Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Vanunu and Tennenbaum, Yes – Federman, No?

Vanunu and Tennenbaum, Yes – Federman, No?
March 3, 2004

In a few weeks atomic weapon’s spy Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli equivalent of the American Rosenberg couple, is due to be released from prison after serving an eighteen year sentence. Vanunu, it might be recalled, was convicted of publicizing Israel’s nuclear secrets, having been employed at the atomic power plant in Dimona. Vanunu’s statements and secretly-photographed pictures caused Israel irreparable security damage. Yet he will not be left in prison to rot for the rest of his life. Shortly he will be set free. This despite Vanunu’s overt threats to continue revealing State secrets.

During a high-level meeting concerning Vanunu a couple of weeks ago, a meeting which included Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, it was decided not to keep Vanunu in jail via an administrative detention order. According to media reports, Sharon himself made this decision.

We are told that Vanunu will have a ‘permanent shadow’ and at the first ‘slip of this tongue’ he will be immediately incarcerated. But, until then, the traitor will be a free man.

Another big-time criminal has also been making headlines: Elhanan Tennenbaum.  According to a Knesset subcommittee for security and defense, the Tennenbaum case is one of the most damaging affairs Israel has ever known. It is still unclear whether Tennenbaum’s escapades were strictly criminal, i.e., drug marketing, leading to his abduction by Hezbollah, or whether his original intent was to sell State secrets to our enemies. However, Tennenbaum, whose freedom from captivity cost Israel the release of dozens of terrorists, was offered, and signed, a plea-bargain deal, allowing him to escape further punishment. The only condition is that his initiated activities were not security- related.

It makes no difference whether or not Tennenbaum’s criminal offences were, or were not security-connected. The fact is that the State of Israel is willing to allow a first-class gangster to walk freely on the streets, despite the damage he inflicted on his people.

Conversely, one Israeli citizen has been rotting in an Israeli prison for almost six months, without having been indicted, without having been tried, and without having been convicted. He is the only Israeli in jail due to an administrative detention order, signed by Defense Minister Shaul Mufaz. He has been stripped of all legal due process. His wife and seven children remain virtually fatherless. His name is Noam Federman.

This is not the first time I’ve written about Hebron resident Noam Federman. At least twice before (Free Federman – Oct. 5, 2003 and Federman’s Twilight Zone – July 22, 2002) I have posted articles concerning Federman’s appalling case.

First, an update. Noam Federman was placed under house arrest in the summer of 2002, for ostensibly belonging to the “Bat Ayin” group, three of whom were convicted and jailed. The difference between Federman and the others was that Noam was not put on trial. He was told that his trial would commence only after the trials of the others were concluded. Six months ago, in the middle of an appeal to the Supreme Court, he was arrested while presenting his petition to the judges. The police appeared in the courtroom, handcuffed Federman, and led him away. He was placed in one of the highest security jails in Israel, in a solitary confinement cell, in the same wing with Arab criminals and others, such as Lebanese terrorists Mustepha Dirani and Shech Obeid (who were freed in return for Tennenbaum and the three murdered Israeli soldiers). He was denied kosher food, minimal conditions to allow normal prayer, etc.

Following a lengthy hunger strike lasting months, and due to a tremendous public outcry, which included MKs and others, Federman was moved to a jail in Ashkelon and promised better conditions. Presently, he is incarcerated in a wing with Israeli criminals who have no respect for religious Judaism, he cannot properly maintain Shabbat observances or eat normal hot food on that sacred day, and is allowed to see his family only 45 minutes a week, with a guard sitting next to them to record everything said. Other prisoners in the same jail are also allowed a three-day vacation at their home every month, which Noam is denied. In addition, on the first of every ‘new month’, other prisoners are allowed a three hour family visit. This too is forbidden to Federman.

In short, without having been charged with any crime, Federman’s conditions are abysmal, especially compared to others in the same prison.

In a few weeks, the six month detention order will expire. In order to keep Noam Federman in jail, another order must be issued. People in Israel and around the world, Jews and gentiles alike, are working to bring about Federman’s release from prison. There are several avenues open to public action:

1.      Tomorrow, (Thursday, March 4 – Ta’anit Esther) at 4:00 in the afternoon, a public demonstration will take place outside the Supreme Court building in Jerusalem. At the conclusion of the fast refreshments will be served. All people are urged to attend. Information concerning transportation is available at:
2.      An internet petition calling for Civil Rights for Noam Federman []  contains some 2,000 signatures. It will be presented to Defense Minister Shaul Mufaz in a couple of weeks, a short time before the detention order expires. Organizers have expressed a desire to see that petition reach 5,000 signatures. If you haven’t signed already, please do so, today. And pass the petition link to all your friends and family, requesting that they do the same.
3.      View the new movie about Noam Federman (in Hebrew) and watch the web for other activities. ( and
4.      Read Noam Federman’s pamphlet: Know Your Legal Rights ! A guide to protecting Jewish civil liberties in the land of Israel (It is suspected that Noam’s authoring of this booklet was one of the primary reasons for his arrest!)
5.      Bombard ministers with faxes, emails, and phone calls calling for full civil rights for Noam Federman and his release from administrative detention.
* Minister of Communications Ehud Olmert -
    fax 02-666.2909
* Prime Minister Ariel Sharon - 02-566.4838
* Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz - 03-697.6218
* Public Security Minister Tzachi HaNegbi - 02-530.8039
* Minister Meir Sheetrit 02-531.7697
* Education Minister Limor Livnat - 02-560.2246
* Justice Minister Tommy Lapid - 02-628.5438
Also call to PM (direct tel 02-670.5527) and the DM 03-697.5750

Demand that Federman be immediately freed from jail!

Ask them:  Why do Vanunu and Tennenbaum deserve legal consideration, while Noam Federman is denied even the most basic civil rights?

Try to understand why: Vanunu and Tennenbaum, Yes; and Noam Federman, NO.

With blessings for a Happy Purim from Hebron.

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