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February 19, 2019
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British comedian, champion of Palestinians’ rights Jeremy Hardy dies at 57

LONDON: British comedian and champion of Palestinian rights Jeremy Hardy died of cancer. He was 57.

Hardy was born in 1961 in England. He shot to fame as a stand-up comedian in 1980.

Hardy started his career as a scriptwriter. However, in his early 20s, he turned to stand-up comedy and become a popular comedian.

He had strong political views which he expressed in his work. “When I started out I just wanted people to laugh and then I thought I need to have a message in this,” Hardy had said in an interview with Middle East Monitor in 2017 at stand-up comedy fundraising event “Give it Up for Palestine”.

“I felt like I’ve got a platform and people are listening,” he said. “So I kind of ended up trapped forever as a political comedian,” he added with a giggle.

Hardy was a vocal advocate of Palestinians’ rights and a bitter critic of the Israeli occupation. He travelled to the occupied West Bank for the first time in 2002 where he fronted a feature documentary called “Jeremy Hardy vs the Israeli Army”, by Palestinian director Leila Sansour. The film follows the International Solidarity Movement and their activities in Palestine through Hardy’s “extraordinary journey to free Palestine”.

Comparing his 2002 visit with a more recent trip to the occupied Palestinian Territories with Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) in 2017, the award-winning comedian said that Palestinians seemed “ground down, depressed, and much less optimistic about the situation” than before.

“It felt as though Palestinians were very weary now,” he told MEMO. “It felt like the occupation has really debilitated people’s spirit.”

That, however, did not stop them from continuing to be defiant, he explained. “There is still that sumood [Arabic for steadfastness]. That word is very apt to use about Palestinians, but I think the occupation has really taken its toll after 50 years. For some people, it’s all they have known.”

You’ve got the longest occupation in history and the largest refugee population in the world and nothing is being done.

“I hate to say it, but I’m very pessimistic about the situation,” he continued before he went on to lament Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States. “I think Trump is an absolute disaster for the Middle East, certainly for Palestine.”