To the Hon. Yoel Tzur,
Deputy to President of The Magistrates Court in Jerusalem
6 Heshin St.
On Monday, July 2nd, 2007, you sentenced whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu to six months in prison, non-commutable, after finding him guilty of violating an administrative injunction issued by the General Commanding Officer (GCO) of the Central Command prohibiting Vanunu from speaking with foreign journalists.
The State’s indictment was a spiteful and vindictive act. It was instigated by Israeli security services, using the judicial system as a means to continue the persecution of Mordechai Vanunu perpetrated by the Israeli government, after serving his 18 years sentence as a prisoner of conscience.
The Shin-Bet (General Security Services), Yehiel Horev – Chief of Security at the Defense Ministry, the police, and the State Attorney’s Office continue to harass Mordechai Vanunu by imposing restrictions that impinge on his rights to freedom of speech and movement. They cannot forgive him that after 18 years in prison, 11.5 of them in solitary confinement, he refuses to repent his democratic act (the public’s right to know) of revealing to the Sunday Times in 1986 that Israel has a nuclear arsenal, and for remaining dedicated to the struggle against nuclear weapons.
The real criminals, Mr Tzur, are those who produce nuclear weapons without our permission, putting our lives and our neighbours’ lives in danger, and polluting the planet. Not the person who alerts us to these dangers.
I attended all the sessions of the trial and was impressed by the calm and relaxed atmosphere you maintained. At the end of one session I even said to Mr Vanunu’s lawyers, Avigdor Feldman and Michael Sfard, that your pleasant judicial air gives hope that the incredible will happen, and Vanunu will be found innocent. But I knew that the chances of an Israeli judge not succumbing to the Shin-Bet, especially on the issue of Vanunu, is less likely than Rabbi Ovadiah Yossef renouncing religion.
You convicted Vanunu for speaking with foreigners. The indictment did not mention the content of these conversations. He was not charged with revealing secrets (incidentally a prohibition which I cannot accept – as a journalist I revealed classified information when I thought it was of public interest). He was charged and convicted for simply speaking in violation of the GCO’s injunction.
Assuming that you are a reasonably educated person, you should know what kind of corrupt, tyrannical and dark regimes allow generals to determine what civilians may or may not do. Your ruling, affirming the general’s decree, lends support to this kind of regime.
Although Israeli judges capitulating to the security services is an exasperating routine, I am always astonished by the capacity of judges to turn a blind eye and ignore basic principles of human rights, such as freedom of speech, and by the unbearable ease by which they will take away a person’s freedom.
It is not every day that a judge has the opportunity to rise above the routine and make history by issuing a ruling that could be a landmark in the chronicles of the struggle for civil rights.
Vanunu’s trial was your opportunity. Civil rights activists in Israel and around the world would have lionized you had you ruled that it is intolerable and insubmissible for an army general to restrict the freedom of a civilian and to determine with whom he may or may not speak. You could have issued an opinion that would have been a ray light in our democracy, combining wisdom, reason, and good judgment had you ruled that the Emergency Laws in Israel, which allow the military to restrict human rights, violate Israel’s Declaration of Independence and all the international treaties ratified by Israel. As such, the Emergency Laws are clearly illegal, and therefore Vanunu is completely innocent, and no one has the right to infringe on his personal sovereignty to converse with Israelis, tourists, journalists or cobblers.
Too bad that you did not rise to the occasion! Your verdict is yet another smelly fart in a string of stinky and disgraceful rulings, in which judges acted as the government’s loyal dog. You can only console yourself with knowing that you are not alone in the kingdom of yea-saying fools, and that the District and Supreme Court judges have been no better than you on the issue of Vanunu. You are all in the same stinking swamp.
When you and your friends fade into the black hole of history, Mordechai Vanunu will remain the bright light who contributed greatly to the regional and world struggle against weapons of mass destruction. It is for good reason that he has received several important peace prizes, and is a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. If there is any light your dark ruling – an unintended consequence – it is that it may hasten him getting the Nobel Peace Prize.
Dorit Beinish, President of the Supreme Court
Meni Mazuz, Attorney General
Daniel Friedmann, Minister of Justice
Dan Eldad, Prosecuter