Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
How the world can stop Israeli war crimes
By Roshan Muhammad Salih
Press TV, London
Tony Benn renounced his inherited titleof 2nd Viscount Stansgate
in 1963. He was the first peer to do so. The following is an exclusive Press
TV interview with Tony Benn -- British socialist, former Labour MP and
Cabinet Minister -- on the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip:
Tony Benn, you just gave a speech a few minute ago. Could you summarize what
you said, and what your message is to Israel?
Benn: What is happening in Gaza is a crime against humanity. It is a
moral issue and we are all morally responsible now, wherever we live, to
help the people of Gaza.
I am suggesting that there is something that
we could do, for example, there is a British naval base in Cyprus. We should
use Royal Navy warships to escort the ship carrying humanitarian supplies to
We should use the Royal Air Force to fly into Gaza doctors, medical
supplies, and also journalists, whom Israel keeps out.
We should tell
the Israeli airlines EL Al that until they abide by the United Nations'
decisions, no Israeli aircraft would be allowed to fly into any British
We should tell the British ambassador to withdraw from
Israel, and the Israeli ambassador to withdraw from here. We should
recognize that Palestine is a state.
We should also talk to Hamas
ourselves, and we should get better, fairer coverage from media in Britain,
that does not cover our demonstrations but at least through the help of
Press TV what we are saying in Britain today can get around the world.
Press TV: Yes. What you are enumerating are practical solutions,
practical things that the UK government could do. They have been accused of
not taking these practical steps. They might have condemned what is going
on, they might have called for a ceasefire, but some people are saying those
are words, they are not concrete actions.
Benn: I agree. That's why I
came up with some "practical" suggestions; what any human being would do. If
children, women, civilians are dying under a murderous air attack our
responsibility is to react in every way we can, wherever we live. And I
think the British government should take this up and deal with it in a
Press TV: And the British government has been trying
very hard to say that its response to the crisis in Gaza has been different
from its response to the crisis in Lebanon a few years ago, when it didn't
call for an immediate ceasefire.
And they are saying that they are
trying to get the message across that maybe young Muslims in this country
might be getting radicalized by seeing those images. Do you think that is a
fair point, that we should cut the British government a bit of slack, that
they are doing their best?
Benn: Well, if they do think differently
from the past, I welcome that, but it is not enough. The fact is they could
do more. And public opinion in Britain has changed dramatically.
think the support for Palestinians now in Britain is on a huge scale as you
can see from these big demonstrations. But I am not insisting on criticizing
anyone, I just want action now to prevent the slaughter from going on.
Press TV: The public opinion does seem to be behind the Palestinians
here in the UK. These massive demonstrations, they are huge in terms of
numbers. Are they achieving anything? I mean Israel seems to be ignoring
international opinion. Does it care about what is going on in here?
Benn: Well South African whites ignored the demonstrations about the
apartheid and the apartheid ended. I mean the truth is, well in 2003, we had
a million and half against the Iraq war.
And who would have imagined
then that the next president of the United States, Barack Obama, would be a
man who voted against the Iraq war.
Never underestimate the power of public opinion and demonstrations; never
Press TV: What do you make of the diplomatic
efforts currently going on in Egypt, and elsewhere, to put an end to this
Benn: Well, I have not seen the outcome, but nothing can be done to
assist the Israelis in their determination to destroy Hamas, the alleged
government of Palestine.
So they have got to be very careful. But the
fact is that the slaughter must be stopped, Palestine must be recognized,
and Hamas must be seen as the agent of the Palestinian people.
think that is what will happen. The Israelis, however many weapons they
have, are going to lose this war. And I think the greatest enemy of the
Jewish people is the Israeli government itself.