Tuesday, August 15, 2006

To Bear Witness

When I first met Kathy Kelly and later Cathy Breen, both from Voices in the Wilderness, and heard their stories, I thought what nice women – they must have an intense religious commitment that encourages them to walk with the Iraqis in their devastated and violent country. Little did I know or seriously think about what they dare to do.

Young children instinctively know that if no one sees them doing what they shouldn’t, they won’t get caught. Apparently many adults maintain this same logic. Often we read about businesses and government agencies firing or trying to discredit the whistle blower, the informer. A repetitive theme for movies and books involves silencing an eye witness. The press is seldom welcomed into a war zone; their cameras and pens bear witness to death and destruction. Even reports from survivors are treated more as emotional one-liners than competent statements of fact. People who bear witness can find themselves in a dangerous, and sometimes, fatal place.

Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall, the young American and British peace activists, were both murdered by the Israeli army in Gaza while acting as human shields against the demolition of homes and the killing of Palestinians. Others from many nations along with Israeli peace activists have been killed, injured, incarcerated, or deported because they dared to stand between the army or armed settlers, and Palestinian civilians. Others, many from Voices, have stood with Iraqis and witnessed the devastating effects of the 14 years of economic sanctions and continue to stand with them against the US military violence of occupation.

I have spent my life as a wife and mother which has kept me on the sidelines of decisive action. It is from the depths of my being that I feel a deep gratitude to all men and women who dare to bear witness.

ASH

Visit: http://palsolidarity.org and http://www.vitw.org
Google: Rachel Corrie, Tom Hurndall, Kathy Kelly, and Cathy Breen

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