Vanunu Version Two

Small world that it is, I happen to have gone out with Vanunu several times (in the most proper sense of the term).


Since his release from his Israeli prison, Vanunu has been holed up in St.George's Cathedral and guesthouse. This is not only the Anglican Church that has the school to which Edward Said went as a child, it's also in East Jerusalem, right next to the American Colony Hotel.


Israel, as is repeated often – because it is true – is a VERY small country. I have been to the American Colony Hotel several times (which is as splendid as conceivable), where Vanunu is frequently seen with foreigners (fans and foreign blond women – principally Nordic it appears – who want to have sex with him, and he with them).


I was also, one night, invited along to dinner with Vanunu by my buddy Ibrahim, the Palestinian shop keeper in the Old City of Jerusalem.


Ibrahim invited along two American Rabbinical students, who happened to be lesbian lovers. They were, in the American sense of the same-sex word, married to each other. I believe Ibrahim is not disinclined, as his contribution to the cause, to provide Vanunu with a stream of women (from those who turn up in his shop) who might make up for Vanunu's 18 years of celibacy behind Israeli prison walls. Somewhat notoriously, women are Vanunu’s weak spot. He was lured to Rome by a female Israeli spy from where he was taken back to Israel.


Ibrahim didn't know that the two rabbinical women were lesbians before we sat down to eat together. Both Ibrahim and Vanunu were shocked at their disclosure in the course of dinner conversation – in particular when the two women showed the two men the rings they’d exchanged in the marriage-like ceremony they had celebrated.


At one point, one of the Rabbinical students told Vanunu that the very fact that he converted to Christianity (his parents are Orthodox Jews) is an unequivocal sign that he is a self-hating Jew. She told Vanunu that she knows for certain that if he had only heard of Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism (the movement of which she and her partner are members), he would long ago have returned to the Jewish fold.


The two women were quite perturbed that Vanunu, at one point, took out a camera and took photographs of us all at dinner.


They were further distraught when I told them while I had heard that the best policy at Ben Gurion Airport is to be completely forthcoming and honest with airport security, they might anticipate that when they declared they had had dinner with Vanunu in East Jerusalem, they might be subjected to a particularly fine-grained security check.


I wasn’t.