Archive for the ‘gaza’ category

Once more, Irish media silence and elision as Minister’s Gaza visit deemed barely newsworthy

February 17, 2015
unrwa-flan-gaza

Charlie Flanagan in Gaza (Photo: UNRWA)

Of the three Irish media outlets that deemed it newsworthy to mention the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan’s, visit to Gaza yesterday, none of them deemed it necessary to go beyond reporting what was in the government press release on the matter.

Well that’s not entirely true, while the Irish Examiner managed to omit entirely that he was in Gaza, and just reported the €4.7m blood money thrown at UNRWA, the Irish Times gave a little bit of background, noting that:

“[Last summer] Seven weeks of Israeli bombardment from air and sea, and rocket attacks on Israel, left more than 2,200 people dead – the great majority of them Palestinians in Gaza. More than 10,000 Gazans and some 700 Israelis were wounded while some 20,000 homes in the strip were estimated to have been left uninhabitable by shelling and air strikes.”

Let’s deconstruct these two sentences which say so much (about the Irish Times‘ method) while saying very little (about what happened in Gaza last summer).

1) “Seven weeks of Israeli bombardment from air and sea, and rocket attacks on Israel, left more than 2,200 people dead”

No mention of the Israeli ground invasion, which was brutal and saw many Palestinian civilians being killed by Israeli troops on the ground, not merely by means of bombardment.

2) “left more than 2,200 people dead – the great majority of them Palestinians in Gaza.”

Why not give the figures, for what does “the great majority” mean in real terms? The UN (via UNOCHA) gives the figure of 2,205 killed (1,483, or 67%, civilians). The Palestinian Center for Human Rights gives the figure of 2,191 killed (1,660, or 75%, civilians). So two reputable human rights monitoring NGOs give the figures for Palestinians killed as being in the low 2000s.

The official figures from the Israeli government meanwhile give the figures for killed Israelis as 72 (6, or 8%, civilians).

Taking the average between the UN and PCHR numbers, we thus have 2,198 dead Palestinians stacking up against 72 dead Israelis. In percentage terms that is 97% and 3%. And when we take civilians (again using the average) we have 1,572 Palestinian civilians and 6 Israeli civilians – in percentage terms 99.6% to 0.4%.

These are the grim realities the Irish Times hides with it’s bland statement that the “the great majority of the [dead were] Palestinians in Gaza”.

It is also important in understanding that when the Irish Times says “rocket attacks on Israel, left more than 2,200 people dead – the great majority of them Palestinians in Gaza”, even after we take the time deconstruct the actual figures, this phrase could potentially be understood to mean that “many” or “the majority” of the dead on the Israeli side were caused by Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel. Yet the breakdown provided by the Israeli government shows that 92% of the Israelis killed were military personnel – this tells us that in fact the “great majority” of these casualties were caused either inside Gaza or along the border where the military was besieging the enclave.

A similar massaging of facts is noticeable when the Irish Times cites the figure of “some 700 Israelis” being wounded, with the same qualifier of being caused “by rocket attacks on Israel”. The Israeli government gives the official Israeli wounded figure as 556 (“some 550”, not “some 600”, but let’s ignore that). Of those, 496 (82%) were military operatives, while 87 (18%) were civilians, which tells us, once again, that the “great majority” of these casualties were caused either inside Gaza or along the border where the Israeli military was besieging the enclave, not merely by “rocket attacks on Israel”.

The piece also helpfully tells us that:

“[UNRWA] runs schools, clinics and social services for displaced Palestinians across the region while building infrastructure and maintaining camps. During the war in Gaza last summer, its schools gave shelter to hundreds of thousands of families forced to flee their homes. Some of those schools are still being used as temporary housing for more than 10,000 displaced people whose homes were destroyed.”

So let’s briefly deconstruct that too.

1) “[UNRWA] runs schools, clinics and social services for displaced Palestinians across the region”

These Palestinians are merely “displaced… across the region”. How they became displaced, what forces compelled them to become displaced, what their rights as displaced people are and who keeps them displaced is all a mystery, and seemingly irrelevant. As is the fact that the “great majority” (some 80%) of people living in Gaza are in fact refugees and their descendants from the 1948 Zionist ethic cleansing and colonisation of Palestine that gave birth to the State of Israel.

2) “Some of those schools are still being used as temporary housing for more than 10,000 displaced people whose homes were destroyed”

This is essentially accurate, but also leaves out a giant important fact about homelessness in Gaza. Yes, UNRWA buildings are currently sheltering some 12,000 people – but this is only about 10% of the total population that is still homeless almost six months after the end of the Israeli assault. Why are over 100,000 Gazans homeless, thousands of them living in UNRWA shelters? This question is neither asked nor answered, but the reason is of course the illegal Israeli imposed, Egyptian-enforced, and UN-facilitated siege of Gaza.

That only three mainstream media outlets in Ireland felt that the Minister for Foreign Affairs’ visit to an area of the world that was headline news half a year ago was newsworthy, and that all played up the “Ireland gives almost €5 million to Palestinian refugees” angle that framed the government press release, rather than some other angle –  for example, the continued devastation of the region, the ongoing illegal siege, the routine Israeli ceasefire violations and so on – tells us that the mainstream Irish media continues to be part of the problem. The silence and the elisions represent, quite simply, complicity with the ongoing Israeli policies of occupation, colonisation, war crimes and apartheid.

If you’re interested, here are the three pieces, and the official Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and UNRWA press releases on the matter. Note that RTE, the Irish regime broadcaster, did not deem this visit newsworthy, which places it in the unenviable position of being worse at news than the Chinese regime news service Xinhuanet, which did pick it up:

Irish Times: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/government-pledges-4-7m-to-help-palestinian-refugees-1.2106185

Irish Examiner: http://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/government-announces-nearly-euro5m-in-funding-for-palestinian-people-662459.html

Newstalk: http://www.newstalk.com/Foreign-Affairs-Minister-announces-47m-of-funding-for-Palestinian-people

DFA Press Release: https://www.dfa.ie/news-and-media/press-releases/press-release-archive/2015/february/funding-for-the-palestinians-announced/

UNRWA: http://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/press-releases/irish-foreign-minister-announces-new-%E2%82%AC500000-contribution-during-gaza-visit

Xinhuanet: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/europe/europe/2015-02/17/c_134001457.htm

No Ronaldo didn’t refuse to swap shirts with an Israeli footballer (but he did pose for photos with Shimon Peres)

July 26, 2014

A story is doing the rounds (for probably the fourth time this year) saying that Christiano Ronaldo refused to swap jerseys with an Israeli player in a 2013 friendly match (See an example of the story here [1]).

Unfortunately, this simply isn’t true. Here’s the video in full:

You can clearly see that the player he “refuses” to exchange his jersey with is a Portuguese player, who has already swapped shirt with an Israeli player (look at the colour of his shorts, then look at the colour of the Israeli players’ shorts).

The story also goes that Ronaldo remarked that he wouldn’t swap his shirt with (depending on where you read it) a “killer” or an “assassin”, accoridng to a ‘locker room interview’ follwing the game. As there was no refusal to exchange shirts in the first place, clearly the whole ‘interview’ in the dressing room is also made up. Furthermore, there is no source for the alleged comment – even if, going via the Veterans News Now piece above, you click through to the ‘source’ story in French, there is no actual source cited, just “a reporter said”… who were they? what was their name? Where did they say it? Why is one French blog the only place where this incredible news was reported?

Incidentally Ronaldo certainly had no qualms about going to Israel and shaking the hand of war criminal Shimon Peres as part of a Real Madrid PR/hasbara trip:

Shaking Hands

real1

All the lads

real2

There is also a picture being frequently shared that purports to show Ronaldo holding a sign saying “Todos Con Palestine”, which roughly tranlsated mean “I’m always with/love Palestine”.

rontod1

This is a crude photoshop from a photo-session following the Lorca earthquake when the Real Madrid squad held up a placard saying “Todos Con Lorca”. Some internet dickhead thought it would be great to lie to the world and Photoshop in an entirely different message.

rontod2UPDATE (31st March 2015): A brand new image of Ronaldo has started doing the rounds on social media recently. This too, unsurprisingly, is a crude Photoshop fake. In the original image, below, instead of ‘Save Palestine’, his undershirt says simply ‘Madeira’, the name of Ronaldo’s home city in Portugal. I have included it from another angle as well, just so people are 100% sure.

more ronaldo fakeryFinally there is another story about Ronaldo that goes something like “Ronaldo donated 1.5m / the proceeds from the sale of his Golden Boot, to the children/people of Gaza”. There’s 145,000 hits if you google ‘Ronaldo Donates Gaza‘.

Now while this may be true, it probably isn’t. Hands up, I cannot find conclusive proof that it is not – but I definitely cannot find proof that it is true either. This site does a decent job of explaining why it’s probably an internet fabrication:

However, the story reeks of a hoax, with neither Real Madrid’s official site validating the news, nor any major Spanish daily covering it, as reported in many of the articles reporting the story. Also, the likelihood of Indonesian site Tribunnews being one of the first to report the news of Ronaldo’s ‘generous donation’ makes the whole story more make-believe than genuine news.

What is true about Ronaldo, apart from his willingness to appear alongside a disgusting war criminal like Shimon Peres, is that he did appear in a photograph once, wearing a Paletsinian neck scarf. However, I’ve yet to see the context to that picture. I’ve heard it was at a Medical Aid For Palestinians event, but that the logo on the scarf is the Palestinian Football Association’s and that the Palestinian Football Association chief Jibril Rajoub is on the far right of the picture, it seems to me like he was nabbed for a photo-op at a gala FIFA dinner or similar event, and that there’s no simply no ‘pro-Palestinian’ ideology involved.

UPDATE 2016: Ronaldo, along with other Real Madrid players, did entertain Ahmad Dawabsheh, the 5-year-old Palestinian kid who was badly burned on 80% of his body in an arson attack by illegal Israeli settlers in 2014. The same attack killed both of Ahmed’s parents, Riham and Sa’ed, nd his 1-year-old little brother Ali.

cristiano-ronaldo-palestine-scarf

So why am I saying all this? It’s quite simple, I don’t like to see people get credit where it’s not deserved. Ronaldo was willing to pose for pics with war criminal Shimon Peres, which is his prerogative, but he should not be lionised on social media as some heroic tribune for Palestine. He is not. And everyone should stop sharing this bullshit immediately.

EXTRA BONUS DEBUNK

This picture of Lionel Messi is a fake too. Obviously.

messi

And here is the greatest footballer in the world today, along with the butcher of Gaza, one Benjamin Netanyahu.

messi2

Notes

* This is an incredibly shitty website, and I am posting the link only for illustration.

RTE: Contextless and vacuous

February 26, 2013
Protesters tear gassed outside Ofer Military Prison

Protesters tear gassed outside Ofer Military Prison

Today, RTE News online ran a story about Palestine, headlined ‘Rocket fired from Gaza explodes in southern Israel’. This in itself would be a perfectly factual way to frame the story if, for example, RTE had been following the Gaza ceasefire story since last November.

However, this is the first mention of a ceasefire breach since 1st December 2012. In fact, before today’s piece, there have only been two stories about ceasefire breaches published since it came into effect. Those were on 23rd November and 1st December. The former was a report headlined ‘Israeli gunfire kills man near Gaza border’, and the latter was a one line report about the killing of a Palestinian man in Gaza as an aside to a piece on British and French reactions to Israel’s announcement that it was planning more illegal settlements.

For those who have been following the aftermath of the last Israeli attack on Gaza, this lack of coverage will probably seem bizarre, and infuriating. Since the ceasefire, there have been 4 Palestinians shot and killed by Israeli forces in Gaza, and 91 injured. The Israeli military has carried out 63 shooting attacks, 13 armoured incursions, and 30 attacks on Palestinians fishermen at sea.

Of these, RTE deigned to report only two, and both of those in the near immediate aftermath of the ceasefire. And of those, one was merely a nameless statistic in a report about the ‘real’ news – two imperialist powers’ lightly rapping Israel on the knuckles for announcing it was planning to commit yet another violation of the Geneva Convention by building more illegal settlements.

The only other stories that mentioned Gaza in that three month period were as follows: Hamas’ leader-in-exile Khaled Mesha’al’s visit to Gaza on 8th December, headlined ‘Hamas leader vows to never recognise Israel’; a report entitled ‘Egypt floods Gaza tunnels cutting vital lifeline’ on 13th February; and a piece about the winner of the World Press Photo Award called ‘Swedish photographer wins World Press Photo award’ (the photograph was a harrowing image of the funeral of two children and their father killed in Israel’s November 2012 bombing campaign).

Frankly, it should be incredible that RTE, the Irish state’s public service broadcaster, could ignore constant violations of the ceasefire by Israel and then run a story like this; nowhere in the piece does it mention any of Israel’s numerous ceasefire violations, not even the meagre two it had previously reported. Should be, but alas, isn’t.

For the sake of accuracy, let’s deconstruct the piece , line-by-line:

Rocket fired from Gaza explodes in southern Israel

The headline immediately frames the piece with Palestinians carrying out an act of unprovoked violence.

A rocket has exploded in southern Israel in the first such attack by militants in Gaza since a truce ended a week of cross-border fighting in November.

No mention is made that would suggest this rocket comes after three months of ceasefire violation by Israeli forces.

The rocket caused some damage to a road near the city of Ashkelon but no injuries, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

The first quote is given to an Israeli official.

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant group in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s West Bank-based Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the strike, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency said.

Fatah is not “West Bank-based”; it the oldest Palestinian political faction, active in all the occupied territories and the diaspora. The only Palestinian voice in this piece is that of a Ma’an news report, citing a Palestinian group as claiming responsibility for a violent incident; apparently RTE doesn’t believe Palestinians should have agency or even give us the group’s own rationale for the attack.

There was no military response from Israel.

This rocket, if it was anything, was a response to constant ceasefire violations in Gaza and violent Israeli provocations in the West Bank, including the deaths of six people since November, three of them children. Yet RTE infers: ‘Israel is letting it go without a military response, aren’t they very restrained?’ I believe I’ve yet to see an RTE report that says ‘Today a Palestinian was killed by the Israeli military – there was no response from Palestinian fighters’.

The attack came after the death on Saturday of a Palestinian detainee in Israeli custody, which triggered protests in the West Bank.

This is the first piece of information we get about Israeli actions against Palestinians. This one death is apparently the trigger – but note, the attack did not come “in response” to the death, for only Israel “responds”. The rocket simply could not have been a reaction to the constant Israeli ceasefire violations or other acts of violence in the West Bank. But what does RTE tell us of this death it has chosen as the rationale for this attack?

The death in disputed circumstances of Arafat Jaradat and a hunger strike by four other Palestinian inmates have stoked tensions ahead of a planned visit next month by US President Barack Obama.

First, there are 12 hunger strikers at present and, incidentally, I believe this is the first time RTE have mentioned the hunger strikes since May 2012. Second, this tells us nothing of the death, other than it was “in disputed circumstances”. What are these circumstances? Well, according to the Palestinian Authority Minister for Detainees, Issa Qaraqe, the detainee was tortured to death while in Israeli custody. Tortured. To. Death. In case you missed that. By the self-proclaimed only democracy in the Middle East. This is not worth reporting it would appear.

Israeli troops shot and wounded five Palestinians during confrontations with protesters in the Bethlehem area yesterday and a 15-year-old boy was in critical condition. At the end of last year, Egyptian mediators helped achieve a truce after eight days of Israeli air strikes amid rocket attacks from the coastal territory.

This is factual, as fas as I can tell – although I have seen a report that says 10 others were injured by by shooting outside the Ofer military prison, near Ramallah.

Remember folks, if you have a television and you live in Ireland, you’re paying for this crap. Almost, as if to add insult to injury, recently the Irish government announced that it doesn’t even matter that if – like my good self – you don’t own a television, you’re going to have to pay for a television license anyway.

According to the Irish Independent, “Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte [said] that a huge number of people now got their news, not from sitting in front of the 9pm news, but from other services offered by the national broadcaster”. No, Minister, nobody gets their “news” from RTE – not on the screen, not on the airwaves, not online. We get half-truths, misinformation and propaganda. And it’s just not good enough.

[A note on RTE Online News stories – it is possible that in a single day RTE online will run the same story, sometimes slightly edited, sometimes exactly the same, re-posted several times throughout the day – usually as ‘updates’ at 1pm, 6pm and 9pm. For the purposes of this examination, I have taken multiple virtually identical stories on the same subject as being a single story.]

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)

(Unpublished) Letter to the Indo re: Minister Shatter’s disgraceful comments about Ireland, Israel and the Nazi Holocaust

February 3, 2012

I sent this letter to the Irish Independent on 25th January 2012. Needless to say, it wasn’t published…

Dear Editor,

Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, at an Israeli Embassy hosted propaganda film festival in Dublin (Nov 2011)

The Minister for Justice was right to remind us of the Irish State’s appalling attitude toward Jewish people during Hitler’s reign (State ‘did nothing for Jews in WWII’, 24/01/12). Indeed, Ireland is not the only country with such a disgraceful record. However, Minister Shatter’s assertion that this terrible history “delimits Ireland’s moral authority and credibility” amongst Israelis is disingenuous and cowardly. One suspects the Israeli state’s refusal to listen to reason has less to do with Irish historical wrongs and everything to do with the fact that it has been allowed to ignore international law with impunity. Furthermore, his comments would smack less of Israeli hasbara [propaganda] had he himself not refused some 97% of all asylum applications to this same Irish state since taking office.

Yours etc

=========

Also, here’s a video from the Never Before Campaign, gearing up for the 8th Annual Israeli Apartheid Week later this month. The IPSC and others will be organising events around the island, check the IPSC website for details as they are posted.

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