|An Almost-Ignored British Martyr||Ian Buckley reminds readers of the murder of Tom Hurndall|
On the evening of the 13th January 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 Strip.
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:-
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:-
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 thankfully so.
But one explanation was given by respected author David Hirst, an acknowledged expert on the Middle East:-
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 country.
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.