Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Harry Fear & Palestine

Recently I had a chance to interview Harry Fear, a British Journalist and documentary maker who have covered the war  that  is taking place in Palestine. This interview appeared in theSun on Wednesday Feb 27. Here is the story

Suggested Headline : Fear-less pursuit of Truth
BY Bissme S

HARRY FEAR is an independent British journalist, documentary maker and human rights advocate. His live reports on the carnage meted out by Israelis against the Palestinians has attracted a large following in the social media. Highly respected for his honest reporting, he is known to flesh out poignant insights that take place in war-torn Gaza.
Recently, Viva Palestina Malaysia, a local non-governmental organisation, invited him here to give a talk. Fear took some time from his busy schedule to answer questions from members of the press.

What is the greatest misconception Malaysians have about the war in Gaza?

That it is a religious conflict – which is a terrible misconception. Many of the Palestinians are Christians. When you to go to Gaza and you speak to Christian Palestinians, they just resent the identification as Christian Palestinians. They will just say ‘I am just Palestinian. It is a political conflict which started 65 years ago. It started between an indigenous population and a settled colonial population. It is really about land theft. Today, Palestinians are only living on 13% of the land that they were living on 65 years ago.

Do you think there will ever be a peaceful solution to this 65-year-old war?

Yes. There are reasons to be hopeful. If you look at the civil society of the world, people are increasingly fed up (with what’s happening in Gaza). The world is increasingly united and willing to do something and not just be sympathetic.

What motivated you to report the situation in Gaza?

The main reason is because I care. I do not want to die not having done anything. If you don’t do anything and when you look back at your life, you will say that you have wasted your life. And I do not want to waste my life. I feel personally motivated by my moral responsibility to bring some justice to the people of Palestine. The reason why Israel can kill 62 Palestinian children in two weeks is because people don’t do anything.

Does the situation in Gaza depresses you about life in general?

I am able to deal with the pain. In the situation of such pain, it can go two ways. It can go up or it can go down. In Gaza, it goes up and it is very hopeful. The people are unbreakable and if the people are unbreakable, then Israel cannot win. And that is very inspiring.

Do you think your work gets a lot of attention because you are a white man reporting on this war?

I get upset when people ask me about my race. In a lecture at The Hague, a young academician asked me whether I have ever thought about the effect I have as a white journalist. The way she put it was quite cynical. I was honest with her and I told her that I find her question
I’m a young white man, fairly intelligent, fairly well educated, fairly articulate, who has gone to Gaza and I know this combination of my identity is what most people see me as, as a journalist.
Of course, I exploit this for the benefit of the Palestinians, using my skill as a journalist. Do I exploit my race? No, I don’t.
I never think of my race, especially when I am in Gaza [which] is the least racial orientated place I have ever seen. The Palestinians are ethnically mixed. It is not relevant whether I am white or not.
The reason we are having this interview is not because I am white. It is because I am fairly articulate. I am able to explain the situation (in Gaza) fairly well to the people.”

Are you a Muslim?

No. I believe in God but I am not a religious person. This is not a religious conflict. It is a political and humanitarian issue. It doesn’t matter what my religion is. In every single religion, there is a responsibility to help people.

What is the greatest misconception people have about you?

Some people who hate me are ignorant. Some of the reasons they hate me is because they think I’m rich. But I am not. My family is not rich, too.
People say that I’m a white saviour and I’m the voice of the Palestinians. But I have never claimed to be the voice of the Palestinians. I only represent myself.
I went to Gaza as a people’s journalist. I report what I see. I want the killing of the Palestinians to be stopped. I want the Palestinian children to be given a chance to live. I want Israel to stop shooting people in the head. I want the war to end.

Some documentary makers make films on the future. Do you have similar goals?

I am not interested in fiction. I have never appreciated fiction even as a child. The reality is richer than fiction. I became a documentary filmmaker because it is a powerful way to communicate with people – to get them to understand and feel (about the issues presented) and then do something about it.

Do you think documentaries can effect change?

In this 21st century, many films are made to entertain … just to give people an emotional ride. They lack political and moral context. You have a good cry in the cinema, you go home and you do not know what to do next, so you can forget about it. That is not good enough. You have to leave people with a sense of hope. You have to leave people with a sense of action, of what they can do next. Otherwise, what is the point of documenting the suffering?


  1. Indeed one of the best interviews I have ever come across.Excellent questions for an extraordinary individual.@Bissme S ,Thanks for an amazing read and looved the description about the conflict as "War taking place in Gaza"
    Such a degree of truth in that phrase ....

  2. I love this , what a nobel, intelligent, intellectual and honest man. Wish u all the best Mr. Fear