1. SPSC commentary on Vanunu vote at Glasgow city Council
2. Text of motion passed
3. Jewish Chronicle report
4. Jewish Telegraph report
On Thursday 21 February 2008 Glasgow City councillors voted to support campaigns for the release of Mordechai Vanunu from Israel. The Council voted by a very large majority and the Vanunu baton passed from Glasgow University to Scotland's biggest city council. It has adopted one of the world's great whistle-blowers, Mordechai Vanunu, the man who exposed Israel's vast arsenal of weapons of mass nuclear destruction.
According to the Jewish Chronicle, so-called "Scottish Jewish community leaders" had the temerity to criticise Glasgow City Council for even "allowing a debate", a sign of the Zionist hostility to free speech. Blind to the fairly obvious fact that Glasgow boasts a Mandela Square in the heart of the city centre, a spokesperson for the "Scottish Representative Council" criticised Glasgow City Council for debating "what another country has done", and Scottish Friends of Israel dealt SPSC a back-handed compliment by declaring that: "We believe the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign was behind this."
We indeed initiated the campaign which saw Vanunu elected by the students of Glasgow University three years ago, but our input to the Green Party motion was simply to motivate a few constituents to approach their Councillor to raise the issue. We are very grateful that Martha Wardrop did so, and succeeded. Glasgow City Council now joins the majority of Members of the Scottish Parliament and nine out of fourteen Scottish Government Ministers in declaring public support for Vanunu. We are proud to have played a role in each of these initiatives, and to be the only group to have played a role in all of them.
The Green Party motion was supported by many Liberal Democratic and Labour Councillors to produce the majority needed to support Vanunu. During the debate Labour Cllr. MacKechnie represented majority opinion when he dealt with the key issue involved, saying: "Weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East? Look no further than Israel." Lib Dem Cllr. Mason compared Israel's actions in arbitrarily detaining Vanunu to the police state regimes of North Korea, Burma and China. A sign of the times to come: there was not a whisper of support for Israel during the entire debate.
This issue will not go away, as much because of the need to rebut pro-Israel misinformation as anything else. In its parroting of Israeli Government claims, the Jewish Telegraph insists that Vanunu was put in 11 years of "extremely benign" solitary "for his own protection". An absurd claim in any terms, but especially given that Israel holds about 11,700 Palestinian political hostages, all of whom would have been delighted to share with Vanunu: his huge prison sentence makes him an honorary Palestinian. Vanunu could have been put almost anywhere among them and been safe, sharing only the risk of the systematic torture confirmed by Amnesty International as the lot of Palestinian detainees. His 11 years solitary was sadistic, as is his continued detention by Israel into its 22nd year.
We will continue, with increasing numbers of others, to campaign for a true hero who has been subjected to cruel and inhuman treatment in Israel's prison system (together with tens of thousands of heroic Palestinian prisoners). All this for revealing to the world the location of WMDs in the Middle East.
MOTION FOR COUNCIL MEETING THURSDAY 21 FEBRUARY 2008
(This motion is proposed by Greens and seconded by Labour)
Glasgow City Council notes the broad base of support from across the Scottish Political spectrum in support for Mordechai Vanunu. Glasgow City Council further notes that Mordechai Vanunu:
• Has made a huge contribution to the cause of removing nuclear weapons from the Middle East
• Has served as the elected rector of the University of Glasgow since 2005
• Was sentenced to 18 years in prison following his revelations about Israel's nuclear weapons programme
• Was held in solitary confinement for more than 11 years
• Remains subject to severe travel restrictions within Israel/Palestine
• Has been sentenced to a further six months in prison for 'speaking to foreigners', many of whom are Scots.
Glasgow City Council resolves to:
• Support ongoing campaigns for the release of Mordechai Vanunu from detention, thus enabling him to travel to Scotland
• Work closely with cross-party organisations campaigning for his release
• Recognise Mordechai Vanunu's role as Rector of the University of Glasgow, a role he has maintained despite the restrictions he had been placed under
Anger over council's move to back Vanunu
By Leon Symons, Glasgow (The Jewish Chronicle)
Scottish Jewish community leaders have criticised Glasgow City Council for allowing a debate on Israeli nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu.
Green Party Councillor Martha Wardrop was due to put forward a lengthy motion praising Vanunu, who was sentenced to 18 years in prison after revealing secrets of Israel's nuclear capability to the Sunday Times newspaper in 1986.
Vanunu completed his sentence but has since been sentenced to a further six months after breaking an order banning him from speaking to foreign journalists.
Cllr Wardrop's motion, on the agenda for a full council meeting due to be held yesterday [Thursday] afternoon, called on the council to support campaigns for Vanunu's release and support him in his role since 2005 as rector of Glasgow University, which is about to come to an end.
Scottish Representative Council president Philip Mendelsohn said: "It was unfortunate that a local authority thought that it was a relevant thing for them to debate what another country has done through its judicial process. It was totally inappropriate.
"There are plenty of other people in jail all over the world for similar offences, yet they don't make a big issue out of it. It happens only with Israel."
Stanley Grossman of the Scottish Friends of Israel has either written to or emailed every Glasgow City councillor.
"I have had about half a dozen replies from councillors who said they did not know the full story and that they were going to vote against it. I also had a couple of very nasty replies," said Mr Grossman.
"This was designed to put Mordechai Vanunu back in the public eye. We believe the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign was behind this."
However, Mick Napier, chair of SPSC, said its involvement had been "minimal. This is an initiative by the Green Party on the Council and has the support of the Labour majority group, so it will go through.
"The wording of the motion is far from that which we would have chosen. I would have chosen a more pro-active role to support the position adopted by students at Glasgow University. They have a tradition of supporting people who stand for human rights," added Mr Napier.
The JC sought comment from Cllr Wardrop but she did not respond to calls.
ONE-SIDED DEBATE SLAMS VANUNU TREATMENT
22/02/2008 Jewish Telegraph
GLASGOW City Council has voted in favour of a motion supporting Israeli scientist Mordechai Vanunu, convicted in 1988 of publishing state secrets on Israel's nuclear industry.
The motion, debated at a Council meeting yesterday (Thursday), was raised by Scottish Green Party councillor Martha Wardrop.
In a one-sided debate, she called for the Council to support ongoing campaigns for the release of Vanunu from detention, thus allowing him to travel to Scotland, where he is Rector of Glasgow University.
She further called for the Council to work closely with cross-party organisations campaigning for his release and to recognise his role as Rector.
Cllr Wardrop stated that she had been asked to raise the motion by several of her Hillhead constituents.
In seconding the motion, Labour councillor Jim Mackechnie said: "Mordechai Vanunu is being shamefully persecuted and prevented from taking up his position as Glasgow University Rector. If you want to find weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, you need look no further than Israel.
"Vanunu's human rights are being constantly violated, but he has remained steadfast and resilient. His supporters include the majority of the Scottish Cabinet, the immediate past Moderator of the Church of Scotland and Amnesty International."
Speaking in favour of the motion, Liberal Democrat councillor Dr Christopher Mason stated: "There is a terrible irony and cruelty about what Israel has done to Vanunu.
"The irony is that the Israelis took steps themselves to draw Her Majesty's Government's attention to the fact that they had nuclear weapons.
"After all, how can having nuclear weapons be a deterrent if people don't know you have them? The world was a very different world in 1972 and perhaps Israel felt threatened."
Dr Mason likened Israel's actions in not allowing Vanunu to speak to foreigners to that of countries such as North Korea, Burma and China.
He called upon the Council to write to the President of Israel and urge him to release Vanunu, as continuing to hold him further damaged Israel's reputation.
At no stage in the brief debate, did any of the councillors speak out in favour of Israel or present a more balanced case.
There was no mention of the fact that Vanunu was imprisoned for breaking Israel's Secrets Act rather than acting in the interests of peace.
The fact that he spent 11 years in solitary confinement was spoken about, without stating that it was done for his own protection and that his prison conditions were extremely benign.
Cllr Alex Glass raised an amendment proposing that no action be taken because that would allow everyone the chance to have their say on the motion.
Baillie Cathy McMaster, in seconding the amendment, contended that the wording of the motion would do nothing to enhance the course of peace.
After Cllr Wardrop's summary, in which she said that the motion sought to promote peace and understanding with Israel, the vote was taken and the motion carried, with 39 votes for, 23 against and four abstentions.
The Jewish Telegraph understands from a Labour Party source, that both the leader of the Labour group, Cllr Steven Purcell, who left another meeting to be present, and the Lord Provost, Cllr Robert Winter voted against the motion, along with 20 other Labour councillors and that although the Council is now committed to take action it is unlikely that it will be driven by the Council leaders.