What absolute nonsense: israel diplomats say Irish bill banning settlement produce will ‘empower terrorists’

MEMO | July 4, 2018

People come together to support Palestine as they walk to the Israeli embassy in Dublin, Ireland [Tommy Morrin/Facebook]

The Israeli embassy in Ireland has claimed that a draft bill calling for a ban on the sale of goods made in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) will “empower terrorists”.

The Control of Economic Activities (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 was launched by Independent Senator Frances Black in January and will be voted on in the Seanad on 11 July at 2.45pm.

The embassy’s remarks came after opposition party Fianna Fáil announced yesterday that they intend to back the bill, with spokesperson Niall Collins TD saying it had “the potential to send a strong message that the issue of illegal settlements is being taken seriously and needs to be addressed”.

The Occupied Territories Bill wants to make it an offence “for a person to import or sell goods or services originating in an occupied territory”.

The Israeli embassy said such bills “further the divisions between Israel and the Palestinians”, without clarifying what this precisely meant.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan has called for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to expel the Israeli ambassador.

“The Irish Government must give a strong and unambiguous statement that there can be no impunity for Israel’s mass killing of Palestinian citizens and its continued illegal occupation of Palestine”

said Sheehan.

“It’s long past time for An Taoiseach to expel the Israeli ambassador and officially recognise the State of Palestine as approved by the Dáil in 2014. There can be no further delay.”

Read also:

Dublin City Council backs BDS, urges expulsion of Israeli ambassador

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Universalising the Holocaust

April 12, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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By Gilad Atzmon

Israel is upset!  Ynet reports today that Dublin Mayor Mícheál Éamonn Mac Donncha addressed a Palestinian Authority international conference in Ramallah on Wednesday, despite the Israeli Interior Minister instructing authorities to stop him from entering the country.

Mac Donncha boasted at the conference that his city’s council adopted a resolution calling for the expulsion of Israel’s ambassador to Ireland. Such a move didn’t make Mac Donncha popular in the Jewish State.

The symposium titled ‘Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the State of Palestine’ focuses on Jerusalem’s significance in the eyes of Palestinians in the light of American president Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“Jerusalem is of paramount importance in the world. I think an attempt by any one state or religion to exclusively reign supreme over Jerusalem is wrong. The American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is therefore very wrong,” Mac Donncha said expressing a universal ethical position.

Palestinians are not used to seeing Western politicians taking their side. Such an ethical move never goes unpunished as Jeremy Corbyn and thousands of his party’s members can tell.

Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Occupied Territories Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai questioned yesterday whether “the honourable Mícheál Mac Donncha chose the event and its timing intentionally or not.” Today Israel marks the Holocaust Remembrance Day. “Perhaps tomorrow’s siren will remind him that (Mufti) Amin al-Husseini met with the mass murderer Adolf Hitler, and then he’ll try to come up with things to tell his city’s Jewish community.” I want to believe that Maj.-Gen. Mordechai doesn’t expect Dublin’s mayor to compromise on basic ethics just to appease Dublin’s Jews. Needless to mention that it may also be possible that some of the 1500 Jews who live in Dublin may actually support the Mayor’s humanist approach.

Maybe Maj.-Gen. Mordechai should use the occasion and contemplate himself over the meaning of Holocaust day. He can, for instance, delve into the racist Israeli Law of Return. He can ask himself how is it possible that just three years after the liberation of Auschwitz the newly formed Jewish State ethnically cleansed Palestine of its indigenous population (The Nakba). Maj.-Gen. Mordechai should ask himself if it is a coincidence that on the week that commemorates the holocaust, IDF soldiers filmed themselves ‘having fun’ shooting Palestinian protestors as if they were sitting ducks.

https://youtu.be/EjTkJIPKj80

I do believe that time is ripe for the Jewish State to tell us what is the universal moral lesson it drew from the Holocaust.

If they want to burn it, you want to read it!

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Being in Time – A Post Political Manifesto,

Amazon.co.uk , Amazon.com and  here (gilad.co.uk).

Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Féin, Calls for Irish Government to Recognize Palestine

Gerry Adams, president of the Irish Republican political party Sinn Féin, has called upon the Irish government in Dublin to recognize the state of Palestine.

 Adams has served as Sinn Féin president since 1983, and has been a member of the Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Irish parliament, since 2010. He plans to step down as Sinn Féin leader next month to make way for a new generation of leadership. He will be replaced by Mary Lou McDonald.

On a related note, it is reported that Israel is planning to close down its embassy in Dublin, this apparently in response to Ireland’s vote against Trump’s embassy move at the UN.

Irish Minister Advocates Palestinian State, Calls for Boycott of israel

Source

Irish Minister Finian McGrath. (Photo: Finian McGrath Page)

Irish Minister Finian McGrath has expressed support for boycotting Israel over “unfair” treatment of Palestinians. Reported the Irish Examiner.

The Irish Independent politician, who has served as Minister of State for Disability Issues since May 2016 made his comments following Trumps declaration of Jerusalem being the capital of Israel and after threatening to cut off aid to UNRWA, the main UN agency established in 1949 to provide relief assistance to millions of Palestinian refugees.

In a recent interview with The Irish Examiner McGrath was critical of the US role in inciting violence in the area, and expressed that his views are shared by many Irish citizens.

Talking about an Irish prioritization of a Palestinian state in 2018, McGrath said, “It is something that we all feel very strongly about and that is something that I put into the program for government.”

 

“We want to make sure that that message goes to the United Nations and we are advocating that at the UN and that is our position. It is non-negotiable; it is a very important issue for us.”

He also advocated for boycotting Israel until they comply with international law:

“I don’t like boycotts in my heart because I prefer dialogue and interaction but I think we have reached the stage now and particularly in recent weeks now where [Donald] Trump and the Israelis were saying that Jerusalem will become a capital of Israel. And that has provoked me, that has provoked me very seriously.

“So my personal view is we have to start looking at the whole economic sanctions area now because it just is unfair. The vast majority of the international community, they want to see Palestine recognized, they want to seem treated with respect and their human rights recognized and that’s not going to happen, so I think we have to up it a gear.

“But we have to up it a gear at the UN and at the EU. But also in relation to if it comes to it [boycotting] I will support it.”

 

McGrath’s determination to declare a Palestinian state in 2018 is shared by other Irish Ministers, such as Tánaiste Simon Coveney, Minister of Foreign Affairs, who declared that Trump’s decision was “premature and ill advised”.

“Jerusalem is one of the permanent status issues which is to be settled in a final peace agreement in the Middle East. It has been the united position of the international community for decades, as set out in UN Security Council resolutions, that a resolution of the Middle East conflict will include agreement for Jerusalem to be the capital of both Israel and the future state of Palestine,” Coveney said to the Irish Times.

#Brexit Underscores Case for a United Ireland

Brexit Underscores Case for a United Ireland

Brexit Underscores Case for a United Ireland

Call it poetic justice, or plain old natural justice. For centuries, Ireland has always been on the receiving end of Britain’s collateral damage from its imperial intrigues. Now, however, Ireland could have the last laugh as Britain wades further into a quagmire of trouble over the Brexit debacle to leave the European Union.

Irish sentiments on both sides of the border within that small island country are clamoring for special status which would de facto create an island-of-Ireland unity. A country which would in effect be independent from British rule and moving closer towards the long-held aspiration of Irish nationalists and republicans for a united Ireland, distinct from the rest of Britain.

As Britain stumbles towards its eventual departure from the EU scheduled for March 2019, the historic break raises special problems for Ireland. Northern Ireland, which is under British jurisdiction, will be obliged to follow the Brexit path of quitting the EU, while the Republic of Ireland will of course remain an EU member. That potentially creates the unique scenario of an EU border being imposed on the island, separating the Northern and Southern territories.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of indicators showing that most people on the island of Ireland, North and South, want the continuation of a “soft border” arrangement which has existed since the signing of a landmark peace deal in 1998 to end decades of conflict. This makes sense from an economic and cultural point of view since the ease of transport and travel is a vital daily convenience. This has become ever-more the case in recent years to the point where there are no visible signs of two different jurisdictions. For example, a motorway now links the northern city of Belfast to Dublin and Cork, in the far south, in a seamless corridor. Elsewhere in rural areas, people criss-cross easily like birds on the wing as if there is no border. In effect, Ireland has become closer to being one country, as would seem to be the natural order of things on an island with centuries of a distinct and common Celtic culture.

However, if the British government’s negotiations with the EU continue on their present rocky path, there are real fears that a so-called “hard Brexit” will bring about a return of the hard border in Ireland which existed before and during the recent conflict up until 1998, when the Good Friday Peace Accord was signed.

Hardline Brexiteers within Theresa May’s Conservative government cabinet are pushing for an abrupt break with the European Union. Ministers like Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, and the international trade secretary, Liam Fox, want to quit the EU altogether and pursue a vision of Britain as a global trading buccaneer nation.

Other British ministers, and many British citizens, as well the opposition Labour party led by Jeremy Corbyn, and business leaders, would prefer a “soft Brexit” where Britain still remains part of the European single market and customs union. It would have to pay a fee for such membership and accept Brussels’ rules on EU citizens’ rights in an arrangement similar to that existing for Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

A “soft Brexit” would leave the situation in Ireland much as it is today, where movement of goods and people is seamless without regulatory controls.

The trouble is that achieving a soft Brexit is far from certain. There are numerous signs that the EU and its chief negotiator on the matter Michel Barnier are becoming increasingly exasperated with London over its bumbling and incoherent stance.

British premier Theresa May faces a tough summit next month at the European Council in Brussels, at which the other 27 member states are to decide whether negotiations can proceed to substantive talks on the final trade deal with the EU.

May’s government is expected to show progress in commitment on three issues: a divorce bill with the EU; the guarantee of EU citizens’ rights in a post-Brexit Britain; and guarantees to uphold the soft border situation in Ireland.

The London government has so far dithered on all three issues. On the divorce bill, Theresa May last week, after months of wrangling, finally doubled the British offer of paying Brussels £40 billion (€45 billion). This is still way short of what the EU is demanding at around €60 billion. But the financial outlay has infuriated the hardline Brexiteers in her cabinet like Johnson who at one time arrogantly said the EU can “go whistle” – meaning, accept no payment at all.

On the Irish question, the British government has also shown an arrogant complacency. Last weekend, international trade minister Liam Fox asserted that London would give no commitment to the nature of the border in Ireland until a final deal with the EU was signed.

“We cannot come to a final answer on the Irish question until we get an idea of the end state [with the EU],” Fox told British media.

The London government is being supported by a small hardline pro-British Unionist party within Northern Ireland, the rather misnamed Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). It says that Northern Ireland must go the same way as the rest of the United Kingdom in its Brexit arrangement. That is, if the Brexit is a hard one resulting in strict external borders, then Northern Ireland should erect a hard border with the Republic of Ireland, according to the pro-British DUP.

But such an outcome is infuriating majority public opinion in both North and South Ireland. It should be noted that when Britain held its Brexit referendum in June 2016, the electorate in Northern Ireland voted clearly in favor of remaining with the European Union. Given the rupture to social and economic relations that the return of a hard border would create in Ireland, it is a safe assumption that a strong majority of people across the entire island would be firmly opposed to such an arrangement.

There is a deep resonance here with how the British political establishment in London has always ignored and indeed violated democratic mandates on the island of Ireland.

In a general election back in 1918, when the entire country was at that time under British colonial rule, the vast majority of the electorate – over 70 per cent – voted for the pro-independence Sinn Fein party. The response to that democratic Irish mandate by London was to artificially partition the country in order to create a British-run Northern state where formerly minority Unionist parties would thereby become the majority, thus providing London with a “mandate” to retain its jurisdictional presence in Ireland.

Likewise today, the British government is ignoring the majority wish across the whole of Ireland for the de facto non-existing border to be maintained. London seems though to be using the eventual border status within Ireland like a bargaining chip in its negotiations with the EU.

However, such British attitude is likely to rile the rest of Europe. The EU has so far shown solidarity with Ireland and the maintenance of the invisible border that has existed for the past two decades. No doubt the EU is mindful that the resurrection of a hard border could reignite conflict in Ireland. Irish republicans agreed to the peace deal in 1998 largely because it held out the promise of a gradual, eventual reunification of Ireland. The British government is now threatening to undermine that peace deal.

Brussels also backs a soft border in Ireland because it does not want to cause harmful economic repercussions for the Republic of Ireland, a member of the EU. For London to harm a EU member in this way is seen as unacceptable by Brussels.

Here’s where the history of British meddling in Ireland and the denial of natural democratic rights of the Irish nation comes back to haunt.

The government of the Irish Republic, in Dublin, is stepping up a tougher line on the Brexit negotiations. The Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar says that his country will veto any moves towards a final trade deal between the EU and Britain at next month’s summit in Brussels – unless London gives a written guarantee that it will make a special case for Ireland by maintaining a soft border regardless of the Brexit outcome.

If London refuses to comply with the Irish demand, then it faces a even more tortuous process in negotiating Brexit and on less favorable terms. That will, in turn, pile on even more problems for Britain’s ailing economy which is already floundering over Brexit anxieties.

In many ways therefore, the fate of post-Brexit Britain is now in the hands of the Irish. After centuries of being collateral damage for British political rulers, that makes for a certain poetic justice.

But, more importantly, what the whole debacle demonstrates more than ever is that Irish independence and territorial unity is an ineluctable case of natural justice. It is only British intransigence and intrigue that has impeded the natural democratic rights of Ireland and the Irish people. That kind of baleful British interference in Irish national interests is no longer acceptable, no longer tolerable.

No longer an imperial power, in fact a shambolic decrepit Little England, the case for a united independent Ireland is again clearer than ever

Irish politician to ST: The West, EU, US aggravate Syrian people’s suffering by sanctions

 Thursday, 02 November 2017 09:54

Irish politician to ST: It is not up to anybody other than the Syrian people to decide their representation

The Irish politician Clare Daly, who recently visited Syria along with European delegation, has affirmed that the West and the European Union are aggravating the Syrian people’s suffering by sanctions and the U.S. support for Saudi Arabia and Israel in the region.

She has spoken for many times before the Irish parliament about the terrible suffering that the Syrian people have had to endure and she pushed her country’s government to argue in the EU to lift sanction imposed on Syria and to oppose the influence of Israel as well as to stop the west’s facilitation to those who are waging war on Syria.

“Ireland is a small country in Europe but internationally we punch well above our weight. Our country is supposed to be neutral and our people are very proud of that position, even though our government bends the rules and facilitates the US military in using one of our airports in the west of Ireland. They say this is only allowed on the basis that the planes are unarmed and not involved in military exercises. This is ridiculous. Why do they keep flying through our airport every day if they are not involved in military exercises in the Middle East? We have used the parliament to highlight these issues, have been arrested breaking into the airport at Shannon to try and search the planes ourselves. This put a lot of attention on the issue and what is going on in the Middle East. We push our government to argue in the EU to lift the sanctions and to oppose the influence of Israel, and for the West to stop facilitating those who are continuing to arm and finance those waging war in Syria,” the politician said in an email sent to the Syriatimes newspaper about the role of the Irish Members of Parliament in explaining the reality of events in Syria.

She underlined that western powers or those they are bolstering, who are arming and financing the ‘rebels’ need to back off and facilitate an agreed negotiated settlement to end the war through the offices of the UN or an agreed international body.

“Pre-conditions to such negotiations like the removal of president Bashar al-Assad are unacceptable. It is not up to anybody other than the Syrian people to decide their representation,” Daly added, indicating that the EU delegation’s members, who recently visited Syria, will do what they can to allow Syria decides its own fate far away from outside interference.

“Incredible experience”

The Irish MP told us that the EU delegation came to Syria to see for themselves what life is like for ordinary Syrian people after seven years of war and their real feelings about what the future should hold.

“We had an incredible experience in a very short time. Syria is obviously a very beautiful country with an almost unrivaled history, wonderful food and friendly people. People have suffered much and the presence or effects of war are very obvious everywhere, but we met so many people who are proud of their country and want the chance to rebuild it, that it was a very humbling experience for us. People proudly spoke of Syria’s mosaic of different religions and traditions but all united by the love of their country,” Daly asserted.

She pointed out that the delegation visited areas that had been secured by the Syrian army after they had experienced terrible destruction of homes, buildings, and families.

“There was a strong determination to get things back to the way they were. The people we met who have been displaced are the most vulnerable, many are deeply traumatized and sad and they will need a lot of help and support to move on with their lives,” Daly underscored.

She concluded by saying: “To witness the resilience of the human spirit in the face of huge challenges was really striking. We look forward to our return and will do what we can to urge the world to allow Syria decides its own fate, free from outside interference.”

By the end of last month [October], a delegation composed of activists from Ireland, Romania, Spain, Norway and Sweden visited Syria.

Since 2011, a foreign-backed terror war has been waged against Syria targeting its people, army, civilization and infrastructures in accordance with US-Zionist plot that aims to fragment the region and to have hegemony over its wealth.

Interviewed by: Basma Qaddour

#Ireland Deportations and Harassment of Irish Group Traveling to West Bank

Deportations and Harassment of Irish Group Traveling to West Bank

By Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin,

A trip to Palestine resulted in deportations and harassment by security as the Israel authorities step up attempts to intimidate or frighten future travelers to the area. During our trip we experienced CS gas, checkpoints, apartheid in action and military harassment of Palestinians. Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin relates his experiences as a member of the group.

Departure

I joined the group in Dublin airport on the morning of September 8th and we flew out to Istanbul where we waited in a transit area cafe for a couple of hours. As it turned out our flight departure lounge for Tel Aviv was next to the cafe where we were sitting and we noticed that an extra layer of security was being prepared by ground staff for the Tel Aviv flight. After boarding, and a smooth Turkish Airlines flight to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, we disembarked and queued up for passport control. I was on my own and after 2 or 3 questions (what was the purpose of my trip, had I been to Israel before, etc). I was given a one month visa and waved through.

Meanwhile, however, trouble was brewing as I could hear the two Irish girls at the kiosk next to me being asked to bring the group leader over. I went directly through to the arrivals hall as I had not checked in any bags. Then began a long wait as myself and the few who got through unhindered discovered that security had rounded up as many of the group as they could find including those who had decided to wait in the luggage hall rather than in the arrivals hall. In all 21 were detained and 6 questioned, and of those 4 were deported (Elaine Daly, Fidelma Bonass, Joan Nolan and Stephen McCloskey) a few hours later. The four who were detained were informed that they were being deported to prevent ‘illegal immigration’ even though they had valid passports and return tickets. Around 4am the others were released and we finally boarded the bus and made the journey to our hotel in Bethlehem.

West Bank wall and turnstiles

Fact Finding Program

Our tour, though coordinated in Dublin, was organised by the Siraj Centre, a non-profit organization licensed by the Ministry of Tourism and based in Palestine. Our Fact Finding Program included meetings with prominent peace activists, political officials, human rights organizations, settlers and Jewish tour guides. This makes the deportation of our group leader, Elaine Daly, even stranger as she has been organising trips with the Siraj Centre every year from Ireland since 2006.

Sat 9th Sept: Day 1 Bethlehem

On our first morning we attended a talk by Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh, a local university professor and activist, at the Natural History institute who emphasised the strong link between biodiversity, political struggle for the land and its safeguarding for future generations. It was interesting to note that it had been his son who had first drawn the infamous ‘shrinking’ map of the Palestinian territories showing their loss of land from 1946, 1947, 1967 to the 2000s.

Entrance to Aida refugee camp

CS gas

Afterwards we headed over to the Lajee Center, a cultural centre beside the main Palestinian refugee camp in Bethlehem for a talk and a traditional dance display from the local children. Soon however they switched off the air-conditioning and when we asked why we were told that tear gas was coming through the system. Directly outside the window local youth were throwing stones at the Israeli army at the far end of the road. Soon more and more tear gas came into the building and the windows and doors were shut. For most on the tour it was their first experience of the burning effects of CS gas yet for the members of the Lajee Center it had become merely a nuisance. After about a half hour we were able to leave and go for a short tour of the area. We passed under the arch of Aida camp with a giant key symbolising the principle that Palestinian refugees, both first-generation refugees and their descendants have a right to return. On our left were simple concrete buildings while on the right the street is cut off from Jerusalem by the Israeli West Bank wall and covered in murals and graffiti.

Wall mural, Aida refugee camp

Sun 10th Sept: Day 2 Hebron

The next day on the way to Hebron we stopped off at a small park beside a main road containing the tomb of Baruch Goldstein, the religious extremist who carried out the 1994 Cave of the Patriarchs massacre in Hebron. Goldstein killed 29 Palestinian Muslim worshippers and wounded another 125. He was then overpowered and beaten to death by the survivors. Goldstein was not allowed to be buried in a Jewish cemetery but his current burial site still attracts Jewish extremists. We drove on to the Cave of Patriarchs or Ibrahimi Mosque where the Goldstein massacre took place. There are now two separate entrances, one for Muslims and one for Jews, both of which we were able to enter. This building is over 2,000 years old is believed to be the oldest continuously used prayer structure in the world. However, it was outside the Mosque at the military checkpoints we witnessed Israeli apartheid for the first time. Palestinians are barred from the using the street and our guide was apprehended by two soldiers. Our group complained to the soldiers but only our guide responded saying he would get a taxi and meet us elsewhere. In the end, the group spontaneously applauded our guide for his patience and perseverance as he was removed from the area. Our waiting bus had only been 50 metres around the corner…

Ibrahimi Mosque, Hebron

We walked through streets of Hebron going through different stages of clearance. In some places only a few Palestinians were left in the old stone buildings and Israeli street signs had been erected pointing to Jewish places of interest. In other streets nets had been used to stop settlers throwing objects on the shoppers below. Afterwards we were brought to meet with a settler where some asked questions about the settlements and their legality but this ended up with some storming out and others realising how it easy it was to become an Israeli citizen and participate in the land confiscations.

Mon 11th Sept: Day 3 Jerusalem

Our guides were Palestinian and Jewish and both were equally as good when it came to explanations and answering questions from our group. As we drove through East Jerusalem it was pointed out by our Jewish guide that Palestinians pay taxes yet their areas had bad roads and poor rubbish collection services.

Tues 12th Sept: Day 4 Nablus

In Nablus we visited Jacobs Well Church, and then to Balata Camp to meet with a representative from the Yafa cultural Center. The centre was set up in 1996 by the Committee for the Defence of Refugee Rights and offers a range of educational and creative programs to camp residents. We were brought around the closely-built neighbourhoods of the camp where some ‘streets’ were less than one metre wide. After lunch we had a tour in the old city of Nablus and visited the Samaritans Museum. The bustling old city gave us a feel for what many areas should have looked like and felt like without occupation.

Yafa cultural Center, Nablus

Wed 13th Sept: Day 5 Ramalah

We began the day driving to Ramalah to meet with a speaker from Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS). BDS has become an extensive movement against Israeli apartheid and settler-colonialism. It is also a Palestinian-led movement made up of unions, academic associations, churches and grassroots movements across the world. We also met with a representative from Al Haq, an independent Palestinian non-governmental human rights organisation also based in Ramallah. According to their website: ‘Al-Haq documents violations of the individual and collective rights of Palestinians in the OPT, irrespective of the identity of the perpetrator, and seeks to end such breaches by way of advocacy before national and international mechanisms and by holding the violators accountable.’ In the afternoon the group were brought on a sightseeing tour of Jerusalem which I did not participate in due to feeling unwell. Instead, I went with our Palestinian tour guide back to Bethlehem on the public bus instead. As the bus approached the wall we all had get off and pass through the many turnstiles and barricaded-off pathways to get to the other side of the wall. The queues moved quickly enough as the military generally do not carry out checks on Palestinians going home to the West Bank from Jerusalem in the evening. It is in the early morning that the long queues form as workers are stopped and permits scrutinised on the way to work in Jerusalem.

Old City, Nablus

Thurs 14th Sept: Day 5 Bethlehem

The next day I went back to Jerusalem from Bethlehem on public bus No. 231. At a major checkpoint a male and female soldier got on the bus while about a third of the bus got off to have their permits checked outside. They questioned a Palestinian woman with children for about ten minutes on the bus before suddenly leaving the bus again and letting the others back on. These checks, the roadworks and traffic jams into Jerusalem added up to about 30 minutes onto our journey, a journey which should have taken only around 20 minutes. In the centre I crossed the road and entered into the Old City through Herod’s Gate. I headed through the old city markets to the Al-Aqsa Mosque but at various Israeli military check points I was stopped and informed that the Mosque was only open in the mornings. There were 4 or 5 groups of about 20 Israeli soldiers each walking and singing down the narrow streets towards the Western Wall. The area was being prepared for a swearing-in ceremony for Paratrooper recruits taking place that evening. After walking the Via Dolorosa and around to the Damascus Gate I got the bus back to Bethlehem. Later, after dinner with the group in a Palestinian restaurant in Bethlehem, a few of us took a taxi to visit the Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel about ten minutes drive away. The ‘Walled Off’ sits beside the massive wall which is covered in graffiti executed in many styles by various artists. Boasting the ‘worst view in the world’ the lobby contains a collection of art and there is a museum upstairs. People sat outside on the veranda between the hotel and the wall having a quiet drink in this most incongruous of places.

Mural near ‘Walled Off’ hotel

Fri 15th Sept: The Dead Sea

For our last day the group decided to visit the Dead Sea. After arriving at the resort, getting to the water’s edge meant walking down layer after layer of beaches as the Dead Sea evaporates. The recession of the water’s edge is believed to be about 1 m (3 ft) a year. The speed and breadth of the recession of the Dead Sea was a fitting symbol for the recession of the West Bank itself as more and more settlements and walls reduce further the size of the Palestinian territories.

Early the next morning we were back on the bus to Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion airport where there was some anxiety as the security checks were known to be more stringent in the departures area than in arrivals area. (Why? a form of damage limitation?) Once again our group was held up to the last minute for our flight to Istanbul. We had a much more pleasant time in Dublin airport where a welcoming committee was waiting for us with a Palestinian flag. Elaine and the other deportees had decided to hold off publicising the deportations so as not to create any unnecessary difficulties for the rest of the group’s departure from Tel Aviv. Of course, our problems were nothing compared to the daily experiences and hardships of the Palestinian people being forced through turnstiles, having to obtain multivaried permits, losing land and dwellings, enduring constant military checks and an oppressive political/legal system (like the 17C Penal Laws in Ireland) all because of a particular nationality or religion. The trip left an indelible impression on us as individuals and as a group which would not be easily removed by the self-serving rhetoric of an all-powerful occupying force.

Since our return the issue of the deportations has been raised in various articles in the national newspapers. It has also been brought up during question time in the Dáil (the Irish parliament). Despite not being able to return to the West Bank again, Elaine is already planning to organise two trips to the West Bank from Dublin for 2018. All aboard!

Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin is an Irish artist, lecturer and writer. His artwork consists of paintings based on contemporary geopolitical themes as well as Irish history and cityscapes of Dublin. His blog of critical writing based on cinema, art and politics along with research on a database of Realist and Social Realist art from around the world can be viewed country by country at http://gaelart.blogspot.ie/.

All images in this article are from the author.

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