We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East. (From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

"I Used To Hate Israel.... Not Any More": A Pro-Israel Irishman On Palestinian Terrorism & On Israel-Bashing In The Emerald Isle

An Irish activist posing beside IPSC wares
Since my last post showed the antics of some of the more fanatical Israel-bashers in the Emerald Isle, members of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (over the months we've met some of its activists via video several times, of course), I feel compelled to draw readers' attention (in case any of you haven't already seen it) to the marvellous article that young Irish film maker Nicky Larkin had in, of all newspapers, The Independent (home of Robert Fisk and in many respects as reprehensible as The Guardian regarding Israel) a couple of days ago.

Nicky Larkin writes as a former opponent of Israel who had a change of heart as a result of his experiences in the West Bank and Israel.  Here's a brief taste:
'I used to hate Israel. I used to think the Left was always right. Not any more. Now I loathe Palestinian terrorists. Now I see why Israel has to be hard....
....[T]he Palestinian mantra was one of "non-violent resistance". It was their motto, repeated over and over...
Yet when I interviewed Hind Khoury, a former Palestinian government member, she sat forward angrily in her chair as she refused to condemn the actions of the suicide bombers. She was all aggression.
This aggression continued in Hebron, where I witnessed swastikas on a wall. As I set up my camera, an Israeli soldier shouted down from his rooftop position. A few months previously I might have ignored him as my political enemy. But now I stopped to talk. He only talked about Taybeh, the local Palestinian beer.
Back in Tel Aviv in the summer of 2011, I began to listen more closely to the Israeli side. I remember one conversation in Shenkin Street -- Tel Aviv's most fashionable quarter, a street where everybody looks as if they went to art college. I was outside a cafe interviewing a former soldier.
He talked slowly about his time in Gaza. He spoke about 20 Arab teenagers filled with ecstasy tablets and sent running towards the base he'd patrolled. Each strapped with a bomb and carrying a hand-held detonator.
The pills in their bloodstream meant they felt no pain. Only a headshot would take them down.
Conversations like this are normal in Tel Aviv. I began to experience the sense of isolation Israelis feel. An isolation that began in the ghettos of Europe and ended in Auschwitz.
Israel is a refuge -- but a refuge under siege, a refuge where rockets rain death from the skies. And as I made the effort to empathise, to look at the world through their eyes. I began a new intellectual journey. One that would not be welcome back home.

Irish President Higgins at an anti-Israel demo
The problem began when I resolved to come back with a film that showed both sides of the coin. Actually there are many more than two. Which is why my film is called Forty Shades of Grey. But only one side was wanted back in Dublin. My peers expected me to come back with an attack on Israel. No grey areas were acceptable.
An Irish artist is supposed to sign boycotts, wear a PLO scarf, and remonstrate loudly about The Occupation. But it's not just artists who are supposed to hate Israel. Being anti-Israel is supposed to be part of our Irish identity, the same way we are supposed to resent the English...'
Read the entire superb article here (Thanks again, Ian and Rita!)

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