Archive for the ‘cultural boycott’ category

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

June 16, 2018

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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%

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Israeli Deputy Ambassador/Culture Officer in Dublin advocates intimidation and smearing human rights activists; suggests humiliating them by associating them with Mossad and ‘sexual identity problems’

June 13, 2012

In an exposé by Israel’s Channel 10 News, it has been revealed that Israel’s Deputy Ambassador to Ireland, Nurit Tinari-Modai, advocates a campaign of intimidation, smears and falsification against Israeli human rights activists who campaign in solidarity with Palestinians, and suggests that “sexual identity problems” lie behind such activism. (Press Release from the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign – original here)

Ms. Tinari-Modai, who is also the Culture Officer of the Israeli Embassy in Ireland and wife of the current Ambassador Boaz Modai, made the proposals in a diplomatic communiqué sent to the Israeli Foreign Ministry. According to the Channel 10 report, translated into English by Dena Shunra, Ms. Modai advocates working “directly against those Israeli activists, [to] humiliate and shame them”. She suggests publishing the names and photographs of Israeli activists to embarrass their family and friends, and implying that they are agents of Mossad to undermine trust between Palestinian, international and Israeli solidarity activists.

Ms Tinari-Modai’s cable says that “it is possible to obtain names of the Israelis… you have to try and hit their soft underbellies, to publish their photographs, maybe that will cause embarrassment from their friends in Israel and their family, hoping that local activists would understand that they may actually be working on behalf of Mossad [Israel’s spy agency].”

Ms Tinari-Modai also goes on to make the bizarre claim that “the activity of those activists against the state is, in my evaluation, not necessarily ideological, but grounded in psychological reasons (generally of disappointment with the parents, [or] sexual identity problems).”

Martin O’Quigley, Chairperson of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) condemned the proposals saying, “this type of behaviour is indicative of the mindset of apologists for Apartheid Israel. They have no legal, political or moral arguments. Instead of questioning Israel’s illegal actions and occupation, they opt to attack human rights activists’ characters and motivations. Such tactics fit with the recommendations of the Reut Institute, an Israeli government-linked think-tank, which advocates a campaign of ‘sabotage’, ‘attack’ and ‘naming and shaming’ against Palestinian solidarity activists. While the Israeli Foreign Ministry has distanced itself from the proposals, calling them “deranged”, it is hard to believe this is a serious disavowal – more likely it is because the cable was leaked to the press and has become a political embarrassment.”

Mr. O’Quigley called for the Irish Government to take action on the issue. “That these kind of proposals are being seriously touted by the Israeli Embassy in Ireland is incredibly worrying, and the Irish government should, at the very least, demand Ms. Modai be withdrawn immediately. Support for such intimidatory behaviour, interference and personalised attacks on human rights activists by a foreign diplomatic mission should be unacceptable in a democratic and sovereign country.”

Mr O’Quigley pointed out that Ms. Modai has been a prominent opponent of the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel. “As Culture Officer of the Israeli Embassy, Ms. Tinari-Modai has been a vocal opponent of the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel. Indeed, Ms. Modai organised an Israeli Embassy sponsored propaganda film festival in Dublin last year, which was attended by both An Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and Minister for Justice and Defence Alan Shatter”.

Mr. O’Quigley concluded by saying that “in recent weeks, there has been an unprecedented attack on both the campaign for a cultural boycott of Israel and the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) in the Irish media, much of it based on inaccurate and misleading reporting. These attacks have often been highly personalised against individual IPSC members. While this would fit with the modus operandi of the Israeli Embassy, whether or not the embassy has influenced such reporting is impossible to say. However, there is no doubt that the Israeli Embassy can only have been happy with the skewed misrepresentation of the campaign.”

Ali Abunimah, Palestinian author and human rights activist noted that “Nurit Tinari-Modai’s emphasis on alleged “sexual identity problems” of those to be smeared, indicates an innate homophobia that is at odds with Israel’s efforts – known as pinkwashing – to portray itself as supportive of the rights of people who identify as LGBTQ.”

Notes:

The Channel 10 News report (text and video in Hebrew only) can be viewed here: http://news.nana10.co.il/Article/?ArticleID=903347

A professional translation of the report is published here on Electronic Intifada: http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israels-dublin-embassy-planned-smear-palestine-activists-sexual-deviants-and

A second translation from Hebrew can be found here on the Israeli website 972 Magazine: http://972mag.com/deputy-ambassador-to-ireland-pro-palestinian-activists-have-sexual-identity-problems/48180/

For more information on the Reut Institute, see: http://electronicintifada.net/tags/reut-institute

Normalising Apartheid: The Israeli parliamentary visit to Ireland

January 25, 2012

Yesterday, Irish Left Review published a piece I wrote concerning the recent Israeli hasbara mission to Ireland. Entitled, ‘Normalising Apartheid: The Israeli Parliamentary Visit to Ireland’ it analyzes the visit in the context of the Irish government’s apparent warming to the Apartheid state of Israel. You can read it (and leave comments) online by clicking here.

EXCERPT:This visit, the highest profile Israeli state visit in over 25 years, was part of an ongoing attempt to normalise the abnormal, i.e., the apartheid policies of the Israeli state directed against the Palestinian people. Such visits – including the official welcomes by both the Dail and Seanad, along with high profile political meetings – serve only to legitimise Israel’s apartheid regime and associated breaches of international law. They portray serious and grave breaches of international law not as clear-cut issues where there are perpetrators and victims, but as disputed issues that are open for “debate between democratic countries… – Read More.

Photo Credit: Fatin Al Tamimi

A rambling interview with yours truly

January 25, 2012

At a leafletting action outside Ana Moura’s performance at Dublin’s National Concert Hall (Ana is planning on playing in Tel Aviv, ignoring the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel), a camera was stuck in my face and this normally camera shy guy rambled on about Palestine, Israel, BDS, the EU and the Irish Labour Party for a good twenty minutes. The results can viewed below (starts at the 4.30 minute mark)…

(This is post #50, and its only taken me about four years…)

Audio: John Reynolds meeting on Palestine’s ‘UN Statehood Bid’

September 21, 2011

The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign has posted the audio I recorded of John Reynolds’ talk about the Palestinian ‘UN Statehood Bid’ in Dublin last week. Copied from the IPSC website:

Audio: John Reynolds meeting on ‘UN Statehood Bid’

On Thursday 15th September over fifty people attended a meeting on the meaning of the “Palestinian UN statehood bid” organised by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign. John Reynolds, former legal researcher with Palestinian human rights organisation Al-Haq, was invited to give an overview of the background to this initiative, and spoke about some of the perceived pros and cons that the move could result in.The meeting was chaired by Raymond Deane, Cultural Boycott Officer of the IPSC.

John introduced the meeting by giving an overview of the history of Palestinian international diplomacy over the years, end with the current statehood bid. He then gave outlined what Palestinian groups have been saying, both in favour and in opposition, to the move. The meeting ended with an audience question and answers session.

Download the talk as an MP3 file here (right click & ‘save target/link as’)

To read an IPSC statement on this issue, please click here.

John Reynolds (right), and Raymond Deane of the IPSC

Whatever happens at the UN, the Israeli occupation will continue

September 13, 2011

Yesterday, TheJournal.ie published an Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign opinion piece (penned by myself) in its op-ed section. Entitled, ‘Whatever happens at the UN, the Israeli occupation will continue’ and detailing the IPSC’s view of the coming Palestinian ‘UN statehood bid’, you can read it (and leave comments) online by clicking here.

EXCERPT: Yet, whatever one’s feelings about this particular initiative, regardless of the outcome at the UN, Israel’s decades old occupation is unlikely to end anytime soon – a fact admitted to by the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland on this site last week, when he stated that if statehood is declared “nothing will change on the ground for ordinary Palestinians”. Indeed, for Palestinians the brutality of the occupation will continue, irrespective of whether the UN decides that they live in the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” or the “State of Palestine”… – Read More.

Palestinian issue divides Germany’s Left Party

August 4, 2011

Palestinian issue divides Germany’s Left Party
Socialist Voice, June 2011

Very public leadership battles aside, Germany’s Left Party (Die Linke) seems to be in a state of crisis. The issue tearing it apart is the thorny one of “anti-Semitism”, or to be more accurate, “perceived anti-Semitism”. To be totally truthful, the issue is in fact a division over principled anti-Zionism, which of course has nothing to do with the issue of Jewish people, and everything to do with the issues of anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism. But then this is Germany where the shadow of the Holocaust still looms large.

For their stance on Israel and Zionism, sections of the Left Party have come under increasing pressure, both from without and – scandalously – from within the party. Last month, the party leadership passed a resolution that barred Left Party MPs from taking part in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla (three MPs had taken part in the previous flotilla), and prevented involvement “in Middle East conflict initiatives that call for a one-state solution for Palestine and Israel, and boycotts of Israeli products”.

According to the party leadership, calling for a democratic bi-national state with one-person one-vote in Palestine/Israel is anti-Semitic. As is engaging in the perfectly legitimate non-violent solidarity action of boycotting the goods of an apartheid state! In protest at the move, 14 of its MPs walked out of the vote and five didn’t show up. However the party has 76 MPs, the rest of whom presumably voted in favour of this ridiculous motion.

It ill behoves a socialist party to cave in to such bullying from external forces. Principle should always outweigh opportunism, and the party should be defending its members who are facing this preposterous attack, not trying to please the apologists for Israeli apartheid.