The Western media blackout on the situation of Palestinian Mahmoud Sarsak is obvious and there are no reports on him entering his 80th day on hunger strike in an Israeli prison.
Press TV in its program Remember Palestine has interviewed Carol Turner with the Stop the War Coalition to hear her view on this issue particularly as it relates to protests on behalf of Palestinians on hunger strike in London. The following is a rough transcription of the interview.
First of all your reaction to Mahmud’s story there?
Well, I think it’s absolutely tragic. As I understand it from the reports I’ve read he’s close to death, he is losing consciousness, as you said in your introduction it’s over 80 days, which is a hell of a long time. And all of this, that talent, to be lost simply because the Israeli authorities are using detention in order to terrorize the Palestinian community is disgusting and a disgrace.
We don’t seem to get a full handle on that, the idea that you can simply pick someone up, not charge them with anything and then essentially just renew the six month permission to do with them as you please. I mean, under international law this is a violation surely?
Absolutely. As I understand it Mahmud’s renewal has happened eight times I think, if I’m right.
Due again in August.
Yes, yes. Under international law under the Geneva conventions special detention is allowed, but it’s meant in very exceptional circumstances and it’s legally constrained, when you can use it and what you can do with it.
In fact, what the Israeli government is doing is using it as a form of terror, keeping people on their toes as it were. In fact, the interviews I’ve seen and read with Israeli spokespeople suggest that these people who are on hunger strike are being called terrorist and they’re likening a hunger strike to a terrorist bombing or something like that. It’s absolutely disgraceful. There is no doubt whatsoever that the way in which it is being used by Israel is against international law and indeed against all sense of decency or justice.
b>Press TV: If this is such an outrage Carol, why don’t we hear about just this situation as a whole even if you’re not particularly interested in Mahmud’s individual case, the idea that this exists?
Well, it took the BBC more than three weeks to even report on the fact that hunger strike was taking place and as I understand it this hunger strike that has been happening since February was in fact the largest, the biggest mass hunger strike in recent times.
For the BBC not to report this is absolutely shocking. It is reporting it now... very carefully; very little comments from the Palestinian perspective or from the Palestinian Authority or other spokespeople and an awful lot of comments from Israelis, I think the BBC is absolutely disgusting.
Stop the War is the organization I represent and Palestine Solidarity Campaign and so on. We've held protests outside the BBC, delivered letters on this topic and hopefully what we’ve done and the pressure that's building is having a little bit of impact on the British media here.
How does this play into trying to get those high profile voices - people with clout politically or culturally to have Palestine on the agenda, to say hey guys, we know there is a lot of things vying for your attention right now and there is the Arab Spring, there are critical situations across the globe, but we want you to consider this as being as important as the other issues here, if not central to the very essence of what’s going on in the Middle East.
Well, I think in my opinion, in most people’s opinions who are active around these issues: Palestine is central. There will be no justice or certainly no peace until the issue of Palestine is justly settled and they have their own territory recognized as a state and so on. I think there are an increasing number of media personalities, celebrities and so on who are prepared to speak out.
I think the problem in Britain is actually getting media coverage, which means not individual, but the managerial structure of the news channels. I think that despite the fact that the lack of coverage is chronic, there is a sea change that’s taking place in the last couple of years first of all with the Israeli attack on Gaza and then that was followed by murders in the Mavi Marmara.
I think they’ve really alerted the world to what’s going on, although it’s slow and it’s unsatisfactory, particularly for activists in the West Bank, in Gaza. It is changing and I'm hopeful that will continue. I think that the world is becoming aware that the parallel with Israel and Palestine is the way in which the white South African government treated the black majority.
And the word Apartheid is being used more and more and that’s a good thing because it really alerts public opinion everywhere to how serious the situation is.
But there is still that fear, I mean, you only have to look at the case, for example off the top of my head baroness Jennie Tonge, you speak out in political situations and it’s such a hot potato that your own leader is saying look, shut up about this or I’m going to have to remove you from your position.
That is censorship of the highest order, if a politician can’t speak privately about something that’s in the public domain. There is an example being set here - be quiet about these things we want you to be quiet about or your career, your livelihood might at stake.
Absolutely, you’re completely right. A much smaller example, but the last time I appeared on TV making comment on Palestine, Stop the War
was inundated with antagonistic comments, sort of very, very aggressive and I’m sure that’s much worse for people who are better known.
I think that you are getting... you are beginning to see a change in the British parliament and elsewhere I think there's some changes coming in America, but it’s very, very slow - that is the problem. But my Jewish friends tell me as well as public opinion changing in a general sense across the West, it's actually... that's also affecting the Jewish Diaspora - that there's a new generation of Jewish people who are just appalled that this is being done.
That this is being done in our name, that this is not what we stand for, that this is not who we are.
Quite so and that's what a number of my Jewish friends tell me when they read the Jewish Press and they watch what's going on.
So, what's the next stage here if this is supposed to be a blitz on the public consciousness and you're trying to raise both awareness and non-violent action, you're trying to get people inspired - How do you try and do that?
Well, I don't think there's a get-rich-quick formula unfortunately - someone would have noticed it. I think one just has to keep doing the sort of things like the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War and the other organizations that are involved. Keep protesting.
We had a fortnight of protests outside of Downing Street outside the prime minister's office about the hunger strikes just recently; as I said just now we went to the BBC to protest. It's simply a matter of wearing away drip by drip. What I'm saying is not that that is satisfactory, but that's the absolute bare minimum one can do to see justice for Palestinians and I think that the snowball has started to roll.
I notice for instance that the boycott and divestment is also taking off and if you look towards at South Africa as a sort of a parallel, proportions guarded, that was a very important event in the case of South Africa. And hopefully it will become increasingly important for Palestine as well.