Interview with British MP George Galloway from Viva Palestina convoy
|Friday, December 25,2009 21:13|
Bikya Masr sat down with British Member of Parliament George Galloway as he traverses Europe, leading the third Viva Palestina convoy from the UK to Gaza in order to deliver much needed aid to the impoverished Palestinian territory.
Currently, the group is pushing on from Turkey, where they received a warm welcome. The goal is to pass through Syria, Jordan and Egypt before entering Gaza via the Rafah Border Crossing.
Galloway has been in Parliament since 1987.
Bikya Masr: What makes Viva Palestina so important and why did you feel the need to do this?
George Galloway: This isn’t about the aid, as important as that is. But to put it in context our convoy amounts to around 200 vehicles. Gaza needs about 400 trucks a day in relief. These convoys are a statement that we won’t rest until this illegal siege is broken. We get amazing support and help through all the countries we traverse and we’re getting the message across about how the Palestinians in Gaza are suffering. The convoys also, I believe, provide a beacon of hope for the beleaguered people of Gaza that the world has not forgotten them.
The idea came to me when we were protesting outside the Israeli embassy in London when the war broke out. It was necessary to protest but not sufficient. This is the third such convoy we have run and by far the most successful so far.
BM: Do you see it as an educational endeavor that can engage the world about the issues facing Israel/Palestine?
GG: I think world opinion has changed markedly since the war last year and the massive and disproportionate assault on Gaza. We are just underlining the message with our convoys and hopefully educating and propagandizing as we go.
BM: In the UK, what is the overall sense of a mission like this? Has it ostracized you with your colleagues?
GG: Ostracized? Not at all. My colleagues are fiercely and determinedly behind it. There is no dissent. We could have hope, although not expected, better media coverage in the UK but those in the cause know what is happening.
BM: The Israeli government isn’t too keen on the Viva Palestina convoy. How do you try to rectify this sort of sentiment?
GG: We don’t deal with the Israeli government so I don’t know and certainly don’t care.
BM: How has the Jewish community in the UK received these convoys? The Muslim community?
GG: There hasn’t been noticeable support from any Jewish organizations -rather than the reverse – but progressive Jews support us. Bear in mind that we took a group of rabbis on our last convoy. The Muslim reception has been fabulous, particularly in the poorer parts of Great Britain.
BM: What are the overall goals of this specific convoy and how do you spread the word?
GG: I think I answered the first part in my first answer. We spread the word through our websites, enormous databases and through mosques and sympathetic groups. We haven’t been at a loss for support thus far. You can find out more about Viva Palestina by going to www.vivapalestina,org or at www.georgegalloway.com