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Welcome back, Mordechai

To Mordechai Vanunu, on his release from Israeli prison

Sami Shalom Chetrit

Translated by Rami Heilbronn

6 May 2004

To Mordechai, Dear brother and hero,

I am sending you a greeting to welcome you out – from the bottom of my heart, and from many others, on your deliverance from the Zionist jail. I wish that you may very soon be able to depart the Zionist- Ashkenazi Ghetto called the State of Israel. I am moved to tears, and with so many others I count the days and hours to your release. At the same time, I am very concerned about your future under the terrible conditions that the state has imposed on your release.

Alongside all the excitement and joy I also want to confess my sins and apologise to you for personally having done almost nothing against the crime of your kidnapping and imprisonment, apart from composing and signing some petitions. Indeed far too little and far too late. Several years passed until we, the Mizrahi activists identified with you publicly. Only by 1993 did we dedicate a special issue of our “Iton Aher” Journal for your struggle, which printed your poem “I am your spy” for the first time. It took me a whole decade to publish the article “Mordechai Vanunu, born to be free” in Ha’ir weekly magazine. I feel deeply ashamed of this, and regret it greatly.

Nobody released you from prison but you yourself, in your determination to uphold your words and actions for a world cleansed of nuclear arms. Of course you could have expressed remorse and so be released earlier. However you went all the way to the end, to the last day, so as not to ever become beholden to those wicked bastards. For this too I prostrate myself at your feet.

I am not sure how in touch you are with the latest changes in the environment from which you had been ripped away so cruelly for almost a whole generation. Alas, I have no good news for you. The state is continuing to dig in behind fences and walls, leaving the Palestinians behind increasingly dispossessed, oppressed, starved and very despairing. Day by day the Jewish State increasingly resembles an insane nuclear fortress. In Dimona they must have surely doubled or tripled the quantity of nuclei since you left, and the reactor itself, according to experts, is but slowly crumbling away, leaking into the water and air of the Negev inhabitants, with the worst still ahead of us. Poverty and unemployment have also tripled in Dimona and other townships, suburbs and villages and with them the despair. And the saddest of all is that ever since your bold act not a single further person has come out from within the nuclear establishment, nor another voice ever been raised in echo.

I am sure you have also heard about your abductor, Shimon Peres, he who had inaugurated the “crack-bar” in Dimona. He received the Nobel Peace prize, and was celebrated recently by a whole community of global dignitaries on his eightieth birthday, among them many writers, poets, false intellectuals and cowards. Yes, and he is still Chairman of the Labour party, and will soon join the Likud coalition government. No news under the sun and the wicked continue to rejoice, just as yesteryear.

A ray of hope though. Many youth in this country and across the world are awakening to the waves of violence, and rise against nuclear arms and against the occupation. Over one thousand draft resistors have opposed the occupation, and more youth are joining the struggle against the wall and the brutal annexation of Palestinian territories. You, Mordechai, stand high as a beacon for many youngsters in Israel and the world, so many of who were just born when you went to prison.

Lastly, I know that many activists here and abroad that support you and call for disarming the Israeli nuclear arsenal are preparing festivities, celebrations and conferences upon your release. In the midst of all the excitement I wish to ask everyone to await your wishes and to respect them. The cardinal issue now is your freedom, which no one has the right to risk. We know that the bastards are capable of anything, and are just waiting for the first excuse that might come their way. You made your great offering once, and there must not be another. Through your great sacrifice you gave us a model, you gave us a hero and granted us a symbol. We must not ask you for more, but wish you a private life as full and free as is possible.

With love and best wishes for freedom,



Sami Shalom Chetrit is a teacher, poet, scholar of society and culture in Israel, and an activist for peace and justice. He edits the Mizrahi Portal, Kedma, where this article was published on published in Hebrew on 18 Apr. 2004. Chetrit's recent books include The Mizrahi Struggle in Israel: 1948 - 2003 (Am Oved), and Poems in Ashdodian (Andalus).