People We Love: Bert Sacks

A peace activist defies sanctions to save lives.
Bert Sacks

Peace activist Bert Sacks says “We live in a very violent country, and we don’t realize it so much.” Sacks, a retired engineer, will appear in federal court in September to appeal a $16,000 fine for violating U.S. economic sanctions when he delivered medicine to an Iraqi hospital in 1997.

For more than a decade, the sanctions caused shortages of clean water, medicine, and other necessities for Iraqis. UNICEF reports that the sanctions, combined with Gulf War bombing of infrastructure, caused the deaths of over 500,000 Iraqi children under the age of 5 from 1991 to 1998. Sacks argues that this mass killing was terrorism.

After 15 years as a humanitarian activist and witness to atrocities, Sacks believes unconditional benevolence—as practiced by Gandhi—is the only remedy to personal and global violence. Sacks does not expect to win his case, but says, “It’s not a sacrifice. I want to be happy—that’s why I’m doing this.”


  • Check out Bert's website,

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