I do things with words, mainly English and Arabic
Today I learned some sad news; of the death of Hanna Braun. Hanna was an amazing woman and a wonderful example of the principled stance some members of the Jewish community have taken against the State of Israel’s attempts to appropriate their identity and legacy for its own political ends.
Born in Berlin, Hanna was taken to Israel by her parents in the 1930s to escape Nazi Germany (one of her grandmothers eventually died in the Terezin – Theresienstadt – death camp). She became a member of the Haganah, the Israeli armed forces who overran Palestine in 1948 and established the State of Israel. Disillusioned by Israel, Hanna came to the UK in 1958 and her political journey took her, by the 1980s, to active Palestine solidarity work.
I had the privilege of working alongside Hanna when we both joined the Christmas 2001 ISM call for internationals to come to the West Bank, then a year into the Second Intifada. I remember her as a dainty woman, always immaculately dressed and wearing neat little boots and perfect lipstick even when the rest of us seemed to have managed to get covered in mud and clay from digging out roadblocks. Then in her mid-70s, she always did an fantastic job of diverting Israeli soldiers when they tried to harass Palestinian villagers and their ISM supporters; the soldiers never seemed to know quite what to do with this tidy little woman who could well have been their grandmother and who told them Yiddish jokes about Polish people and herring. She had, I seem to remember, a wickedly dry sense of humour.
Hanna’s death comes close on the heels of the publication of her autobiography, Weeds Don’t Perish: Memoirs of a Defiant Old Woman, by Garnet Publishing.