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Whistleblowers Recognized for Courage, Sacrifice
an article by Charlie

Yoko Ono made peace news recently by awarding the second annual LennonOno Peace Prize to two couragous whistle blowers. Mordechai Vanunu and Seymour Hersch each received grants of $50,000 for their contributions to promting peace through the free flow of accurate information. Hersch is an investigative reporter whose work uncovered the My Lai massacre during Vietnam. He has also reported extensively on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. But it is Vanunu's story that is truly remarkable.

An Isreali weapon scientist during the 1980's, Vanunu became increasingly disturbed at his own role in turning Israel into a nuclear power. In 1985 he left his job at a secret Israeli nuclear weapons facility, but not before thoroughly documenting the nuclear program that was rapidly advancing. After going public in Britian with his information and proving to the world that Israel had joined the ranks of nuclear powers, he was kidnapped by Israli agents and sent back to Israel where he was shortly convicted of treason. Vanunu spent the first 11 1/2 years of his sentence in solitary confinement, allowed contact only with his guards, a priest (he had converted to Christianity), and rarely, his siblings. In 1998, he was transferred to a regular prison, but served an additional 6 years before his release in April 2004.

Vanunu sacrificed 18 years of his life to advance the culture of peace. His courage brings to mind similar acts of non-violent resistance by great peace warriors such as Mahatma Ghandi and Nelson Mandela. Yoko Ono could not have chosen a more deserving recipient for her second award. To learn more about Mordechai Vananu, visit


Question(s) related to this article:

The courage of Mordecai Vanunu and other whistle-blowers, How can we emulate it in our lives?

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Latest reader comment:

Whistle-blowers may be considered as very important actors for a culture of peace.  As described on the CPNN page for values, attitudes and actions for a culture of peace, the culture of war is characterized by propaganda, secrecy, government control of media, militaristic language and censorship while the culture of peace is characterized by the free flow and sharing of information.  Whistle-blowers break the back of secrecy directly and dramatically.

Mordecai Vanunu's courage continues the tradition of Daniel Ellsberg, who made known the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War and Karen Silkwood, who exposed nuclear pollution in the United States.  Ellsberg was persecuted by President Nixon and Karen Silkwood was murdered, as described some years ago in a very fine film starring Meryl Streep.

As the amount of government secrecy continues to increase, we may expect that the number of whistle-blowers will also tend to increase in the years to come.

This report was posted on October 1, 2004.