Staring Fear in the eye

FEB 1 — I recently interviewed a young Brit by the name of Harry Fear for “Vantage Point”, a current affairs talk show on Astro Awani.

Before interviewing him, I did a little bit of research and found out he is an independent journalist, human rights activist, writer and scholar.

The reason he was being interviewed is that he had spent 12 weeks in Gaza, Palestine, in November last year, during and after the Israeli Operation Pillar of Cloud siege.

When Fear arrived at the studio and I finally got to meet him, we chatted a little before the show.

I asked him how he would like me to refer to him. Independent journalist, human rights activist, writer and scholar?

He laughed and said that was a mouthful and sounded so presumptuous. He said he would much rather be referred to as a campaigning documentary film-maker.

And as someone who has always believed that objective journalism is bull crap and that subjectivity is fine, as long as it’s honest, I took to that definition straight away.

Fear believes that when it comes to the no-one-knows-how-long conflict between Palestine and Israel, a certain bias has existed that just isn’t fair (what bias is fair?).

The Western media has been on Israel’s side all this while in its reporting... so much so that it has created a vacuum when it comes to news from the side of the Palestinians.

It is this fact that prompted the young twentysomething to pick up a camera and head down to Gaza to document and report the news from the Palestinian perspective.

During his stay there, he witnessed atrocities being carried out against Palestinians and documented and reported everything he found on YouTube and a blog.

Officially, 158 Palestinians were killed. But Fear mentioned that there were so many others who were killed but whose deaths went unrecorded.

He appeared to have no doubts about reporting only from behind Palestinian lines because he thinks that the mainstream media does a really good job of siding with the Israelis.

Another interesting fact is that Fear’s reporting is entirely funded by his viewers and readers through donations, and a little bit of contribution from NGOs.

He does occasionally appear in mainstream media as a correspondent of sorts, but he does this for free and declines any form of payment.

He believes this keeps him independent and not bound to any kind of obligation to anyone except his viewers and subjects, thus ensuring truth in his reporting.

He is also quick to point out that it is depressing and disappointing to see that in Malaysia (and everywhere else actually), the conflict is seen as a religious fight.

When this happens, it actually undermines the integrity of religion and religious people. Religion is above all of this.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is really a political struggle and making it out as a conflict between Islam and Judaism just plays into the perception war that Israel is trying to create and, obviously, winning.

Fear is currently on a speaking tour about his experience and has been to countries like United Kingdom and Canada, now in Malaysia, and will soon continue to Australia.

He says that the best action that can be taken to help solve the conflict is to create awareness about it all around the world.

The awareness that he is referring to isn’t the fact that nobody knows about the conflict. Name me one person who doesn’t realise that there is a conflict and I will eat my shoe.

It is the awareness of the unfair, one-sidedness of the war that needs to be advocated and spread around the world, mainly the Western part of it.

So don’t forget to join me and stare Fear in the eye (I couldn’t help it!) on “Vantage Point”, Astro Awani, at 9.30pm, Thursday, February 7.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.



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