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'Living In A Grave'

By Mordechai Vanunu

21 April , 2004
The Guardian


July 1996

Dear Susannah York
I want to thank you very very much for your long letter with many details from your vacation in Paxos. It is very kind from you to spend time thinking [about] and writing to me. The first time I felt that someone "speaking" to me, devoting himself to making my life here bearable or forgettable for a few hours. You took me on a very short vacation behind these walls.

I am the last one who could live in prison. Because I loved the freedom to feel the environment. So it was very difficult for me in the first year. I felt in part of my mind, I cannot live like this. But human being is an "animal" who can learn to live and survive.

My first year here reminded me [of] tigers in a zoo, walking and walking in a room 3x2m. And now after nine and a half years I am part of this cell. Part of my brain learned to live in this very small space. I called it "living in a grave".

I need to raise myself above all this suffering. I don't want to continue on this subject, on my suffering, on their cruel behaviour toward me. I have everything in my mind and I overcome it.

I don't know what will be interesting to read, to hear from me. And don't bother yourself with those who are reading my letters. I learned to live with this no private life.

If you will write more I'll write you more. Take care. And have a good life and stay young until I'll come to London to meet you.

Yours sincerely,
Vanunu Mordechai

· Oct 1996

I forget what does it mean to be free. To have the freedom to choose. There are many simple things that I have forgotten and lost in this very barbaric, brutal, cruel and concrete life. How am I going to be free? This is my main concern. I am in prison but I am like a hostage, since they kidnapped me. I should be more strong and believe, as I [did] in the first year. To go on and not bow to corrupt power. That is my way.

Thank you for all your work. And I want to tell you that I don't know how to thank you. So I am sending you All My Love. And include two poems.

Yours sincerely,
Vanunu Mordechai

· Jan 9 1997

I have now a video and I received a videocassette with the event in the 10th anniversary of the campaign [in London]. First I want to thank you very much. But I know very well that there is a lot of frustration to end each time such a meeting and to go home without getting any tangible result. To work and hope and nothing is moving. Exactly like my life here for the last 10 years. Time is moving and I am yet in the same small room cell.

Examples of what they are doing. They recruited all the warders here. And they can use them for their own mission any time they want. Saying sentences near my window. Disturbing my sleep at any hour they want. Making me angry by any possible [means]. They can delay to bring my food or to let me go outside. Or keep my mail for long time. They control everything.

Other important things are the radio and TV. Those instruments are very helpful for a man in solitary to "run away" from this small cell. They know very well how much it is important, and their task is to disturb any programme.

The other subject is what I am calling "blackmail" ... they try to blame me [for] all kinds of crimes, from murdering to drugs, from money to sex. They take a very small event [from my history] and they give it another interpretation, as they want. Here in prison, repeating that blame 24 hours every day, that for a man in solitary becomes Huge... [But] only I know what I did in my history and what I thought when I did some very small wrong acts.

So these are part of my psychological torture. Sufferings that I am not writing about because not many can understand. Part of it is that I myself lose my trust in all my supporters, to become paranoid. Now I want to thank you very much for all your devotion of time, efforts, to bring my freedom.

With my LOVE.

Yours sincerely,
Vanunu Mordechai

· April 12 1998

Thank you very much for your last letter from Feb 1998. So now as you may heard they ended my solitary after 11 and a half years. But yet not absolutely free to meet and speak with everyone. At least now I am free to move freely, and meet some people. I can have fresh air. Now I can meet my brothers like a human being, not see them through a grille of iron. This period of solitary ended and new era in my life began. The most hard and difficult journey in my life, I passed. From now on until my release it is the matter of time.

Yours sincerely,
Vanunu Mordechai

· May 1 1998

Last Sunday April 19 they published an "interview" in the Sunday Times, [made up of] all those views that I [have been] saying to my brothers. And here in the prison they were in shock. So they punished my brother Asher [by forbidding him from] visiting me for a half year. I decided if he will not be allowed to visit me, no one will visit me.

Until now I have not received from you any video cassettes of movies or plays. Instead they send by the Sunday Times [some] Shakespeare plays from the 1960s in black and white. Not very interesting.

Hope to see you and meet this year. Lots of love.

Yours sincerely,
Vanunu Mordechai

· June 9 1998

They denied my release after two-thirds of my sentence. They said I am not any more in solitary, but yet I am not allowed to meet you and others. And yet I must keep on my spirit, be optimistic. No matter what they are doing I should keep on my struggle each day until my release. Thanks.

Yours sincerely,
Vanunu Mordechai

October 1 1999

Thank you very much for your card from Paxos with the view of Paxi Lakka.

So today I complete 13 years in captivity since being kidnapped. Now I have lost 13 years of my best period of life. This lament is to bury 13 years that had passed - died - and now I can take another breath to begin another year .

I hope you are very well, continue to work and produce. Hope to meet you soon. As my hope is always to be free and leave this "Ashkelon Concentration Camp" and leave Israel [for the] US and London.

With respect, affection and love.

Merry Christmas. Happy New Year 2000.

Yours sincerely,
Mordechai Vanunu

· November 16 2000

I enjoyed to read your letter Aug 12 about Edinburgh Festival. At least it is good news to read how much you are busy working, performing.

You wrote about your 90-year-old father - great and wonderful. I wish I'll live many years to compensate for the lost years here.

Here they will have an election for a new PM, but I'm not expecting much even if the next PM will be from the right[wing] parties. They will not make more severe my life conditions or release. It could be even good surprise by the right[wing] Sharon.

Sending you my support, strength and LOVE.

Yours sincerely,
Mordechai Vanunu

· September 25 2001

Now with all the [latest] turmoil in all the world with that terrorism attack on NY and Washington ... By this new terror the ME [Middle East] has been raised to become a threat to all world peace. This barbaric attack will wake up all the world to deal with it seriously. They brought the Gulf war to end mass destruction in Iraq. Now they [have] brought a "terrorism war" to end all kind of terror.

So I am here watching, following news but not free yet. [It is as if] I am living on another planet watching the earth news, it looks a crazy world.

Well, I hope to hear good news. Here, no changes. I saw another movie with you playing with Roger Moore - good acting. Interesting.

Many thanks. Much love.

Yours sincerely,
Mordechai Vanunu

· October 23 2001

Here, no changes. That is the only news in my letters now. The life continues to go on.

Good to read that you are coming to Israel in November and will perform in Israel. Yes, good to try to meet me. Maybe a miracle will happen and we'll meet.

Yours sincerely,
Mordechai Vanunu

· May 25 2002

The board meeting took place and make a decision not to release me before my sentence ended. So I'll be here until April 2004. That is the bad news now. But we'll overcome the last move. As I survived here for 16 years, I can survive another 1.5 years.

I am in the same cell. The same conditions. No changes. Continue to read and write, watch TV or videos and other tapes ... The news in Israel, as you know, is on all the war against Palestinians with many killing and destruction so no one here interested in this case.

Be strong even if it didn't help to bring my early release. We'll win when I'll be free. Thanks.

Yours sincerely, Love,
Mordechai Vanunu

· April 22 2003

When you will get this letter it will be less and less months and days to my release.

You began your letter by [urging me] not to say anything that will jeopardise my leaving as fast as possible this Israeli state. Well, I don't know what you have in mind but I am strong enough, experienced enough, that I will not give Israel spies any chance to play with me again. I don't think they will kidnap me again so don't worry. Anyway, I am not a politician nor head of any movement to give statement declaring war. After they steal 17 and a half years from my life I can not receive it back by words.

Next you wrote about travelling to LA and NY, about plays and Baz Luhrmann. I have received Moulin Rouge. Very, very disappointed. Huge wasting of work. Good actress. Kidman. Total zero. "Bullshit". Sorry for this word but it makes me really angry [that] such a movie [should be] nominated for Oscars...

Now the war [is] almost over. I didn't watch it on TV, don't know what really happen, but it seems not a big war. The big issue is what will happen after the war... We'll see and judge, the history will judge this event.

As I wrote in the past, my plans [are] to live in the US. I hope to meet good people and ... my future partner. What I'll do, what kind of work, I don't know - maybe try to write some book. The other activity I want is travelling around the world to many, many places and meeting people. One thing is very clear. I'll be a free man and human being. That is a huge, big change.

Wait for my release, only a few months.

Much love

Yours sincerely,
Mordechai Vanunu

· July 4 2003

Great and wonderful to hear from you again. Letter Jan 22. With three photos. You look very good and still young with energy. Interesting how you chose this hairstyle.

Here it's very hot warm and I have become very tan, and still more hot months until November, then [the] last winter in this very long, dark age. The end of my long test, my last test.

I am interesting to find a permanent place [after my release], a life partner to start my life. [Thank you] for all your good love heart that you show me.

Yours sincerely,
Mordechai Vanunu

· February 5 2004

Well I am after 17 and a half years walking in isolation soon will be surrendered by many friends. April 21 will come and go very fast. I can imagine I'll come to all my friends who are there outside the prison; I'll shake hands. Hugs, kisses, the media will video. I'll say a few words. My first free speech. Will be careful not to say something that will cause problems. The opposite, will use this event for some good words that will help peace.

You are great and wonderful to keep all the[se] years optimistic and willing to support my case.

I'll be glad to know you.

Many thanks.

Much love, big kiss waiting for you, Love

Yours sincerely,
Mordechai Vanunu

'Here is a hero for our times'

I became involved in the Mordechai Vanunu campaign about 12 years ago when I read his poem I Am Your Spy at a benefit for him in London which came about because of my involvement in the peace movement. The poem explained how he was just a cog in a vast machine.

We started corresponding - I am one of very many people around the world who has been writing to and receiving letters from Mordechai over the years.

People ask me what I feel about him. I like him, I like this man. You feel that here is a hero for our times. Inside this interesting grown-up man there is also a child that believes in faith and hope and charity.

I gradually became part of the campaign and then eventually a trustee and this is my third visit to Israel on Mordechai Vanunu business. This is obviously the most important and the most joyful of the visits.

I am going to be back in Bristol on Friday doing a concert for Mordechai and for Shakespeare's birth and it is good to welcome him back to the world. · SY