Archive for the ‘dublin’ category

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

February 21, 2017

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

Some reflections on a demonstration (and by extension, the Irish left)

July 4, 2013
James O'Toole of the Socialist Workers Party address a 'Jail the Anglo Bankers' rally. Photo Credit: Paul Reynolds/Rabble

James O’Toole of the Socialist Workers Party address a ‘Jail the Anglo Bankers’ rally in Dublin. Photo Credit: Paul Reynolds/Rabble

Note: This is a post I published on Facebook earlier this evening. A few people suggested that I also publish it on this blog, as my Facebook is set to Private. So here it is for your perusal, along with some of the discussion from the comments thread. Enjoy. Or not.

Here are some thoughts on yesterday evening’s ‘Jail the Anglo Bankers‘ protest, organised by the SWP/People Before Profit (or perhaps by one of the front groups like Enough, I don’t really know to be honest – EDIT: It seems the group is in fact called ‘Jail the Anglo Bankers’, and would appear indeed to be a SWP front group). Note this is not an attack on any one group, or individuals, just some musings how I felt after the demo. If you think I’m unfairly attacking an organisation, then be assured I’m an equal opportunities complainer!

The first thing to say is that I was disappointed by the numbers. Despite over 2,000 people ‘joining’ on Facebook, less than 500 people turned up (and I think I’m being generous there). Of course, Facebook ‘attendees’ are not a particularly reliable gauge, but can show a certain mood – and I thought given the high number of ‘attends’ in such a relatively short period of time, spurred by the Anglo recordings, that there would be a big turnout. Of course, I was wrong, but one can’t blame the organisers for that. Or can they?

One thing that struck me was the absence of other groups at the action. The only organised groupings in attendance were SWP/PBPA (obviously), flag waving delegations from the 32 County Sovereignty Movement and Republican Sinn Fein, and the Dublin Says No/Occupy Dame Street remnants (more on the latter later). I spotted a couple of Socialist Party members seemingly selling their paper The Socialist, two members of Sinn Féin (one taking photos for An Phoblacht) and one member of the anarchist Workers Solidarity Movement. Sinn Fein, it should be noted, have a similar protest this Saturday, themed ‘Jail the Bankers’.

This appears to have been a solo run by the SWP/PBPA, based on the relative success of a demo they held last week were “400” people marched through Dublin (I wasn’t at the demo, so can’t say whether that’s an accurate figure) – and was reflected in the make up of the speakers – James O’Toole, Richard Boyd Barrett, Memet Uludag, Madeleine Johansson, Kieran Allen (I think the latter two spoke anyway) and a few random punters and/or people I didn’t know. That I could see, there were no representatives from any of the other Left groups given a platform – perhaps they would have been had they shown up, I don’t know.

Anyway, the bigger point about this is, was any outreach done with other groups to try and build for this protest? Or was it merely a case of one left group (in this case the SWP) running with the idea? I wasn’t involved in the building, so I can’t say. But surely, it would have made more sense to try and bring as many groups (political, community and NGO-types) and left independents together as possible, to maximise the message and attendance? I know it was a short space of time to organise things, but I think a genuine effort could have been made.

This brings me to the actual message of the protest, namely the demand for jailing the Anglo bankers. This is a very timid demand, barely reformist and far from revolutionary. ‘Punish people for breaking the law’ was the gist of the demo, something I think even a moderately sensible Blueshirt could support. Personally, for what it’s worth, I don’t think it was a very good demand. Notably absent from the speeches of these revolutionaries (or at least the ones I heard) were any concrete demands about the actual economy. For example, no one said anything about nationalising the banks, thereby taking the control of major finance away from these criminals once and for all. Jailing a few bankers and crooked politicians won’t change anything fundamental, in fact it probably won’t even change behaviour; it’s never worked for the mafia, for example. Personally, while sending the likes of Drumm and Bowe to prison for a few years might have a certain schadenfreudian appeal to it, I would rather see these people walk free in a world where the method they chose to perform their criminality no longer exists. Of course, the two outcomes aren’t mutually exclusive!

Another demand that could, and should, have been made in my opinion, was for the repudiation of the socialised private debt foisted upon the people of Ireland by this criminal and craven congealment of bankers and politicians. “It’s not the people’s debt” to use the Communist Party slogan. As with Ecuador, who successfully repudiated their odious debt, there is a strong (now even stronger, in light of the Anglo recordings) case to be made for the southern Irish state to attempt such a move – if the political will were there of course.

But this leads on to the question of the effectiveness of this type of ‘let’s march from A to B and listen to some speeches’ protest in general. Or in this case, let’s listen to some speeches, then march from A to B with greatly diminished numbers cos lots of people have fucked off during the seven or eight speeches. Of course, protests are important and have a significant role to play in the struggle. I think however, that ‘protest politics’ is pretty much a dead end. And before you point to Egypt or wherever, there people are mobilised with fairly coherent aims, and are mobilised in large numbers. I really don’t think the anger – or at least the anger-translated-to-action – exists in Ireland for such a protest movement at present, and as such these constant calls to take to the streets to voice our outrage are kind of useless – even the biggest mobilisations (eg the CAHWT march on the Fine Gael conference, or the ITCU demo) have achieved little to nothing. The one exception I can think of is the X Case stuff, where relatively large mobilisations are undoubtedly responsible for the government legislation, as crappy as that legislation is in reality. The government’s back down on the sell off of Coillte was mentioned by Richard Boyd Barrett yesterday as a victory for people power. I have to admit to not knowing a lot about that campaign, so I can’t say if that’s true one way or the other. Regardless, presuming it’s true, these (limited) victories had clear, basically reformist, demands and don’t really challenge anything fundamental about the capitalist state.

However, when it comes to economics and ‘big picture’ politics, I think the left falls down badly in its coherency. What exactly should be the demands of a mass movement (for if there is to be a mass movement that has a chance of success even in a limited reformist manner, there must be surely be demands to organise around, no)? I have suggested two above – which I think should be the staple of any left economic protest movement/organisation. There are plenty of others I can think of – I’m not saying I have the answers by the way, just that for the left to be credible in people’s eyes, it should have some concrete and coherent positive answers, rather than just being against cuts, austerity, or whatever. To be fair, Sinn Féin have done this relatively successfully – though I would disagree with many of their economic policies. In addition, the implosion of the ULA and the seeming disarray that the CAHWT/CAPTA campaign is in and the ultimate failure of the boycott strategy, doesn’t lend the far left any credibility, to say the least.

Anyway, back to protests. It seems that in this case the SWP’s answer to the question ‘what is to be done?’ is as predictable as being asked to buy a copy of Socialist Worker at a SWP-organised action: ‘Let’s have another demo! More people on the streets!’ And so we’re asked to come out again in two weeks, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel, to stand around outside the Dail and listen to speeches. If we’re lucky there might be a bit of argy-bargy with the cops to keep us mildly entertained for ninety seconds. The ultimate aim of this protest is actually to build for the next protest in September, which one speaker last night suggested could be our Tahrir Square moment, where we would “surround the Dail”. Another speaker (or perhaps the same speaker) asked the crowds to raise their hands if they wanted to achieve and Irish version of Tahrir Square. Of course, almost everyone present raised their hands. Who wouldn’t want a progressive mobilisation on that scale here? However, I was compelled to shout out “but hands up who thinks that’s going to happen?” Alas, I didn’t have a microphone, so probably only about ten people actually heard me. Of course, we’re not going to achieve a Tahrir Square moment in Ireland in the near future.

Let’s just break down the figures for a moment. Cairo has a population of 9 million or so. Let’s say at a minimum the renewed Tahrir movement has mobilised around 1 million unique people on a sustained basis (though I have seen estimates of up to 3 million). That is 1/9th of the population of the capital city – not counting other mobilisations around the country. Applied to Dublin, 1/9th of the 1.1m-odd people in Dublin is 123,400 people. The last couple of these protests have seen around 400 of these people turn up. Where are the other 123,000 going to come from? Ok, I’m being a bit mechanical here, but it’s a serious point. If you are telling people that an Irish Tahrir is possible in the near term, I just don’t think you’re being honest. Yes it would be great if such a thing happened (the closest we’ve ever come was probably the outpouring of relatively spontaneous anger against the war on Iraq on 15th February 2003, ten years ago – but let’s not open that can of worms right now), but realistically will it? I think the answer is no, unfortunately, and I think we should be honest with people about that.

But even if it were possible, then we must ask ourselves – around what political program, around what demands, would such a protest be built, and could 120,000 people on the street actually change anything? It didn’t stop the war on Iraq of course (anyone who thought it could was deluding themselves I think), but it didn’t even achieve the limited aim of ending US imperialism’s use of Irish airports and airspace to carry out their vicious wars, and transport their torture victims. Of course there’s the argument about direct action vs mass mobilisation vs both, but I’m not going to go into that here. The upshot was that 100,000 or so people marching for a day changed nothing then, why would we think it would change anything now? At least not on its own and in and of itself. Now maybe I’ve created a strawman here, and am accusing the SWP and/or others of a perspective they don’t actually hold. Maybe, maybe not. However, what I think is clear is that any such mobilisation – were it even possible in the first place – must be coupled with a strong, relatively disciplined and coherent genuinely non-sectarian leftwing organisation (be it a party – unlikely, given the history of groups on the left – or a coalition/federation type thing) united around a series of progressive demands that are both achievable and desirable. They don’t even have to be revolutionary demands as such (and here is where I’ll probably get called a reformist, sellout, social democrat, or worse, petite bourgeois), eg the demand for nationalisation of the banks is not in and of itself revolutionary. However, such a demand can – and should – be made and organised for by revolutionaries. And should it happen, the nationalisation of the banks, and/or our national resources for example, could have revolutionary consequences, allowing people to believe that yes, ‘another world is possible’, and indeed, ‘necessary’, to use the slogans of a decade ago. In essence, what I’m trying to say, I think is that a protest shouldn’t be a goal, it should be an outcome and auxiliary action of successful organisation towards a goal. Or something.

Anyway, alas, for now, it seems the strategy will remain (at least for the SWP), as one Anarchist wit once put it to me, “organise a relatively successful demonstration, repeat until demoralisation”.

In fact, what I found most disheartening about last night’s demo was the disempowering nature of it. I’ve already talked about the barely-reformist demand it was organised around, ie, ‘jail the Anglo bankers’, but the demo actually did propose a concrete action that people could take. They were asking people to fill out Garda complaint forms – to me, this is asking people to ask the armed wing of the state, the enforcers of capitalism, to take action against the people who they basically serve (in a broad sense I mean) – the rich and powerful of society. I think there may also have been a petition floating around as well, but forgive my scepiticsm regarding that – you can probably count the amount of lefty petitions ever handed in to their prospective recipients on one hand. And so, after being told to turn up in two weeks, and again in September and to build(!), build(!!), build(!!!) the protests(!!!!), a somewhat frenetic and fairly small march made it’s way to Pearse Street Garda Station (I presume) to hand in loads of these forms for consideration by the 100%-totally-free-of-political-interference police. I and the people I was with didn’t follow it down, we’d all had enough by then.

No, instead I stayed to have a look at what the Dublin Says No/Freemen/Anonymous/Occupy remnants-type people who sat down on the road afterwards were doing. This gathering of maybe 40 or so people, complete with jazz hands, brought back some piercingly painful memories of Occupy Dame Street at its worst. I’m tempted to make a comment about tragedy and farce here actually. Anyway, they held a consensus based ‘general assembly’ type discussion, with Liam Mac An Bhaird seemingly facilitating it. At one point some be-suited people left Leinster House and were chased and heckled by some of those present – whether they were politicians, civil servants or just people in suits I have no idea, I didn’t have a great vantage point. Then Liam called them back to the circle. The discussion seemed to consist of a slagging of the Socialist Workers Party/leftwing political parties (“all parties are the same, they just want money and power”), a lot of shouting about how awful things were, a constant heckling by one man who may or may not have been drunk, and an exhortation to join the “real protest” (I think that was the phrase used, forgive me if I misremember) that the recently formed ‘Dublin Says No’ group hold every Sunday afternoon. Dublin Says No, it seems, tries to model itself on Ballyhea Says No – I can’t say I know enough about them to speak with any authority, but I would guess they are of the “we’re not rightwing or leftwing” anti-politics type of protester. Anyway, that was even more depressing than the demo in some ways.

So basically, that’s some of my rambling thoughts about yesterday’s action. They may not be coherent, they may be contradictory, they may be full of logical errors and unrelated thought processes; you may agree enthusiastically or fumingly disagree; but they’re what I think at this point in time. Thankfully, things are fluid, and I hope to be proven wrong by the process of events.

TL:DR? Went to protest, came away even more downhearted, but maybe I’m wrong.

So, I’ll end on a joke – yesterday I found myself wondering what the collective noun for Trotskyists should be, and after the sixth or seventh time I was offered a copy of Socialist Worker, it became clear, it’s obviously ‘a paper sale of Trots’.

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Some of the comments and exchanges (slightly abridged):

Garrett M: Excellent critique and it certainly gives a downbeat picture of Ireland protest movements but the problem is there is no positive alternative emerging and you do not suggest one.

Citizen Partridge: Yes you’re probably right, it’s a bit stream of consciousness-y. I think I’m arguing for what I said about a coalition united around a series of progressive demands that are both achievable and desirable, maybe. I am dispirited I have to admit, not just with yesterdays’ demo, with the Irish left in general. This is me basically thinking out loud.

Garrett M: You are entitled of course to feel dispirited. It is a dispiriting picture. My spirits are not raised with the Left Forum or anything else really.Maybe what we need to do is get the left on a big long bus trip to the next G8 summit in Russia and use the trip to discuss ‘where we are now’ – politically speaking of course. The prize for a coherent answer is flights home and for not coming up with something that amounts to a left vision which will be respect is the bus journey home.

Christopher L: I would go for a ‘programme of Trotskists’ myself! But that debate is for another day! Suffice to say I agree with 90% of what you said there Kevin. Very good post. I just do not see any strategy for the future development of the left, at least not from any of the organised far left. All of them are hidebound by past practice, sad but true.

Raymond D: All very well, but what’s the point of going on at length about such matters on Facebook? Are there not other fora, or even forums, at which to voice such a critique? Speaking as someone who didn’t turn up for the demo, for various reasons. And I don’t actually believe in “jailing the bankers” ‘cos I don’t really believe in jail – except for homicidal maniacs. Put them to work on the roads instead.

Citizen Partridge: I would agree with your final comment there Chris. Raymond, Facebook is as good a place as any to post this I think. I’m not sure any lefty blog would be interested in posting it, and I steer clear of political forums in general for the good of my health!

Christopher L: I just feel like a complete fetish of organisational form has been adopted by the far left, with very little evidence or supporting reasons for why such a form has been adopted. The left, as a whole, has always been most successful when it has been at the forefront of the fight for democracy and democratic rights. That is the great legacy 200 years of socialist struggle has left us. Really though, the significance of what you are saying is ‘we do not have a f****** clue’. We need to be adult and human enough to admit that. Once you know where you are, you can begin to navigate away.

Christopher L: I think it is worthwhile to draw a balance sheet up of where the left actually is and in fairness I would not dedcribe the ‘left’ as anything other than the fairly small number of individuals named above. There is a potential resevoir of millions of progressives to mobilise in Ireland, how we get there is the other question. Personally, I think some form of far-right victory may be the only thing which may conceivably shake a number of people into action. The ‘whip of counter-revolution’ and all that.

Garrett M: No Christopher- many people thought that an economic crisis ‘which confirms our perspectives’ would galvanise the left but it didn’t and nor would a right wing government. In the UK, Labour moved to the right after Thatcher’s second election victory. I think [the piece] nails it in his first or second paragraph when he asks ‘was there any outreach done’. The collapse of the ULA has left a vacuum but arguably the ULA was not a very honest venture. The ‘partners’ did not respect each other, nevermind like each other. As for Raymond asking why post on FB, well if we don’t then we all think that we are the only one’s thinking like that.

Raymond D: I seem to remember that view was current in 1933.

Christopher L: I am not talking about a right-wing government though Garrett. I think something much more dangerous, frightening, and conceivably galvanising may reignite the left.

Garrett M: Like Nazis???

Christopher L: I wouldn’t say Nazis. But the crises occuring in Europe right now mean there are parallels. Fascism will never re-emerge in its open C.20th form. However, as we all know there are right-wing, neo-fascist and populist organisations mobilising across Europe.

Citizen Partridge: Unfortunately it seems many on the far left think that the organisational form of a revolutionary party in 2013 should mirror the Bolshevik party of almost a hundred years ago – or rather, their sometimes imagined view of what that party was like. (I’ll admit I’m far from an expect on the internal workings of the Bolsheviks). And indeed, Menshevik, a term denoting a section of the Russian Social Democratic and Labour Party which was outlawed and basically ceased to exist by 1921, is still seemingly considered to be a valid term of abuse to be thrown at ‘rival’ leftwing organisations. It’s kind of a little bit strange.

What does ‘the left’ – however one describes it’s constituent parts, and however much of the ‘left spectrum’ one wants to include – want a fairer more equal society to look like? That is indeed a good question.

For years I used to believe “[insert some generalities about workers control, economic and political democracy, right of recall] and ah sure everything will sort itself out after the revolution, be grand sure”. But I’ve come to think that that simply isn’t enough of an explanation for people when you are trying to convince them a socialist/communist society would be materially better for them. Some kind of speculative empiricism is needed (if that’s not too much of a contradiction in terms) in terms of future models. At a very basic level, what would an election look like in a socialist society? What would the decision making process entail in a workplace? How would we concretely plan the economy so there isn’t underproduction or that everyone isn’t wearing the same fucking clothes? Again, I’m just thinking out loud here – I’m not saying I have the answers to such questions, cos I don’t. But expecting Russian Revolution Mk II, or a Cuban or Chinese style guerilla war, in an industrial country in 2013, is expecting the improbable/impossible.

I wouldn’t be that optimistic about people organising in the face of a far right threat to be fair Chris. People have already mentioned the Nazis, but then again, in France and Italy after the fall of fascism in those countries (brought about by years of total war it must be said) , there did emerge strong and respected communist parties. Of course, that didn’t end up too well either. Maybe we need years of brutal repression and fightback by lefty partisans to earn the trust of the masses… oh fuck I don’t know!

Fearghal O: I’m surprised I actually agree with so much of this. Our model of organising is fundamentally broken, and continuing to flog this very, very dead horse is only going to demoralise and burn-out the ever shrinking core of activists even further. The fact that those who perhaps have realised this failing are actually the anti-politics ODS\Independent\Sovereign types does make me feel even more uncomfortable.

A – B marches with abstract or unachievable demands are completely pointless. Our aim should be to empower people and give them confidence in their own ability to take action, direct their own lives, and protests ending with the same big talk, meaningless boring speeches does nothing to empower people.

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

Audio: Haiti’s history and present day occupation – a talk by Elsie Hass

March 1, 2012

Elsie Haas speaking in Dublin

Elsie Haas, a Haitian journalist and former editor of the Haiti Tribune, spoke in Dublin’s Pearse Centre on Tuesday 28th February 2012 at an event commemorating the 8th Anniversary of the US-backed coup d’etat that ousted popular social democratic Lavalas President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Since then Haitians have seen their standards of living plummet, particularly after the 2010 earthquake. Since the earthquake Haiti has been a victim of ‘disaster capitalism‘, and now suffers under a UN occupation, headed by Brazil.

Elsie Haas and Sean Edwards of Haiti Solidarity Ireland

Elise gives an account of Haitian history, the situation today, hopes for the future and what we can do in solidarity with the Haitian people who have struggled against slavery and imperialism for over 200 years, and never been forgiven for being the the first ‘black slave republic’.

The talk, which was Chaired by Sean Edwards of Haiti Solidarity Ireland, is in two parts.

The first part is from the meeting, and can be downloaded by clicking here (mp3, 90mins).

The second part comes from after the meeting. I asked Elsie to clarify what “official” rationale was used to prevent Aristide’s Lavalas party gaining permission to run in the last election in the country. The short segment can be downloaded by clicking here (mp3, 3mins).

Some of the Dublin audience

The talk was organised by Haiti Solidarity Ireland and the Latin America Solidarity Centre as part of a week-long series of events to mark the 8th Anniversary of the US coup against President Aristide.

Audio: Discussion with ISM founders Huwaida Arraf and Adam Shapiro

February 24, 2012

Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf, two of the founders of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM)

The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign has posted the audio I recorded of last night’s discussion with with Huwaida Arraf and Adam Shapiro, two of the founders of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) which promotes non-violent resistance to Israeli Apartheid. It was a wide ranging discussion that encompassed everything from Palestinian refugees to the ‘Arab Spring’.

The discussion followed the very successful première screening of the new film ‘Roadmap to Apartheid’ by film-makers Ana Nogueira & Eron Davidson, and was part of Israeli Apartheid Week 2012 in Ireland.

Copied from the IPSC website:

On Thursday 23rd February, as part of Israeli Apartheid Week 2012, the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) was proud to present the Irish Premiere of the brand new film ‘Roadmap to Apartheid’ by film-makers Ana Nogueira & Eron Davidson.

The 90 minute documentary film, takes a look at the current situation in Palestine through the lens of South African Apartheid; comparing the two regimes in a manner not flattering for the Israeli state. It is narrated by US Civil Rights icon Alice Walker, and features interviews with many Palestinian, Israeli, South African and international activists, journalists and academics. The film was well received by the audience of over 60 people, even receiving an ovation at the end. The film is due to be released in the coming months and will be making appearances (and hopefully winning deserved awards) at various international film festivals. You can view the film trailer below, and if you missed it don’t worry, the IPSC will be organising future screenings of this brilliant film around the country.

Following the film, there was a discussion with Huwaida Arraf and Adam Shapiro (audio recording below), two of the founders of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) which promotes non-violent resistance to Israeli Apartheid. It was a wide ranging discussion that encompassed everything from Palestinian refugees to the ‘Arab Spring’.

Click here to download an audio recording of the Q&A with Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf (mp3). Disclaimer: Views expressed in the discussion do not necessarily reflect the view of the IPSC.

A section of the audience

Special thanks: The IPSC would like to thank the directors of Roadmap to Apartheid Ana and Eron for allowing us to screen their film as part of Israeli Apartheid Week 2012, and Huwaida and Adam for stepping in at the last minute when Iyad Burnat’s tour had to be cancelled.

Non-Judeo Christians unwelcome at “Faces of Israel” hasbara event?

February 20, 2012

And so, Ireland finds itself in the hasbara gun-sight once again.

A story appeared in yesterday’s Sunday Times (19/02/2012,  Irish edition) proclaiming that an Israeli hasbara “charm offensive” would be touring Ireland beginning on Thursday. The mission will involve six “young Israeli representatives”, “backed by the Israeli government” and in association with Tom Carew’s “Ireland Israel Friendship League”, engaging in a speaking tour of Ireland.  Although the article is scant on actual details, it does say that both the UCD International Students Society and the Northern Ireland Friends of Israel will be hosting some of their talks (though they have yet to appear on either website – maybe they don’t want people turning up asking difficult questions?).

However, someone sent me the following event listing, organised by the Irish Christian Friends of Israel. This event, hosted by a group who believe “the Biblical truth that God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people forever” (so, two-statist ‘moderates’ then),  forms part of the “Faces of Israel” tour. Of particular note is the line stating that, “Jews and Christians are ALL welcome”. Really? Is this to say that people of other faiths, and none, are not welcome at an event allegedly showcasing “how Israel comprises many diverse cultures and nationalities”? Doubly surprising given that over 1 million Palestinian citizens of Israel are of Muslim origin.

On a “diversity” buzz, it appears that this tour’s veritable jewel in the hasbara crown is the inclusion of an “Arab Israeli” (Palestinian citizen of Israel – PCOI) woman called Raneen Khoury. Although the Times article calls her a “member of the Israeli police”, the ICFI description is different, stating that:

Born and raised in the city of Nazareth, Raneen has lived in the midst of Israeli co-existence, always trying to progress Arab – Jewish relations within Israel through various co-existence projects such as the establishment of the National Service Organization. Currently she is the manager of “Lehava” project whose aim is to decrease the digital gap within Israeli society.


It appears that Ms. Khoury, a Christian Palestinian, is involved in recruiting PCOIs into the National Service (Sherut Leumi), an alternative for those who do not wish to serve in the Israeli Military. All Jewish-Israelis are conscripted into the military after leaving school, but some can opt for other means of serving the state instead. PCOIs are exempt from the military draft. As of 2010, there were 1,473 PCOIs volunteering for National Service, 0.12% of the total PCOI population. Clearly, Ms. Khoury is representative of the average Palestinian citizen of Israel, and will indeed champion their cause as a heavily discriminated-against section of the Israeli population (20%) as part of this mission.

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EDIT 24-02-2012:
I have been contacted by the author of the original Sunday Times article, Mr. Mark Paul. He asked me to clarify that he never mentioned Ms. Khoury by name. This is true, and my assertion was based on extrapolating from the ICFI description and the Times article. The article says “six young Israelis” are visiting, five Jewish-Israeli and one “Arab Israeli”. The ICFI claims that Ms. Khoury is speaking at their event, so I put two and two together and came up with five and for that I apologise. It seems the information on the ICFI website is error, not the Times article, as having had a “chance” encounter with the six-strong hasbara team today, Ms. Khoury was not present as far as I could tell, but another Palestinian Citizen of Israel was (more on that in another post).
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Another minority included in the entourage is one Hadas Yossef, an Ethiopian Jew who was brought to Israel in 1983, presumably as part of Operation Moses.  According to the IsraelPolitick blog (an official Israeli Foreign Ministry website):

After completing her studies in Architecture at the Bezalel High Institute for Arts, Hadas began working as a professional architect at one of the biggest firms in Israel.

As with Ms. Khoury, I think, given that some 60% of Ethiopian Jews live below the poverty line and are subject to disgusting forms of racism, Ms. Yossef is not entirely representative of the experiences of her community within Israel either. It’s like pointing at Barack Obama and saying “look, institutional racism doesn’t exist in the US any more”.

In the interview, Mr. Adam Briscoe is at pains to point out that the “Faces of Israel” initiative “operates independently of the [Israeli] government”. This claim is disgustingly laughable. Not only because it is contradicted by his the very next sentence, to whit: “it was born out of an idea publicly touted last year by Yuli Edelstein the Israeli minister for public diplomacy [hasbara]”; but also because the Israeli press has been touting these guys as being sent by the government! As an article in yesterday’s Jerusalem Post explains:

The Public Diplomacy [Hasbara] Ministry plans to send 100 Israelis from different sectors in society abroad to represent and defend the state during Israel Apartheid Week.

The participants in the project have undergone several weeks of training in the Public Diplomacy Ministry, and will visit dozens of college campuses to battle the “apartheid” label in New York, Boston, Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Toronto, Montreal, Dublin, London, Madrid, Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Indeed, according to the Times article, another of the participants, Sari Diskind, actually works in the office of the Israeli Prime Minster.

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EDIT 2: 24-02-2012:
Mr. Mark Paul of the Times has also asked me to clarify that Mr. Briscoe did not say that “it was born out of an idea publicly touted last year…” and that was in fact Mr. Paul’s balancing of Briscoe’s comments. Fair enough, but I think it was worded (or perhaps edited, as a journalist I know the pain of the editor’s knife) in a clumsy way, such that a cursory reading would suggest the whole comment came from Briscoe.
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Not only that, these same characters could be considered old hands at this type of thing, given that some of them have done it all before, in (at least) February and September of last year. And one can bet they are not paying for this out of their own pockets.

The Jerusalem Post also tells us that the “mission, which leaves next weekend, includes settlers, Arabs, artists, experts in national security, gay people, and immigrants from Ethiopia”.

Conspicuously absent from this list of advocates are any representatives of the Palestinian community of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the occupied Syrian Druze community, the internally displaced Palestinians within Israel, the Bedouin community currently undergoing ethnic cleansing, gay Palestinians blackmailed by the Israeli secret police, the external Palestinian refugee community, or even anti-occupation Jewish-Israelis. Clearly in it’s desire to show us the rainbows of diversity in Israeli society – and given that illegal settler voices are included, presumably the lovely conditions under which all people in the territories controlled by Israel live – the Israeli Ministry of Hasbara feels it is necessary to exclude “unimportant” voices, i.e. ones that might call a spade a spade and say, “Israeli is an apartheid state”.

And ultimately, that is what this mission is all about. This week in Ireland, the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign and other groups are taking part in international Israeli Apartheid Week 2012. According to the IPSC website:

Israeli Apartheid Week is an annual international series of events held across the globe. The aim is to educate people about the nature of Israeli apartheid against the Palestinian people and to build the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement locally and globally. Last year, IAW took place in over 60 cities across the globe. (Full list of Irish IAW week events here)

I think it is a tribute to the work of Palestine Solidarity activists in Ireland that the Hasbaristas feel it necessary to send a delegation that is definitely, definitely, not sponsored by the Israeli government to come here and lie for them. Keep up the good work folks.

Of course, what the Israeli government seems loathe to accept that it is not better PR tactics that are needed to improve the state’s image, it is an end to apartheid, occupation, human rights violations and war crimes!

(Update 21/02/2012: Thanks to Irish Left Review for re-blogging this piece)