Guardian op-ed: Mordechai Vanunu is a hero ‘like Snowden’

Before leaving his job as a technician at Israel’s nuclear installation in Dimona, Mordechai Vanunu had smuggled in a camera and covertly took dozens of photos of the secret facility – information he later used to help the UK Sunday Times write a story purporting to expose Israel’s nuclear weapons program.

Vanunu was convicted of treason and espionage in 1988, and released after serving 18 years in prison.  After his release, he claimed that he was proud of what he did.

Vanunu is still subject to travel restrictions  as he is still considered a serious danger to Israeli security.

Naturally, Vanunu is something of a cause célèbre at the Guardian, which has published no less than 76 separate pieces (reports, op-eds and letters) on the convicted felon (dating back to 1986), including an official editorial entitled “In Praise of…Mordechai Vanunu.

vanunu page

Vanunu page at the Guardian

The Guardian’s latest celebration of Vanunu comes in the form of an op-ed written by Duncan Campbell (a long time Guardian contributor), one which evokes Edward Snowden in characterizing Vanunu as nothing less than a hero:

heroThough the narrative advanced in this latest op-ed overlaps considerably with the the previous 75 Guardian reports and commentaries on Vanunu, Campbell’s evocation of Snowden – whose Guardian-facilitated leaks were characterized by the GCHQ as “the most catastrophic loss suffered by British intelligence” in history – suggests an effort to grant Vanunu the ‘martyr’ status only bestowed by the Guardian Left upon those Israelis sufficiently hostile to their state.

Despite the predictability of Campbell’s apologia, there was at least one passage – containing a classic Guardian obfuscation – worthy of comment.

Last December, he failed in the high court of justice in his latest bid to be allowed to leave. Does Edward Snowden, as he adjusts to life in Moscow, wonder whether he will still be haunted and hunted by the US government for decades to come?

 No one seriously claims that the man who was exhaustively debriefed by the Sunday Times nearly 30 years ago has any secrets up his sleeve. The decision to restrict his movements seems to be based more on a desire to inflict punishment on an unrepentant man than for security concerns.

However, Campbell is either being lazy or dishonest, as the Haaretz article he linked to in the above passage quite clearly indicates that there are indeed ‘serious claims’ that Vanunu has more ‘secrets up his sleeve’.  Here are the relevant passages from the very report cited by Campbell:

In his latest petition, filed by attorneys Avigdor Feldman and Michael Sfard, Vanunu argued that a considerable amount of time had passed since he had worked in the Dimona center and committed the offenses for which he was convicted, and that not enough weight was being given to this passage of time. Vanunu also claimed that information about Israel’s nuclear capabilities published since his release “immeasurably exceeds” what he could add today…

The state countered through lawyers Dan Eldad and Aner Helman that Vanunu still possesses unpublished classified information and that he is trying to get the information published. To this end, the state’s lawyers presented classified material that was not made public.

In the decision, written by Supreme Court President Asher Grunis on behalf of himself and justices Miriam Naor and Isaac Amit, the court said that “after examining the extensive material submitted to the court, we are convinced that there is no reason to intervene in the decision of the respondents to extend the validity of the orders for another year.”

Grunis added, “One cannot say that the orders constitute a means of punishment, as claimed by the petitioner. The orders were designed to prevent future dissemination of classified information. In recent years, the court has examined several times the necessity of the orders, and has been convinced, time after time, that they are needed to protect national security.”

Grunis said that from the privileged material shown to the justices it emerges that Vanunu “is still collecting classified information and has not backed down from his plans to disseminate the information.”

So, contrary to Campbell’s contention, the Israeli court evidently not only has reason to believe that Vanunu has national security ‘secrets up his sleeve’, but has seen evidence indicating he intends to disseminate the information if given the opportunity.

Of course the broader truth pertaining to the Vanunu affair – and the media coverage of his ongoing legal battles – relates to the obvious fact that there isn’t a country in the world which wouldn’t act aggressively to prevent national security secrets from being revealed.

Further, characterizing as a “hero” those who betray an oath of secrecy and attempt to bypass established legal means to redress grievances against a particular government policy makes a mockery of  the term, and conflates felons convicted of betraying the national security of a democratic state with genuine political dissidents in truly repressive regimes.


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28 replies »

  1. Snowden is not a hero, but a sock puppet of the FSB and a stooge for Putin.
    Whether he was mislead by Greenwald and Assange, whether he was a self empowered fool, now he is definetely a tool of Russian power policies.
    It´s telling that Al Guardian tries to obfuscate that fact, and a good tradition within Al guardian when considering scandal of Gott et alii.

  2. “Israel’s Mordechai Vanunu is as much a hero as Edward Snowden”

    Probably that is correct.
    But then I do not regard Edward Snowden as a hero.

    If I was to write what I regard Snowden as, because of the damage he has caused to the Intelligence Services and the fight against organised crime in the U.K., the language would even make peterthehungarian blush.

    • Vanunu said he acted out of a desire to protect the world from nuclear weapons.

      The American-Israeli woman / Mossad spy who was sent to seduce and abduct him has gone into hiding ever since, so I assume she must not feel very proud of what she did.

      • You waste a lot of energy presuming the motivation of other people. Maybe she’s content with her quiet life in the suburbs. Fact is, what you know about other people is very little, and your impressions are as boring as fuck.

      • You really should have done some research before posting that, jackass. She kept working for the Mossad afterwards, then moved to Florida, and while your “gone into hiding” comment doesn’t fit with what she seems to have been done (since your pro-Vanunu sources revealed her identity in hopes of getting her killed or driven out of the U.S. or something bad), I’ll give you a tiny bit of credit and assume you’re just reading negatively into her decision to not discuss her intelligence career or live a life that publicly advertises it, even though the crushing majority of people who work in intelligence never discuss or publicy advertise it. In which case, you graduated from being stupid to just being a prick, so, slow clap.

  3. And the Guardian’s hero Vanunu, is also the hero of that sanctimonious closet Nazi, Gunther Grass, SS mann and unreformed anti-Semite, masquerading as a spokesman for progressive, humanitarian politics.

    Peas in a pod, Rusbridger (heir of racist imperialists in Rhodesia) and Grass, both of whom naturally relate to the ‘heroism’ of a man that rejected his ‘Jewishness’ and endeavoured to undermine the security of the world’s only Jewish state.

      • The days of man are like Grass and Vanunu ; like the flower in the field so they flourish. For the wind passes over it and it is gone ; and the place thereof shall know it no more..

      • Pete, and that negates the fact Grass was a lying, hypocritical former member of an internationally recognised criminal organisation – the SS?

      • “Gunther Grass is a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature.”

        I won the ‘Name That Tune’ contest in Pontin’s Holiday Camp 1993, so what?

    • Do you have boils from all the hatred inside you? Or are you just smearing Grass and Rusbridger?

  4. So what the only democracy gives anybody born anywhere a right of return and refuses to let those born in its own territory the right of return. Fritz so what are you on about? You think it is alright for a Zionist entity to kidnap a person imprison him and not allow him freedom to travel on a totally bogus threat to its security.

    • So what the only democracy gives anybody born anywhere a right of return …
      Not to anybody only for those who during the last twothousand years have been persecuted by your kind and didn’t have a safe haven to escape. I understand your frustration that today you have to find other targets for your hate and the only way you can vent your anger is trolling on the internet but you have to live with it.
      ….and refuses to let those born in its own territory the right of return.
      The same day when they accept the Jews’ right to live here in their independent state
      all those 30,000 refugees who have born here will be able to return.
      You think it is alright for a Zionist entity to kidnap a person imprison him and not allow him freedom to travel on a totally bogus threat to its security.
      To arrest and punish a dangerous criminal? No reasonable country would let his kind of a traitor to live unpunished.
      Bogus threat? As Berchmans of despised memory would say: “It is in the Guardian so it must be true…”. I hope that you will forgive me but I somehow have serious doubts regarding your competence in the matter of Israel’s security.

  5. “the Zionist entity”
    David Carpenter – he must be derelict by some moolah carpets from Iran.

  6. So, Peter, what are you planning to do with the 4.5 million. I know they were not born 2000 years ago in that house in Palestine but they were still born in that house you deluded racist.

    • So, Peter, what are you planning to do with the 4.5 million…
      Why sould I have to do with them anything? But you should ask this question from their Arab brethrens who have kept them refugees for the last 75 years.
      Deluded racist? Have you ever heard the expression “psychological projection”? I suggest you to look it up in your beloved Wikipedia – finally you could learn there something useful for incompetent and impotent losers like yourself.

    • Hey, bloody antisemite, your lie of a “house in Palestine” 2000 years ago is quite nice, please elaborate your idiocy.

  7. Beyond having little respect for Mr. Vanunu’s quasi-idealism and guise of advocacy via undefined pacifism and dislike of his original religion, what annoys me when I read about both MV and his supporters boils down to this: he hates everything about Israel and Judaism and has never been retiring about his actions before or since his richly deserved time in prison for espionage, but he also wants favors from the people he’s spent most of his life either undermining or trashing, and the two things simply don’t fit together in any rational way. He hated Israel before Israel hated him, and it’s not the state’s responsibility to bow down to his particular fixed mania because it will make people like his CiF groupies praise them for a few minutes (before heading into their next hateful obsession–probably M. Barghouti). He hasn’t earned the kind of clemency he’s pretending is owed to him.