Students Against Israeli Apartheid hosted independent British journalist, documentary maker, and human rights activist Harry Fear at U of T Mississauga as part of his worldwide talking tour to report on the latest assault on Gaza.
Approximately 200 people, including activists, bloggers, news reporters, and Fear’s followers, gathered to hear him speak about his experience living in Gaza during Operation Pillar of Defence, which was conducted by the Israeli Defense Forces on Palestinian land.
The event was co-hosted and endorsed by multiple solidarity organizations and clubs reaching far beyond the campus, including SAIA U of T and York, Toronto Students for Justice in Palestine at UTSC, SJP Ryerson, MESA UTM and York, Canada’s Boat to Gaza, UTM MSA, CJPME, and Beit Zatoun House.
Fear’s presentation gave the audience a complete depiction of his experience, exploring several dimensions of it through visuals and short documentaries of his 12-week trip.
“This is the first time I have attended any lecture related to Palestine. Harry’s presentation really gave me a sense of what Palestinians have been going through,” said Yumna Baqai, a second-year psychology specialist.
“Mr. Fear’s presentation was not only informative but also inspirational,” Frishta Bastan, a second-year political science major, commented. “His courage to speak the truth inspires all to stand up for justice.”
Another student talked about the difficulty of understanding the pain and hardships of those who are oppressed around the world.
“Harry Fear’s presentation reached out to our hearts as he reported his personal experiences while he was in Gaza and showed us videos and pictures from his travels in the region,” said Sumaiyah Kamaludeen, a first-year financial economics specialist. “He brought us back to reality and showed us how real the situation in Gaza is. He inspired and motivated me to spread awareness to help the people there who are suffering every day.”
Fear answered some bold questions from the audience, and said that “bias is inevitable” when facing injustice that needs to be brought into people’s consciousness. He
encouraged nonviolent resistance to what he considers “colonization and war crime” perpetrated by Israel through its Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign.
As he gives his tour, Fear hopes to remain economically independent in order to not comply with a corporate agenda he considers to be associated with mainstream media. Once he completes his tour, he will return to his home in Gaza to continue with ongoing projects that shed light on the humanitarian crisis in the region.
Operation Pillar of Defence was a seven-day operation last year that resulted in the deaths of approximately 170 Palestinians, 80% of whom were civilians, comprising women, children, and seniors. The Israeli death toll reached six, of whom two soldiers and four were civilians. A ceasefire was brokered by Egypt between Israel and Hamas on November 21, which has since been violated by Israel with the shooting of a Palestinian man at the Gaza border for peacefully protesting. Fear described more instances in which the most recent ceasefire was broken, shedding light on Israel’s “carelessness” in complying with international law.