Photo By J McKeever
Cliff Hanley was out tonight at the Bristol peace vigil in front of the Hippodrome but as it was tea time and the baby was kicking off so I only managed to grab only a quick word.
When the story broke about the violent and unprovoked attack in international waters on the Aid convoy, I saw that some Bristolians were unaccounted for and in a very mummsy way, I became very concerned about their wellbeing.
Tonight I was lucky enough to stop and ascertain they were ok and I managed to not ask Cliff if he was wearing a vest
The first thing I put to him was the reports from the Israelis that there were arms on board held by the Palestine campaigners and how the Israelis insist that they came under fire.
The only incident involving arms he watched was when one of the Palestine campaigners managed to disarmed a solder chaotically firing at people, and how the campaigner managed to empty the gun chamber of its bullets on to the deck and threw the gun overboard.
He insisted they were no arms on the convoy, and could give no explanation for the Israeli account. I speculated that the Israelis had in the chaos accidently shot one of their own ‘Friendly fire’ style; He just smiled and shrugged at this. But he insisted that there was, under no circumstances, any fire from the convoy. He described how the army had arrived by sea and air already firing their guns indiscriminately before even boarding the ship.
Then I’m afraid I asked him did he know any of the victims of the Israeli shooting,
It was the kind of question I probably tell my kids off for asking someone,
He replied that he did, and described a big bear of a man he got to know, who had a overwhelming sense of Turkish hospitality and had insisting on trying to feed Cliff up during the voyage, (Cliff having the classic Scots wiry build)
It is obvious that Cliff is a reserved man, and when talking of his friend who was murdered, it’s only the 100 yard stare that speaks of the horror of what he has just witnessed. He described a decent man killed trying to bring humanitarian aid to people in the biggest prison camp in the world.
I asked Cliff if he will try to return to Gaza.
He looked at me like I asked a stupid question; I look him in the eye and know that this man’s resolve to help the people of Gaza has only become stronger because of what he’s seen.
As I walk away my daughter asks me “Mummy what dose ‘money where your mouth means?”
She’s herd me just say it to the wiry scot in the Palestinian scarf.
“But why would you put money in your mouth ...Mummy?”
“It's not something many people do sweetheart”
However, I have to say, he looks like he could do with a good feeding up and if I do bump into him again; I will have to insist on buying him some cake.
But then again being wiry make less of a target...
For some journalism on this and not the plump mummsy report see the post interview hear: