Jeremy Hardy, comedian and friend of Palestine, dies aged 57

Jeremy Hardy, comedian and friend of Palestine, dies aged 57
2 min read
01 February, 2019
Left-wing comedian and political activist Jeremy Hardy died from cancer on Friday morning.
Jeremy Hardy, 1961-2019 [Image: Jeremy Hardy vs The Israeli Army]
Jeremy Hardy, a much-loved British comedian and activist, died early on Friday morning, his publicist has confirmed.

The 57-year-old was with his wife and daughter when he died.

Hardy had built a reputation for weaving socialist politics into his comedy acts, balancing outrage at the state of the world and the United Kingdom with a compassion for ordinary people.

In 2002, at the peak of the Second Intifada, Hardy travelled to the occupied Palestinian territories with the International Solidarity Movement. The result was the very moving, and very funny documentary, Jeremy Hardy Vs The Israeli Army.

Palestine activist Leila Sansour had wanted to bring a "recognised name" - someone famous - to the West Bank to see the occupation for themselves, and to bring the solidarity movement to a wider audience. The only person willing to do it was Jeremy Hardy.

"I could see she had a strange faith in the power of minor celebrity," says Hardy in the film's introduction.

"Really, I was a bit out of my depth," he told The New Arab with characteristic humility in a 2017 interview.

"I ended up under siege in a hotel and I got evacuated after a few days. Then I went back in the summer to finish the film by which time everything was just trashed."

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Watch the full Jeremy Hardy vs The Israeli Army documentary here

He remained a committed activist in solidarity with Palestinians, raising money for Palestinian causes including the Palestine Trauma Centre and Medical Aid for Palestinians.

He campaigned against the Israeli military's use of checkpoints, forcing patients to transfer between ambulances on either side of often arbitrarily-placed barriers.

"People die because they don't reach the hospital in time," he told The New Arab. "People also miss appointments all the time because of getting held up at the checkpoints, for example for not having the right paperwork.

"It just highlights the brutality of the occupation in the way it just makes ordinary everyday life, things that we take for granted, impossible."

Read more: No laughing matter - comedian Jeremy Hardy's stand for Palestine

"I know why Iran doesn't recognise Israel," he once remarked on a BBC Radio 4 comedy programme.

"It's because it looks a lot like Palestine."

Tributes on Friday morning were led by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Fellow comedians and activists also took to Twitter to remember their friend.

He leaves behind second wife Katie Barlow, former wife Kit Hollerbach and daughter Elizabeth Hardy.