Glyn Secker, Captain of the Jewish Boat To Gaza, remembers Reuven Moskovitz who has died at 89.
Reuven was a proud member of our crew on the Irene, our JfJfP Jewish Boat To Gaza in 2010, when we challenged the Israeli siege. To join us at 82, whilst still taking a cocktail of medicines after having had a quadruple heart bypass operation, took some courage – but he was no stranger to challenges. Since his liberation in 1945 from a fascist controlled ghetto in Rumania, where he’d lost most of his family, he spent the rest of his life fighting injustice.
On our passage across to Gaza he related how, at the end of the war, he and comrades had set up a kibbutz on land carefully selected as not belonging to any Palestinians or Bedouin, only to be expelled later with his wife and 6 months old child when he objected to the kibbutz’s expansion by theft of Palestinian fields. Thus he went on to become one of the founding members of Neve Shalom ~ Wahat al-Salaam, the joint Palestinian and Jewish Peace Village still going strong today in the face of adversity.
During the long and tense night sailing towards what we knew would be a violent reception by the Israeli navy he entertained us with his wonderful harmonica. The story of how he came to play it was typical: like all Israeli adults he’d had to join the IDF, but he had refused active service and been put on curfew patrol. In 1967 he’d approached two village children who should have been indoors. Whilst talking to them the family invited him in for coffee. On leaving, one of the children ran after him with a parcel wrapped in newspaper. Opening it he found a harmonica. He protested that he didn’t know how to play it. The child made him promise to learn. That child inspired Reuven, whose music inspired us.
He was core to our morale. A wonderful person who dedicated the whole of his life to peace and justice. A rock of principle and kindness. I was in touch with him only last month. Terribly sad. It is very fitting that he will be buried at Neve Shalom ~ Wahat al-Salaam. I wonder if the Israeli authorities will ever allow me in to place a small stone on his grave. If they learn anything from Reuven’s life, they may.