Nuclear Whistle-blower Vanunu: State Is Punishing Me Because I'm of Moroccan Descent

In a Channel 2 interview, Vanunu calls on state to allow him to leave country, saying, 'If I was an Ashkenazi from the kibbutz I would have been treated right.'

Israel's nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu
Israel's nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu. BauBau

Israeli nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu called on authorities to lift the ban preventing him going abroad in a Channel 2 interview on Friday, accusing the state of vindictive treatment because he is of Moroccan descent. 

"If I was an Ashkenazi from the kibbutz, like Ehud Adiv (an Israeli who served 12 years in prison for treason), I would have been treated right," he told Channel 2. 

Vanunu, a former employee of the Negev Nuclear Research Center in Dimona, reportedly a site of nuclear weapons production, was convicted of treason and espionage in 1988 after divulging details of the plant to Britain's Sunday Times, which published the story to great fanfare. He was released in 2004, but has been barred from leaving the country and from talking to foreigners without state permission.

Vanunu appealed the restrictions seven times, but all the appeals have been rejected by the Supreme Court. In a 2014 ruling, the judges said that material presented to them showed that Vanunu "still has classified information and has not given up on his intention to disseminate this information."

In the Channel 2 interview, Vanunu said it was time the state allowed him to leave. "I married my Norwegian wife three months ago. She can't live here. I want to start my life, I'm done with all this. I said it a hundred times, I want to be let go live my life with my wife abroad." 

Vanunu accused the state and the Shin Bet of vindictiveness. "It's downright abuse by the Shin Bet and Mossad," he said. According to Vanunu , he wrote requests to the interior minister several times to rescind his citizenship. "I've no ties to Israel, I don't feel Israeli," he said. "Ehud Adiv was a spy who went to Syria and tried to make bombs. There were many spies, all of them (their cases) were closed. Only Vanunu is a special case." 

When asked if he believes his treatment is due to him being a Mizrahi Jew, Vanunu replied in the affirmative. "Vanunu Mordechai is from in Be'er Sheva's Dalet neighborhood (a marginalized neighborhood), Moroccan, from a large family, you can put him back in the box."

Last January, the state announced it was willing to allow Vanunu to talk with foreigners, as long as the conversations were not preplanned, lasted less than 30 minutes, and he never talked twice with the same person. Vanunu rejected the offer, responding through his lawyer that he will not "be part to the grotesque spectacle of incidental conversations with foreigners."