Message from Nurit Peled-Elhanan, Sakharov Prize 2001,
shared with Izzat Ghazzawi
to Mr Hans Gert Pöttering, President of the European Parliament;
Luisa Morgantini, Vice President of the European Parliament;
and the Sakharov Prize winners
on the occasion of the
20th Anniversary of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought
Dear Vice President,
Dear Sakharov Prize winners,
I apologize for not being able to attend such an important event.
These words are dedicated to the heroes of Gaza, the mothers and fathers and children, the teachers and doctors and nurses who are proving every day and every hour that no fortified wall can imprison the free spirit of humanity and no form of violence can subdue life.
The pogrom being carried out by the thugs of the Occupation army against the residents of the Gaza Strip is known to everyone and yet the world is impotent as always. I call upon all of us, who have won a privilege as well as duty by receiving the Sakharov prize, to arise and go to Gaza , the city of oppression and slaughter; to defy all blockades and high walls and not to give up until all barriers are broken.
When Jewish poet Bialik wrote after the Pogrom against the Jews in Kishiniev,
"Satan has not yet created Vengeance for the blood of a small child,"
It did not occur to him that the child would be a Palestinian child from
Gaza and his slaughterers would be Jewish soldiers. And when he wrote:
Let the blood pierce
through the abyss! Let the blood seep
down into the depths of darkness, and
eat away there, in the dark, and breach
all the rotting foundations of the earth.
He did not imagine that those foundations would be the foundations of the state of Israel. That the Jewish and Democratic State of Israel would demagogically use the expression "blood on his hands" to justify its refusal to release freedom fighters, children and peace leaders from the worst of prisons, while immersing all of us in the blood of innocent babes up to our necks, up to our nostrils, so that every breath we take sends red bubbles of blood into the air of the Holy Land.
But the siege of Gaza is only one of many sieges imposed today in the world by democratic powers as well as by non-democratic ones. All those sieges are meant for one purpose: to silence the voice of freedom and justice.
My co-laureate of the Sakharov Prize, the PAlestinian Prof. Izzat Gazzawi, who died of humiliation less than two years after receiving this prestigious award, wrote to me just before his heart surrendered, that he believed the Israeli soldiers who came to his house every night to break furniture and frighten the children wanted to silence his voice. I have vowed then as I believe we all should vow every day, to do everything within our power so that his and other such brave voices will not be silenced.
Today, when the most enlightened civilizations commit the most heinous crimes against innocent defenseless people out of greed, megalomania and pure racism we should listen once more to Bialik's cry from a hundred years ago:
"And I, my heart is dead, no longer is there prayer
on my lips;
All strength is gone, and
hope is no more.
How much longer,
And then follow the example of people like Hu Jia, today's laureate of the Sakharov prize who is held in prison for dedicating every moment of his life to end the miseries of the family of man.
With my best regards,
* The poems "City of Slaughter" and "On Slaughter" were written by the Jewish poet Haim Nahman Bialik in tribute to the victims of the Kishinev Pogrom in 1903, Russia - trans.