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Ross Kemp Middle East: Gaza and Israel. Sky1 All Week

Prejudice and cultural snobbery are funny things. When I noticed a couple of years ago that Sky1 was running a documentary series entitled “Ross Kemp On Gangs”, the Liberal Guardian Reader Beast was unleashed.

“It’s on Sky One, urghh. Trailer Trash Channel of the Year! And it‘s News International! Right Wing!”

Ross Kemp aka Grant Mitchell? It’ll be some Kray Twins inspired love in!”

But, only when it won a BAFTA for Best Documentary Series and got a positive review from the Guardian, was I prepared to watch.

Initial reactions proved to me my loss, as Kemp has developed into a fine investigative journalist and his series On Gangs has provided real food for thought about how we deal with the (mainly) male 18-25 underclass who seem immune to the reach of the Labour Party’s progressive agenda which, until the Global downturn had delivered record number of youth in gainful employment and/ or training.

But it was his magnificent three-part documentary on Afghanistan where Kemp went onto the front line in Helmand that earned him comparisons with John Pilger’s work in Vietnam.

Kemp’s approach is less didactic than the Australian’s more obviously politicised approach, but this works well in the modern context and he treats the audience as adults. There is far less narration, and none of the somewhat squinted history lesson provided by Pilger. Kemp lets his subjects speak for themselves.

Israel/ Palestine has to be the toughest gig for any journalist but Kemp more than steps up to the plate by first going where no sane reporter would fear to tread: Gaza.

We are taken right to the heart of the conflict as Kemp interviews a variety of residents, from a brave Palestinian who, despite having his house razed by the IDF called for a unified State of equality for Jews and Arabs will full amnesty on either side, to a would be suicide bomber.

In between we meet shopkeepers, smugglers, a jihadist unit on manoeuvres, plus an interview with the Head of the UN mission who had nothing but damnation for Israel’s policy of collective punishment.

Kemp then goes on a smuggling operation on the Gaza/ Egypt border and makes the rather shocking discovery that despite an average of three deaths a week in tunnel collapses, the Hamas Government not only turn a blind eye, but take a cut from the black market trade.

Lack of knowledge blights this issue. The amount of mindless denunciation from both side is mind boggling causing me to shy away from the Palestine Solidarity Movement which has an unpleasant Islamic whiff not present ten years or so ago when I went along.

I fully support Israel’s right to exist, and indeed to defend itself. I had no problem with the initial phase of last January’s anti terror raids, but as usual she went far to far, only storing up more and more recruits for the Islamic extremists.

What really gets to me however, is these mega rich Gulf States who wind up the situation with anti Israeli sentiment, but do nothing practical or financial to help their fellow Arabs.

The UAE and the Saudi’s are awash with oil soaked money. How much do they do to support the PA? These two could transform Palestine if they chose to, but would rather turn a blind eye. Disgusting.

Kemp’s instalment from Israel is on Sky1 tonight and repeated over the course of week. Unmissable, quality British telly


About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.


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