Allied in Anti-Semitism -- The Irish Connection Part IV

Hate finds a home in Ireland's pro-Palestinian movement.

[Editor’s note: This is the final installment of a four-part series. To read earlier segments of “Allied in Anti-Semitism – The Irish Connection,” click Part I, Part II, or Part III.]

Justin Kilcullen is head of Trócaire, which is one of the largest charities in Ireland. It receives funding from the Irish public, the Irish government, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. Kilcullen repeatedly calls for economic sanctions against Israel. Trócaire is far from a fair player when it comes to the Middle East, failing to report Hamas’ obvious terrorist behaviour while very frequently attacking Israel and never acknowledging its needs. This NGO Monitor report attests to this.

Kilcullen frequently announces that Israel’s policies are illegal. He seeks the political legitimisation of Hamas and their inclusion in peace talks. Eóin Murray, former co-ordinator of the IPSC, is Trócaire’s “Palestine Programme Officer.” With Palestinian NGOs, they sought to implement the Durban I strategy of isolating Israel, attacking the Jewish lobby and the Anti-Defamation League, supporting the BDS Movement, and Palestinian right of return. They have engaged in many pro-Palestinian activities including the promotion of this cause in summer camps for children. Trócaire gives money to groups like the IPSC while repeatedly refusing to call for military assistance on the far graver issue of Darfur. They must have little moral difficulty when Arab Muslims orchestrate mass butchering campaigns against black Muslims. Being Christian, they also refuse to advocate contraceptives in AIDS ridden Africa where, again, millions have died.

Ireland is notable for having one of the most extreme anti-Israeli union movements in the West. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) supports a boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel. They held a Dublin conference in April 2010 which, with one exception, featured speakers that were all extreme critics of Israel in order to develop strategies to bring their BDS campaign into effect. ICTU said that they hoped the event would strengthen their links with the Middle East labour movement, and further discuss “how international trade union solidarity can contribute to a peaceful solution that respects both the UN resolutions and human and trade union rights.” Is it not remarkable, then, that a trade union is trying to boycott one of the very few countries in the Middle East with its own trade union, a trade union which some have described as “flourishing”? Odd that when it comes to Israel, demonisation seems to be the only method at their disposal. Furthermore, there was no condemnation of Iran and Hamas for repressing their regional trade unions. Additionally, there was little or no mention of the appalling abuses to workers in the Arab areas of the Middle East.

The political party “éirígí” is a rather notorious anti-Semitic pro-Palestinian group from Northern Ireland aligned to Irish republicanism. They have often been found flyposting and protesting outside Jewish owned businesses. They have focused on supermarket chain Marks & Spencer, a Jewish owned firm, which no longer supports Israel, and they have attempted to disrupt its business. During Operation Cast Lead, they attacked Jewish student workers who were selling Dead Sea beauty products in a Belfast shopping centre. On that occasion, éirígí members threw a vast number of leaflets on the students from above the stall. A large crowd surrounded the workers waving Palestinian flags, and threw more leaflets and chanted “boycott Israeli goods.” The staff of the stall were visibly distressed. Such activity constitutes harassment and assault, but as often seems to be the case, the pro-Palestinians got away with it. Interestingly, a similar event in very similar circumstances occurred a few weeks earlier in Denmark where two Israelis were shot. The éirígí group also targeted Starbucks coffee outlets in Belfast, which were re-branded with similar logos carrying the term ‘Zionist Coffee,” as the corporation’s chief executive Howard Shultz sympathises with Israel.

Pro-Palestinian obsessiveness seems infinite. Police in Galway have been removing these people from a store called Woodies on a weekly basis. IFPAL (Irish Friends of Palestine Against Lisbon) was formed to oppose the European “Lisbon Treaty” Referendum, although it had nothing to do with Israel. One such character from Galway is Tommy Donnellan, who repeatedly put up huge IFPAL posters outside the Israeli Embassy that stated that Israel killed 300 children.

One example to illustrate the hatred and dishonesty of these people, is an article by Donnellan entitled, “Hebron : A Snakepit of Hate and Israeli War Crimes?” It is a grandiose account of his experiences, using arguably racist animalistic/demonic imagery:

[A] number of internationals from the village of Bil’in journeyed down there last week to take up the slack with night patrols, checkpoint monitoring and especially the safeguarding of Palestinian children to and from school from stone throwing, spitting Israeli “settler” children and adults. Four in number, we found accommodation in the homes of the Al-Awawi and Egnabi families, previously fire bombed by the colonising “settlers”… The nadir of our human rights mission there occurred last Saturday when some 150 “settlers,” shepherded by heavily armed IOF soldiers and rooftop snipers, did their Garvaghy Road power trip through the Old City, overtly intimidatory, menacing and triumphalist, spitting and hissing at all who met their paranoid displeasure - in my case with a: “F–k you, f–k you, f–k you” before being spat at with the accuracy of a spitting black cobra and the intervening supportive approval of his fellow travelers.

The embedded video is a joke in the leftist tradition of exaggeration. In this inept piece of propaganda, his statement is undermined by the contrasting reality presented in his video. Donnellan keeps filming three Israeli youths that look back, since he is being quite provocative by trailing them with his camera. One says quite weakly, “f–k you” three times. There appears to be a spit, and cue the outraged shouting voice of Donnellan crying out. In truth, you would get much worse in most estates in Ireland. Later, he goes into a darkened area where Scottish Eric says to an Israeli soldier holding a rifle, “you’ve nothing to hide have ye?” I doubt this brave Scot would be as haughty if he were talking to soldiers in a place were grave human rights abuses actually occur (e.g. China and Darfur).

In another example, Donnellan played the abused victim when an elderly Israeli man objected to anti-Israeli signs. From the start, he absurdly claimed that the old man was abusing him, as featured in hisvideo. A patient policeman got involved, and asked him repeatedly to move on. Donnellan said, “You are accepting at face value the…complaints of Jewish people who are abusing me.” The implication is that he, Mr. Policeman, was taking the word of Jews over Donnellan. The clip is mainly in real time, but oddly enough, there is an abrupt edit at 1:04, between the argument with the old man and the police complaint. This is peculiar since it was the main issue of the video. Perhaps Donnellan was less than nice to the old man. At 2:28, in the background, a woman’s voice (outside the view of the camera) asks, “What is it Dan[?]” A man’s voice refers to the “the f–king Jews” in response. These were probably fellow pro-Palestinians, since they were extremely close to the camera’s microphone.

RTE is the Irish national television and radio broadcaster. It has serious issues with anti-Israeli bias. In an introduction to a story, they mentioned the “1,300 vs 13” death toll, tacitly taking Osama bin Laden’s side when he criticised Israel over Cast Lead. RTE failed to mention through the report the thousands bin Laden is personally responsible for murdering. Their Middle East “specialist” is Richard Crowley. His emotive news specials are a common occurrence when there is a crisis. In a typical whitewash on “Prime time,” Crowley bluntly stated as the introduction: “Anybody who denies there is a humanitarian crisis doesn’t understand the term or they’re simply lying” – strong words indeed.

Flying the American flag on the Gaza flotilla, the Challenger 1 was carrying well known Irish anti-Israeli activists Fintan Lane, Fiachra O’Luain and Shane Dillon. Dillon was one of the first to return to Ireland, which got a great deal of media coverage. He made an assertion to the Irish Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday the 3rd of June that there was no aid on board the ship. This also appears to be the case with the Turkish ship in the flotilla, the Mavi Mariner.

The following day, Fiachra O’Luain and Fintan Lane returned to Ireland. Dillon had stated on Prime Time (RTE1) the previous night that Fiachra and one other had been taken off a bus and assaulted by Israelis for refusing to leave, seeking to use the Israeli legal system to fight their case. Apparently, he was then admitted to a hospital in Turkey. This was a very serious allegation as the Government was warning Israel not to injure Irish citizens at that time. Fiachra’s arrival at the Dublin Airport was featured on the TV3 5:30 News. He put on a show meeting his mother, and spoke about being afraid for his life. He showed his terrible injuries after the assault – a small, faint bruise on the upper part of his arm. He also stated that he told management at Ben Gurion Airport that he did not wish to see a gun as he left Israel. This was a slyly provocative thing to do, so it is doubtful he was truly afraid. As usual, the ever-credulous Irish media lapped it up uncritically. It seems too shocking to contemplate that they could be telling lies.

It could be suggested Israel threaten to imprison repeat offenders like Mairead Maguire (née Corrigan), who was seen smiling happily on news footage as she departed from the Rachel Corrie in Israel. Unfortunately, Israeli prisons are not reputed to be a great deterrent. Her influence in Northern Ireland was largely positive, having helped start a peace organisation after her sister’s children were killed in a car accident when an IRA man was trying to evade the British Army. However, she didn’t really deserve the Nobel Peace Prize awarded a few years later. The most notable thing she achieved was one large peace protest in Northern Ireland. Other winners, like Hume and Trimble, did vastly more. Maguire was upset when Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize, stating idiotically: “giving this award to the leader of the most militarized country in the world, which has taken the human family against its will to war, will be rightly seen by many people around the world as a reward for his country’s aggression and domination.”

Before sailing on the Spirit of Humanity in 2009, Maguire accused the Israeli government of “carrying out a policy of ethnic cleansing against Palestinians,” and that these policies “are against international law, against human rights, against the dignity of the Palestinian people.” In June 2009, Maguire was taken into custody by the Israelis. She could have left immediately, but chose to appeal her extradition to a judge, probably to lengthen the publicity. On her more recent return to Ireland, she promised to return yet again to Gaza and called for intensified efforts to end the blockade. She said: “It’s Israeli policies that are causing this - there is a slow genocide of the Palestinian people.”

Former UN Assistant Secretary General Denis Halliday was also on board the Rachel Corrie. He rejected the deal to unload its cargo in Israel and accompany it across the border, which Ireland and Israel had negotiated. When the Irish passengers returned to Dublin on June 7th, Halliday stated that “the Israelis must be brought to heel.” The IPSC also claimed the Captain of the Turkish ship was shot with a bullet to the head at the press conference that day.

While the Irish appear to have an almost innate sympathy for the Palestinians, and a large segment of this support is motivated by hatred, it would be perhaps excessive to say Ireland is considerably worse in this regard than most European countries. This latter point is the most worrying. The Irish Government is probably obliged to get involved due to the presence of Irish citizens, but it does not help to play a very partisan pro-Palestinian role. If they must take a position on the conflict, they should at the very least acknowledge the legitimate concerns of the Israeli’s. In fact, they have offered tacit support for extremist pro-Palestinian NGOs by describing the activists as “humanitarians.”

It is evident that Irish pro-Palestinianism is a hate movement much like that of the rest of the world. It is unfortunate to describe the people making up this movement as “humanitarian,” for it is how they present themselves to reduce criticism. Couching hate in humanitarian language, in an attempt to dispossess Israel’s right to defend its people or simply being too cowardly to join ‘Hambullah’ and pick up a gun to face the IDF, does not make one a humanitarian.