Thoughts on the Russell Tribunal, re: International Corporate Complicity
in the Destruction of the People of Palestine:

Nothing is Stronger Than a Circle Which is Why, as Black
Elk Teaches us, Everything Tries to Be Round

In many of my talks to young people, to women, to peace activists, etc., I
advocate that in these times of planetary disasters and instability people
everywhere should gather together in circles of friends, in each other¹s
homes, on a regular basis, to talk through the fears and challenges with
which we, as a world, are faced: more frightening events at this time than
at any period in human history. It is time to circle, I advise, with the
hope that eventually our diverse circles will engage each other, merge, and
organically transform the earth.

I think of the Russell Tribunal as one of these circles, perhaps the most
important, though its members may consider themselves strangers to each
other. That they are not strangers is evident by their appearance, as a
group, to take on the Tribunal¹s exacting and highly essential work: to cast
the light of conscience on the behaviors of powerful interests and
destructive players in the world community. This is a duty that calls out
to those who understand how important it is to end our common silence about
abuse and atrocities committed in our names, and who also realize that we
must be determined in our efforts to care for the maligned and traumatized
and oppressed of the earth. That this caring signifies our awareness of
membership in the same clan, the same family. The family of humankind of
which any oppressed person is the brother or sister, the mother or father,
the child or grandparent that is, at one point or another of our lives also
our own self.

It has been an honor to be invited to join the present session as part of a
jury hearing testimony on international corporate complicity in the
destruction of the Palestinian people, who, since I visited Gaza a year and
a half ago, have become part of the earth¹s peoples to whom I have felt duty
bound to show up for. What has happened to them has happened to countless
others. Including my own tribes: African, Native American, poor European
immigrant. It is because I recognize the brutality with which my own
multi-branched ancestors have been treated that I can identify the
despicable, lawless, cruel and sadistic behavior that has characterized
Israel¹s attempts to erase a people, the Palestinians, from their own land.
For isn¹t this what the US military was ordered to do to the ³Indians² of
America? Did not the British burn out communities of Scotts and
horrifically oppress the Irish? Did not wealthy and powerful Whites,
generally, for a time, rape, kill, capture, and/ or enslave Africans? And
are not some of their descendents, at this very moment, stealing and
confiscating African and Indian and poor white land, and harming people,
using many of their ancestors¹ ancient tools of brute force and deceit?

It grieves me that I am unable to be in this circle of brave and
compassionate people on this occasion because of a mundane yet tenacious
visitor: the flu. Which condition, as I recover, I can almost consider
absurd. Since college I have admired the pacifist Bertram Russell, the
founder of the Tribunal and also Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone De Beauvoir,
early members. James Baldwin, as well, a person of such laser like
intelligence and moral integrity, that it would have been a joy to sit in
his symbolic chair.

But the Tribunal will go on: because it is a living part of all of us. That
part that knows what is right. That part that really does not appreciate
wrong. That part that is not blind. Not deaf. The part that hears the
cries of others in distress because those cries echo our own internal
expressions of shame, horror, dejection and despair.

The Russell Tribunal is rare and precious and glorious, because it reminds
us to act for ourselves, to follow our own conscience. To join with our
fellow humans who are also awake. Or at least beginning to stretch and
yawn. It is a treasure that makes the world not only more safe, but
infinitely richer.

I bow to its belief in justice, fairness, international standards of decency
and law. The ability of humans to acknowledge and defend what is right and
to do the work of holding the light in a world that seems at times to be
sliding inexorably into the darkness. All that is ever needed to challenge
that darkness in one light. May each of us, following the Tribunal¹s
example, be that light, however small and flickering, wherever we find
ourselves.

November 19, 2010
Copyright © 2010 by Alice Walker

 

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