Monday, December 07, 2009

The Vanunu Opera and Christmas 2009

OpEd News, Dec 5, 2009


It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings is a proverb that means do NOT assume the outcome of something-such as a sports game-until it has finished.

The proverb originated from Richard Wagner’s opera suite Der Ring des Nibelungen in its last part, Götterdämmerung, when the fat lady/the Valkyrie Brünnhilde, delivers an aria that lasts nearly ten minutes and ends the drama.

Thirty-three years ago, Mordechai Vanunu began listening to Wagner, a 19th century German composer [who wrote both music and libretto for every one of his works] because, “Opera inspires me, it gives me strength. When I was twenty-two I stopped listening to pop; The Beatles, Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan. I like challenges and began listening to opera. It builds skyscrapers in my mind. Opera is nutrition for the brain. Opera enlarges and develops the brain. Opera speaks to my brain…Every morning I am in my room until eleven listening to opera. I find ways to enjoy myself as my way of resistance. I transform anger into positive energy.”

Vanunu told me that during my last visit to occupied east Jerusalem in June 2009. At that time he was also walking 2 ½ hours a day to the checkpoints he is denied the right to cross that lead to Bethlehem and Lazarus’ Tomb. Vanunu had also been playing coed volleyball and having dinner weekly with his friends from the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in the Old City, where he became a member three years ago and has attended both the English and German services because he liked the music. Shortly thereafter, he quit meeting reporters as well as foreign supporters.

Three weeks after my visit, while back in Israeli High Court, Vanunu learned he was again denied the right to leave the state for another six months, which literally is up on December 21, 2009.

Whether out of boredom with the topic or weariness, Vanunu finally committed to refrain from speaking of Israel’s nuclear program during the July 6, 2009 Supreme Court trial while President Dorit Beinish, claimed his “case is still generating great interest, like any other security-related case. The media’s attention he gets is proof of that.” [1]

There is no proof to back up that judge’s claim and in fact, the media’s silence has worked to collude in the injustices Vanunu has endured, for he has been demonized in Israel and remains largely unknown in America. However, the Media’s negligence has conspired to help create an iconic hero for proponents of the abolition of nuclear weapons and supporters for human rights united on the Internet and so, until Israel allows Vanunu the right to full freedom, the human interest in-and the disseminating of-his drama will grow and be spread on the world wide web.

When I met Vanunu in 2005, I was in the midst of writing my first book, but it was not until 2004, when I began researching for it, did I first come across his name. In the Chapter: Thanksgiving Eve, 1987 from KEEP HOPE ALIVE, I wrote:

“I have yet to read or heard a word from the American press about Vanunu who had worked in a very compartmentalized position in the secret underground Dimona nuclear research center in the Negev. The nuclear plant had a sign outside claiming it was a Textile factory and it seems that when Vanunu finally realized he was involved in the horrific work of manufacturing weapons of mass destruction, he shot two rolls of film inside of the restricted areas. Seems security was very lax and this low level tech was able to obtain the keys in the shower room that opened the doors to what Israel has not admitted to…Vanunu quit the job and leaves Israel and carried around the undeveloped film for nearly a year as he traveled throughout Europe. He ended up in Sydney, Australia and converted to Christianity.

“A few weeks after he shared his story with a British reporter…Vanunu and the reporter returned to London, and while the London Times was verifying his story, Vanunu mysteriously disappeared. The photos proved the fact that Israel had become a major nuclear power, but not a word has been heard from my government or press!

“The Sunday Times reports this incredible news that Israel’s underground plutonium plant has material for two hundred nuclear warheads of advanced design, but not a word have I read about it or heard from the US media! It makes me wonder about all the iron curtains the media and government have raised as a shield from the truth.” [2]

Governments get away with mayhem and murder whenever the media fails or is prevented from doing their job; to investigate and report the truth, no matter how ugly or brutal.

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