ignored British martyr
by Ian Buckley
On the evening of the 13th January 2004 British student and
photographer Tom Hurndall finally died, months after being shot in the
head by an Israeli sniper. On the llth April last year Tom, who was
with the same peace group as Rachel Corrie, had noticed a soldier about
to open fire on Palestinian children in the town of Rafah. Tom Hurndall
put himself in the way, so sustaining wounds that left him in a coma.
The shooting of children is apparently quite a common event in the Gaza
Following Tom's death, his family and friends held a
dignified and silent vigil outside No. 10 Downing Street, though
unsurprisingly this gathering didn't stir the conscience of the
shameless person who dwells at that address. Tom's mother Emily was
shocked by the lack of political reaction to her son's injuries and
later death. As Rachel Corrie's parents also found out in America,
politicians were simply scared, almost petrified, of becoming involved
in such a case. To add insult to injury, the cheque the Israeli
Government made out to the Hurndalls for expenses involved in having
his body flown home bounced due to 'insufficient funds' in the account.
Actually, the cost of Tom's repatriation was £17,000 but the
Israelis offered only £8,730. All those billions from the US
taxpayer and still they can't find a few thousand pounds for Tom's
parents. Most strange!
But the lack of reaction was at least to be expected, for as
former BBC correspondent Tim Llewellyn has written:-
'It is no
secret that Blair is very close to Israel. His old crony and party
financier, Lord Levy, has been rewarded with the post of special
adviser on Middle East matters. Lord Levy is a peer who has close
contacts with Israel and a multi-million pound villa near Tel Aviv -
his son Daniel Levy worked in the office of Israel's former Justice
Minister, Yossi Beilin.'
The way Blair should have acted
I imagined how a 'real' British Prime Minister - as opposed
to a creep and lap-dog - would react to such an event. It would be
something like this:-
a long and emotionally charged speech outside Downing Street this
morning, the Prime Minister denounced the murder of Tom Hurndall who
died yesterday. He said that terrorist states must finally realise that
they can no longer gun down unarmed and peaceful British citizens.
to this statement, the Prime Minister ended his speech by giving notice
to the Government of lsrael that, if it didn't hand over the notorious
Ariel Sharon to the Hague War Crimes Tribunal within the week a state
of war would exist between Britain and Israel.'
But, to return to reality, we should, in the first place,
note that a high proportion of the Westerners who have been killed
(murdered) by Israeli soldiers were photographers or film-makers. Tom
himself, James Miller and Italian Raffaele Ciriello. To my mind, this
suggests that a definite policy might well be in place to silence
effective witnesses to the hell on earth the Occupied Territories have
become. Miller, who was shot dead just a month after Tom Hurndall had
been gunned down, was a documentary film-maker and the veteran of over
a dozen wars. He was regarded as a friendly and decent but tough
character, a member of a military family; but James too fell victim to
the bullets of the bizarrely titled Israel 'Defence Forces'.
It will also be recalled that the 'liberal' press - The
Guardian,The Observer, et al - just a
matter of weeks after the Jenin massacre, was full of chatter about
"casualty figures that are impossible to verify, atrocity stories that
are impossible to check." How much more convenient if there are no
neutral, unbiased witnesses around to check and verify!
For a while now, I have been a student of Jewish web forums
and the like. Some do seem to be innocuous - just the resort of people
interested in their own cultural background and history, and so
perfectly acceptable, as long as those concerned do not seek to deny
those rights to Gentiles.
On others, however - those animated by the spirit of Zionism
and Sharon's Likud - an extremely ugly vein of brutal triumphalism
prevails. Was Rachel Corrie really just a 'shiksa' with a 'nice rack'
who - unfortunately - was a complete 'dumb-dumb' for sitting in front
of a bulldozer? Such states of mind are almost inexplicable to us, and
But one explanation was given by respected author David
Hirst, an acknowledged expert on the Middle East:-
of idolatry or idol-worship, but especially Christian ones (for
traditionally Muslims, who are not considered to be idolaters, are held
in less contempt than Christians), would be "obliterated", in the words
of Shas party leader Rabbi Ovadia Yossef.
to conditions laid down by Maimonides, whose Halacha rulings are holy
writ to the fundamentalists, those Gentiles, or so-called "Sons of
Noah", permitted to remain in the Kingdom could only do so as "resident
aliens", obliged under law to accept the "inferiority" in perpetuity
which that status entails, to "suffer the humiliation of servitude",
and to be "kept down and not raise their heads to the Jews". At weekday
prayers, the faithful would intone the special curse: "And may the
apostates have no hope, and all the Christians perish instantly."'
Here we catch a glimpse of the ferocious and fanatical
xenophobia that has cost the lives of American, British, Italian and
German citizens, as well as thousands of Palestinians. But one should
be careful not to over-generalise, and I myself, for example, have had
amicable correspondence with Israel Shamir and Prof. Noam Chomsky.
Indeed, contrary to the media legend, the vast majority of
nationalists do not harbour ill-feelings towards those of other races.
Nevertheless, most of us do retain, shall we say, a healthy and virile
hatred for those of our own people who have betrayed and wrecked our
We remember when Margaret Thatcher's ministers slouched like
slugs in leather chairs while a high proportion of the young population
of de-industrialised Scotland or Northern England took up permanent
residence on the Embankment or under Waterloo Bridge; when Mr. Frank
Field saw a glowing future for the Cammell Laird shipyard just months
before the cranes were consigned to the junk yard; or when on
government instruction civil servants delayed compensation payments to
industrially-injured workers, in the hope of saving money as the
unfortunates gradually died off. We recall too that pensioners still
freeze to death in winter, largely because they are not likely to make
as much fuss and trouble as some others, are they dear boy?
A deep, though usually unstated, sense of national shame
haunts our country, because we have (in most cases) said and done
nothing while such morally and spiritually noxious creatures were - and
still are - allowed a free run.
Therefore we should be grateful to Iain Hook, James Miller
and Tom Hurndall for having maintained, by their manner of life and
death, some last vestige of British honour at a time of a complete
absence of such a quality from public life.
Tony Blair's scared silence is utterly fitting. It would be
an insult if it were otherwise.