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Another Fallen Friend and Martyr

The death of Tom Fox and a true test of solidarity
By Joe Carr

I first met Tom Fox in Chicago at a Christian Peacemaker Teams’ training and we became good friends through our work together. He was a father with children about my age, and was like an uncle to me.

He was my team’s coordinator during my month in Iraq. Shaggy, a young Iraqi friend and translator, nicknamed him “Uncle Tom” because of his paternal but playful manner. He provided a calm and steady presence, and an open and compassionate ear. His warmth and humor helped me to hang on through my depressing and fearful time in Iraq.

I remember the comforting sound of Tom’s recorder, which he played in place of his clarinet. I will miss the mornings when he led worship, often in the silent Quaker tradition.

Tom was truly committed to maintaining an international presence in Iraq despite the danger. He understood the privilege we have in being able to choose whether or not we face violence, a choice denied to Iraqis, Palestinians, and poor people of color around the world. His commitment to solidarity led him to Iraq, to share in some of that risk.

Dozens of Iraqi bodies show up in Baghdad each week. Many are killed by US-sponsored death squads, trained to use brutal counter-insurgency tactics against militants and civilians alike. In the chaos of occupied Iraq, thousands of Iraqis have been kidnapped for profit. But we only hear about it when it happens to internationals.

I was standing with 23-year-old American activist Rachel Corrie when an Israeli soldier intentionally drove over and crushed her to death with a US-made Caterpillar bulldozer. A month later, I was with 22-year-old British activist Tom Hurndall, helping to move Palestinian children out of the line of Israeli sniper fire when that sniper purposefully shot Tom in the head.

The three-year anniversary of Rachel’s murder is March 16, next Thursday, and activists around the world will host events to commemorate her life and sacrifice. But we will also commemorate the thousands of Palestinians who’ve given their lives to the struggle, over 3,500 since September, 2000.

Activists are also gearing up for demonstrations next weekend to mark the three-year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. As we mourn for Tom Fox, let us remember the 100,000-250,000 Iraqis murdered by US occupation forces, and the 15,000-17,000 Iraqi hostages, held without charge in US and Iraqi detention facilities.

The loss of my comrades hurts very much, and it scares me to be so close to our few western martyrs. But my pain and fear only deepens my sense of solidarity and determination to continue their legacy of struggle.

Iraqis, Palestinians, and oppressed people everywhere are fighting and dying for freedom, and it’s long passed time for Americans to join them.

Let us grieve for our loss, together with families everywhere who’s loved ones have fallen. Let us also continue the legacy of Tom Fox, Tom Hurndall, and Rachel Corrie, to build a global solidarity movement for peace, justice, and freedom.

Let us see to it they do not die in vain.