Archive for the ‘Middle East’ 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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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.