Obituary: Eric Levy: 29 February 1928 – 20 July 2022

IssueAugust - September 2022
Comment by Emma Sangster

Eric was a passionate campaigner for peace, justice and human rights who was active until the last weeks of his life.

Born in Syria and partly educated in Canada, Eric was a teacher by profession. He often got into trouble for his encouragement of political thinking in the classroom and was fired on more than one occasion.

PN news editor David Polden first met Eric in the 1970s when they were both supply teachers in a primary school in Hackney. Eric was always a hard-line communist and against the US government. David remembers that Eric’s strong North American accent gave added authority to his political views but that he was always willing to discuss them affably.

Being Jewish, Eric was particularly appalled by oppression suffered by the Palestinians. He visited Palestine on many occasions to help with the olive harvest. He also spent time in Africa and, for many years, was part of the 24/7 anti-apartheid vigil outside the South African embassy in London.

In 2003, Eric travelled to Iraq to act as a ‘human shield’ to protect public infrastructure in Iraq from bombing by the US-led coalition forces. During the first wave of bombardment, Eric was at the Dura oil refinery in southern Baghdad.

His solidarity with Iraqis continued with many years of regular support of Brian Haw at the peace camp in Parliament Square, which is where Maria Gallestegui first met him: ‘Eric was humble and never expected thanks or praise, typically responding to an offer of an umbrella, coffee or hat by saying that someone else needed it more. He was super-reliable and could outmatch any person or passerby who challenged the validity of the camp. I fondly remember how honourable and fair-minded he was, learning from experience by travelling and talking to people in their homelands.’

Eric was as active as ever in his 90s, and fearless as he was arrested at anti-nuclear, climate and arms trade protests.

His last campaigning was for freedom for Julian Assange where his life-long dedication to a better world won him many friends. At the Assange vigil outside Belmarsh prison on 23 July, just after his death, Eric was affectionately remembered in speeches for his long and dedicated support for the campaign.

Eric is survived by his daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter in Canada.

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