Sunday, December 26, 2004

Carols with Mordecai Vanunu

In the morning of Christmas Eve I was with Arthur (‘Art’) Gish, a fellow member of the Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT), in At-Tuwani. As it was Friday, the Muslim sabbath, the village school was closed so our usual daily ‘school patrol’ was not needed. I left in time to join the Hebron team who were leaving for Bethlehem. Art characteristically chose to stay behind with the shepherds in At-Tuwani, believing that was the best place to celebrate the humble Birth in a manger. He wouldn’t be alone. Israeli volunteers from Ta’ayush had agreed to take our place in At-Tuwani over Christmas. The CPT team had been invited to Bethlehem by Jerry Levin’s wife Lucille (‘Sis’) who teaches nonviolence in Palestinian schools there. Together we attended the Carol Service in the Lutheran Christmas Church – the oldest Lutheran church in the Holy Land.

We knew that Mordecai Vanunu, the Israeli nuclear whistle-blower recently released from prison, had intended to challenge his confinement to Jerusalem by travelling south to Bethlehem to take part in a Christmas service. On Christmas Eve he was arrested en route. His car was searched, but all the Israeli Army found was a Father Christmas hat. (I know what you’re thinking, but no – not a red CPT hat). Later he was released, but on even more restrictive conditions.

We recalled that Mordecai had become a Christian 18 years ago only just before his arrest and imprisonment. He was now prevented from attending his first carol service. Those of you who know Jerry Levin’s warmth and resourcefulness will not be surprised it was he who suggested CPT should take the carols to Mordecai instead.

The attached photograph shows Cathie Uhler (a Franciscan sister with CPT), and an unmusical Quaker, singing carols with Mordecai Vanunu and the rest of the CPT team. I was comforted to find Mordecai almost equally unmusical. And so back to Hebron and news from Art Gish in high spirits having been feasted by Ta’ayush. It will soon be my turn to return to At-Tuwani, far from the internet. So forgive me for trying to cram as many messages as possible into the next few days.

Too late to wish you all a Merry Christmas. Peace and love for 2005.

Vanunu, Kathie and I Posted by Hello

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