Remembering Bill Christison
Anti-War Movement Loses A Wonderful Activist and
Advocate For Peace and For Palestine
Donna J Volatile
I first met Bill and Kathy Christison, several years ago, at a dinner hosted by a dear friend and political activist, who brought a group of us together: Christians, Palestinians, Israeli and American Jewish activists and others.
When I found out that Bill and Kathy were retired CIA analysts, my radar went way up and I told myself there was no way I was going to trust these people… How could I possibly trust them? They had been career people with ‘the agency’!
Thankfully, it did not take long for me to see how very wrong headed I was and from the moment I realized they were on ‘our side’, I also came to recognize what better assets could there possibly be, for the anti-war movement and to advocate for the Palestinian cause, than two people who knew and understood the inner workings of US Foreign Policy, having been on the inside of that establishment.
It’s almost impossible to speak about Bill without mentioning Kathy because they were a team and that is how we have known them on just about every level.
Separately and together, Bill and Kathy wrote a multitude of articles, they have appeared on numerous radio and television programs, traveled extensively to promote peace and the Palestinian cause and to expose the absolute failure of US Foreign Policy, most especially in the Middle East. Kathy has written two books and (Perceptions of Palestine and The Wound of Dispossession) she and Bill wrote one book together, Palestine in Pieces: Graphic Perspectives on The Israeli Occupation. They have traveled many times to Palestine and Israel to speak and to help to rebuild Israeli bulldozed Palestinian homes. They walked their talk and they have been mentors to many people, including myself. Their combined efforts have helped to bridge the gap between Israelis and Palestinians, contributed to promoting dialog and action and they never stopped, not until Bill was struck down with a rapidly advancing neurological disorder…
On June 18, 2010, a memorial service was held for Bill and it was standing room only. Writer and activist, Joe Mowrey, who headed the service, offered his wonderful impressions of Bill and woven throughout, were marvelous tributes from Bill’s grown children, friends and acquaintances, both here and abroad, as people poured forth with vivid descriptions of how Bill had impacted their personal and political lives, their words speak volumes about Bill and also about Kathy:
-Bill has been a secret model for me for many years, and to have him go like this hits me very hard.-
-To be selfish about it, I wanted more time with Bill. There was so much to learn from him. And he was so much fun and clever, about intellectual things, about people, and his fascination with gadgets.-
-If a life is summed up by a person’s actions and character, then Bill has been a superb human being. His contributions to Peace and Social Justice will always be remembered by those who knew him. I can think of no greater gift to humanity.-
-I’ve always marveled at your collective energies. A lesser man would have slowed long before.-
-Whenever we think of Palestine, and all our international friends and supporters, we think of Bill and Kathy. We think of all the positions and ideas we reviewed together; we think of all the kindness and genuine feelings they expressed towards our Palestinian people. We keep reiterating how much they committed the rest of their lives to struggle against injustice. We celebrate their unending commitment to just causes. We just wish that many Palestinians would reach this level of commitment. We feel very sad to lose Bill.-
-What an immeasurable loss to our community of people working to help Palestinians achieve a justice-based peace. Bill always reminded us to have a sense of urgency about our work and to keep our eyes on the prize and not get sidetracked with bureaucratic matters. Bill, may you rest in peace—you deserve it.-
-Bill has been the bedrock of factual, compassionate, in-depth historical and legal reportage and analysis of the world’s surely most crucial issue—a cross of iron! Now, to learn that Bill is so ill—we are desolate! So precious is he, so good to and for all, so astute and effective for just peace, the only peace.
-I first met Bill and Kathy at the Santa Fe Ski Basin almost 27 years ago. Since that time I have never met any other couple so unselfishly dedicated, not only to each other, but also to a common goal. Now that Bill’s life has ended, he leaves behind a wife who will continue to work to see their common dream come true. Hopefully, if and when the goal of Palestinians for a separate independent state in the Middle East is realized, the names of Bill and Kathy will be honored in perpetuity as persons contributing toward that end. May his children, during this time of remembrance, take comfort in knowing that their father, unlike others more needing of fame and fortune, devoted his life to a cause in which he believed. It was a life well-lived.-
-I’m sure I speak for MANY Palestinians who will miss Bill’s contribution to our struggle for justice, freedom and true peace. Our real consolation is that we are confident you shall carry on with a mission that you both committed yourselves to.-
-He will be sorely missed, and will always have a distinguished spot in the annals of Palestine.-
-He was a wonderful person, and his passing leaves a giant, Bill-shaped hole in the world, and in our hearts.-
-Bill was a truth teller long before many of us understood the truth. He was a patient teacher who taught me and others so much, and I feel honored to have known him. We will continue the struggle for justice and land for Palestinians in his honor.-
-Just one of Bill’s many exceptional qualities I will remember was his always irrepressible good humor, even when delivering a deservedly tough critique of a wrongheaded US policy or someone promoting the policy. Bill taught and influenced a great many people. He will be very fondly remembered.-
-I felt a real bonding with you two as you took on the serious business of working for peace in the Middle East. Your articles, while not yet carrying the day, are finally making inroads into the American consciousness. This has not been done without sacrifice, I suspect. Friends take offense and criticize and sometimes disappear. Even close associates. This is painful. Yet you and Bill persevered and probably looked back on your CIA days as mere preparation for your life’s work. What a legacy! What a life!-
-Bill has been an inspiration to so many of us. Profoundly knowledgeable, intelligent, and principled, he produced work for peace and justice that history, I believe, will show helped make this a better country and the world a better, safer, and less violent place. Even though I only met him a few times, I’ll miss him so much. It was good to know he was there. It made our movement stronger—and will continue to do so as his memory and accomplishments remain. I am glad he reached peace at the end. His work, I believe, will help the world eventually reach this.-
-Kathy, live the rest of your life with his great memories. Both of you together have recorded enough history to last 80 more years. What a mission you both have chosen to live your golden years together. I know that the mission will continue, with Bill’s spirit and determination, we will make the difference which will make him rest peacefully.-
-Bill Christison was a member of a select, rare group of people devoted unreservedly and totally to honesty, fair play, and the pursuit of justice for all mankind. He was more than a great American citizen, he was a giant citizen of the world.-
-I only knew Bill by his convictions. By those he was a giant.-
These heartfelt comments sum up what we all know about Bill (and Kathy) and their contributions to Peace and Social Justice, and we all know that Kathy will carry on, in her own way, because just as Bill remained committed until his untimely passing, Kathy remains steadfast and there is much left to do.
We will all carry on and we will always remember how Bill touched and shaped our political and personal lives.
We will continue to fight for what is right, through Global Peaceful Resistance, we will actively work to lift the illegal siege against Gaza and work for the liberation of Palestine and we will work constructively toward a fair and just Peace in the Middle East.
And I know Bill will be watching, from his vantage point, in the Universe, from the point of infinite consciousness and all that he contributed toward that end…
We thank you Bill.
-In my humble opinion, non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good.-
For Bill Christson’s obituary in our local Santa Fe paper
From David Ray Griffin
From Alexander Cockburn on Counter Punch