Harry Fear's Talking Tour shakes things up in Guelph

Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • Harry Fear, talking at Ed Video'Media Arts Centre's gallery

    Harry Fear, talking at Ed Video'Media Arts Centre's gallery

Written by Abigel Lemak

On Jan 7, campaigning documentarist, Harry Fear, graced Guelph as his first stop on his Canadian talk tour at Ed Video' Media Arts Centre's gallery.

“On my website it actually still calls me an activist, which is not really accurate anymore,” said Fear. “I would say that I’m a campaigning documentary maker-- what I mean is that I see that there is obviously a problem that needs to be addressed with reporting.”

Most students aren’t aware that there is a conflict in Gaza, or simply follow the events as captured by major news outlets. What’s even more shocking is the lack of attention given to the recent Eight Day War starting November 14, 2012, that was raged on the Gaza strip by the Israeli government. 

It’s citizens are trapped within their borders, unable to leave unless willing to subject themselves to a refugee status once more. Those eight days were recounted as under frequent aerial, land and water based terrorization of Gazans, boxed in a 360 square kilometer stretch of land. 

Israel is described as an alien occupying force by Fear, taking part in illegal occupation in full public view. In his talk tour, “Aggression in Gaza,” Fear has taken it upon himself to travel to major university cities, as well as other venues, to educate people on the violence being inflicted on Gazans. 

“At the end of the day,” said Fear. When the elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, the mouse wont appreciate your neutrality.”

Fear focuses on the misrepresentation of Palestinians, the apathy shown towards Gazans and the bias of major news outlets in giving their little to no weight in their stories. In his talk, he urges people to get more educated about the conflict and become active voices against the injustices being done to the people of Gaza and to speak out against the aggressions of Israel. 

“I have never been called anti-semitic, although quite a lot of journalists have,” said Fear. “I hope that I don’t appear bigoted or a hidden-agenda person and that people can say that I’m a generally nice person. I hope this is my kind of protection.” 

Fear goes on to further explain how to deal with the problem of misunderstanding support for the people of Gaza as anti-semitic, a common fear for people who wont speak out against Israel’s military violences.

“The problem is that people equate --technically semitism includes the Palestinians-- semitism with zionism and things get mixed up and people don’t want to be anti-semitic and they shouldn’t be anti-semitic,” said Fear. “The problem is that in many cases, people don’t want to be anti-semitic but they’re happy to be anti-arab or anti-muslim. This is just one problem [and] the question is which one are we going to pay the price for? And people are scared.” 

This failure to see Gazans as people who feel pain, suffering and joy like everyone else is something Fear tries to get across with his video reports, documentaries and pictures.  Making that human connection and allowing oneself to become empathetic, he says, is crucial. He urges people to go see for themselves and to get as educated as they can on the subject, weary of major news sources. 

“People generally don’t have enough information,” said Fear. “They’re worried of being discriminatory and they’re well aware that anti-semitism exists. Most people aren’t aware of islamophobia and anti-arab racism. It’s much more covert and subconscious and therefore people are more like to play it safe by not being anti-semitic than not being anti-palestinian, I think. Most people don't really know the basic facts about the conflict, and they are scared to stand up for either side.”

Fear is a recent Oxford graduate, who specializes in filmaking and uses his talents for documenting and reporting to show the world the horrors that continue to inflict Gazans. This past November, rather than seek his own safety, Fear decided to stay in Gaza when the Eight Day War broke out, live streaming for as many hours a day as he could muster. 

The volume and consistency of live reports and documentary videos of Gaza is unique to Fear’s dedication to ending the conflict and exposing the injustices he sees inflicted upon the Gazan people. 

“There’s no such thing as being unbiased because I’m from Oxford, you’re from Canada, we all have our own lives,” said Fear. “As a reporter this was a really interesting thing to see in Gaza [as] you could see all of the biases. You have to be honest about the bias. My bias is to support justice. Particularly based in the law.[Seeking] resolution to a conflict based in what’s humanly just and what’s in the international law.”

Since the cease fire agreement, Fear has decided to tour Canada and recount the things he’s seen and make a call for action, as he has done in many other cities in his campaign to end the injustices inflicted upon Gaza. A tireless campaign after which he will return to Gaza to continue his work for social and political justice. 

He urges students, however, to come and join him on his return to Gaza and see what is happening in order to become witnesses and retell people their first-hand accounts on the conflict. In getting people to visit the Gaza strip and take witness, perhaps the “I was there” stories will work towards shifting the misconceptions surrounding Palestinians and the nature of the conflict in Gaza.  

“Students are the best placed, really, because they don’t have the responsibility of family, they have some leisure time, they have student credit and they are technologically savvy,” said Fear. “Actually, students are the perfect people to change the world. Many students don’t realize this (some do) but in a way, being a student is prime time.”

For more information and to watch his documentary films or talks, visit http://www.harryfear.co.uk/

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