Below is the transcript of an eye-opening interview that took place between peace activist Mordechai Vanunu and talk show host Hesham Tillawi on the television program Current Issues.
TILLAWI. `Well, I do believe that we have Mordechai Vanunu with usâ€¦Mordechai, are you with us?
TILLAWI. Good Morning, I know that it is 4 oâ€™clock in the morning there in Jerusalem. Folks, Mordechai Vanunu has spent 18 years in an Israeli jail for telling Israeli nuclear secrets. He was lured to Rome by Israeli agents and kidnapped and then sent back to Israel where he spent 18 yrs in prison and 11 of those years in solitary confinement. That is true, Mordechai?
VANUNU. Yes, that is right.
TILLAWI Now, Mordechai, I have a question for you. What was it that you really felt that you must tell the world about, what was it about the Israeli nuclear program that you felt to yourself, `you know I cannot continue like this, I cannot remain silent on this, I have got to tell the world about it.â€™ What was it?
VANUNU Well, the most important point is that it was the same situation that we have right now, namely that these people continue to lie and to cheat the world as well as their own citizens by denying the truth, by declaring that they do not have atomic weapons while at the same time I was working there helping to produce them. At that time there were more than 200 atomic weapons, in 1986, and it was at that time that they started to produce the most horrible of all weapons, the hydrogen bombâ€¦all of this in secret, in lying and in cheating the world and all of its citizens. So I said to myself `It is impossible to keep these secrets. I must report about them and to try and stop it.â€™
TILLAWI Mordechai, there are a lot of nations that have nuclear weapons. What is it about Israel having them that makes you so nervous?
VANUNU Because Israel wants to use them, to cause genocide and holocaust on other innocent citizens. It has always been a part of Israelâ€™s secret policy. And also by having them, Israel will use them as a threat to avoid making peace with the Arab world as well as imposing her policies on those peoples. As long as she has them, she will continue on in her policies of not making peace, of occupation and of neglecting the Palestinian suffering caused by the refugee camps that have existed for more than 50 years.
TILLAWI One of the Israeli professors said a few months ago that â€˜we have the nuclear capability of hitting every major European city,â€™ is that true to your knowledge?
VANUNU Yes, it is true. They can bombard any city all over the world, and not only those in Europe but also those in the United States, and by this threat what they are doing is to send a secret message to any leader and to any government that they have the ability to use them aggressively and to blackmail them, to blackmail Europe and the United States, everywhere, in every state around the world. It was Europe and the United States who helped them get this power, and now that Israel has it, she is coming back and saying to them â€˜We will not obey any orders that you give us. No international law, no international agreement, no UN resolutions,â€™ and all because of these atomic weapons that they have. …
TILLAWI … What made Mordechai Vanunu betray his country and then change his religion?
VANUNU Yes, this is a very good question and very important. You are right, it is not usual to have a person come to these hard conclusions. As far as my conversion, it started at the very early age of 15 or 16. I was raised in the Jewish religion and in a Jewish family. Israel and Judaism were considered as one nation, one big family, one tribe. I began criticizing and rejecting Judaism over the point of view that these Jews are teaching injustice through their Judaism. In the same way that Jesus Christ also criticized Judaism 2,000 years ago, I was unwilling to accept what they teach, and later converted to the opposite of Judaism. The Jewish tribe teaches that there is only one Chosen people of God. They teach of their superiority, taking literally word-by-word the writings in the old bible. And I decided therefore that after 2,000 years these ideas were nonsense. There are 6 billion people around the world, and all of them are equal, all are part of the human race. There is no such thing as a super race. We should all respect and love each other, and that was the beginning of my rejecting Judaism and my accepting of Christianity, of following the teachings of Jesus Christ and of accepting humanity. I am not a religious man, I am not going to become a priest. I did all of this for my humanity and for my beliefs. So, I chose my own way and began criticizing the Jewish faith. Those who teach Judaism run the lives of those under them, telling them what they must do every hour of every day, issuing many orders about everything, from waking up in the morning to going to sleep, but at the same time they do not teach them to respect other human beings, to accept non-Jews and to believe that non-Jews are like them. They teach that only the Jews are the chosen people. So, this is Judaism, a collection of primitive traditions thousands of years old that have not changed. The world has changed in the last 2,000 years and the Jewish people need to accept and understand this change, and especially if they want a democratic country. You cannot have a state and run it as they did 2,000 years ago. They came to Palestine in the name of the Bible and in the name of their god and took this land that was promised to them thousands of years ago. In the name of this god, they took the land, expelled the people and gave them hard, cruel, barbaric lives for the last 60 years. This way of thinking, this faith cannot exist within this new age, and it was this that also led me to expose Israelâ€™s nuclear secrets.
TILLAWI Mordechai, you have been living amongst the Palestinians for a while now. What do you think, are they the terrorists that we have all been hearing about?
VANUNU I have been living amongst the Palestinians now for 15 months, but I have been following the Palestinian situation now since the 1980â€™s. Now I am here living among them, watching them, meeting with them, eating with them, enjoying life with them and seeing how the Israelis have succeeded in portraying them all over the world as terrorists. But this is not true. They are very peaceful people and lovers of peace. …
TILLAWI So, why are we after Iran then to open its doors to inspections, but no one is asking Israel to do the same? Why is that?
VANUNU This is a very strange situation that has been developed and accepted by the Western states since the 1960â€™s. It goes back about 40 years. My view is that Europe and America are and have been under a long-term agenda of blackmail by the Israelis. In the first case, the Israelis constantly bring up the Holocaust and what happened to the Jews during WWII, blaming the West for it and then using this as the justification for possessing nuclear weapons as a way of preventing this from ever happening again. …(9) Mordechai Vanunu says Nazi Holocaust used as â€œpropagandaâ€ to blackmail the WestThe World Today (ABC Radio, Australia)Wednesday, 29 September , 2004
MORDECHAI VANUNU: Maybe the real fear is that my free spirit, my free belief to express my views in politics, in everything, not only nuclear secrets, I have many interesting views and Iâ€™m telling them without fear and expressing that to anyone in all the world, in all the media, and that is not good for Israel.They donâ€™t like it, and also, the Israel Government and state have teached all the world, especially the west, Europe, United States, Australia, Canada, they teach them to fear and now to be under blackmail by Israel propaganda of Holocaust and all this propaganda.