A letter from Vittorio’s mother
One has to die to become a hero, to hit the headlines and to have TV crews around the house, but does one have to die to stay human? I recall Vittorio in the Christmas of 2005, detained and incarcerated in the Ben Gurion Airport, the scars left by the handcuffs that cut his wrists, the denial of any contact with the consulate, the farcical process. And I recall Easter that same year, when just across the Allenby Bridge at the Jordanian border the Israeli police blocked his entrance in the country, put him on a bus and, seven against one (one of the seven was a policewoman), they beat him up “with skill”, without leaving any external marks, like the real professionals they are, then hurling him to the ground and throwing at his face, as a last scar to add to the others, the hair they had ripped off him with their machines.
Vittorio was unwanted in Israel. Too subversive, for having joined his friend Gabriele one year earlier and demonstrated along with the women and men of the village of Budrus against the Wall of Shame, teaching them the lyrics and singing together our most beautiful partisan song ‘O bella ciao, ciao…’. (see below)
Back then no TV crew came by, not even when in the Fall of 2008 a commando attacked in Palestinian waters off Rafah the fishing boat he had boarded. Vittorio was incarcerated in Ramle and soon after sent back home with nothing but the clothes on his body. Nevertheless, I cannot but be thankful to the press and television that have approached us with composure, that have ‘besieged’ our home with restraint, without excesses and that have given me the chance to talk about Vittorio and about his ideals and the choices he made.
This lost child of mine is more alive than ever before, like the grain that has fallen to the ground and died to bring forth a plentiful harvest. I see it and hear it already in the words of his friends, above all the younger among them, some closer, some from afar. Through Vittorio, they have known and understood, and now even more, how one can give ‘Utopia’ a meaning, like the thirst for justice and peace, how fraternity and solidarity still stand and how, as Vittorio used to say, ‘Palestine can also be found at your doorsteps’. We were a long way from Vittorio, but now we are closer than ever, with his living presence magnified at every passing hour, like a wind from Gaza, from his beloved Mediterranean, blowing fierily to deliver the message of his hope and of his love for those without a voice, for the weak and the oppressed, passing the baton.
Stay human. – Restiamo umani.
The above is a translation of the letter written by egidia beretta arrigoni, mother of vittorio arrigoni, translated by Sebastiao Nascimento