A transcript of a speech I gave on April 21st, 2006, at a rally held in the centre of Sydney, commemorating the second year of Morde’s semi-release.
You will see that I am holding up a poster with a photo of Morde Vanunu. This was one of the posters that we were holding up two years ago to this day, outside of Ashkelon Prison in Israel, as we waited for Morde’s release.
In case your Hebrew and Arabic aren’t too good, let me translate. The poster says, “Thank you Mordechai Vanunu” at the top, and then “Peace Hero” and “Nuclear Whistle Blower” below.
I brought this poster with me specifically though becuase Morde has autographed this one, writing down the side of it, in these words: “I am free. I am released. I’ll come to Sydney. Mordechai Vanunu. Apr-21-04.” And the tragedy of course is that two years later he has still not been allowed to join us here in Sydney.
Now, I am conscious of the fact that for many people, Mordechai Vanunu is basically a cause.
This is not entirely inappropriate, as Morde himself put his life and his freedom on the line for a cause – for the sake of peace in the Middle East. Having said that, Morde Vanunu – prisoner of conscience, peace activist and nuclear whistle-blower – will always fundamentally be to me a matefirst and foremost.
I met Morde not far from here, up the road there in Kings Cross, when he wandered into our church grounds one Friday evening. We talked and ate and prayed together – chatting about philosophy, about girls, and about the nuclear threat in the Middle East that so concerned him. And I promised to take Morde on a walk over the Sydney Harbour Bridge (which is just behind me) – a promise that I’d still like to keep one day.
Morde made the big decision late in 1986, when he decided to put his life on the line for the sake of the better world that he believed in. He told his story and he shared his photos, and he’s been paying for this ever since.
If Morde had been an Iraqi, and had exposed a secret nuclear weapons factory in Iraq, he would have been an instant hero – receiving accolades and awards from Presidents and Prime Ministers throughout the Western world. If Morde had been an Iranian, exposing secret nuclear weapons in Iran, again he would have attained instant hero status throughout the West. But unfortunately Morde was an Israeli, exposing secret nuclear weapons in Israel, and for that he has been vilified, criminalized, imprisoned and tortured.
I know Morde well enough to know that in none of this did he ever act out of a desire for fame or power or money or anything like that. Morde did what he did because he believed in a better world – a world free of weapons of mass destruction – and for that he continues to pay a very heavy price.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers to peace in the Middle East. I’m conscious of the fact that it’s going to take a lot of dialogue and hard work between Israeli and Palestinian leaders before a real long-term solution can be achieved. But I’d like to suggest that there is one simple thing that the Israeli Government could do right away that would be a powerful conciliatory gesture and that would cost them nothing – ie. lift the restrictions on Morde Vanunu, and let him live out the rest of his life quietly, outside of Israel.
Morde Vanunu is a mate of mine. He is a good man, and he has suffered enough. Please give my mate Morde a break.
For further updates on Morde, visit his own homepage: