British Member of Parliament leads caravan of human rights activists
Many admire UK Parliament Member George Galloway for his courage, outspokenness and work on behalf of oppressed people. In March, his initiative, the “Viva Palestina: Lifeline from Britain to Gaza Aid Convoy” took over 100 vehicles to Gaza with food and medical supplies for those victimized in the aftermath of Israel’s 22-day assault on the people in which 1,400 were killed, including many civilians, women and children.
On June 27, Mr. Galloway was in Chicago at DePaul University raising awareness and support in preparation for an even larger convoy which left the U.S. on July 4. It was there that the Final Call’s Assistant Editor Ashahed M. Muhammad talked with him regarding this noble outreach effort to deliver aid to the people of Gaza.
The Final Call (FC): In the United States do you think the American people are fully aware of the suffering of the people in Palestine?
George Galloway (GG): No, they definitely aren’t. If they were, we would definitely have millions of supporters in our cause. The reality is that the American people have been clouded by the fog of Fox News and war propaganda and so on by demonizing Muslims in general, Palestinians in particular and, of course, the work of our adversaries who seek to cloud the issue. It’s significant in the United States, but I do believe there is a turning point.
I have been coming to the United States every week for the last 2 months. I have spoken all over the country. I am speaking twice today. We will have raised nearly two million dollars in six weeks. We will send hundreds of American citizens to Gaza on the 4th of July and I’m coming and going and being welcomed by immigration and so on. None of that would be happening if there weren’t a turning point going on. I think President Obama’s speech in Cairo was very significant with some of the things that were said, something of the things he did not say. Of course if I had been making the speech it would have been different but, for an American President to make such a speech is very significant.
FC: I’ve heard you speaking out against the war in Iraq and many just became aware of what was going on in Gaza in January after the IDF massacred so many people on the Gaza Strip. For many, that was their wake up call but you have been involved in that struggle for a long time. What keeps you going?
GG: If I may say on this question as to when the turning point took place, I think you are right to identify Gaza but it goes back further. In fact, it goes back to 1982. In 1982, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the massacre of Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, the use of White phosphorus and so on–I was a veteran by then. I was actually in Beirut when the invasion happened. That is when Israel’s capital began to trickle away. The Intifada and how the Israeli forces brutally subjugated it, then the attack on Lebanon in 2006 and then Gaza in December 27th of last year (2008). These have all made a huge hole now. It’s no longer trickling, it’s gushing out of the bottom of their tank and so that gives me great encouragement and that keeps me going. If I thought that things were no better now then they were in 1975 when I started, then I’d feel a bit depressed, but I am actually very optimistic. I really think that there is a turning point. I really think that we are winning now.
FC: I do think that the world’s opinion has turned against Israel to a degree and as a result, Israel elected an even more hawkish hyper military government…
GG: That’s good though! That’s good because it’s the true face of the State of Israel. If they’d elected the pretty blonde (Tzipi) Livni she’d have been frolicking around with Hilary Clinton and it would have looked like a liberal love-in even though Livni is very far from a liberal. But in fact, they elected two dangerous men, (Benjamin) Netanyahu and (Avigdor) Lieberman. Lieberman wants to force all non-Jews in the State to sign an oath that they are second-class citizens and that the country is a Jewish state. Imagine asking Black Americans to sign an oath that America was a White state. Even the Ku Klux Klan wouldn’t advance that proposal. So it’s good that the world can see the true nature of the Zionist State which is a racist face, which is an apartheid country, which wants to legally delineate between people of different colors and different religions.
FC: What are your thoughts regarding what’s going on in Iran, right now of course the world has been watching and much has been said about this “Twitter Revolution.”
GG: Well (Americans) have a strange attitude to elections don’t they? The Palestinian people had a fair election and its results were rejected. The Venezuelan people have elected Chavez more times than any other politician in the world and yet they still call him a dictator. The Iranians had an election, 40 million people voted, none of the countries in that region have any elections at all, but Iran is the bad guy. I don’t know what happened in the counting houses of Iran but neither does Fox News! CNN had an opinion poll two weeks before the election which predicted to one percentage point exactly the result that happened, so I’ve got no reason and I’ve seen no evidence other than the well heeled in north Tehran’s “Twitter Revolution” that the election result was anything other than what we’ve been told it was. In any case what happens in Iran is not our business. That is for the Iranian people to decide. If the Iranian government is a dictatorship the Iranian people will bring them down. After all, they did that before with the mightiest tyrant that the region had ever seen, and there is lots of competition for that job.
FC: Do you have any thoughts on the accusations hurled by detractors asking the U.S. Dept. of Justice to look into whether you were raising money for Hamas or engaging in material support for terrorism?
GG: Well if we were I’d be under arrest instead of being welcomed into the United States every single week for the last two months. There is an FBI man in this room. There is an FBI man in every room that I speak in, so they know the truth and the truth is that we are taking medical aid to our besieged population of 1.5 million people held captive against their will in a big concentration camp. No one can describe that as terrorism, however fl uent their use of the English language.
FC: Thank you.
(For more information on future convoys, visit www.vivapalestina.org.)