I know I promised in my last email that 'short of
anything dramatic happening' it would be the last
email I would send you on my 'adventure' in Israel.
Well ... I think that there's been enough drama in
the aftermath of Morde's release to require of me one
final update. Sit back:
My own journey to Israel concluded on Monday afternoon with
a rather nasty time at the airport. Before being allowed to board
the plane I was subjected to nearly four hours of harassment.
I thought I had made it through. I got through all
the initial checks, through immigration, and through
the final security gate before someone walked up to me
and asked me for my passport. I was then told that
there was a problem and that I would have to return
to the initial security checkpoint and start all over again!
Everything I had brought with me, and everything I had
picked up in Israel, down to the tiniest scrap of
paper, was emptied out, placed in crates, and then
meticulously gone through. Items were torn, credit
cards were strewn about, my laptop was x-rayed and
re-x-rayed and re-x-rayed. Then a man got me to
remove my extraneous clothing and slowly explored
every part of my body with his hands grabbing me in
places where no man had ever grabbed me before (and thats
really saying something when you consider the number of wrestling
bouts Ive had)!
The security officer then told me that I was not
allowed to take any of my bags on the plane as
hand-luggage as they were all suspect, but that I
could carry individual items on in my arms if I so
desired. The suspect bags included not only my
Qantas frequent flyer carry-on bag, but also my
video bag, my camera case, my laptop case, and the
vinyl cover of my portable keyboard. I said that I
would like to take all of my carry-on luggage with me.
Eventually they agreed to give me a cardboard box,
and I packed most of my carry-on luggage into it.
I wish now that I had packed all of it in, though it
would have made the box even more difficult to lug
about. At any rate, I haven't seen any of my other
luggage or luggage-bags since.
I suppose someone at the airport finally decided that
the intimidation had gone on long enough and I was
escorted to the plane, carrying my cardboard box in
both arms. I assume that the whole incident was just
their way of saying dont come back. Ironically,
that was not a message that I really needed to have
reinforced. During my brief time in Israel I had
been pushed around, kicked, spat upon, shouted at,
threatened and now ... this. All I wanted to do was
to go home.
Before boarding the plane I found on my mobile phone
an SMSed farewell from my friend Ed the friendly
Herald journo. I called him and told him of my
experience of harrassment. Well, he said, at
it didnt last for 18 years.
This takes us back to Morde - still sitting there
inside the grounds of St George's Cathedral in
Morde is there at the good grace of Bishop Riah,
who comes across as a tremendous Christian leader
and who has been enormously supportive. How long
though the Bishop will be able to maintain this level of
support, and how long it will take before Morde starts
to get overtaken by frustration at not being able to
leave the Cathedral, is an open question at present.
Certainly the only safe long-term solution for Morde
is to have him leave the country, though there is
every reason to supsect that the authorities will
never want to have Morde residing in Europe or the
USA, from where he can easily jump onto the
international speaking circuit. If, on the other
hand, Australia, or perhaps New Zealand, were to offer Morde
citizenship, this might be all that is necessary to resolve the
Creating political momentum in this area will now
become the main focus of the Vanunu campaign
worldwide. The second main focus will be on raising
funds to cover the costs of Morde's basic living
expenses, as while he's locked inside St George's
Cathedral he has no way or earning an income, and
he has no savings. I'll let you know in the monthly
newsletter exactly what we plan to do to coordinate
our efforts in each of these areas.
Until then may God bless and strengthen you for the
work to which you have been called.
Yours in the Good Fight,
P.S. Before signing off completely I want to send a
huge thank you to four special people that I shared
my time in Israel with, and who kept me safe and
sane. The first is Phil Mudge - the other member
of the Australian Vanunu contingent who, despite
being a last minute ring-in, proved to be a wonderful
support in everything we undertook.
Then there was Ed the Irish Sydney Morning Herald
journalist from Jerusalem - what a great man this
Irish-Israeli-Sydney-sider turned out to be! Ed gave
me both support and a far deeper understanding of
Louie the ABC camera-man also proved to be a great
mate. He stood alongside me during the crush outside
Ashkelon prison, and I don't think I ever felt the
slightest concern for my safety when I had this burly
rugby-playing Turkish-Aussie by my side. Louie heads
off on assignment to Iraq next, and I know he would
appreciate our prayers.
And last, but by no means least, ABC Middle East
correspondent Jane Hutcheon, who is simply one of the most brilliant
women I have ever met. Thank you Jane.