Jody McIntyre


Written by Marlon Dolcy
15 Monday 15th November 2010
Jody McIntyre is a British Activist and freelance journalist. His blog Life On Wheels is read by many, giving a concise alternative to the mainstream media. He has given talks on the university circuit across the world and spent time in occupied Palestine. The film Life On Wheels documents his time there. Don’t Panic managed to get an interview with him.
Out of all the humanitarian issues out there, what made you committed to the cause of the Palestinian people?
I think this question implies that I randomly picked Palestine off a list of "humanitarian issues". Personally, I would never describe Palestine in such terms; rather, it is a political issue, and a struggle between oppressors and oppressed, occupier and occupied. This summer, on my most recent visit to the region, I was interviewing a man called Ayed Morrar, in a village called Budrus; one of the first Palestinian villages to begin struggling against Israel's apartheid wall. He told me, "We will never consider our situation as a humanitarian issue – it is an issue of freedom. Even if you were to offer us a life of paradise under the occupation, we would never accept it."
The Palestinian struggle has always been close to my heart. My interest was sparked by Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 2006, and from there I began to read and learn about the situation in Palestine. It struck me then, and still strikes me today, as one of the biggest injustices in the world. Of course there are many dictatorships and oppressive regimes, from Colombia to Saudi Arabia, most of them supported by Britain and the United States of course, but I can't think of another example where the perpetrator of injustice is so often portrayed as the victim of injustice, as the State of Israel is.
Not only that, but I think it is becoming increasingly clear that peace in the Middle East is at the heart of achieving peace in the world. Until you have justice in the Middle East, and until you have justice for the Palestinians, you cannot have peace.
What issues or conditions concerning the Palestinian people did you came across, that you feel needs awareness?
The list is endless, but I will give you one example. Last summer, I was living with the Hanoun family in a neighbourhood of East Jerusalem called Sheikh Jarrah. On the day after my 19th birthday, the family were kicked out of their home, to make way for settlers. On the same day, the al-Ghawi family, who lived just round the corner, were also kicked out of their home. Over 50 people were made homeless that morning.
But I want to draw attention to the settlers who took our place. They spoke with British and American accents, not Middle Eastern accents. They held British and American passports. This is made possible by the Grandfather Clause of Israeli law, which makes it legal for any person in the world with one Jewish grandparent to take up Israeli citizenship tomorrow, whilst at the same time denying the right for four million Palestinian refugees to return to the land where their grandparents were born, their great-grandparents were born and their great-great-grandparents were born. There are no two ways about it; this is apartheid.
Do you feel (if at all) that your physical capabilities prevented you from doing what you set out to do?
Not at all. I have always held the belief that anything your mind believes can be achieved, you can achieve.
The Goldstone Report, published by the UN, claimed that the state of Israel as well as Hamas, were responsible for acts of war crimes. How accurate do you believe this statement to be true?
Justice Richard Goldstone, who wrote the report, is a self-professed Zionist and supporter of the state of Israel, so I think any claims made in the report have to be taken with a pinch of salt. However, from spending time in Gaza myself, and seeing white phosphorus shells still smoking in people's gardens, and seeing children lying in hospital, burnt to a crisp by the white phosphorus, I don't think there can be any doubt that war crimes took place. As for Hamas, I do not support them for separate reasons, but any "crimes" they committed during Operation Cast Lead cannot be placed even in the same league as what Israel did, as the Goldstone Report stipulates. It would be similar to comparing a huge boot with the face it is smashing into.
Israel and occupied Palestine, is perceived as a dangerous place. How scared were you (if you were at all) when you spent time there?
It's not nice to face armed soldiers who could use the supremacist ideology their country is built on to morally justify killing you there and then. But when Israeli soldiers are invading the village you live in on a nightly basis, you soon get over any fear.
You described the heavy-handedness of the Israeli army when they stormed the house of the family you were living with. What was going on through your mind when bricks were hurled through the window or for that matter when at a protest you were attacked with tear gas?
A great feeling of injustice, and a frustration that the rest of the world is not seeing what you are experiencing.
Arms and politics are a major factor in war, but how much do you think the media, and or public perception can have an impact?
I think the case of apartheid in South Africa shows that public perception has a huge impact. The South African freedom fighters managed to mobilise public support for their struggle to such an extent that a global boycott campaign was launched against the South African government. I think we can utilise similar tactics in our struggle against Israeli apartheid.
You describe yourself as a journalist and revolutionary fighting for freedom on a daily basis. Could you expand on this statement?
I believe that being a revolutionary is above all adopting a state of mind, where you are constantly questioning the accepted sources of information, i.e. the mainstream media, and the accepted organs of power, i.e. the government. "Fighting for freedom" can be small actions of refusal to accept the status quo; a French woman refusing to remove her hijab in the face of Sarkozy's racist laws, a Palestinian living in Israel and refusing to recognise it as "a Jewish State", or on a personal level, I refuse to bow to the bullying of bus drivers in London refusing to let me on because I am in a wheelchair.
Being an anti-Zionist, how do you respond to criticisms of Anti-Semitism?
It is extremely rare that I am accused of being anti-Semitic, but since you have asked, I will give an answer. Your question is actually paradoxical, as it is Zionism which is ideologically anti-Semitic. It is Zionism which justifies the displacement of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes, and the continued daily oppression of Palestinians, themselves also a Semitic people. In addition, it is Zionism which promotes the idea that Jewish people must be separated from society in a state of their own, a completely anti-Semitic concept.
Do you feel that the conflict with Israel amongst other things is one of racial and religious intolerance? If so could you give examples of why you believe this to be true?
No, I think it is a classic example of colonialism and supremacist ideology. It is another case of imperialism; the same imperialism that Britain and the US regularly use to invade, occupy and rule other people's countries across the world.
You shared a stage with Norman Finklestein, a leading expert on the conflict and with the British-Iraqi rapper Lowkey. You all seemed like a completely divergent group. But could you comment on the ways in which you all shared a common trait?
I think the common trait we shared is the belief that oppression is wrong, in any context. It's as simple as that.
You claim that you love hip-hop, therefore apart from Lowkey, who is your favourite rapper? Or what is your favourite hip-hop song?
I'm a huge fan of Dead Prez, and had the privilege of spending some time with M1 in Palestine this summer. If you listen to tracks such as, Propaganda, Police State and They Schools off the Let's Get Free album, they really set the seeds of truly revolutionary hip-hop. I love Lauryn Hill, the emotion in her voice really touches your heart. I think Akala is an important voice for people growing up here, and he has always questioned the racist presumptions of the British state.

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  • Guest: robert_laurence
    Tue 31 - May - 2011, 10:15
    what about the 800,000 Jewish refugees from Arab countries - the land they had confiscated would be 4 times the size of Israel, no compensation at all you want apartheid? - go to Lebanon and protest about how the Plestinians are banned from 72 professionals, denied travel rights, citizenship etc - never a protest about that or the 400,000 Palestinians expelled from Kuwait Jodie doesn't inderstand teh conflict because he can only take in one view & nothing more
  • Guest: silly_jody
    Thu 16 - Dec - 2010, 10:50
    Jody thinks thats he's a legend in his own lifetime, but the SWP think he's a twonk.
  • Guest: jody
    Thu 16 - Dec - 2010, 10:46
    What an idiot, an apologist for palestinian terrorist.
  • Guest: cronikal
    Thu 18 - Nov - 2010, 11:50
    An inspirational man.