Author Archive

Are Israeli vote-bots skewing an Irish ‘Boycott Eurovision’ poll?

June 16, 2018

ev2019header-1

A poll published yesterday, Friday 15th June, on TheJournal.ie website asking the question “Do you think RTÉ should boycott the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel next year?” has seen some interesting results.

As of 12pm today, Saturday 16th June, the results stand at No: 50% Yes: 46% Don’t Know: 2%

This is a remarkable turnaround, as until yesterday afternoon, the vote was holding steady at between 70% – 67% Yes.

This figure is in line with all other polls run by TheJournal.ie on the question of matters related to Palestine. For example, in May this year TheJournal asked “Do you think Ireland should expel its Ambassador to Israel over Palestinian deaths in the Gaza Strip?” The results were Yes: 67% No: 27% Don’t Know: 4% In July 2014 it asked a similar question, “Would you support the expelling of the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland?”. Again, the results were Yes: 66% No: 27% Don’t Know: 5% In September 2011 it asked ‘Should Ireland support Palestine’s bid for full UN membership?’ Once again, the results: Yes: 71% No: 14% Not Yet: 9% Don’t Know: 3%

One slight outlier was a poll in July 2014 that asked “Should Irish politicians come back to debate the Israel-Gaza crisis?”, although not in the same range, a clear majority of 56% said Yes, only 40% said No and 2% Didn’t Know.

Taking an average of the ‘pro-Palestine’ vote for those four previous polls, we get a solid majority of 65%. Leaving out the somewhat ambiguous question about politicians coming back to debate the issue, we get 68%. So, basically,  a 68% – 65% pro-Palestine majority.

Yet in yesterday’s poll, there is only a 45% ‘pro-Palestine’ vote. (Note, the No vote has reached 51% in the hour it has taken me to write this far).

Something smells, no? Something smells distinctly like a hasbara attack.

Let’s look at the numbers involved here. Taking a random sample of ‘popular’ daily polls on TheJournal.ie over the past month, we find an average of 13,917 votes. By far the most ‘popular’ polls are those around topics like abortion, benefits and rickshaw regulation. The most voted-on poll, with 16,321 respondents, asked whether those in receipt of child benefits should be means tested.

Yet this poll has a whopping 24,623 respondents, which will probably reach 25,000 by the time I finish writing.  That’s over 10,000 more votes than the average number of votes for any poll on TheJournal.ie, and 8,300 more than the other most voted-on poll of recent weeks.

Now, if we knock off these roughly 8,300 ‘excess’ votes two interesting things happen.

  • We get a vote figure of roughly 16,000 respondents – broadly in line with the normal votes for the most ‘popular’ topics on TheJournal.ie.
  • If we assume these excess votes are going into the ‘No’ side (which they clearly are – the ‘No side is gaining at roughly 1.5% point per hour) and we thus eliminate them, we get a ‘Yes’ figure of … 69%. A figure totally in line with the historic average of pro-Palestine votes on TheJournal.ie.

Now, Isn’t that interesting?

So what’s going on? The high ‘No’ vote rate – which continued overnight and into a second day with no sign of letting up (most TheJournal.ie polls die out after a day or so) would suggest either an organised campaign of Israel’s supporters outside of Ireland (the idea that Israeli Apartheid has 12,000+ dedicated supporters in Ireland is laughable) – and we know that these campaigns exist. Another possibility is that of automated ‘vote-bots’ being used.

In all likelihood, it is a combination of both, but the consistency of the No voting would suggest it is mainly bots. This is interesting (and worrying), because while we hear so much about alleged Russian online interference in democracies – we hear little to nothing about similar interference by Israel and its appendages in the Zionist lobby groups. It would certainly be interesting to see a breakdown of the countries from which IP addresses voted, something which a colleague of mine has asked TheJournal.ie to release…

It does, however, show that the Eurovision issue is really rattling Israel. The apartheid state is desperate to host it to legitimise their colonisation of occupied Jerusalem, so recently endorsed by the Trump regime, but rejected by most EU nations. So desperate some have suggested that the Eurovision popular vote was gamed – though having no real expertise in such matters, I cannot comment. In response to a 26,000 strong petition in Iceland calling for a boycott, the Israeli Consul met with the head of Iceland’s state broadcasting company RÚV to express concern. The EBU – the Eurovision’s governing body – has been making noises about not wanting it held in Jerusalem. Isreal’s Culture Minister, the deeply uncultured Miri Regev, has said that if the competition is not held in Jerusalem then Israel shouldn’t host it at all. It is an issue that is affecting their attempts to art-wash the oppression of Palestinians.

Take Action

In Ireland, in response to the call from Palestinian artists, journalists and civil society groups, the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Trade Union Friends of Palestine and PalFest Ireland are starting a campaign to have Ireland boycott the 2019 competition if it is held in Israel – PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE THE PETITION ONLINE HERE.

Other follow up actions are being prepared, keep an eye on www.ipsc.ie or join the IPSC Mailing List for updates.

Update: At the time of publication, 2pm today, Saturday 16th June, the results stand at No: 51% Yes: 45% Don’t Know: 2%

Advertisements

Listen: Irish Radical Women’s History – Two Lectures from the Street Stories Festival

December 12, 2017

womenafter16

Below is the audio of two public lectures from the Street Stories Festival 2017 organised by the Stoneybatter & Smithfield People’s History Project. The meetings took place in the Cobblestone on Saturday 2nd December 2017.

The theme this year was ‘They Didn’t Go Away: Irish Women after the 1916 Rising’, and a publication (pictured above) was produced – and is available for purchase in the Cobblestone Pub or via the Project’s Facebook page (linked above). Unfortunately due to technical difficulties, I was only able to capture these two talks.

The lectures are as follows:

Gerard Shannon – Muriel MacDonagh – The Tragic Death of a 1916 Widow
LISTEN: Download the MP3 here (hosted by Archive.org)

Mary McAuliffe – The Colmcille Branch of Cumann na mBan and the Revolutionary Stoneybatter Women, 1914-1924
LISTEN: Download the MP3 here (hosted by Archive.org)

Audio of 2017 Peter Graham Commemoration: Rayner O’Connor Lysaght & Alan MacSimóin

February 21, 2017

petergraham

Below is the audio of a public meeting commemorating the life of Irish revolutionary activist and militant Peter Graham, who was tortured and murdered by persons unknown in 1971 at the age of just 26. The meeting took place in the Cobblestone on Saturday 18th February 2017. The audio also includes contributions from the floor from people who knew Peter Graham.

LISTEN: Download the MP3 here (hosted by Archive.org)

Politically Trotskyist, Dublin-born Graham was an activist with Saor Éire and the International Marxist Group. He was tortured and shot dead in a near St. Stephen’s Green on 25 October 1971. As Come Here to Me note in their short piece on Graham, “a cloud of mystery, silence and betrayal still hangs over the incident to this day.”

The talk was introduced and chaired by longtime Dublin anarchist activist Alan MacSimoin (also of the Stoneybatter & Smithfield People’s History Project) and the main speaker was historian Rayner O’Connor Lysaght, a close friend of Graham’s who shared the flat in which he was murdered. O’Connor Lysaght is a member of Socialist Democracy. The talk was organised by the Irish Republican and Marxist History Project.

In 2013 a talk covering some of the stories of this era in Irish history, ‘Radical Politics of the late 1960s-70s: Marxists, Anarchists & Saor Eire’, was also hosted by the same same organisers (and features the same two speakers as well as other contributions ). It can be viewed on YouTube here PART ONEPART TWO.

Audio of Arun Kundnani talk: ‘Islamophobia, Extremism And The War On Terror’

February 1, 2016

arun1

On Wednesday 20th January 2016, schoalr Arun Kundnani spoke on contemporary Islamophobia in a conversation with Dr David Landy of the Department of Sociology. The talk was introduced by Dr. Ronit Lentin. 

Kundnani, of New York University writes about race, Islamophobia, political violence, and surveillance. He is author of “The Muslims are Coming! Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror”

This talk was part of the conference ‘Understanding Anti-Muslim Racism in Ireland and Exploring Community Based Responses’. This event was organised by the Department of Sociology, Trinity College Dublin in association with ENAR Ireland, Migrant Rights Centre, SIPTU, Canal Communities Regional Youth Service and AkiDwA.

Download the MP3 here
(hosted by Archive.org)

Audio of Vijay Prashad talk: ‘Europe Can’t Shake Off Its Imperialism (Needs Help)’

July 1, 2015

Vijay Prashad gave a a talk on the topic of ‘Europe Can’t Shake Off Its Imperialism (Needs Help)’ in the Comhlamh building in Dublin, Ireland, on Tuesday 30th June 2015.

Download the MP3 here (hosted by Archive.org)

vijay1

Vijay Prashad speaking in Dublin

Where in the world is Europe? Imperialist, neoliberal, fortress – but also riven by crisis, resistance and spaces for solidarity inside and outside its putative borders.

This informal talk, followed by discussion, was given by scholar, public intellectual, and activist Vijay Prashad. The talk was introduced by author, journalist and academic Harry Browne, and bookended by human rights activist Caoimhe Butterly. Recording includes Q&A session.

————————————–

Dr. Vijay Prashad, is an Indian historian, journalist commentator, and Marxist. In his most recent book The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South, Prashad writes an alternative history of the contemporary world from the standpoint of the Global South. Prashad is currently a visiting faculty member at American University of Beirut’s CASAR and is the Edward Said Chair Professor of International Studies at Trinity College (Hartford, CT., USA). He is the author of 16 books, writes for Jadaliyya, Frontline, CounterPunch online magazine, and The Hindu. He is also an advisory board member of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

Are Palestinians not worth speaking to? Again on the Irish Times, Charlie Flanagan and that visit to the Middle East:

February 18, 2015

flanagan-liberman

Following on from yesterday’s withering look at Irish media coverage (or lack thereof) of Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan’s visit to Gaza as part of a wider tour of the Middle East, I am compelled to once again put finger to keyboard to take investigate at two aspects of this visit. Firstly, the ongoing coverage in the Irish Times and, secondly (in a later post), dissecting what the Minister has said during the trip.

In the first instance, it’s important to at least acknowledge that the Irish Times has deemed this visit to Gaza, Israel and the West Bank as being newsworthy enough to have run three pieces on it, all written by Ruadhán Mac Cormaic. Contrast this with, for example, the total absence of this news from the Irish Independent – which did find the webspace for a story about something that happened in Israel, and which for much of today was the second item it the paper’s RSS newsfeed; the headline of this story was “Israeli divers find medieval coins“. Big news in archeological circles, to be sure, but more newsworthy than an Irish Ministerial visit to he region? Surely not.

2indo

The Irish Times appears to be the only Irish media outlet with any coverage of yesterday’s visit to Tel Aviv. So let’s look at what the ‘paper of record’ tells us in its piece entitled “Israeli minister cites ‘difficulties’ with Irish public opinion“.

(Note: I will leave the piece entitled “Charlie Flanagan says time running out for Israeli-Palestinian pact“, which is largely just quotes from the Minister, until a later posting looking at the meaning of the visit in a political context.)

Headline framing aside, the first thing to note is that when you open the page online the first thing we the reader is presented with is a 90 second video of Charlie Flanagan at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum. We see him express shock at the victims of the Nazi genocide (“all ages… very, very powerful”), lay a wreath at the eternal flame, and then deliver a statement saying, “It isn’t sufficient for us to just come here and see and witness, I believe it’s essential that we redouble our efforts throughout the world to resist and combat anti-Semitism in all forms, thank you”.

While this visit to Yad Vashem is no doubt interesting, and worth mentioning, it is hardly the most important aspect of the visit. Indeed, just about every head of state who visits Israel also visits the museum. It is curious, however, that there was no similar video made by the Irish Times during Flanagan’s visits to Gaza or the West Bank. Surely a video of Flanagan surveying the wreckage of Gaza, which he calls “truly shocking”, would be impactful and newsworthy? We know, from the byline on this piece, that Ruadhán Mac Cormaic is “in Tel Aviv”, yet yesterday’s piece did not say “Ruadhán Mac Cormaic in Gaza”. Why did Mr. Mac Cormaic, an accredited journalist who has visited Gaza previously and is based only an hour away from the border, not also accompany the Minister to Gaza? Did he deem the visit not newsworthy enough, or was there perhaps no budget from the Irish Times to do so? Perhaps we will never know, the the fact is that he didn’t, even though both he and the newspaper deemed the visit at least worth a 550 word piece yesterday. Incidentally, Flanagan also laid a wreath a at former Palestinian Authority President Yaser Arafat’s Tomb in Ramallah – but there was no video of this, not even a still photo, even though the interview with the Minister also published on the website leads with a photo of the Yad Vashem wreath laying.

Then we get to the article itself. It opens by referring to Israel as “the Jewish state” – a thoroughly disputable claim offensive to many Jews around the world, not to mention the Palestinians who reject this terminology applied to their homeland. A more accurate description would be “the Zionist state”.

Then, seven of the first eight paragraphs are given over to an Israeli state spokesperson, and the eight gives us some background information on Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, which states:

Mr Lieberman, who heads the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party and lives in an Israeli settlement, has previously said he would be open to an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank as part of a regional agreement but his controversial variant of the plan envisages the transfer of Israeli-Arabs – who amount to a fifth of Israel’s population – into a new Palestinian state.

While being essentially factual, this paragraph omits – as many Irish Times reports do – that Israeli settlements should be referred to as being “illegal Israeli settlements“, preferably followed by the words “on Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank”. Also, what the Irish Times refers to as a “controversial variant of the plan”, is in fact much more than “controversial”; forcible population transfer is illegal, as is the forced stripping of citizenship. Finally, the use of the phrase Israeli-Arabs to describe the self-identified Palestinian Citizens of Israel is highly problematic. Such terminology denies this group – 20% of the population of Israel – their self-defined national-ethnic identity as Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, assigning them instead an identity designated and propagated by the Israeli state and Zionism.

Okay, so maybe we need eight paragraphs from the Israeli perspective – it’s news after all, and Lieberman is – for now at any rate – one of the major players. Surely we will get a similar smattering of quotes from the Palestinian side, as Flanagan is also visiting the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah…

On the third day of his tour of the Middle East, Mr Flanagan travelled from Tel Aviv to Ramallah, where he met the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Palestinian prime minister, Rami Hamdallah.

Oh. That’s it? We are told that Flanagan met two Palestinian officials. We are not informed what they talked about, what the Palestinian reaction was. Palestinians are merely denied a voice in this piece. Presumably Mr. Mac Cormaic did not travel to Ramallah either.

Then, to end with, there are four paragraphs quoting Irish official sources.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the sum total of the Irish Times coverage.  Nowhere in any of the three pieces are Palestinians – officials, civil society representatives, or ordinary people – quoted or otherwise given a voice. The sources are weighted in the following order (ranked by number of paragraphs in which source is cited) of Irish (28): Israeli (7): Palestinian (0).  In the eyes of the Irish Times – Ireland’s so-called ‘paper of record’ – Palestinians are simply not worth talking to, their opinions are of zero value.

No, the AP report does not say 89% of fatalities in Gaza were civilians – but it’s a damning indictment of Israel’s conduct nonetheless

February 18, 2015

report11
Various reports have given a misleading account of the recent Associated Press (AP) investigation into civilians killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza last summer.

Lots of those reports about it that I’ve seen – eg here, here and here – claim the AP report says that 89% of those Palestinians killed in the Israeli attacks were civilians, and 11% resistance fighters. As far as I can see, this fundamentally misreads the findings of the report and its purported figures.

What the AP report actually says that 11% of those killed in airstrikes (not in shelling, not by sniping, not during the ground invasion) on homes and residences (not public buildings, religious buildings, schools, medical centres, open spaces) were fighters or ‘suspected fighters’, not 11% of all Palestinian deaths, for which the figure is more like 25%-33% depending on whether one uses PCHR or UNOCHA figures.

As an aside, the AP report does not appear to break down whether the alleged fighters killed were on ‘active service’ at the time of the bombing, or were merely at home while being a member of an armed group, but not taking part in fighting at the time of their deaths (they would be honoured militarily by their faction either way).

You can read the report here. In places it reads like an apologia for Israeli war crimes, despite the staggering figures it has unearthed. Nevertheless, it is very much worth reading as it shines a light on the sheer brutality of the Israeli assault on the people of Gaza last year.  And furthermore, it is worth noting that no Irish media outlet picked up on the report, despite their fondness for republishing AP and Reuters wire reports instead of employing journalists on the ground in the region.