Petros Giotis was on our first trip to Gaza in August, 2008. Below is his tribute to our fallen activist.
Newspaper: KONTRA (weekly) Column: Deep Red Writer: Petros Giotis Published: July 22, 2017, issue 925
On the 12th of July died a great soul, after she struggled with cancer for two years, a freedom fighter, a devoted friend of the Palestinian people, Darlene Wallach.
I first met her on June 2008, when we prepared in Eretria “Agios Nikolaos”, the first of the two ships we used to break the blockade of Gaza. The thin, gaunt woman, wearing loose working clothes all the time, worked incessantly. Not only in installing the electronics, she had knowledge about, but also in every aspect needed. Always smiling and taciturn, stubborn though when expressing her opinion.
Soon I found out, after talking with her, that this American-Jew, coming from San Jose California, had already suffered a deportation by the Zionist regime, on 2002 I think. She was not an adherent of “non – violent action”. She strongly supported the armed struggle of the Palestinians and she equated the Zionists and the Nazis. She also supported the movements for the liberation of Mumia Abu – Jamal and Leonard Peltier. I remember really well when our ship approached Chania and we saw the gulf of Souda and the military base of Americans and the NATO. She asked what was there and after I explained her, she turned to me and asked me with tension: “Why don’t you blow it?”. Behind her thick myopic glasses, you could clearly see in her eyes that she hated the American imperialism.
In Gaza, she felt like home. Despite her knowing only a little Arabic, she was constantly talking with Palestinians, especially women and children. And when the mission reached Rafah and organized an event to honor Rachel Corey, it was Darlene that showed her fighting modesty, shouting that it was a shame to organize an event only for the American activist, differentiating her from the hundreds of Palestinian women that were murdered by the Zionists.
When we started returning home, Darlene, her twin sister Donna and other comrades of the mission stayed in Gaza, in order to work there. On November 2008 she was arrested on a Palestinian fishing boat, during yet another operation of the Zionist Navy. Waiting for her deportation while being imprisoned, she went on a hunger strike, demanding that the fishing boats that were stolen by the Zionists to be returned to the Palestinian fishermen.
After her deportation, she returned with Donna in the USA and they continued doing what they always did: they traveled around North California and organized speeches supporting the Palestinian struggle, organized demonstrations, they participated in boycotting events, they were part of the movements for the liberation of Mumia and Peltier, they were writing articles, tireless, always fighting and devoted body and soul in the fight for freedom. Until cancer won her and we wouldn’t receive more of Darlene’s fighting messages. Regarding her fight for life, we were informed by Dona.
This gentle, fighting person will always live in the hearts of those that were lucky enough to meet her. P.G.