Vale Pat Zinn 1929–2020

Pat Zinn. Photo: Amanda Armstrong

Pat Zinn was a longstanding member of Jews against the Occupation. Born in South Africa in 1928, she saw clearly the parallels between Israel, Australia and apartheid South Africa.

She engaged fully in our group Jews Against the Occupation and in the Women’s Reconciliation Network. She was also a longtime member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

Pat was such a beautiful soul; quiet with unassuming wisdom and integrity but staunch in her support for a just peace in Palestine/Israel and for justice for Indigenous Australians.

Her political commitment was driven by a deep sense of compassion and concern for her fellow human beings. One of the members of our group said: “I always thought she was an angel who walked among us on Earth and wrapped everyone with love”.

Another reflected: “One time our conversation turned to things spiritual. Pat expressed her deep certainty, arrived at through decades of spiritual searching and investigation, that death would be ‘going home’. She spoke about her good fortune in having lived a wonderful life and worked with so many amazing people. In our last conversation, she gave me some advice that revealed not only her own steadfast humanity but a very clear understanding of me. Pat was a truly empathetic, perceptive, and courageous person.”

Usually, Pat held her counsel and, if she had something to add, she would offer it with total humility. We so appreciated her quiet wisdom and integrity. She was always there with us, at our group meetings and at public rallies. She taught us that political action was not only about mass public demonstrations, essential as they are.

Pat’s great strength was listening to and respecting individuals. Public political actions need to be built on commitment by many individuals. They need to be nourished by quiet attention and respect for them and their diverse points of view.

Always supportive, never pushing herself forward, she was a quiet but incredibly strong supporter for world peace, justice in Palestine and for Indigenous Australians.

Pat phoned me a few weeks before her death to let me know she had terminal cancer. She was facing the prospect of death with great peace of mind, born of her spiritual outlook. She was suffering no pain, but she was feeling exhausted, mostly because she just could not eat. She wished only for an early release, and we are all grateful her wish was fulfilled.

We will so miss her strong nourishing presence.

[Vivienne Porzsolt is the spokesperson for Jews Against the Occupation, Sydney.]