Biggest-ever anti-nuke protest at Dimona

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(June 9, 2000) Almost 200 people marked Women's International Day for Disarmament and Peace on May 26 at a protest demonstration near Israel's major nuclear reactor in Dimona. The mass action call on Israel to dismantle its nuclear weapons and to open all its nuclear facilities to independent local and international inspection.

(531.5184) Rayna Moss - The demonstration was the largest anti-nuclear protest ever to take place in Israel, as well as the most diverse in composition. The Dimona demonstration and rally were organized by a coalition of women's, green and human rights organizations and movements, including Green Action, the Movement of Democratic Women in Israel, the Israeli Committee for Mordechai Vanunu and for a Middle East Free of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Weapons, and others. In 1986, Mordechai Vanunu, a former Dimona employee, passed on details of Israel's nuclear weapons program to the British weekly Sunday Times. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison after being kidnapped by the Israeli secret service Mossad.

The participants heard speeches by Knesset member Issam Makhoul (Hadash; Israeli Communist Party), who in February of this year initiated the first-ever parliamentary debate on Israel's nuclear policy; Nuri al-Ukbi, founder of the Association for the Defense of Bedouin Rights, who spoke on behalf of the Bedouin residents in the Dimona area; Rela Mazali, whose New Profile organization challenges the militarization of Israeli society; Dr. Perla Perez of Physicians Against Nuclear War (a Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization); US anti-nuclear activist Felice Cohen-Joppa, editor of the Nuclear Resister newsletter; author Yael Lotan; and nuclear physicist Daniel Rohrlich of the Israeli Committee for Mordechai Vanunu and others.

While nearly all speakers called for the immediate release of imprisoned nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu--and were enthusiastically applauded--the crowd was visibly moved by the personal statement of Mary Eoloff, Vanunu's adoptive mother. "We had a wonderful visit with Mordechai yesterday," she told the protesters, "and he asked me to tell you this: Nuclear weapons will lead to a second holocaust. The Dimona reactor is a second Auschwitz. The State has no right to kill civilians, but that is exactly what these weapons are for--killing civilians." Eoloff likened Vanunu's disclosure of Israel's nuclear secrets to a person breaking into a burning house to save the people inside. "For this, he was silenced and imprisoned," she said. She added that he appreciated all efforts that are being made for his release and all protests against nuclear weapons, and urged his Israelis to continue and expand their anti-nuclear struggle.

A poem by prominent Israeli author Orly Kastel-Bloom, "Whistles", which ridicules government statements that Israel's nuclear facilities are absolutely safe, was read. The poem was dedicated to the memory of Yafka Gavish and Inbal Perlson, two Israeli anti-nuclear activists who for years had protested at Dimona. The rally ended with a short performance by a band from the Hebrew Israelite Community in Dimona. The band dedicated its song to Mordechai Vanunu.

The safety of the Dimona reactor was criticized in February 2000 by a former employee, Professor Uzi Even, who worked as a scientist at the reactor. According to him, the 36-year-old reactor structure had been damaged as result of the radiation.

Source and contact: Israeli Committee for Mordechai Vanunu and for a Middle East Free of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Weapons, P.O. Box 7323, Jerusalem 91072, Israel Fax: +972-2-6254530
Write to Vanunu: Mordechai Vanunu, Hashikma Prison, Ashkelon, Israel