Maybe you never got the chance to know tom fox. i just learned of his death — an announcement i have been dreading, but almost expecting, since the video released last week of the christian peacemaker hostages in iraq did not include him.
They say his body had signs of torture…..that he was shot in the head and chest…..the kidnappers, some ignorant group of iraqi hotheads that knew nothing about these men, but knew only that they had captured some westerners, held them since november 25th……they released a video in late january showing the four men scared and thin in a dark room…..then another video last week showing three of the four men, but not tom.
what would tom say?
he would blame the US occupation, he would blame the US government hotheads who have created a regime exactly mimicking the regime of saddam hussein that they claim to have hated so much.
a regime in which there is utter lawlessness, and fundamentalism is on the rise, where any westerner is seen as a target because so many innocent iraqis have been killed ….his kidnappers, tom would say, were blinded by the hate brought on by the US occupation of their land. they couldn’t see clearly through this hate, and they kidnapped and killed someone who could have helped them.
this is what happens, tom would tell us, when people do what they hate.
"Do not do what you hate.
Do not do what you hate.
Do not do what you hate."
Tom said this at the end of his first journal entry from Iraq.
I can imagine, as he was tortured and killed, that Tom was praying for his kidnappers, praying that they would come to an end of their hate.
He said it himself, in his journal, when he said, "Here in Iraq I struggle with that second form of aggression … how do you stand firm against a car-bomber or a kidnapper?
"It seems easier somehow to confront anger within my heart than it is to confront fear. But if Jesus and Gandhi are right then I am not to give in to either. I am to stand firm against the kidnapper as I am to stand firm against the soldier. Does that mean I walk into a raging battle to confront the soldiers? Does that mean I walk the streets of Baghdad with a sign saying ‘American for the Taking’ No to both counts. But if Jesus and Gandhi are right, then I am asked to risk my life and, if I lose it, to be as forgiving as they were when murdered by the forces of Satan. I struggle to stand firm but I’m willing to keep working at it."
I am not a Christian. But to me, Tom Fox epitomizes all that is good about christians — if jesus were alive today, i think he would be in iraq with tom fox. standing up to the forces of hate, the cycle of hate, standing with the power of non-violence and love, loving your enemy. that’s what jesus said and did, right? he never hated those who hated and tormented him, even as they killed him. he loved them and forgave them. ‘love your enemy’ — that’s what jesus said and did.
and that is what tom fox did.
when i met tom last year, we were both in palestine. two dc-area residents meeting for the first time across the world, in a war zone. we went to a protest in a village called jayyous, where the israeli annexation wall has separated farmers from their olive and orange groves, vegetable fields and greenhouses. we met up with a group of several hundred israelis, who themselves were risking arrest for even entering a palestinian area. for the apartheid of the state of israel is so complete that not only can palestinians not leave their prisons of the west bank and the gaza strip, but israelis cannot enter the palestinian areas either.
i remember when the tension was high, when an israeli soldier pushed tom back so he almost fell over a stone wall, and i grabbed him by the arm before he fell…..tom didn’t back away from the soldiers with their machine guns pointed at him and the rest of us, an unarmed group of people who were speaking out for justice in the face of extreme injustice. there, under the olive trees, next to the electrified fences of separation, fear and hatred, i saw tom fox start praying for the soldiers. his eyes were as full of love as theirs were full of fear and hate.
….it’s always hard to lose a friend…..you feel anger, frustration, pain, and you want to lash out at those who did this. but i know tom would ask us all to please PLEASE love our enemy. and do not do what we hate.
he would ask us to learn from his example, to follow his lead in loving and forgiving his enemies. and he would ask us to try our best, in every way we can (non-violently and with love, he would add), to get our government to leave iraq and all the other countries we are occupying militarily.
he would ask us to free ourselves of hate.
do we have the courage to do that?
do you have the courage?
read more about tom: