I was lucky enough to be in a room packed with some huge British celebrities and politicians. They all agreed it was time for them to speak out against the Israeli massacre in Gaza.
Alexi Sayle (wearing the brown jumper, below) was the most passionate speaker, and not George Galloway, who just went off on a historical rant. Ken Livingstone and Annie Lennox were brought to the verge of tears.
Here’s who they are and what they said – left to right:
GEORGE GALLOWAY: The usual suspect in this line-up. He was kicked out of the Labour Party for telling British soldiers to refuse to fight in Iraq. He stood as an independent politician and beat the Labour candidate. He is now also a radio host, and has his own show on Iran’s Press TV. Low point: appearing on Big Brother in 2006.
“We will be very, very lucky if the explosions taking place in Gaza today don’t blow up in our own face at some time in the future.”
KEN LIVINGSTONE: My hero. Mayor of London 2000-2008. He was criticised for inviting Yousef Al-Qaradawi to London. Often spoke out against injustice while he was Mayor but didn’t normally get involved in campaigns like this. Very close to Venezuelan President Higo Chavez.
Wants Britain to withdraw its ambassador in Israel to prevent the “slaughter and systematic murder of Arabs”.
ANNIE LENNOX: Famous Scottish soul singer.
“A few days after Christmas I came downstairs, put the television on and saw smoke pyres coming from buildings and I was shocked to the core because I was thinking as a mother and as a human being, how was this going to be the solution to peace?”
ANAS ALTIKRITI: Iraqi. Former head of the Muslim Council Britain.
ALEXI SAYLE: Jewish Comedian (I’m mentioning his religion for a reason, see below).
“It is important that Jewish people who have a public profile speak out to say that this has not been done in our name. I think that Israel has an idea of itself as being noble. When you attack somebody but you have this idea of yourself that you’re the good guy – you think ‘how can this be?’
What you do is blame the people you have killed – and you hear all the time from Israeli spokespeople that they are angry with the people that they have murdered, for making them murder them.
It is the psychologist of the murderer, the rapist, the bully. And that’s what Israel is in this situation.”
BIANCA JAGGER: Ex-wife of Mick Jagger from the Rolling Stones. Former model.
Called Israel’s attacks “war crimes”.
TARIQ ALI: Pakistani film-maker, and one of Britain’s most eloquent left-wing thinkers.
They were speaking ahead of today’s London march in protest at the Israeli attacks.