Thursday, February 28, 2013

In memoriam Stéphane Hessel

(Earlier something seems to have gone wrong with uploading this video, my apologies for that) 

  "Stéphane Hessel, dead? It's hard to believe. He seemed to have become eternal, the French magazine Le Point wrote. But yes, Stéphane Hessel, former resistance fighter, diplomat and activist till the very last moment of his life, died this Wednesday. He was 95.
Hessel, born in 1917 in Berlin from a Jewish father (the writer Franz Hessel) and a protestant mother, moved with his family to France in the thirties.He became a resistance fighter and escaped from the Buchenwald concentration camp. Lateron he became a French diplomat and one of the authors of the Universal Declaration of Rights of Man.  
After a trip to the territories occupied by Israel in 1990, Hessel became a champion for Palestinian rights. With Elias Sanbar, poet and Palestinian ambassador to UNESCO, he wrote a book -   Le Rescapé et l'Exilé (The survivor and the exiled). He actively promoted BSD, he was particularly in favour of a boycot of products from the settlements. He also took part as a member of jury of the Russell Tribunal about Palestine, and last year October even presided over its fourth session in New York. Also he wrote, in 2010 the pamphlet (17 pages) Indignez-Vous!, which, although it was originally meant as a speech top commemorate the occupation of France by the Nazis, became immensely popular as a cry against injustice, the divide between arm and rich, the dominance by the financial markets and the injustice done to the Palestinians. The booklet - which in English got the title 'Time for Outrage' - was translated into over 30 languages and sold 4,5 million copies.
On the above video Hessel discusses the Palestinian question with Thomas Taubman. It gives a perfect impression of Hessel's calm and sympathetic way of reasoning. For that reason I chose this fragment, although it is in French.       

No comments: