Interview transcript: Jennifer Robson

The following interview with Jennifer Robson on Monday 18th August between 21:45 and 22:45.


Thanks for agreeing to chat with me. I’ve just seen on your FB profile you did a final push on your Gaza appeal. How’s it gone?

Very happy to chat about it!  I’m up to £792 last I checked, which is incredible. That’s nearly 80% of my (very ambitious) target
What made you want to start this appeal?

It was inspired, as you were, by the Jon Snow video and how fast and how widely people shared it on their networks.  Gaza had been in the news for a while by that point but that video seemed to be what caught people’s attention

And do you work for any charities or was this completely seperate?

It was completely separate but I do work for a charity.  It’s a UK-based children’s charity

You mentioned the ambitious target – £1000 – and you are so close. What’s going to happen to the money?

It will go to Oxfam, who I chose  mainly as, even before the DEC appeal, they were working directly on the ground with those affected in Gaza (and continue to do so)

Do you have concerns about the money getting to those who really need it? Are there any guarantees  that the funds won’t end up going to paying for arms or falling in to the hands of others?

I think with this appeal, that’s been one of people’s biggest concerns.  But I’ve donated to Oxfam before and I’ve read up enough to assure myself that the money is channelled to the front line.  And we can see the impact it’s having in terms of the aid that’s already being adminstered

A lot seems to have changed since we first started talking about this. As we chat Gaza and Israel are on an extended ceasefire, and attention has shifted slightly towards Iraq and Syria. Now it was in the news pretty quickly that aid was on the way to Iraq to help with the latest terrible crisis, and yet Gaza really seemed to take a long time to get that much attention. Do you think Gaza is an afterthought for the public and the media? Do you think the west have a less vested interest in Gaza than they do in Iraq?

I was discussing this with people just today.  I think, however simplistic this may be, governments feel greater responsibility for what’s happening in Iraq, and of course they have their own interests located in the territories affected.  But my feeling with Gaza, in terms of the general public’s response, was that the deeply entrenched politics overshadows the human crisis, and it’s only been in this most recent conflict that the human story has felt stronger, partly thanks to Jon Snow’s reporting.  It’s not headline news anymore but the DEC appeal is still urgent, and the same suffering persists on the ground

Has it been more difficult to keep awareness of your own appeal going since the shift in media focus from Gaza to Iraq?

Yes, but I think that’s also due to the fact that people engaged very quickly with it – sharing and donating – and it’s perhaps reached it’s natural peak.  In my everyday conversations though, it’s still very much on people’s minds Also, I think the launch of the DEC emergency appeal took over somewhat from individual charities’ fundraising, and some people are donating directly to that now

Just reading through the comments on your justgiving site, everyone who left comments have voiced their support. Has there been any moments during your campaign, speaking to people where they didn’t want to support the cause?

Yes, there has.  And in each case it was because it was too ‘political’. I tried to write an appeal that was clearly not about picking sides, or debating the politics, but that was clearly focused on the humanitarian need. However, I respect that nobody is obligated to support it, and indeed that some people may choose to do something privately in their own way

Because the situation has been going on for so many years, it carries that weight. It’s gotten so complicated and I see that some people have tried to over-simplify it. Have you been following people like Russel Brand when he chatted about the reaction from Fox News? Or even Joan Rivers?

I have, it’s been hard to miss it!  It feels like this is the first time that the Gaza conflict has attracted that type of coverage. And I think all of that has played a role in keeping the crisis on people’s radar, and perhaps engaging those who haven’t thought much about it before.  Which can only be a good thing

Obviously we’re chatting amid a ceasefire, and everyone hopes that stays in place and peace continues, but because of the length of the conflict there will undoubtedly be a generation that has known nothing but conflict. Do you worry about the future of Gaza, even if (hopefully) the peace is maintained?

Yes, of course.  This conflict has seemed like an escalation on recent previous conflicts, and that worries me too.  The issues preventing a lasting peace just seem so intractable

This is brilliant thank you. Do you have a closing deadline for your appeal?

You’re very welcome, i hope it’s been useful.  I’m keeping it open-ended as the money is passed on to the charity as it’s donated, and I’d like to reach £1000.  If not, I’m going to top it up myself anyway!

And will you get to see how the money is spent?

Sadly not directly, but I’m following Oxfam’s progress every day on their Facebook page, which is helping me stay connected to why I did this in the first place

And finally, is there anything else people in the UK can do to help the people of Gaza?

Just to donate what they can to the DEC appeal, and if they don’t have the money, then just raise awareness. And most importantly, don’t forget.

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