Tony Blair’s Sister-in-Law — Trapped in Gaza!
It makes for a great headline, and has been splashed across the British and much of the European press. The full story, as always, is considerably more complicated.
Yes, Lauren Booth, the 41-year-old journalist /activist arrived three weeks ago by boat, as part of the Free Gaza expedition that sailed from Cyprus (click here for PJM’s coverage). Most of the 44-member group elected to leave the same way they arrived. Ms. Booth decided, along with 10 others, to stay behind.
So far, neither Israel nor Egypt has allowed any of the 10 activists who remained in Gaza to leave. Ms. Booth, however, is the only one of the group whose predicament has been widely covered by the foreign media. She is also the only one whose half-sister Cherie is married to a former prime minister of Great Britain.
Nearly every article about Ms. Booth’s predicament leads with the fact that she is Blair’s sister-in-law. Most mention that the former prime minister is now a Middle East envoy. Almost none mentions that the two are not on speaking terms.
As Ms. Booth put it in a 2006 speech at a rally to protest the Iraq war: “By chance of marriage, I am related to Tony Blair — a fact that makes neither of us happy today, I can tell you that.” Ms. Booth does not seem at all unhappy, though, with the generous publicity she has won for her Gaza adventure, by virtue of her family connections. Mr. Blair’s staff said he would not involve himself in the matter, which is being dealt with by the British consulate in East Jerusalem.
Interviewed last week for Ynet by Noa Raz, Ms. Booth insisted that the conditions in Gaza were worse than those in Darfur, where an estimated 400,000 have been killed since 2003. She also compared Gaza to a concentration camp. “You were in the concentration camps,” she told the 20-something reporter, who was born in Israel two generations after the Nazi Holocaust. “And I can’t believe that you are allowing the creation of such a camp yourselves.”
A few days before the Ynet interview was published, Ms. Booth was photographed by an AFP photographer while purchasing Snickers bars and bottled soft drinks at an apparently well-stocked Gaza supermarket.