Tuesday, 29 January 2013

In Response to Ruth Dudley Edwards

I’ll start by admitting I don’t know who Ruth Dudley Edwards is but her blog yesterday caught my attention for its content. Her title was certainly meant to catch the attention of people by being entitled ‘The Jews Crucified Our Lord: Irish Anti-Semitism and the Complicity of the Catholic Bishops’.

I write this blog today for a number of reasons, albeit in no particular order:
1) To challenge the notion that Ireland is anti Semitic. It has seemingly been dubbed by the Israeli foreign ministry the most anti Israeli and anti Semetic country in Europe
2) To challenge some of the opinions that various journalists and writers have in their variously linked pieces stemming from Ms. Edwards piece.
3) To offer reasons as to why Ireland is suited to analysing this complex issue
4) To offer my own thoughts on the matter

The aim of this piece is to try and be brief but to document with clear evidence why I believe Ms. Edwards blog and it’s linked articles are so factually incorrect, that they merited this response.

If being able to recognise when abuse is being perpetrated on a colonised people is Anti Semitic and anti Israeli behaviour then I’m afraid I too am guilty as smeared. I come from a country that has a little bit of history with its neighbour, the United Kingdom, who to this day still has in its grasp of a part of the island of Ireland. As a nation, the Irish were colonised and occupied for over 800 years. Our darkest moment in our militarised history one could argue, was in the 17th century when a certain Oliver Cromwell arrived on our shores in 1649 to reconquer Ireland after the Irish Rebellion of 1641. His brief sojourn here resulted in the Irish population being decimated by 15-25% (Padraig Lenihan, Confederate Catholics at War, p112) (exact figures are difficult to obtain for obvious reasons). Massacres and atrocities in Droghada and Wexford and destruction of food supplies later on in the Parliamentarians war led to famine. This famine helped exacerbate the bubonic plague which by then had hit Ireland. So you can see in a very brief synopsis that Ireland too has suffered at the hands of an occupying force and that is why we not only sympathise, but also try to help the Palestinian cause. I feel we are quite suited using the lessons that history gave us to analyse what Israel currently does today.

I do agree with the part of Ms. Edwards’ blog where she writes about Sarah Honig and a visit she had to Cahersiveen Co. Kerry and the disgust that she felt when she spoke to the teenagers collecting for a ‘Free Palestine’. Their answer that Palestine was to be freed from ‘the Jews’ was disgusting. I hope that Sarah Honig made a complaint to the headmaster of the school about the phrasing and educational methods used by their teacher. However there my agreement stops. Ms. Edwards doesn’t mention that the teenagers knew what some of the money might be used for as Ms. Honig explains in her article:
I pressed on: “Do you know where your money would go? “The boys: “To plant olive trees.”
So while they know what the money might be used for, whom they have been taught by needs to revise their belief that Palestine needs to be freed from ‘the Jews’.

Sarah Honig began her article by saying the following:
“There, in the tiny town of Cahersiveen, my doubting compatriots would have been reminded of what we face in the international community and why it has nothing much to do with how liberally we conduct ourselves, how many confidence- building concessions we make at the expense of our physical safety or how much we sacrifice of our rights to our historic homeland.”
I was not too surprised to read the self glowing report she bestowed upon her nation but I really have to take up a few points with her!

Firstly Ms. Honig, you say that Israel currently conducts itself liberally? Really? How about we ask some Ethiopian Women of Jewish descent how they might feel about that statement. 

The Independent notes that “nearly 100,000 Ethiopian Jews have moved to Israel under the Law of Return since the 1980s, but their Jewishness has been questioned by some rabbis. Last year, the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who also holds the health portfolio, warned that illegal immigrants from Africa “threaten our existence as a Jewish and democratic state””

So Mr. Netanyahu links Ethiopian Jews to the separate issue of illegal immigrants?! This acting liberally includes questioning the Jewishness of seemingly black immigrants by rabbis does it? Interesting I’ve never read the same questions in regard to American Jews.

Not a good start for you.

Confidence- building concessions”

Which concessions would those be Ms. Honig? Would those be the concessions made after the last military incursion into Gaza that Israel has broken not long after the cease-fire was announced

I’m not personally sure how you can build confidence from being in a big warship and forcing fishermen in tiny boats to submit to your will by confiscating their only means of making a living. Your confidence comes from others suffering. Plain and simple – that’s bullying. How do fishermen impact on your physical safety? Investigating what other people have written in the Jerusalem Post opens ones eyes a bit more to the worldview of that paper. 

At the beginning of the last Gaza intrusion Gilad Sharon wrote:
“The residents of Gaza are not innocent, they elected Hamas. The Gazans aren’t hostages; they chose this freely, and must live with the consequences,” wrote Sharon. He went on to elaborate:
We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too.
There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing. Then they’d really call for a ceasefire.
Were this to happen, the images from Gaza might be unpleasant – but victory would be swift, and the lives of our soldiers and civilians spared.
Sharon added that “There is no middle path here – either the Gazans and their infrastructure are made to pay the price, or we reoccupy the entire Gaza Strip.”
(cited from here )

What you face when you meet the people living in the international community Ms. Honig, is growing anger at the blatant illegal Israeli behaviour. The US shields you at every possible opportunity from UN action with its Security Council vote. It shields you from criticism by threatening countries leaders that if they do anything that it deems to be against Israeli interests there will be consequences. See Palestine and their recent visit to the UN seeking observer status for a glaring example. What happens when you exit the darkness and enter reality is that the sun shines brightest because you are unused to the light, or in this case the truth. The people are aware of what Israel is doing even if your politicians and a lot of ours do not wish to acknowledge it. You state with no obvious irony that “there’s powerful predisposition against us. It’s not fueled by our behavior, because nobody knows much about how we behave and nobody cares to learn.” 
That my dear writer, is a lie! The real concern we should have is that when people do learn the truth about what you are doing and do care to learn, it turns into a question of who can scream ‘Anti-Semite’ the loudest. The truest thing you said in your article was that “facts are irrelevant.” I certainly believe you when it comes to Israeli politicians and your politics. Don’t believe me? Then please feast your eyes on this

Oh how the Zionists would love a war with Iran. Sure haven’t they been peddling the nuclear ambitions of Iran since 1979.

Or was it 1992

My apologies. It was 1995

I don’t know about you but I am insanely fearful even just researching all these warnings. Especially as they get closer and closer

And for comic effect sure I might as well link to the last one.

You were possibly right about one other thing - decent folks don’t dissent. The best folk do. And we have some of those here. Along with decent and bad. The same as everywhere really.

Returning to Ms. Edwards blog, she turns her attention to the Irish charity Trocaire and references an article by Richard Humphries in the Irish Independent

Where. To. Start.

Mr. Humphries writes in regard to Trocaire saying “that their campaign asks the Irish Government and the EU to ban goods from Israeli settlements from entering the EU ‘because they are illegal’ and because these goods are labelled as ‘produce of Israel’. Well I suppose Trocaire's concern for correct consumer labelling is to be commended but it is hardly the key reason for a boycott.”

Mr. Humphries – if something is illegal under international law and under the UN Resolution 446 the Security Council determined: "that the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East" and the Resolution was adopted by 12 votes to none, with 3 abstentions from Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States of America – if this is not enough to persuade you that the BDS movement is one of the strongest ways to get Israel to pay attention to their illegalities – then I am sorry for you. It hasn’t been just a year since that resolution, not ten, but twenty three years have passed since that resolution Mr. Humphries and the illegal settlements keep on coming.

A brief point on your comment regarding the recent Gaza attack, you said “It's as if Israel decided to attack Gaza just for the sheer hell of it.” Em….. not for the hell of it, but as admitted by the UK’s chief rabbi Lord Sacks “I think it has got to do with Iran, actually.” 

As the Telegraph article noted, what was amazing is that when Sarah Montague, who was clearly concerned that Lord Sacks did not seem to know his remarks were still being broadcast, could be heard to whisper: “We, we’re live,” it was amazing that Lord Sacks then swiftly adopted a more formal broadcasting manner and suggested the crisis demanded “a continued prayer for peace, not only in Gaza but for the whole region”.
“No-one gains from violence. Not the Palestinians, not the Israelis. This is an issue here where we must all pray for peace and work for it,” he said.

Truth outs in the end Mr. Humphries.

Returning again to you Ms. Edwards, I feel the silly need to point out that there is a reason, as I have attempted to show, why Mr. Humphries is one the few dissenting voices in Ireland when it comes to Israel. He’s certainly a worthwhile ally in ignorance of facts. Especially when he makes such inherently insufferable claims like “you don't need to be much of a lawyer to know that when it comes to political debate, words like "illegal in international law" or "war crimes" are often used as if these were proven matters of fact rather than, as they sometimes are, tendentious and biased opinions.”  I mean I’m not much of a lawyer since I didn’t study law, but when I’m not something, I search for someone who is. Someone. Or eight of someone. Whatever:

“We have found strong indications of violations of the laws of war and possible war crimes committed by Israel in the Gaza Strip. We are particularly concerned that most of the weapons that were found used in the 27 December assault on Gaza are US-made and supplied. We believe that Israel’s use of these weapons may constitute a violation of US law, and particularly the Foreign Assistance Act and the US Arms Export Control Act.” 

 - Huwaida Arraf (New York, Washington DC), Noura Erekat (Washington DC), James Marc Leas (Vermont), Linda Mansour (Ohio), Rose Mishaan (California), Thomas Nelson (Oregon), Radhika Sainath (California) and Reem Salahi (California).a delegation of eight American lawyers, members of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) in the United States.

As I previously cited, Israeli settlements are against international law. So you know. Evidence. Proof.  Humphries + you: nailed.

In closing, I will point to the old saying ‘takes one to know one’. South Africa was a recognised apartheid state and a recent delegation from South Africa that visited Palestine had the following powerful paragraph in their press release:

“Being South African, it felt like walking into another apartheid ambush. We witnessed violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law on so many levels – the multiple Israeli house demolitions, the discriminatory Israeli legal system, the daily intimidation of Palestinians by the Israeli Defence Forces, the Israeli Apartheid Wall and its associated regime of restrictions on movement and access for Palestinians, the damage to Palestinian olive groves, the imprisonment of a large percentage of Palestinians including children, the ongoing confiscation of Palestinian water and land, the closure of previously bustling Palestinian streets and businesses, separate pavements for Israelis and Palestinians and a system whereby the colour of Palestinian vehicles’ number plates restrict them to certain roads.”
Cited from here 

Politically South Africa is taking one of the strongest stands against the apartheid regime in Israel. The ANC recently adopted resolution 35 (c) stating: “The ANC is unequivocal in its support for the Palestinian people in their struggle for self-determination, and unapologetic in its view that the Palestinians are the victims and the oppressed in the conflict with Israel.” 

I think I can safely trust their opinion on a matter of political abuse that they themselves suffered from.

To finish, let me say that I do not think Israel is the worst human rights offender in the Middle East. Another of the USA’s allies, Saudi Arabia, can have that award. But Israel is not the beacon of human rights that it likes to portray itself to be and actions like today for example, in refusing to show up for their obligatory four year rights review in the UN do them absolutely no favours. But then again, their actions speak louder than any words. Google African migrants Tel Aviv to see some of the hatred being spewed there against immigrants currently. It’s truly sickening. We all have our struggles with rights, decency and morals. Do not pretend Israel is above that or above criticism. Ireland may not be perfect, but we are not an Anti-Semitic nation. We just are one of the nations that believes Israel should be held accountable for the crimes it has committed and believes Israel should abide by the international laws we do. Part of our human obligation is to recognise the suffering of others and to try and do something about it.

By having people like you and Mr. Humphries aid Israel in ignoring their responsibilities in international law and supporting them, you enable them put up wonderful images like this on their Irish Embassy FaceBook page:

 Imagine the uproar if the Palestinian consulate put up a belittling image on their Irish Facebook page.

So to conclude, if Israel thinks my country is the most anti-Israel in Europe for its people not kowtowing to an Israeli only narrative and that my country is the most Anti-Semitic for having its people dare to challenge illegal settlements on Palestinian land and asking for a ‘Free Palestine’, then please. Go ahead. Smear me. Make my day. The evidence above points to a different truth.

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