Islamism,  Trots

Holidays from Hell

Remember the Viva Palestina convoy that set off to break the seige of Gaza at the end of last year? For some it was a chance to show solidarity with a people in struggle combined with the opportunity to meet up with all sorts of interesting foreign comrades on the way. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

Bob Lewis from Gloucester thought so too. He was in the Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire in the 1970s and quite fancied a couple of weeks of anti-racist politics, the brotherhood of man and some chilled out sounds, so he signed up as one of the drivers. Did the trip live up to Bob’s expectations? In a word, no.

It all started off so well too. Here he is in sunny Jordan:

Personally I am committed to staying here as long as I can and have at least till the 4/5th January but will negotaite longer with my employer if I can – In the meantime life is good – am getting over a bit of a chest infection which has been with me for 10 days or so – Aqaba looks like a lovely place to explore.

Sounds fantastic Bob, but it can’t be a complete paradise or we’d all be off there on our holidays? Any downsides to report?

My only concern at the moment is political – some of the turkish convoy are very miltant islamic activists and their chanting is (so I understand) sometimes extremely anti semitic – a group of us are going to raise this with the convoy leadership later on.

Good for you, Bob. You wouldn’t want to lend your good name to a bunch of Jew haters, would you?

Bob’s as good as his word and raises the anti-semitic chanting with Kevin Ovenden, Galloway’s ex-SWP mini-me the very next day.

Finally I asked Kevin the convoy leader to check out yesterday the point I mentioned in the blog about Anti Semitic chanting from some of the militants in the Turkish group – he tells me he has done this and has received assurances that this is not the case. I accept these assurances and hope they are true.

Excellent work Comrades. I’m sure it was all a big misunderstanding. Let’s just accept they are and move on. Remember how important political unity is.

But what’s this? Three days later the same issue rears its head again.

We were due to collect at the compound at 7.00 pm for a candle lit vigil to commemorate the 1400 lives taken in the bombing of GAZA a year ago last night. When we got there we found that the local union of muslims had organsed a full blown political meeting with a film of armies massing, children with guns and the whole nine yards. Definite anti semitic chanting. This caused upraor and the British contingent walked out in protest and some of the Turkish group as well. Goerge Galloway refused to be present and has apparently complained to our hosts.

Oh dear. This can’t be swept under the carpet. Bob and company should at least be congratulated on walking out from the local ‘throw the Jew down the well’ festival. It is the right thing to do if you’re an anti-racist. The trouble is Bob manages to undo all his good work by outing himself as the most gullible man in politics by typing the following words:

Everyone who has been to GAZA or the West Bank say that the Palestinian organstions are far more sophisticated (including the HAMAS leadership) – we wait to see.

HAMAS more sophisticated on the subject of the Jews? Jeez, Bob. What can I say?

On second thoughts let’s just forget that particular issue and take solace in the feeling of comradeship everyone engaged in the destruction of the Zionist entity accords each other instead. Here’s Bob in Syria:

We had a really interesting evening the night we got to the camp. There was a fire pit on the beach with a circular stone seat and at about 10 or so a really chilled out session started with people signing and reciting poetry. One of our friends from the PFLP wrote his own poetry and got into a declaiming competition with a couple of other guys – one person would get up and recite in a very rhetorical, formal declamatory way a poem about the struggle. Someone would then get up and answer him – it was very humorous, chilled but also very powerful.

But who’s this ugly trio waddling towards the happy campers?

After about an hour someone who was clearly very important turned up with a couple of security guys (we were told he was a local HAMAS leader) and sat down to listen. The atmosphere gradually changed and became much more militaristic and the singing turned to chanting. The PFLP guys suddenly said they wanted to go – it was a ‘bad scene’

I wonder what would have happened if the PFLP comrades had stuck around to test the commitment of HAMAS to the concept of peaceful existence?

How depressing for a grizzled progressive such as Bob to learn that the brotherhood of man doesn’t involve Jews or secularists. Oh, well. At least there’s always the music to remember the trip fondly by:

Hi everyone – we are still in Latakia in northern syria, and are staying in a strange place which we are informed is a children’s summer camp, reminds me of my hop picking days in Kent – small concrete huts on a beach with wild surf – winds blow but its warm and dry.

Tell us about the sounds Bob:

The only problem is there is a would be Hamas sympathiser DJ who has giant speakers about 25 yards from our hut who seems to consider his mission in life is to play martial music at mutant volumes directly into my face –

How rude. What did you do?

I went up to him and knelt down in front of him with my head on the ground and begged him to turn it down.

Total, kneeling submission eh? Well I’m sure the Islamist MC would recognise the symbolism and accept your plea for peace.

He did for 5 minutes

Is that all? Five lousy minutes of peace. What a Bummer. It’s a shame Viva Palestina isn’t a member of ABTA. Bob could at least have asked for his money back on the grounds that he definitely didn’t get what he bargained for.