© Jenny Morgan
pro-Vanunu demonstrator with gag
Waiting for Mordechai
by Susannah Tarbush
The tense and drama-filled days surrounding the release of Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu from prison last April are the focus of “Waiting for Mordechai”, the latest film by London-based filmmaker Jenny Morgan.
Morgan filmed, directed and produced “Waiting for Mordechai”, which follows a group of international campaigners who arrived in Israel a few days before Vanunu’s release from Ashkelon prison on 21 April. She brings humanity, integrity and the eye of an artist to her 30-minute film.
The campaigners fought during Vanunu’s 18 years in prison (11 ½ of them in solitary confinement) for his release, and for a nuclear-free Middle East. In London, they held a weekly vigil outside the Israeli Embassy from 1992, and organised various fund-raising events.
“Waiting for Mordechai” had its first screening at London International Film School in Covent Garden in early February, and was shown on 21 March at a meeting in the House of Lords organised by the Campaign to Free Vanunu. It will be screened in West London on 12 April at a meeting organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
The campaigners were harassed by security personnel when they landed in Israel. Among 11 people delayed at the airport were British actress Susannah York and Liberal Democrat MP Colin Breed.
On the day of Vanunu’s release, the campaigners joined the crowd outside the prison. Many in the crowd were extremely hostile to Vanunu. Some hoped he would be killed, and posters of him were set alight.
Vanunu’s release was not the end of his ordeal. The film records Vanunu’s brother, Meir, learning shortly before his release that he was to be subject to tough restrictions, including bans on leaving Israel and speaking to the media.
Now Vanunu is facing trial, accused of violating some of the restrictions. The first court hearing will be held on 6 April.
An international delegation is travelling to Israel on 16 April to mark the first anniversary of Vanunu’s release, and to support him over his trial. The coordinator of the British Campaign, Ernest Rodker, told Saudi Gazette that the delegation will try to go to Dimona nuclear reactor where Vanunu worked, and where he secretly took photographs. “It is very difficult to get permission, but we hope to get to Dimona if we can,” he said.
The final scenes of the film (shot by Adeline O’Keeffe) show Vanunu after his release in the guest house at St George’s Anglican cathedral in Jerusalem where he has lived ever since (he had converted to Christianity before his arrest). He was recently elected rector of Glasgow University, Scotland.
At the end of the film Vanunu says:. “The Israel government continue to pursue me, don’t want to let me go free after 18 years. I don’t have any more secrets, so the Israeli government should realise this case is over, dead – they should let me go.”
The film is available on DVD and video, and clips can be downloaded, from the London-based distributor Journeyman Pictures at: http://www.journeyman.tv/
5 April 2005