Protests don’t really agree with me, I find I’m only interested in the speakers. If Galloway speaks, there’s always the chance of a miniature masterpiece or even a great one, though he is occasionally disappointing in that regard. If Galloway doesn’t show up, which he often doesn’t, presumably because so may leftists hate him, then usually Tariq Ali will be there, and he’s usually worth hearing, though that coat he always wears and his earnest demeanor always remind me of Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther. His speeches are often factually satisfying though he lacks Galloway’s oratorical flair (though who doesn’t?)
But the only thing that got me out of bed this morning and down there in the hail and rain was the chance to see Ahed Tamimi, whom the papers said last night would be in London today. I’m surprised that the Israelis let her travel. I had seen Karl Theodor Dreyer’s Joan of Arc a couple of days ago, and for me it was an exercise in the beauty of emotionally expressive closeups, whereas to the French, who commissioned it, it was a nationalist manifesto, to a Catholic no doubt it has some deep meaning which escapes me, but as I walked down to Downing Street to hear the young lady speak, it occurred to me that Joan of Arc might have been something like this.
She seemed to me completely unaffected by her fame, which is presumably rare in a very young person, and while she spoke very strongly I was struck in certain moments of observing her afterwards that she was also just an ordinary little girl and I thought the contrast quite poignant.
It’s easy to be cynical about her and I met several Palestinians who were, but, hardened cynic though I myself quite often am, I could not suppress a quiver of emotion when she got up to speak (in fact I was moved almost to tears) and I had later the honour to shake the soft hand that had slapped that manly soldier, so deservedly, the echo of which has resounded around the world.
And I did what I never do, which is to film it: