Solidarity is Strength! A report from Israeli Apartheid Week 2015 in Ireland
Between 7th and 14th March 2015 the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign was proud to be a part of the 11th Israeli Apartheid Week, an annual international series of events including rallies, lectures, performances, films, multimedia displays and protest actions held in cities and campuses across the globe.
This year saw over 200 cities taking part in 30 countries on all five continents. The aim of Israeli apartheid week is to raise awareness about Israel’s apartheid policies towards the Palestinians and to build support for the growing Palestinian-led campaign of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
Pulling off Israeli Apartheid Week is always a challenging but enjoyable task. We would like to thank all our volunteers for the work they put in to make it happen, all our speakers at every event, all those who helped facilitate things in one way or another, and of course all the members of the public who came along and supported the events.
Promo video for the IPSC, courtesy of https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCj6PjlBhseMIsGrwtG3-Axw
‘Boycott Israeli Goods’ Day of Action in Dublin
Members and supporters of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity campaign kicked off Israeli Apartheid Week by bringing the Boycott Israeli Goods message to shoppers and shops in Dublin on 7th March 2015 by visiting several city centre outlets that stock Israeli goods, making consumers aware of their presence, the connection between these products and the occupation of Palestine and asking people to boycott them.
As part of the day, outside each store the activists staged street theatre informing peopleabout the vast destruction of Palestinian olive trees under Israel’s apartheid occupation regime. Did you know that since the beginning of Israel’s military conquest of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, Israeli occupation forces has uprooted or otherwise destroyed over 800,000 olive trees – the equivalent of over 1,000 times the number of trees in St. Stephen’s Green? Illegal Israeli settlers have also destroyed tens of thousands of trees and saplings.
Olive trees are a vital economic, cultural and social part of Palestinian life – as well as being a powerful symbol of resistance and steadfastness – and for this reason they are a favoured target of both the apartheid regime and it’s illegal settler auxiliaries.
Israeli exports – from both the illegal settlements and inside Israel – contribute to the economy of Israel’s apartheid occupation regime and the oppression of the Palestinian people and the destruction of their economy. Indeed, the Israeli government is dependent on a strong export-orientated economy and Europe is Israel’s largest trading partner.
Almost 200 organisations, representative of a broad spectrum of Palestinian civil society – trade unions, professional bodies such as academic unions and associations, churches, medical unions, political organisations and NGOs – have called on the international community to endorse the call for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, similar to that which helped to end the apartheid regime in South Africa.
Elaine Bradley talks in Dublin and Limerick: Bearing Witness to Israel’s Crimes Against the Palestinian People
Irish human rights activist and academic Elaine Bradley gave moving eyewitness reports of Israel’s continuing war on the people of Palestine, and Palestinian resistance to these crimes in Dublin and Limerick, on Tuesday 10th and Wednesday 11th March respectively.
Elaine – former CEO of Volunteering Ireland and an Organisational Consultant who has worked with governments, the UN and the EU – is now an activist for human rights in Palestine and had just returned from 8 months in Gaza and the West Bank.
She spoke about the death and destruction wrought upon Gaza last summer, the ongoing illegal siege of Gaza and the systematic and structural violence perpetrated by Israeli occupation forces throughout Palestine. She also urged people to join the BDS movement as a means of applying pressure on both Israel and Western governments to respect international law and the rights of the Palestinian people.
If you missed it don;t worry, the talk will be available as an IPSC Palestine Podcast soon.
On Wednesday 11th March the IPSC held a lunchtime demonstration outside Dail Eireann (the Irish parliament), calling on the Irish government to place an immediate arms embargo upon the state of Israel. The protesters were joined by members of the Oireachtas and Dublin City Councillors.
Speaking at the protest, IPSC chairperson Martin O’Quigley said, “Ireland has bought €14.7m worth of arms and military components from Israel over the last decade, while Irish-based companies have exported €6.42m worth of military and ‘dual use’ hardware to Israel since 2011. Meanwhile, Israel has killed over 9,000 Palestinians, including 2,060 children since 2000. Military items exported from Israel will have used Palestinians as ‘human test subjects’ so such weapons can be marketed as ‘battle proven’. Any military components exported to Israel will be used to kill and maim yet more Palestinians and to entrench the decades-long military occupation”.
Video of the protest courtesy of Paula Geraghty USi Ireland
“Neither Israel nor arms manufacturers in Ireland should be allowed to profit from the killing of Palestinians; this trade in death must end. We call upon the government of Ireland to end the Irish arms trade with Israel, and to advocate for an international arms embargo at EU and UN levels until Israel ends the occupation of Palestinian land and complies fully with its obligations under international law,” Mr. O’Quigley continued.
“According to the Irish government, some of the items the Irish Defence Forces have bought from Israel include ‘small arms ammunition’, ‘an Artillery Fire Control System’, ‘Unmanned Aerial Vehicles’, ‘a Surveillance and Target Acquisition Suite for Light Tactical Armoured vehicles’ and ‘Ground Surveillance Radars’. Israeli arms companies promote such products with the slogan that they have been ‘battle-tested’. What this means, in plain language is that these bullets, drones, targeting devices and other military items have been used – ‘battle-tested’ – to viciously attack and kill the people of Palestine who live under Israel’s apartheid occupation regime. This should be unconscionable for a state like Ireland that claims ‘respect for and the promotion of human rights has always been and will continue to be a cornerstone of foreign policy’,” he said.
Mr. O’Quigley concluded by saying, “similarly, all military components that are exported from Ireland are used to destroy Palestinian lives and livelihoods. Last summer we all watched in horror as Israeli occupation forces brutally assaulted the largely defenceless population of Gaza, killing over 2,200 people (70% civilians), wounding thousands more, leaving over 100,000 homeless, destroying homes, medical facilities, schools and infrastructure. By allowing military exports to Israel, Ireland has played a role in enabling these, and many other crimes against the people of Palestine. It is a shame and a stain upon our state It’s time to end this trade in death!”
Richard Boyd Barrett raises the issue of the Irish arms trade with Israel in the Dail
We would like to thank Joan Collins TD, Paul Murphy TD, Senator Averil Power for attending and speaking at the protest, and especially Richard Boyd Barrett TD who went straight speaking at the from the protest to raising this very important issue in the Dail. (One thing to note about his speech below is that when, at 1:06 he says “Palestinians can be executed on the word of one Israeli solider”, he obviously misspoke and meant they can be “convicted on the word of one Israeli solider” in the military court system. Though of course, any Palestinian anywhere in the occupied territories can be executed on the whim of any Israeli solider with virtually no repercussions. Like the state they represent, they act with complete impunity.)
Meanwhile in Ennis on Saturday 14th March, the Clare branch of the IPSC held an information stall and collected petition signatures calling for an end to the Irish arms trade with Israel.
Trade Union Friends of Palestine relaunched in Dublin
The Trade Union Friends of Palestine relaunched in the south of Ireland on Thursday 12th March with a public meeting for trade unionists entitled ‘Trade Unions and the Struggle for Justice in Palestine’ which took place in the Communication Workers’ Union hall. Speaking at the event were ICTU President and Mandate General Secretary John Douglas, former IDATU anti-apartheid Dunnes Stores striker Liz Deasy, and Mags O’Brien from SIPTU and Basma Ghalayini from Gaza (pictured below) who told the audience that “solidarity really makes a difference for people on the ground even though life is very difficult in Palestine right now.”
It was another successful year for the annual Palestine Fight Night white collar boxing event. This is always one of our biggest fundraisers and this year was no exception. We’d like to thank all the boxers, coaches, referee, MC, medical team, DJ, staff, volunteers, donors and the indefatigable Gary Daly for pulling the whole thing together. Palestine is most definitely a cause worth fighting for!
Film screenings in Dublin and Omagh: The Great Book Robbery, A World Not Ours and Roadmap To Apartheid
As part of Israeli Apartheid Week we always aim to screen some films, and this year was no different. In Dublin, as the finale of IAW, we screened two great and highly moving films in association with the Progressive Film Club in Dublin.
First was Benny Brunner’s ‘The Great Book Robbery’ (2012) which tells the story of the systematic looting in 1948 of tens of thousands of Palestinian books in a joint operation by the nascent Israeli army and the Israeli national library. A remarkable illustration of how one culture emerges from the dust of another after it has laid it to waste; the moment Palestinian culture is destroyed is also the moment a new Israeli consciousness is born, based not only on the erasure of the Arab presence in Palestine but also on the destruction of their culture.
The second screening was of Palestinian refugee Mahdi Fleifel’s magnificent, but depressing, ‘A World Not Ours’ (2012) – an intimate, humorous, bittersweet portrait of three generations of exile in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Helweh, in Lebanon. Personal recordings, family archives, and historical footage ensure the film is a sensitive and illuminating study of belonging, friendship, and family. Filmed over more than 20 years by multiple generations of one family, is more than just a family portrait; it is an attempt to record what is being forgotten, and mark what should not be erased from collective memory.
Also, on Thursday 12th March, the Omagh branch of the IPSC screened the award-winning Roadmap To Apartheid (2012) by Ana Nogueira and Eron Davidson which takes a detailed look at the apartheid analogy commonly used to describe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Narrated by Alice Walker (author of The Color Purple), it is as much an historical document of the rise and fall of apartheid in South Africa, as it is a film about why many Palestinians feel they are living in an apartheid system today, and why an increasing number of people around the world agree with them.
A note of thanks to the directors
We would like to thank the directors and distributors of these films for donating the screening rights free of charge. Support them by purchasing the DVDs from:
Remembering Rachel Corrie: St. Patrick’s Weekend information stall
Finally, to close Israeli Apartheid Week, the Dublin branch of the IPSC held their annual St. Patrick’s Weekend information on Saturday March 14 stall to honour the memory of US peace activist Rachel Corrie who was murdered 12 years on March 16 2003 by an Israeli occupation bulldozer as she tried to protect the home of a Palestinian doctor from being destroyed in Rafah.
Rachel was crushed to death by a Caterpillar D9 military bulldozer, and as with the thousands of Palestinians who have been murdered with impunity by Israeli occupation forces, he family are still awaiting justice over her killing. It is an incident that even many people from the US are unaware of, so we use the opportunity of so many US tourists in Dublin to raise the issue.
A final note of thanks
Pulling off Israeli Apartheid Week is always a challenging but enjoyable task. We would like to thank all the IPSC volunteers for the hard work they put in to make it happen, and the following people in no particular order (with apologies in advance to anyone we’ve forgotten): The Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), Elaine Bradley, Benny Brunner, Mahdi Fleifel, Shane O’Sullivan, Ana Nogueira, Eron Davidson, Michael Deas, Gary Daly, Brian Daly, Margaret Daly, all the Fight Night boxers, crew, coaches, medical and security staff, Croke Park staff, Darragh McCann and film crew, Paula Geraghty and USi Ireland, the Progressive Film Club, The New Theatre, Connolly Books, Paul Muprhy TD, Richard Boyd Barrett TD, Joan Collins TD, Senator Averil Power, Dave for ‘Olive Tree’, Trade Union Friends of Palestine, Academics for Palestine, and all those who helped facilitate things in one way or another, and of course all the members of the public who came along and supported the events. Finally we’d like to thank Mohammad Hassona (Taste of Freedom) from Gaza for allowing us to use his design as our main Israeli Apartheid Week poster – Mohammed will be exhibiting some of his work in Belfast this week.