by Amelia Ball
FIGHTING Father Dave Smith has knots in his stomach about his next big event but it’s not the boxing ring that has him worried.
The Holy Trinity Church leader’s imminent trip to Israel is overshadowing his boxing match against Newtown Jets captain All Duncan this Saturday.
With a youth centre at his Duiwich Hill church that includes a gym with boxing and martial arts. Fr Dave regularly takes to the ring to raise funds.
But for almost 18 years, Fr Dave has thrown his weight behind another cause — the release of his friend Mordechai Vanunu from an Israeli jail. Soon he will honour his promise to see Mr Vanunu walk free from Ashkelon Prison on April 22.
“Part of me wishes I never made [the promise],” he said.
“It’s just something you’ve got to do, he’s a mate and he’d do the same for me. I want to be there.”
An Israeli national, Mr Vanunu befriended Fr Dave in 1986 during his four-month stay in Sydney, in which time Mr Vanunu converted to Christianity.
It was the same year Mr Vanunu was kidnapped by Israeli security forces and imprisoned for releasing details of his former workplace — a secret nuclear weapons factory in the Dimona Desert.
“On reflection, it became very obvious he was wrestling with his other decisions,” Fr Dave said.
The two men have written to each other every month since Mr Vanunu’s was imprisoned, a term which has included 12 years in solitary confinement.
“It’s the longest on record,” Fr Dave said. “The fact he was capable of communication at all was extraordinary.”
While Mr Vanunu’s upcoming release should be a time of celebration, Fr Dave is “full of foreboding”.
“I had going through my mind fears of someone trying to take a shot at him,” he said. “I fear enormously for his safety.”
On top of Mr Vanunu’s treason conviction, his rejection of Judaism had provoked extreme feelings in many.
Mr Vanunu had grand plans of life after jail, including leaving Israel. but Fr Dave feared this would be impossible.
See Fighting Father Dave in action this Saturday night at Petersharn RSL when many fights will take place, including Smith v Duncan.