TFT Meets... Jeremy Hardy
5 January 2004
A few months ago, TFT went to the screening of Jeremy Hardy and Leila Sansour's documentary, 'Jeremy Hardy vs The Israeli Army'. The film followed Jeremy as he travelled to Israel's West Bank to take part in anti-occupation protests alongside volunteers from the International Solidarity Movement.
It's a moving and at times shocking account of the incredible level of oppression and poverty suffered by the Palestinian people and one that everyone with an belief in the importance of basic human rights should see. However, perhaps unsurprisingly, no major broadcaster has agreed to show it.
Before Christmas, while our Features Editor was drinking coffee at Victoria Station, his mobile rang. It was Jeremy Hardy, with some answers. As luck would have it, he had plenty of questions.
Are you still planning to return to the West Bank?
I hope to go back, ideally when things have quietened down, if they do. I'd like to be able to move around, which depends on closures and curfews being lifted.
What do you expect to find when you get there? Has the situation worsened?
At the moment it's very dangerous for internationals. Activists are being targetted and media workers are being killed. For the locals, life has been shut down. Access to health, education and the basics of life are all restricted and the "separation wall" is stealing the most fertile land in the West Bank.
If you had the choice of putting one question to Ariel Sharon or the tank driver who shot at you, what would it be?
'Do we not bleed?'.
Israel ceases all hostility against Palestinians and commences evacuation of settlements in the occupied territories. All facilities to be preserved in order to offer housing to the Palestinians. Evacuation to be completed within three months with Israel withdrawing to pre-1967 borders. Elections held immediately in Palestine in order for a new Government to take over the West Bank. Elections held in Israel in an attempt to find a Prime Minister who isn't a war criminal.The new Palestinian state has complete sovereignty, control of borders, air space and Gaza coast. Refugees of 1948 and 1967 offered home inside Israel or compensation from Israeli Government. In the long term, historic Palestine should be reunited as a secular state with equal rights for Palestinians and Jews. That's probably enough to be going on with.
And what would be in your roadmap for peace?
At your screening you seemed frustrated that the mainstream media weren't reporting the Palestinian situation properly. How confident are you that Jeremy Hardy vs The Israeli Army will be shown by a major broadcaster?
I'm quietly confident that there isn't a chance in hell.
So what's the media's problem? Are journalists really - as you suggested - all just lazy drunks, or is there a cover-up?
They aren't all lazy drunks. Some are ignorant, stupid, cowardly or writing to a brief. Some try to get good stuff in but are censored. Editors see Israel as legitimate because it's an ally. Its abuses are seen as aberrations brought about by violence from Palestinians and the hostility of neighbours. Palestinians don't have a state so that makes them terrorists if they resist.
How did your opinion of the ISM [International Solidarity Movement] members change during your time in the West Bank?
I started out thinking they were mad and vainglorious. But I came to see them as brave, tolerant and very open to ideas. They represent the best of new politics.
What would you say to anyone considering flying out to support the ISM in the West Bank?
Be careful and make sure you do the training - ideally before you leave. There's no room for heroics. Also, listen to the Palestinians, don't explain their situation to them. But be prepared to argue if people say stuff you find objectionable.
Do you have a favourite SARS joke?
Shame. Mark Thomas recently mooted the idea of assassinating George W Bush. Your thoughts?
Good idea but I'm not sue Channel 4 will go for it. It would have to be a one-off.
Tell us amusing behind-the-scenes story from Radio 4.
Charlotte Green tells me that men have written to ask her to read the shipping forecast more slowly so they can finish.
Finally, have you ever been to Peru?
No. But I've blown into milk bottles to make the noise.
For more information on the International Solidarity Movement, visit www.palsolidarity.org.