Richard Madeley's guide to discussing Gaza with tact and sensitivity

TOO many people just jump in with their ill-informed opinions about the Gaza conflict. Not me. Here’s how to discuss this complex issue in a way that won’t cause offence.

Empathise on a human level

Yesterday I asked the son of an elderly Hamas hostage if he was ‘comforted’ by his mother’s ‘not unreasonable’ treatment. Apart from the earlier beatings. And still being held hostage. I know I’d prefer my loved ones to be alive rather than dead. I think it’s this incredible sense of empathy that makes me such a good interviewer.

Know your history

The conflict in Gaza is inextricably tied to the events of the past, so I’ve researched the subject in depth. I watched Lawrence of Arabia for an Arab perspective, then Schindler’s List for the Jewish side of things. I think it’s impossible to discuss the history of Israel without reference to the wonderful performance put in by Liam Neeson.

Check your prejudices 

Obviously we know Arabs are the baddies because they did 9/11 and nothing is worse than that. But you’ve got to look at the situation objectively and ask: are we sure they’re all evil? The supermodel Gigi Hadid is sort of Palestinian and she’s a very pretty young woman, so they can’t be that bad. 

Follow your journalistic instincts

I asked British-Palestinian MP Layla Moran if she ‘had any indication’ about the attack before it happened. It’s entirely likely that a terrorist group planning a surprise attack would have discussed it openly with random Gaza civilians, and maybe her mum had mentioned it on the phone? People have criticised me for this, but it’s my job to seek out the truth. In fact, can Ms Moran prove she isn’t a Hamas operative in deep cover? I think her constituents deserve to know.

Ask the questions others are afraid to

I’m hoping the Israeli ambassador will come on the show, because there’s an aspect of the conflict people are reluctant to discuss: where is the Ark of the Covenant? If the Israelis could get it back from the big warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark they could use it to melt individual Hamas terrorists without harming civilians. 

Elucidate your points with valid comparisons

I compared the bombing of Gaza to the Allied bombing of Germany in WW2. The similarities are uncanny. They both involved bombing civilians, and they both involved planes. Admittedly that’s all the similarities, but I think we can all agree we shouldn’t bomb people unless there’s a pretty good reason for it.

Offer solutions 

TV news has a tendency to focus on terrible world events without offering solutions. I intend to change that. Next week on the show I’ll be presenting guests with some of my own ideas for a lasting peace. My best one so far is we give Israel back to the Palestinians, and just give the Jews a new homeland. I’m thinking of somewhere nice and sunny, like Madagascar. I can’t see any problem with that.

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