What the Shin Bet and Israeli Court Cannot Gag
by Eileen Fleming
“The Shin Bet, you know, like the FBI and the Mossad, is like your CIA,”-Mordechai Vanunu explained to me in June 2005 during my first of seven trips to east Jerusalem. That was back when I was only an American citizen writing a book based on the memories of a 1948 refugee from the Galilee, a Palestinian Muslim who became an American citizen. Three weeks after that first trip to Israel Palestine, I became a citizen journalist because somebody had to report what the media was ignoring.
On March 27, 2010, the U.S. based, “Global News Service of the Jewish people” the JTA, Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that Anat Kam, a 23 year old journalist has been held under secret house arrest by Israel since last December based on allegations that during her military service she leaked classified documents suggesting the Israeli Forces violated laws dealing with targeted killings.
Kam was arrested in December 2009 and charged under Israel’s espionage and treason laws while she was working as a reporter for the Israeli site Walla, which had been partially owned by Haaretz until the week prior. The charges stem from when Kam served in the Israeli army, and it is alleged she photocopied sensitive documents.
“Bloggers speculated that the documents she allegedly photocopied served as the basis for a November 2008 article Haaretz story suggesting alleged army violations. Kam has denied the charges and her arrest has been under a gag order in Israel.
“The military censor, which prevents publication of information that could harm Israel’s national security, approved the Haaretz story for publication. By contrast, Israeli courts have gagged not only the details of Kam’s arrest, but news of the arrest itself.” 
On April 1, 2010, The New York Times followed up with the JTA/Jewish Telegraphic Agency, because the JTA, “is not subject to the gag order…According to people familiar with the case, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the gag order, Kam is accused of copying classified documents while she was a soldier and leaking them to the Haaretz daily. The newspaper published a story that accused the military of defying an Israeli Supreme Court ruling against killing wanted Palestinian militants who could have been captured alive. A November 2008 Haaretz story suggested the military had unilaterally loosened its rules of engagement and marked militants for assassination…
“Despite the gag order, Israeli media appear to be well-acquainted with the case. Yediot Ahronot, another Israeli daily, hinted toward the brewing saga for the first time Thursday with a story headlined ‘What does the Shin Bet not want you to know?’ and directing readers to the JTA’s article on the Internet. The Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, declined to comment…
“Israeli courts are typically wary of allowing publication of material deemed sensitive to national security. While the mainstream media formally comply with the rulings, they often get around restrictions by citing foreign reports, and material often finds its way to the blogosphere.
“The secrecy surrounding Kam’s detention is reminiscent of the arrest of Mordechai Vanunu [who] was kidnapped by Israeli intelligence agents in Rome and taken back to Israel to stand trial behind closed doors…Some details of the Vanunu affair are still under wraps domestically.” 
Haaretz’s has filed a request to lift the gag order and court is scheduled for April 12, 2010 to hear the plea regarding the Kam affair.
Vanunu was released from 18 years in a tomb sized windowless cell on April 21, 2004 and as of this writing he is still waiting for the right to leave the state.
A total of 1,200 pages of transcript of Vanunu’s 1986 closed door trial have been released.
Defense witness and the Sunday Times journalist who broke Vanunu’s news in 1986, that Israel was a major nuclear power, Peter Hounam, said, “It is clear that, as far as Vanunu’s accusers are concerned, the trial is not only about whether this decision to reveal the secrets of Israel’s atom bomb amounted to treason and espionage, it is also about whether his decision to become a Christian was at the root of his alleged treachery”.
Within minutes of emerging from his 18 years in jail-most all in solitary-Vanunu announced, “I am not harming Israel. I am not interested in Israel. I want to tell you something very important. I suffered here 18 years because I am a Christian, because I was baptised into Christianity. If I was a Jew I wouldn’t have all this suffering here in isolation for 18 years. Only because I was a Christian man.”
In a 2003, BBC documentary Peter Hounam noted, “Vanunu told the world that Israel had developed between one hundred and two hundred atomic bombs and had gone on to develop neutron bombs and thermonuclear weapons. Enough to destroy the entire Middle East and nobody has done anything about it since.”
On January 25, 2006, after nearly two years of speaking with hundreds, perhaps thousands of foreigners since his release from prison, Vanunu was convicted by the Jerusalem Magistrates Court of 15 violations of a military order that had prohibited him from talking to non-Israelis.
Vanunu was also charged with attempting to “leave the state” while taking a cab from Jerusalem to Bethlehem to attend Christmas Eve mass at the Church of the Nativity in 2004. He has no passport or visa and was only carrying a Santa hat.
The original indictment included 22 different violations; Vanunu was charged with 19 and acquitted of four. He was acquitted of speaking to foreign nationals on the internet and via video and voice chats.
On July 2, 2007, Israel sentenced Vanunu to six more months in jail for speaking to foreign media in 2004.
On September 23, 2008, the Jerusalem District Court reduced Vanunu’s sentence to three months, “In light of (Vanunu’s) ailing health and the absence of claims that his actions put the country’s security in jeopardy.”
On June 14, 2009, while I was in east Jerusalem, Vanunu and he told me, “The Central Commander of the General Army testified in court that it is OK if I speak in public as long as I do not talk about nuclear weapons.”
On July 6, 2009, Israeli Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish continued to deny Vanunu the right to leave the state claiming that, “case is still generating great interest, like any other security-related case. The media’s attention he gets is proof of that.”
I phoned Vanunu after reading that bad news and he said, “You have freedom of speech and freedom of movement. Do what you want. But I am not publishing anything. Everything is already on the Internet.”
The very next day, July 7, 2009, my Facebook account was deactivated while I was posting my video interviews with Vanunu and posing the question, “Have you eyes to see and ears to hear Vanunu on video in 2005, 2006, 2008?’
Facebook never replied to my multiple email inquiries asking “why was I deactivated/deleted/censored while posting to a Cause and Group I created and was the only Administrator of?”
On December 14, 2009 Vanunu returned to the Israeli Supreme Court and I phoned him and learned he expected their decision regarding the three month sentence “in a few weeks” and he was confident he will be freed as “they have no case against me.”
On December 21, 2009, Uzi Eilam, a former head of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission stated Vanunu “served the regime because his revelations helped Tel Aviv intimidate others…I’ve always believed he should be let go. I don’t think he has significant knowledge to reveal (about Dimona) now.” 
On December 29, 2009, Israel arrested Vanunu again. His attorney Avigdor Feldman said, “Vanunu was arrested (for) a relationship between a man and a woman, with a Norwegian citizen, He is not being accused of giving any secrets.”
Vanunu was placed under house arrest for three days and it will be six years on April 21, 2010 that Vanunu has waited for the right to leave the state and begin a life.
Israel’s statehood was contingent upon upholding the UN UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
Vanunu has waited twenty-four years for the media to follow up on his 1985 photos of the Dimona and 1986 testimony regarding Israel’s development of up to two hundred atomic bombs and the fact that Israel was already in process of developing neutron bombs and thermonuclear weapons.
Much more than enough to destroy the entire world and nobody has done anything about it since.
Founder of WeAreWideAwake.org
A Feature Correspondent for Arabisto.com
Author of “Keep Hope Alive” and “Memoirs of a Nice Irish American ‘Girl’s’ Life in Occupied Territory”
Producer “30 Minutes with Vanunu” and “13 Minutes with Vanunu”