Tuesday, May 24th | 23 Iyyar 5782

October 10, 2013 2:38 pm

BBC Uses Vanunu Affair to Embarrass Israel and Bolster Iran

avatar by Josephine Bacon


Israel's Dimona nuclear plant. Photo: Arutz Sheva.

Some time in the late 1980s, in the days when computer users were so few and far between that they formed clubs, I innocently joined the Macintosh User Group club in London.

What I didn’t know, but what I subsequently learned, was that all of the movers and shakers in the Mordecai Vanunu saga (which exposed the truth about Israel’s nuclear program) – John Knight, the Australian Anglican vicar who harbored him, and Peter Hounam, the Sunday Times journalist who broke the story – were also members of the club.

I didn’t say much about being an Israeli, but I didn’t hide it either, and they probably assumed that I was an Israeli spy! The funny part is that I knew very little about the affair at the time, even though my uncle was a lecturer at Ben-Gurion University in the Negev, where Vanunu had studied, and knew Vanunu.

On October 4 of this year, the BBC World Service interviewed Peter Hounam about the Vanunu affair. I listened with apprehension, having a horrible suspicion as to why they were dragging it up now. I wrote to the World Service, and, as you can see, my suspicions were justified. Here are the contents of my letter:

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“I do not know the purpose of the interview with Peter Hounam except perhaps to remind the world that Israel has nuclear weapons. Hounam did not point out that Vanunu converted to Christianity (perhaps he has unconverted now) but said that his conviction for treason could have meant the death penalty, an outright lie. Vanunu is not the first traitor Israel has had, and won’t be the last, that is the way of the world.”

“Hounam says he first met Vanunu in Sidney, Australia, but does not explain what either of them were doing there. There was no mention of John Knight, the Australian vicar who befriended Vanunu, delivered him to Hounam and converted him to Christianity. What was Vanunu’s real motive? Nothing to do with ‘Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.’ Vanunu is a pathetic little shrimp of a man who had failed all his exams and whoever hired him for a job in Dimona must have been insane – or bribed by someone, and he, the hirer, is the real villain of the piece.”

To my surprise, I received a reply, as follows (I have corrected the spelling mistakes!):

“Dear Ms Bacon,

Thank you for your email.

I’ve forwarded your message to the editors of ‘Witness’, the programme in which the interview you refer to was broadcast, for their consideration. The programme is broadcast as follows: The stories of our times told by the people who were there. In other words the programme interviewed Mr Hounam because Mordechai Vanunu’s revelations, and the events surrounding them, are a part of contemporary history – and that’s the remit of the programme. Another reason the topic was explored is that people are talking about Iran’s (and Israel’s) nuclear capabilities at the moment and these events seems to resonate with the present debate.

Finally, this weekend we shall be further discussing the impact of Vanunu’s revelations in geopolitical terms with our Diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus. This will be broadcast on Saturday in ‘History Hour’ – on the World Service at 1306 BS and then again at 2206 BST.

I hope the above allays any concerns you may have and thank you for taking the time to write.

Best regards,

Dejan Calovski – Audience Relations – BBC World Service”

As you can see, the BBC is determined to show that Israel and Iran are tarred with the same nuclear brush.

It is also clear from my meetings with those involved at the Macintosh User Group that there had been a concerted plot to “turn” Vanunu, who was obviously an easy target, and lure him away from Israel to Australia. Vanunu was released from prison on several conditions, which he constantly breaks, but the Israeli authorities turn a blind eye. The damage is already done.

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