Submitted to It’s Going Down
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This past Sunday, friends, family and comrades of Michael Israel gathered in Sacramento to mourn his loss and share stories about his life. There were many tears, but also laughs as we shared our past experiences with Mike. After that we sang some songs together including Solidarity Forever, Joe Hill, and the Internationale. We concluded by lighting candles and marching down a central street, singing off and on. This was met positively by onlookers, several of whom expressed their condolences. We ended the march at a local bar and continued our reminiscing over drinks.
We’re also raising money to support his family, every little bit helps.
Michael Israel was someone it was easy to get along with. In his 27 years on earth, he touched many hearts. He was often called “a man of few words.” What this fails to convey is his committed style of listening and dialogue. He taught through learning, and was rarely one to scold or interrupt. He was genuinely interested in others, and that alone won him many friends.
He was not one to simply argue or express his opinion for it’s own sake. He showed his convictions through commitment and action rather than idle talk. He sought out labor leaders and dedicated himself to helping with strikes. He was an early participant in Occupy Sacramento and the modern incarnation of the Sacramento IWW. Before leaving for Rojava, he worked at SEIU, but quit in frustration. He went because he dreamed of seeing a living social revolution, and he did. He fought against fascism in Syria and in Sacramento, but did not fetishize armed struggle. He did not flinch at the need to defend against oppressors, but knew that true freedom can only come through mutual understanding and respect, which bullets cannot bring.
His commander in the YPG said of him, “He was one of the rare people who really came here to work. You could count people like that on the fingers of one hand.”
Some of the last things he expressed to those closest to him was his wish for people internationally to rally behind the Rojava Revolution, in both supporting it concretely as he did, and learning and applying it’s lessons in our own communities.
We’ll always miss you Mike.
You live on in all of us.