Yesterday afternoon we took our place at the Tholsel in the pelting rain. I had not realised the vigil was scheduled for this week, mistakenly believing it had been discontinued due to the cessation of Israeli military attacks on Gaza. Seemingly I was not alone in being of that view, our numbers now having dwindled down to no more than ten due to the onset of a feeling that the urgency has gone out of the situation.
Finding out at the last minute that the vigil would go ahead as normal I raced out of work in short sleeves and got soaked. Only one of us seemed to have the sense to turn up equipped for the weather, umbrella in hand. Towards the end one of the regulars told me it was the last vigil ... for now. If the ceasefire breaks and the Israelis resume war against the civilian population of Gaza we will be back on the streets.
Despite the downsizing in our own numbers it seemed not to be reflected in a diminution in the interest of the Drogheda public. Car horns hooted while drivers and passengers strained their eyes in the rain to peer at the posters on display. For the five weeks that the vigil was sustained, it was a worthwhile venture.
Some people seemed to get a bit of stick for turning out for an action organised by Sinn Fein. The socialist activist Frank Gallagher had reportedly been sarcastically accused of having joined Sinn Fein due to his presence at the vigils. He in turn dismissed his detractor as a smelly orifice. My criticism would not be of Sinn Fein for organising the vigil but directed towards those others in Irish political life who neither organised nor turned up at anything.
Sinn Fein’s approach to the Gaza situation requires a dedicated piece in its own right. Whatever commitment party members on the ground have shown, the leadership stance has been more ambivalent, with a number of members reported to be uncomfortable at some leading figures running with the hares and hunting with the hounds.
What struck me in this regard was the position taken by Niall O’Dowd in the US who launched a two footed tackle aimed at taking out both the real reasons for the Israeli war and the integrity of the Irish animus towards Israeli aggression. It might well be that O’Dowd is doing what he normally does – behaving as a shill for his string puller back in Ireland in a bid to explain to the Israeli cheerleading US establishment that Sinn Fein’s leadership sees the Gaza situation as more nuanced than the protest activities of a significant swathe of its membership might suggest. In all his commentary for the best part of two decades he has faithfully parroted the Sinn Fein leadership line, never finding himself at variance with any of the pronouncements from on high. A paucity of knowledge never yet inhibited him from expressing somebody else's implausible view.
Whatever the motive, at the nub of O’Dowd’s polemic is the assertion that in Ireland despite 'war crimes in many instances on both sides' opposition to Israel is:
at fever pitch ... objectivity has no place ... there is little or no criticism of Hamas in the Irish media, no mention of the issue that sparked the latest war when three Israeli teenagers were captured and murdered. No mention either of the several brokered ceasefires that Hamas broke or the sense that Hamas are using their own people and making deaths inevitable to make the bloodiest of all points ... It is “Arabs good, Jews bad” type of coverage that is disturbing for its lack of any attempt at balance.This is nothing other than a skewed attempt to create a false symmetry for the purpose of masking a deeply asymmetrical war and to impugn the motives of citizens who make a stand against it, including those Sinn Fein members and others who turn up at the Tholsel and elsewhere to protest. Exactly what is subjective about speaking out against the objective power responsible for the vast preponderance of war crimes?
Rather than the Irish having a feverish animosity towards Israel O’Dowd feverishly avoids uncomfortable facts. Tracing the origins of the war to the deaths of three Israeli teens conveniently ignores:
From the moment three Israeli teens were reported missing last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the country’s military-intelligence apparatus suppressed the flow of information to the general public. Through a toxic blend of propaganda, subterfuge and incitement, they inflamed a precarious situation, manipulating Israelis into supporting their agenda until they made an utterly avoidable nightmare inevitable.Assigning culpability to Hamas for breaching ceasefire agreements is ahistorical ignorance posing as erudition:
Since Israel's creation in 1948, Israeli political and military leaders have demonstrated a pattern of repeatedly violating ceasefires with their enemies in order to gain military advantage, for territorial aggrandizement, or to provoke their opponents into carrying out acts of violence that Israel can then exploit politically and/or use to justify military operations already planned.Trying the hoary line that there is some sort of equivalence demonstrated by war crimes on both sides is wilfully blind to:
when one examines the collective punishment imposed upon the people of Gaza, it is clear that there is no equivalency between the power of Hamas to terrorize Israeli civilians and the power of Israel to terrorize Palestinian civilians.O’Dowd is the type of 'balanced' commentator who could easily have found parity between the Jewish Combat Organization and the SS laying siege to the Warsaw Ghetto and urged that the war crimes of both sides were the real problem; that the feverish criticism of Germany’s eliminationist policy lacked balance and that there was no objectivity because the Jewish resistance fighters were not being criticised in equal measure.
Accusing Hamas of using their own people in order to make deaths inevitable, the old human shield shibboleth, seems factually impoverished considered against:
The southern command military court convicted two Israeli soldiers on Sunday of using human shields during Operation Cast Lead, Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip, in the winter of 2008-2009.And:
The Israeli Defence Ministry will appeal against a supreme court ruling banning the use of Palestinian human shields in raids, officials said. Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz is prepared to make a personal appearance in court to defend the practice, ministry officials added.It was vintage low grade trash from the pungent pen of Niall O’Dowd, an unsavoury exercise in smearing as anti-Semitic a positive revulsion towards crimes against humanity. There was no fever on display at the Tholsel for the five weeks I stood there: just an abhorrence at a pathological virus hell bent on war making and boosting the only industry Israel wishes to prosper in Gaza – the funeral directors.
|Not a child; just a terrorist|