance.

Moshe Pesach Geller says:

On second thought, Liel is correct. Vanunu needs justice. A just solution would be Cherem unless and until he does Teshuva.

Chumpsky says:

“On second thought, Liel is correct. Vanunu needs justice. A just solution would be Cherem unless and until he does Teshuva.”

Yes, agreed but even still it would be difficult to trust him after all he has done. He has demonstrated himself to be a loose canon and a danger. If he does Teshuva, it would be wonderful for him, his family and all of Israel but it would be a difficult thing to ask the people he betrayed to trust him and remove all the security restraints they have placed on him.

VHJM van Neerven says:

Dear Leil, dear all,

We can argue betrayal under state law and human law (not necessarily the same!), but I’d rather leave that to lawyers and (other) agents of the state. I feel this to be rather futile, for I know how perverse states, their institutions and their servants can and have become. Moshe Pesach Geller named two contemporaries, thank you, Moshe. We all know many instances. History is full of them; I am sure there would be many more if we knew all.

Leil Leibowitz, however, takes his perspective from the one true Law.

I for one am very grateful for his reminder, as it helps me to ponder this world under the aspect of the Eternal. And that, dear readers, is obviously what Mr. Leibovitz aims at.

תודה לך, את כל

BethesdaDog says:

One significant difference is that Pollard was sentenced by an anti-semitic judge, Aubrey Robinson. This fact is not well known. It was shared with me by a former Asst. U.S. Attorney in the D.C. US Attorney’s office who described to me an in-court incident in the 1970’s, in which Robinson’s hostility to Jews was evident. This would also be consistent with the report from the late Arthur Goldberg to his former law clerk, Professor Alan Dershowitz, that Robinson’s motive in imposing this extreme and unwarranted sentence was his dislike of Israel and its alleged cooperation with South Africa. Whether you like or dislike Israel’s foreign policy, there is no way it should have been a factor in Robinson’s decision on a sentence. It was totally improper and reveals judicial bias and impropriety.

Gary says:

my belief is he committed such a heinous crime he should have been executed.but since they released him and no more damage can be done than let the dirtbag leave .


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