Thursday, August 28, 2008

Day 21

When I was captured by the Taliban just after the horrific events of 9/11 my mother captivated the world's media for the entire 10 days I was held in Afghanistan.

She did better than any international diplomat as she briefed the press morning, noon and night and virtually became Britain's best known mum overnight.

Several days into my detention, the then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw called her to advise that her headline-grabbing over-the-garden-gate press conferences could jeopardise my life and so she should stop. Undeterred, she told the government minister to: "Get lost".

And when her local MP dropped by carrying the same message from Blair's government, he was given a nice cup of tea before she showed him the door as well.

So today, when one of the Free Gaza Movement organisers asked me if there was anyone who could act as a family spokesperson in the event of my arrest (or worse) I knew there was only one person I could turn to who would speak without fear or favour - my mum, the redoubtable Joyce Ridley.

And so, just a few hours ago, I made possibly one of the most difficult calls I've had to make to my mum. She already knew I was on the Free Gaza Movement peace mission thanks to a front page story in the Newcastle Journal, which was published before I had a chance to tell her.

In truth, she's not happy I am on board one of the two ships sailing to Gaza but this is what I said to her: "When the Holocaust was happening a lot of people around the world knew that atrocity against the Jewish people was taking place and yet they did nothing to stop the genocide. I was not around then, but even today there are those who still feel guilty because they sat back and did nothing.

"Well I am damned if I am going to sit back and do nothing as the slow genocide of Palestinians takes place in the world's largest open air concentration camp known as Gaza.

"I do not wield the power or influence of Tony Blair or any of the Quartet leaders. I do not have the power to order the Israeli soldiers to carry out the jack-boot policies of the Zionist State they serve without question.

"But I do have a voice and with every breath I will shout out loud about the injustices against the Palestinians and in particular the people of Gaza. One day we will all be held to account over the biggest crime against humanity of the 21st century.

"My only defence will be "I did what I could'.

I hope I am not arrested by the Zionist State because I don't want to have to put my 81-year-old mother through anymore stress again. I know she went through hell when I was arrested by the Taliban nearly seven years ago.

But, if things do go a wee bit pear-shaped I know Joyce Ridley will be a more effective international ambassador or envoy than that feckless, gutless, self-serving, deceiver Tony Blair or his cabal of Zionist cronies.

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