Brandon Sullivan 🎤 conducts an interview with Tortoise Shack’s Tony Groves.

I initially subscribed to the Tortoise Shack to get early access to the Shrapnel Podcast, with Gareth Mulvenna and Sam McIlwaine. I quickly found out that there’s a wide range of high quality content. 

Much like TPQ became a go to place for in-depth analysis of republican strategy, and also the Ukraine/Russia war, I found the Shack to be a place dense with detail about what’s unfolding in Gaza.

As I mentioned after my recent piece on documentary films about Israel/Palestine, the Shack was distributing eSIM cards (data allowance purchased online and loaded virtually onto an existing phone) to people in Gaza. This was invaluable and effective activism against a backdrop of Israel cutting communications.

The man behind the initiative is Tortoise Shack founder, Tony Groves. Tony was kind enough to give me some of his time, despite being laid up with Covid. Tony is a knowledgeable man, with an interesting background. My notetaking skills are somewhat lacking, but what follows are key points from a fascinating discussion that we had almost a month to the day since the Hamas attacks.

BS: How did you make your Gazan/Palestinian contacts?

TG: I blogged anonymously whilst working in a major bank. I was a young bank manager with an office on O’Connell Street. I was much more political than my day job allowed me to be. Writing the blog helped me establish some contacts, and one contact led to another. It was an entirely organic process. This was around 2017.

BS: How has Ireland's response been different to other EU nations?

At the moment, it is not politically advantageous not to show solidarity with Gazans. Ireland has a background of being in the EU but having been a colonised country. Ireland can identify with the struggle of wanting to be free. Solidarity has been built over decades. In France, Marine le Pen says she “stands with this” – but I think behind this is probably The Great Replacement theory.

The people of Ireland recognise and identify with a need for self-determination.

BS: Do you think there's been a change in response and reactions to Israel's actions this time? If so, why?

Yes, this is one of the first actions we have been able to watch on our phones. We have grown up with terms such as collective punishment and genocide, but we can now see it on our phones, and see Tweets from Israeli Heritage minister using the language of ethnic cleansing. The Israelis are "losing the streets" whilst they still have the political support of the upper echelons of Western countries.

A saying I often come back to is “they want you to ignore the obvious and accept the preposterous.”

BS: Do you have any thoughts on Norman Finkelstein not condemning or condoning the Hamas attack? (Using example of slave uprisings).

Finkelstein has earned the right to say what he likes. He is someone whose thoughts I have always considered. Tortoise Shack has never shied away from condemning the Hamas attacks. I don't like "condemnation karaoke" so sometimes it's a necessity, but I understands why Finkelstein is "holding his ground."

BS: Where did the idea for the SIM cards come from?

I had sent people messages in Gaza, and was aware that similar initiatives had worked in Afghanistan and Latin America. So I looked into the idea and discovered it was doable. Bought three, recognised they worked. It went from there.

BS: How does it work in practice? Who gets them?

They were sent privately to people known to Tortoise Shack, journalists, and others. I was buying Israeli, Egyptian SIMs. I was cautious, considering the power and track record of the IDF. I heard a great story about how one of the eSIMs was used. Someone couldn't get a submission into a uni in Europe to submit a PhD application. They were able to with the eSIM we got to them.

BS: Did you feel there was any conflict of interest in engaging in direct activism whilst being a significant media voice?

I don't hide my political views, so this means I can be unapologetic about things such as this. I consider himself more of an activist than a journalist - would much prefer to "pack a punch" politically than advance career-wise. I’m happy for the Tortoise Shack to be considered a left-leaning media outlet. The right-wing have theirs.

Tony Groves is the driving force behind Tortoise Shack.

⏩ BrandonSullivan is a middle aged, middle management, centre-left Belfast man. Would prefer people focused on the actual bad guys. 

Getting Gaza Online In The Midst Of An Israeli Blockade

Brandon Sullivan 🎤 conducts an interview with Tortoise Shack’s Tony Groves.

I initially subscribed to the Tortoise Shack to get early access to the Shrapnel Podcast, with Gareth Mulvenna and Sam McIlwaine. I quickly found out that there’s a wide range of high quality content. 

Much like TPQ became a go to place for in-depth analysis of republican strategy, and also the Ukraine/Russia war, I found the Shack to be a place dense with detail about what’s unfolding in Gaza.

As I mentioned after my recent piece on documentary films about Israel/Palestine, the Shack was distributing eSIM cards (data allowance purchased online and loaded virtually onto an existing phone) to people in Gaza. This was invaluable and effective activism against a backdrop of Israel cutting communications.

The man behind the initiative is Tortoise Shack founder, Tony Groves. Tony was kind enough to give me some of his time, despite being laid up with Covid. Tony is a knowledgeable man, with an interesting background. My notetaking skills are somewhat lacking, but what follows are key points from a fascinating discussion that we had almost a month to the day since the Hamas attacks.

BS: How did you make your Gazan/Palestinian contacts?

TG: I blogged anonymously whilst working in a major bank. I was a young bank manager with an office on O’Connell Street. I was much more political than my day job allowed me to be. Writing the blog helped me establish some contacts, and one contact led to another. It was an entirely organic process. This was around 2017.

BS: How has Ireland's response been different to other EU nations?

At the moment, it is not politically advantageous not to show solidarity with Gazans. Ireland has a background of being in the EU but having been a colonised country. Ireland can identify with the struggle of wanting to be free. Solidarity has been built over decades. In France, Marine le Pen says she “stands with this” – but I think behind this is probably The Great Replacement theory.

The people of Ireland recognise and identify with a need for self-determination.

BS: Do you think there's been a change in response and reactions to Israel's actions this time? If so, why?

Yes, this is one of the first actions we have been able to watch on our phones. We have grown up with terms such as collective punishment and genocide, but we can now see it on our phones, and see Tweets from Israeli Heritage minister using the language of ethnic cleansing. The Israelis are "losing the streets" whilst they still have the political support of the upper echelons of Western countries.

A saying I often come back to is “they want you to ignore the obvious and accept the preposterous.”

BS: Do you have any thoughts on Norman Finkelstein not condemning or condoning the Hamas attack? (Using example of slave uprisings).

Finkelstein has earned the right to say what he likes. He is someone whose thoughts I have always considered. Tortoise Shack has never shied away from condemning the Hamas attacks. I don't like "condemnation karaoke" so sometimes it's a necessity, but I understands why Finkelstein is "holding his ground."

BS: Where did the idea for the SIM cards come from?

I had sent people messages in Gaza, and was aware that similar initiatives had worked in Afghanistan and Latin America. So I looked into the idea and discovered it was doable. Bought three, recognised they worked. It went from there.

BS: How does it work in practice? Who gets them?

They were sent privately to people known to Tortoise Shack, journalists, and others. I was buying Israeli, Egyptian SIMs. I was cautious, considering the power and track record of the IDF. I heard a great story about how one of the eSIMs was used. Someone couldn't get a submission into a uni in Europe to submit a PhD application. They were able to with the eSIM we got to them.

BS: Did you feel there was any conflict of interest in engaging in direct activism whilst being a significant media voice?

I don't hide my political views, so this means I can be unapologetic about things such as this. I consider himself more of an activist than a journalist - would much prefer to "pack a punch" politically than advance career-wise. I’m happy for the Tortoise Shack to be considered a left-leaning media outlet. The right-wing have theirs.

Tony Groves is the driving force behind Tortoise Shack.

⏩ BrandonSullivan is a middle aged, middle management, centre-left Belfast man. Would prefer people focused on the actual bad guys. 

1 comment:

  1. I think Quillers would get more than their money's worth with a subscription to the Tortoise Shack. Only a few Euros a month and we'll worth it.

    Here's an article about the eSIM initiative: https://www.newarab.com/features/how-israels-offline-onslaught-blacks-out-war-crimes-gaza

    ReplyDelete