Ten years ago my sister bled out on foreign soil. Her soul is now part of the land she tried to protect. The cause of her demise? The military of a nation our country holds as a close ally. To add to that insult, a judge in that country has just excused the army from any wrong doing.
For one long decade, my family has suffered and prayed for closure. My parents spent their life savings on attorneys and trips to the Middle East trying to exact justice for Anna, to prove that she did not die in vain or in the stupid accidental manner that the Israeli government professes. It was all they did every day for ten years and now it has ended in the most vapid and insensitive way that only widens the hole and makes it bleed more.
Anna was ever the idealist, quick to take up a cause and fight wherever she saw injustice. She was born with a short leg and a lazy eye. The weak and the poor were her kin and her mission. As a Girl Scout she worked in a soup kitchen and visited the elderly after school. During college she set up a literacy fund to help educate inner city kids and get them scholarships to college. She did this all with a smile and a humble heart. She never wanted any recognition or thanks. My father said she had no limits, and no matter what she did, the world would be better for it.
Through college, she often talked about joining the Peace Corps, but as graduation neared she believed she could do more if she became a human rights attorney. Before law school she decided to take two years to see the world and champion a cause—then she would know for sure. She contemplated the Sudan or Ethiopia, but ultimately settled on a part of the Gaza strip where the Israeli government was annexing land from the Palestinians.
Anna lived with a family on the edge of the disputed front. They were farmers. All she did for the first few months was to help out with the daily chores. She was part of the family. Pictures on her blog show a simple, happy existence. Then the Israeli Army came and gave them one week to move before the farm would be plowed under. Anna thought that being an American and knowing Israel’s strong ties to the U.S. nothing would happen to her if she blocked the path of the bulldozer. The operator of the bulldozer said he never saw Anna or the eighty-year-old grandfather and four-year-old boy he also ran over. Witnesses said they saw the machine balk and cough sand at those in its path before bearing forward, throttle full bore.
In a blog, a Zionist sympathizer said Anna put herself in unnecessary peril for terrorists and got what she deserved. Others called her a saint and a visionary, even a modern day Mother Teresa.
We filed appeals to our government and the Israelis. Our pleas turned into inquiries that went around and nowhere. Soon it seemed people forgot about Anna and our cause, so my parents sued the Israeli government for one dollar in a wrongful death case. All they wanted was justice. In the end, they didn’t even get an acknowledgement, nothing.
One dollar my sister would say couldn’t buy you a cup of coffee at Starbucks, but it could feed a village in Africa.