John McCarthy in the Literary Arena, Latitude Festival

Posted on July 27, 2012


written by Robert Pollard for Festival Republic

It’s this kind of event that makes Latitude such a special festival. In amongst the vast array of musical talent sits an arena dedicated to literature; a platform for detailed discussion of a writer’s latest work.

This morning, British journalist John McCarthy gave further insight into his recently released book’ You Can’t Hide the Sun: A Journey through Israel and Palestine’ a book which gathers together a series of first-hand accounts of Israeli oppression of Palestinians who remained in Israel after the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1948.

In 1986, McCarthy was kidnapped by Islamic Jihad terrorists and held hostage in Lebanon for five years. Far from discouraging his interest, the experience seems to have made him more determined to uncover the intricacies of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Here, he recounted horrific stories of villages populated by Arabs being terrorized by Israeli security forces. Flouting UN agreements, the Israelis have swept through Palestinian villages, killing men, women and children with chilling ease. Such land-grabbing is commonplace, and McCarthy has documented these experiences with moving pathos.

Interestingly, McCarthy told the audience how Palestinians still display great humour even when he explains his British roots. Despite their disgust at Britain’s role in the peace process over the years, McCarthy’s experience is one of meeting Palestinian people genuinely interested in hearing British opinion. Many laugh at the mere mention of the name Tony Blair, a man living in a plush Jerusalem hotel whilst seemingly doing very little to accelerate the peace process.

During the Q&A session immediately following McCarthy’s talk, he was asked: “Are Israel any closer to accepting responsibility for their mistreatment of Palestinians, something which would accelerate a peace deal”? McCarthy’s response was positive. He acknowledged the right-wing administration currently in charge of Israel and their seeming inability to budge but he remains hopeful that Israel will eventually be able to face up to their past and make steps towards a more peaceful future. If anybody is well placed to make that call, it’s John McCarthy.

Posted in: Politics