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Commentary Last Updated: Nov 1st, 2007 - 00:39:29

Attempt to muzzle freedom of speech in California, Israel and Washington
By Eileen Fleming
Online Journal Guest Writer

Nov 1, 2007, 00:37

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IRVINE, Calif., Oct. 13 -- I had traveled from Florida to the Irvine Marriott in California to speak about how freedom of speech had been denied in Israel to Mordechai Vanunu. I was aghast to learn it also had been squelched in Irvine.

Mark Glenn, one of the coordinators, informed me that three days prior the Marriott requested payment of $20,000, although there was no such requirement in the contract.

Mark told me he was able to secure $8,000 within 24 hours and even after a visit from a representative from CAIR (Council of American-Islamic Relations), that 20 speakers from around the Nation were on their way, the Marriott's events coordinator said the event would not happen at the Marriott as planned.

Dr. Hesham Tillawi, Palestinian American, political analyst and TV show host of "Current Issues" reported that he spoke with Marriott representative Diana Harrison. "I asked her if we came up with all the money, would that be OK and she responded, 'The event has been canceled.'"

While I did not agree with many things some of the speakers said during the rescheduled event at a local church that began nine hours after originally planned, I uphold that all people have the right to think their own thoughts and speak their own minds.

As the third speaker I delivered the following:

I am not here today as Mordechai Vanunu's spokesperson.

I am here today because Vanunu, as with everyone in this room and everyone in the world; all possess inalienable rights, God given rights, such as the right of free thought and the right to speak those thoughts.

States and nations have obligations. People have rights.

The year 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of Al Nabka, the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the statehood of Israel, which was contingent upon their honoring inalienable rights such as in Article 13 of the Declaration of Human Rights,

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country, [her homeland.]

These are rights that states and nations have obligations to uphold.

American democracy is based on the self-evident truth that all people are created equal; all are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights . . . [and] that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted . . . and derive their powers from the consent of the governed; and, whenever any form of government becomes unjust and destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people [to rise up and] alter or abolish it. [Paraphrased from "The Declaration of Independence."]

I am here today as a global citizen, a patriotic American and Christian of The Beatitudes; AKA: The Sermon on the Mount, which is where Jesus promised that it is the Peacemakers who are the children of God. NOT those that bomb, torture or occupy any other . . .

I am here today to tell you that on April 30, 2007, in Jerusalem, Vanunu was convicted on 14 [out of 21] counts of violating a court order which denied his inalienable right to speak to foreign journalists in 2004 after his release from 18 years in jail for telling the world the truth that Israel was already nuclear in 1986.

Vanunu was also convicted for traveling the few miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem when he hoped to attend Christmas Eve mass at the Church of the Nativity, his first Christmas after being released from 18 years in jail [most of it in solitary] on April 21, 2004.

Vanunu has spent the last three years under house arrest in Jerusalem forbidden to speak to the likes of me, and in 2006 he told me, "This administration tells me I am not allowed to speak to foreigners, the media, and the world. But I do because that is how I prove my true humanity."

Article 19 of the UN Universal declaration of Human Rights asserts that: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

And in that spirit, I videotaped Vanunu in 2005 and 2006 and some of what he says in the "30 Minutes with Vanunu":

"The Dimona is 46 years old; reactors last 25 to 30 years. The Dimona has never been inspected and Israel has never signed the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty but all the Arab states have . . . Twenty years ago when I worked there they only produced when the air was blowing towards Jordan 10 miles away. No one knows what is happening now.

"The Israelis have 200 atomic weapons and they accuse the Palestinians and Muslims of terrorism. The world needs to wake up and see the real terrorism is the occupation, and the Palestinians have lived under that terror regime for 40 years . . .

"It's very sad that Hilary Clinton went to the Jewish Wailing Wall and forgot the real crying wall is the Palestinian wall . . . the apartheid wall . . . the wall is not for defense, but to keep this conflict permanent . . .

"Israel is only a democracy if you are a Jew."

I am here today to tell you that on July 2, 2007, Vanunu was sentenced to six more months in jail denied of the inalienable right to speak in the ethnocracy of Israel and that his appeal was filed last month.

In 2006, American Israeli Jeff Halper, founder and coordinator of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and a Noble Peace Prize Nominee for 2006, told me: "Israel is a not a democracy but is an ethnocracy, meaning a country run and controlled by a national group with some democratic elements but set up with Jews in control and structured to keep them in control."

Vanunu was born into an orthodox Jewish family in Marrakech in 1954. When he was 9 years old, the Zionists came and promised his family the stars and the moon; the land of milk and honey. Instead, the Vanunu's were banished to the desert of Beersheba, a place with no Coke or Pepsi and the ice cream was just ice.

Vanunu attended Yeshiva; the Jewish orthodox boarding school in the Old City where the mosque was empty for Palestinians had been banished from Beersheba.

He passed all his high school classes except for English and Hebrew studies. At 18 years old, he had his mind and health checked by the Israeli army doctors and wanted to be a pilot. But he failed the hand-eye coordination test and was assigned to the Engineering Unit, where he learned about land mines, bridges, and explosives.

Vanunu traveled freely as a soldier, and served in the occupied territories near Bethlehem. In 2005, he told me, "I felt how poor the people were under occupation and how they suffered without reason, except for the reason of injustice. In the 1970s, Israel built many fortresses and spent lots of money on equipment, but nothing on the people who were oppressed and under occupation. I got really mad and upset every time I thought about how much money they wasted, but I kept my mouth shut and kept it all to myself. After a year, I finished my training and was assigned to train more soldiers. For me it was all futility and waste; I saw these children become soldiers and thought, what a complete waste. When the Yom Kippur War broke out, soldiers with less than a month of training got called to go with me to the Jordan Valley. There weren't enough trained troops, and we were lucky we didn't see any fighting and got to return to base after three days. After a few months, we all went to Syria and the Golan Heights. When Kissinger coordinated the cease-fire, the Israeli army destroyed the area before leaving there. I was promoted to first sergeant, and they wanted me to re-up. I said no."

Vanunu continued, "I began my studies at Tel Aviv University when I was 21 and this was the first time I met Palestinians as human beings. I began attending political demonstrations inside the university. I was all about equal human rights and respecting all others. By the time I was 23, I began working at the Dimona. It was suppose to be a textile plant, but I was hired for the control room. At the time, I had no idea what it was in control of."

After a year, Vanunu got bored with the routine job at the Dimona but stayed for the steady pay while he studied economics and became involved in university politics and helped establish a group of Palestinian and Jewish students for justice and peace. After six months, he got called in by security at the Dimona, questioned, warned and then threatened with 15 years in prison if he didn't stop his pro-Palestinian human rights university activities.

Vanunu didn't stop. He graduated with a BA in philosophy and geography, and began to make plans to leave Israel. Because he was a good worker, he was cross-trained in many departments and figured out what was really going on underground in the Negev Valley. Vanunu shot two rolls of film documenting the fact that Israel had gone nuclear, but did not develop them until many months later when he ended up in Sydney, Australia. One day, Vanunu, who for decades had now been a secular Jew and existentialist, wandered into a social justice Anglican Church and felt at home. He shared his story of the Dimona with them, and met the church painter who claimed to be a freelance journalist and who wanted to make money on Vanunu's story.

Vanunu insisted that all he wanted to do was prevent a nuclear holocaust.

It was only a few days prior to being abducted by the Mossad, that Vanunu was baptized a Christian. It was not until after his closed-door trial and the start of 18 years in jail; that he began to read the New Testament. For a half hour, twice a day, he would recite the entire New Testament and begin all over again when he finished the Book of Revelation.

Vanunu told me, "I did this for myself, as well as for my captors -- not so much the prison guards, but the ones who watched me on camera 24 hours a day. Once I covered up the camera that spied on me and was punished with one month in total solitary; no books no radio; there was never any contact with anyone anywhere. It was just them, watching me, constantly watching me. The Shen Beet, you know, like the FBI and the Mossad, like your CIA -- they were watching me. They tortured me by keeping a light on in my cell constantly for two years. They told me it was because they were afraid I would commit suicide, and the oppressive camera was for my safety. They recruited the guards and other prisoners to irritate me and deprive me of sleep by making loud noises near my cell all night and all day.

"I chose to read them 1 Corinthians 13 [4-8] instead: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with THE TRUTH! It always protects, it always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails."

I am here today to tell you that for the last three years, Mordechai Vanunu's speech and movement have been restricted under the British Mandate Emergency Regulations -a relic from the British Mandate period in Palestine, before the state of Israel was founded and replaced British rule. Nothing like it exists in any democracy in the world. When Vanunu was convicted, he joked, "Perhaps I should turn to the Queen or Tony Blair for justice."

I am here today to tell you that for the last 21 years, Vanunu has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. This year he was nominated by Bishop Desmond Tutu, who in 1984 received the Nobel for his courageous and fearless opposition against the South African apartheid system.

I am here today to remind the world of what Israel promised in 1948: "On the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations." --May 14, 1948. The Declaration of the establishment of Israel

I am here today with hope and a prayer that Israel and America will hear the prophets of Israel, such as Micah who reminded the people of what God requires: "He has told you o'man! Be just, be merciful, and walk humbly with your Lord."

I am here today to say Happy Eid to you and happy 53rd birthday to Vanunu.

The conference continued on Sunday, but I had already split. I was grateful to have made the long trip to meet the diversity that is America; Christians, Muslims, agnostics and two Orthodox Rabbis against the ideology of Zionism, but most especially to have had the opportunity to hear the president of the USS LIBERTY Veterans Association, Phillip F. Tourney.

On June 8, 2007, in the Marriott Courtyard in Tysons Corner, Virginia, Tourney held a press conference regarding the fact that 40 years ago, "Thirty four Americans were brutally slaughtered, 172 wounded [including himself and that] Israel deliberately attacked America's virtually unarmed USS LIBERTY in international waters, knowing full well our identity, in an assault that lasted as long as the attack on Pearl Harbor . . . the government of Israel put a knife in the back of America . . . the Israelis began the attack with unmarked jet fighters using rockets, canons, and napalm on our unprotected ship . . . three motor torpedo boats . . . fired six torpedoes at us, one hitting its mark, midships on the starboard side, instantly blowing to bits 25 of America's finest young men."

On October 13, 2007, Phillip remarked to the crowd who had gathered at the conference that began nine hours late in a California church, "It was God that kept us afloat."

I contend that it was also God who kept the Saturday event afloat and as the saying goes; it's not over 'till the fat lady sings.

Forty years ago the American government colluded with Israel in the treasonous cover-up of the attack on the USS LIBERTY and the survivors "were ordered to remain silent under threat of court martial, imprisonment or worse . . . The U.S. government has never challenged the obviously phony Israeli excuse of 'mistaken identity' nor have they attempted to expose the dishonorable cover up that continues to date. Truth and America's honor were ignominiously sacrificed to provide cover for Israel's transparent lies and despicable act of perfidy." --Phillip F. Tourney, President USS LIBERTY Veterans Association, June 8, 2007, Marriott Courtyard, VA.

All the veterans are asking for is an open and independent panel to investigate the horrific and unprovoked attack on the USS Liberty. They have written to President George W. Bush requesting this just action only to receive pro-forma letters from a White House staffer stating that the attack had already been investigated.

"This is a bald-faced lie!" Tourney wrote in a postscript to our commander in chief in his most recent appeal.

"The declassification of government documents and the recollections of former military personnel . . . strengthen doubts about the U.S. National Security Agency's position that it never intercepted the communications of the attacking Israeli pilots -- communications, according to those who remember seeing them, that showed the Israelis knew they were attacking an American naval vessel. The documents also suggest that the U.S. government, anxious to spare Israel's reputation and preserve its alliance with the U.S., closed the case with what even some of its participants now say was a hasty and seriously flawed investigation." [New revelations in attack on American spy ship, Chicago Tribune, October 2, 2007]


On October 13 Tourney stated, "Israel got away with cold blooded murder! Forty years ago the CIA and the NSA all threatened the survivors not to talk! They scared me so much, I didn't for 20 years . . . Our keel was broken, we should have sunk but God kept us alive . . . Israel wanted the world to believe that Egypt [committed the crime] . . . Thirty-four were killed and 172 were wounded out of a crew of 294 . . . The Israeli planes marked out the Star of David so we wouldn't know who was attacking us . . . Eighteen hours after the attack we were rescued . . . McNamara said, 'We're not going to attack our ally.' How did McNamara know who attacked us?"

"J.Q. 'Tony' Hart, then a chief petty officer assigned to a U.S. Navy relay station in Morocco that handled communications between Washington and the 6th Fleet, remembered listening as Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, in Washington, ordered Rear Adm. Lawrence Geis, commander of the America's carrier battle group, to bring the jets home. When Geis protested that the Liberty was under attack and needed help, Hart said, McNamara retorted that 'President [Lyndon] Johnson is not going to go to war or embarrass an American ally over a few sailors.'

"The Johnson administration did not publicly dispute Israel's claim that the attack had been nothing more than a disastrous mistake. But internal White House documents obtained from the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library show that the Israelis' explanation of how the mistake had occurred was not believed. Except for McNamara, most senior administration officials from Secretary of State Dean Rusk on down privately agreed with Johnson's intelligence adviser, Clark Clifford, who was quoted in minutes of a National Security Council staff meeting as saying it was "inconceivable" that the attack had been a case of mistaken identity. The attack 'couldn't be anything else but deliberate,' the NSA's director, Lt. Gen. Marshall Carter, later told Congress. [IBID]

States and nations have obligations. People have rights.

I in no way am against the state of Israel; in no way do I want to abolish it, I only desire that it uphold its promise: "On the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations." --May 14, 1948. The Declaration of the establishment of Israel.

Every day, the U.S.A. gives more than $7,023,288 of we the people's tax dollars to Israel and over $108 billion since 1948. (If Americans Knew]

One thousand twenty-four Israelis and at least 4,274 Palestinians have been killed since September 29, 2000. [IBID]

Seven thousand six hundred thirty-three Israelis and 31,531 Palestinians have been injured since September 29, 2000. [IBID]

Israel has been targeted by at least 65 UN resolutions and the Palestinians have been targeted by none. [IBID]

One Israeli is being held prisoner by Palestinians, while 10,756 Palestinians are currently imprisoned by Israel, including children under the age of 16 and women.

For the 2005-2006 election cycle, pro-Israel funds to Congress totaled $3,277,693 and the total Arab American PAC funds to Congress was a mere $80,500. [Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, July 2007]

During President George Washington's Farewell Address on September 17, 1796, he warned, "The nation which indulges toward another . . . is in some degree a slave . . . a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils."

During President George W. Bush's, Second Inaugural Address he promised, "In the long run, there is no JUSTICE without FREEDOM. There can be no human rights without LIBERTY. All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know the United States will not ignore your oppression or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for liberty, we stand with you."

The man some call prophet and some call God promised that it is the Peacemakers who are the children of God [Matthew 5:9] and "You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free." [John 8:32]

"The fierce urgency of now" [Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.] should compel we the people for justice, liberty, freedom and truth to inundate our elected officials to do the right thing, for American democracy is based on the self evident truth that all people are created equal; all are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights . . . [and] that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted . . . and derive their powers from the consent of the governed; and, whenever any form of government becomes unjust and destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to rise up+ and alter or abolish it.

May we the people *rise up and demand our independence from the ethnocracy of Israel and honor our veterans by demanding JUSTICE for the USS LIBERTY.

"RISE UP in Arabic translates to INTIFADA

Eileen Fleming is a reporter and the editor of We Are Wide She is the author of �Keep Hope Alive� and �Memoirs of a Nice Irish-American 'Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory.�

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