Israel's petty vendetta only damages its own reputation

Peter Hounam’s imprisonment in Israel last week was not exactly unexpected. As the journalist who facilitated Mordechai Vanunu’s whistleblowing over Israel’s nuclear programme, he admits he has been waiting for something like it to happen since Vanunu’s imprisonment in 1986.

Such is the country’s fear of the former technician exposing further secrets, it has banned him from speaking to foreigners. Which meant that Hounam was not allowed to be directly involved either with the interview that the Sunday Times ran on Sunday, or with the BBC’s This World special aired the same day.

Now, following the programme’s transmission, Israeli officials are muttering darkly about ‘re-evaluating its relationship with the BBC,’ – which it describes as ‘a communications entity which shows complete disregard for journalistic standards and ethics.’ And that sounds bit rich from the people who happily would have kept Hounam locked up in filthy solitary confinement without access to a lawyer for four days.

Hounam’s single-minded determination to help bring Vanunu’s story to light, despite the considerable risks he faced, does him great credit.

But the disgraceful way he has been treated subsequently does Israel none whatsoever.

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