In the travel section of ‘Comment is Free’ there appears an audio-slideshow by travel writer Kevin Rushby entitled ‘Around the world in 30 portraits’. According to the strapline, the writer “looks back at the people he’s met on his Guardian assignments, from the UK to Mongolia, via India, Palestine and Mali”. There are also pictures from Yemen and Kenya and the images are accompanied by music.
Only in the case of two countries are local voices added to the soundtrack. In Mali a man explains how he navigates across the desert by means of the stars. In Palestine (a country which technically does not yet exist – one would think that a travel writer would be aware of that fact, but more of that later…) the commentary features the voice of an unidentified woman who claims that she originally comes from a village from which her grandparents were displaced in 1948.
That may well be true – we have no way of verifying or refuting the claim – but the question is why, out of all the seven countries featured in the slide-show, most of which have had their fair share of turbulent history, only one merits comment of a political nature. Is the addiction to promoting the Guardian World View narrative so all-pervasive that has to extend even to photographs in the travel section?
Well, an understanding of the circumstances in which those photographs came about sheds some light on that question. A click on the link to the music credits at the top of the slide-show brings one to the website of something called ‘Abraham’s Path’ or ‘Masar Ibrahim al Khalil’. In September 2010 Kevin Rushby wrote an article for CiF Travel on the subject of his hiking tour along Abraham’s Path’, which was apparently funded by the Guardian, seeing as the photographs are described as being taken ‘on Guardian assignments’.
The tour was organised by the Siraj Centre, as stated at the bottom of Rushby’s article. The role of ‘co-ordinator’ of the Siraj Centre is filled by George S. Rishmawi, formerly a member of the International Solidarity Movement and who is also connected to the Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement to which the Siraj Centre is affiliated. Confusingly, there is also another George N. Rishmawi – a cousin – who also has ISM and PCR links.
Rishmawi also does speaking engagements abroad, and is not above inventing libelous claims about so-called Israeli injustices in order to further his agenda.
According to Roz Rothstein, CEO of Stand With Us:
“A few years ago, I personally witnessed George Rishmawi (yes, this George Rishmawi) tell a group of well-meaning Christians in Chicago that the Israelis have developed a gas that slows down Palestinian people so that the Israelis can shoot them in their backs. Allyson Taylor and Gary Ratner were with me. Allyson went up to the microphone and publicly asked him what kind of gas he was talking about, to which he responded that the Israelis are very smart, they pick up the canisters of gas before anyone can see them. Rishmawi engaged in a dangerous modern form of blood libel to prepare the audience for the “call” to punish Israel with boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).”
Educate yourself via reliable books. For example books by Ilan Pappe (Ethnic cleansing of Palestine), Edward Said (The Question of Palestine).
Educate yourself and track current information and key historical data via websites (and disseminate it). For example look into http://www.imemc.org/, http://electronicintifada.net/, http://english.aljazeera.net/, Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem, Palestine Remembered, and similar websites.
Educate yourself by visiting Palestine and writing about it. There are many organizations doing tours that inspire. Examples Siraj Center, Alternative Tourism Group, Holy Land Trust, Global Exchange, Birthright Unplugged, ISM etc.
Network and enhance groups working on sanctions and suspension of US aid to Israel. e.g. Suspend US Aid to Israel Now
Challenge Israel in local and International courts.If you are a lawyer, donate your time and start some networking and initiate cases (e.g. US congress is violating US laws by sending money to Israel, US Citizens can bring cases against foreign governments that harmed them). Groups with great interest and activism on behalf of Palestinians includes Lawyers Without Border, National Lawyers Guild, Al-Haq, Yesh Din, and Adalah – Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.
Join the campaigns for economic boycotts. For example see successful examples here: http://www.qumsiyeh.org/boycottsanddivestment/
Join or initiate a campaign for cultural and academic boycott; see also http://pacbi.org/.
Rishmawi’s co-author of this document is Mazin Qumseiyeh, a co- founder of Al Awda, a board member of Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement, (with which the Guardian reporter’s tour company is connected) and coordinator for the ‘Popular Committee against the Wall’.
In other words, when the Guardian sends its reporters on trips organized by extremist political activists barely disguised as tour operators (and proceeds to advertise this radical chic tourism on its pages) it is hardly surprising that even the holiday snaps convey a political message.
So what next? Will the Guardian be sending Kevin Rushby to promote walking trips in the Pyrenees organized by Basque separatists or hiking tours of the Laurentian Mountains coordinated by members of the Quebec sovereignty movement? Somehow, I think not.