From top: Elaine Daly, Fidelma Bonass and  Joan Nolan arriving at Dublin Airport following their deportation from Israel; Ciaran Tierney

Northern Ireland during the Troubles was not quite the equivalent of modern-day Palestine and, even during the worst of the violence, the British authorities did not take measures to prevent international observers or journalists from seeing what was going on.

In Belfast, people on all sides were welcoming towards journalists and international observers in general, happy that we were able to tell the truth we had seen with our own eyes.

But in Palestine, in 2017, it seems that more and more people are being prevented from seeing what’s really happening to those who have been living under an illegal occupation since 1967.

Earlier this month, four Irish people found that they were not welcome at the start of an eight day fact-finding tour.

On their way to meet Israeli and Palestinian NGOs in the West Bank, they never made it to their destination.

They were seized by the Israeli Authorities at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, questioned, and deported.

It’s amazing this issue did not receive more coverage in the Irish media.

To look at the photo of  them arriving back at Dublin Airport, it’s hard to believe that they were considered such a threat to the Israeli State.

Not that we should ever judge anyone by his or her appearance, but Elaine Daly, Fidelma Bonass, Joan Nolan, and Stephen McCloskey hardly fit the profile of “terrorist sympathisers”.

One of them, Elaine, has brought 451 people, mostly Irish citizens, to the West Bank on fact-finding missions over the past 11 years.

Her only aim is to show people the reality of life under occupation for Palestinians and to let the visitors speak to NGOs and peace-makers on the ground, including organisations from Israel.

Elaine doesn’t preach. She lets her groups make up their own minds about the kind of conditions Palestinians in the West Bank have been living under for the past 50 years.

Elaine was particularly singled out this month because of her history of bringing Irish groups to Palestine. She was deported on the basis of public safety, public security, or public order considerations.

She has since asked the Israeli Embassy in Dublin for clarification, given her record of bringing almost 20 tour groups to the region on fact-finding missions since 2006.

They only intended to be in the West Bank for eight days. All four were travelling with valid Irish passports and they didn’t kick up a fuss upon their return out of concern for the welfare of the 27 other members of their travelling party who were allowed through to the West Bank.

What did they not want them to see?

Was it the humiliation of daily checkpoints or the way in which Israelis and Palestinians have different coloured licence plates on their cars?

Was it the way in which “settlements” (illegal under international law) are encroaching more and more onto Palestinian land, beyond the 1967 borders?

Was it the daily humiliation of strip-searches, checkpoints, and attacks on farmers trying to tend to their olive trees?

Was it the consequences of living beside a huge wall, which in some cases cuts the West Bank farmers off from their own land?

Veteran broadcaster Mike Murphy was one of the 27 who was allowed through after being questioned at Ben Gurion Airport. He was genuinely shocked by the conditions he saw Palestinians living under over the following week.

“The only resistance open to the Palestinian people in the face of their daily degradation and humiliation is simply to remain. The Israelis patently wish them gone,” he wrote in a moving piece in The Irish Times.

At the airport, he had asked Israeli immigration police why his colleagues had been deported.

He was shown a video of a demonstration which showed a couple of Irish people waving a Tricolour and throwing stones at a huge wall. All four had denied attending the regular demonstrations in the village of Bili’in.

On a visit to a small village in the West Bank last month, Galway activist Ian O Dalaigh was told of the intimidation faced by a Palestinian man, Omar Hajajla, whose house happens to be near an illiegal Israeli settlement on occupied land.

There have been repeated attempts to force Omar off the land and he refuses to leave after taking care of it for more than 40 years.

It is hard to imagine how much more difficult his life would be if international observers were unable to visit him and bear witness to the pressures he is subjected to at regular intervals.

In Hebron, international visitors to a refugee camp visited a Palestinian house which had been seized by Israeli settlers.

Draped in an Israeli flag, it was clear that the original inhabitants were no longer welcome in their own home. There has been a systemic campaign to remove families from similar homes across the region.

One suspects that, deep down, even the Israeli authorities themselves must feel there is something wrong with the daily humiliations Palestinians are subjected to as a result of the 50 year occupation of their land.

Why else would they prevent four peace activists from Ireland from visiting in order to bear witness to the reality of life on the ground in Palestine?

Millions of people have been abused and humiliated on a daily basis for five decades and the cost of a never-ending conflict has taken a terrible toll on everyone involved.

It’s harder to show solidarity with the oppressed, people who are abused and discriminated against every day, when you are not allowed to even visit them to see the stranglehold the occupiers hold over their daily lives.

* If you wish to protest the unjust deportations of four Irish people from Israel this month, you can contact the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, at minister@dfa.ie.


Ciaran Tierney is a journalist, blogger, and digital storyteller, based in Galway

Deported – for trying to bear witness to degradation (Ciaran Tierney)

45 thoughts on “Out Of Israel

  1. Milo

    Its not like we don’t know that Israel are scumbags when it comes to the Palestinians. However, the traveling group dont seem too upset at being in the martyrs spotlight. The truth is they are gnats on a lion. Israel plays at the top table and doesn’t give a hoot what the protestors think. Unless you can affect governments or use proper violence, you are wasting your time.

    1. Gorev Mahagut

      You’re right. Israel don’t give a hoot. Their security forces steal Irish passports and use them to carry out assassinations.

    2. Andrew

      Three people murdered by a Palestinian terrorist today. I don’t give a fupp about these people who were deported.

      1. Cian

        Two wrongs don’t make a right.

        Both sides are in the wrong, but both sides need to be willing to work together to get a mutually satisfactory solution.

      2. bisted

        …they weren’t ‘people’, they were soldiers protecting illegal settlers on Palestinian land seized in the ongoing ethnic cleansing by the zionist regime…

          1. bisted

            …it’s murder when innocent children are mown down when playing football on a beach…it’s murder when phosphorus bombs are dropped on densely populated regions of Gaza…it’ll be muder when the zionist thugs reek their revenge on the family and community that offered a token resistance today and paid with his life… there are no end of apologists for this murder…many of them in this country…

      3. Ronán FitzGerald

        Three Paramilitary Police Officers protecting the Illegal Settlement of Har Adar were shot by a Palestinian, who was also shot. Give the actual story.

    3. RiderOnTheStorm

      Violence can never be excused, in fact, it only gives an oppressor the excuse to return it OTT and show what real violence is.

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            It’s widely believed that Pádraig Pearse knew the rebellion was doomed to fail. He knew they would be executed. He knew that could change public opinion and bring about the republic. So yeah, sometimes violence works. Let’s not be all “centrist” and deny reality, even if it makes us feel uncomfortable by reminding us that we’re still animals underneath our massive and fragile egos.

    4. realPolithicks

      “Unless you can affect governments or use proper violence, you are wasting your time.”

      What do you mean by “proper violence”?

      1. Milo

        Violence that can achieve its aim. A bunch of Irish protestors is ineffective and wont achieve anything. The IRA only got traction when they started to bomb the city of London. Then the men in grey actually listened.

    1. RiderOnTheStorm

      maybe you will notice that the flags are on the ‘landside’ of the airport barrier with people greeting them home……..Doh

    1. CiaranT

      It takes a special kind of coward to hide behind an anonymous account and post something as offensive, ridiculous, and pathetic as that.

      “Shiteforbrains” indeed.

      It is actually possible to sympathise with the plight of Palestinians living under occupation without wishing death or harm on Israelis. Clearly, that concept is beyond your brain.

  2. Colm Conamara

    I’ve worked in and vistited the ME. I was once in a queue while driving to Jerusalem. In the WB Jews and non-Jews have different coloured reg plates. The Jewish (i.e. Settlers) queue flew through. We joined the queue for non-Jews (i.e locals Palestinians). After waiting hours we changed to the Jewish queue and were waved through immediately. We had UN plates.

  3. Demos

    Murder minded Islamic gentleman on one side, multi ethnic security team on the other. The security side only returned fire after every one of them was fired on and wounded (fatally in three out of four cases).
    If this was anyone but the Israeli government there would be no argument who was responsible. However wide spread anti-semitism is almost the norm in Ireland, I never heard Jews described as “Christ killers” until I moved here.

    Not one of the most attractive national traits..

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      Murderous, oppressive state agents on one side, angry and oppressed civilians on the other, understandably reacting with violence. As victims of an oppressive regime for centuries, the good natured Irish of course side with the downtrodden innocent civilians against the murderous Israeli army.

    2. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

      I wouldn’t say it was ‘almost the norm’ but I have to agree that there’s a certain distrust of Jews, a lot of it in the country. Mostly from people who’ve never met a Jew in their lives. I’ve worked behind a bar in the country and after a few pints, what has been said casually about Jews would take your breath away.

        1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

          I’ve met a few Israelis on my travels. The words I’d use to describe them would be “aggressively confident”. Not unlike their foreign policy, I guess.

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            Did you ever think that about non-Jews? Or is it socially acceptable to characterise mass groups of people based on an accident of birth again?

          2. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

            I said Israeli, not Jewish. Were they all Jewish? Probably, but that’s not how they introduced themselves.

            I’ve met and worked with plenty of Jews, who aren’t Israel,i who were very different.

          3. MoyestWithExcitement

            You did. My bad. Still, ‘those people are so….’ is a mindset we need to all keep in check in our own minds and others’.

          4. MoyestWithExcitement

            “They might have issue with the “accident of birth” idea. By God’s design, as it happens.”

            “They are, after all, the chosen people.”

            Is that why people from a monolith have problems with Jews? Lads. Come on.

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        Mary Whitehouse was right about the terrible influence of telly. How can Irish people have issues with Jewish people? They’ve never met any. Obviously adults are just as easily manipulated and influenced as children.

        1. SeanBhan

          I don’t think Irish people have an issue with Jewish people.
          They do however have an issue with millions of people of European descent being given incentives to emigrate to a land to replace the indigenous population.
          This year is the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration which the British government gave to Lord Rothschild. This paved the way for the colonialist Zionist project, which has caused so much trouble in the Middle East. The Declaration stated “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country”.
          Of course the part about the rights of the native population have been ignored.

  4. :-Joe

    Interesting to see so many new accounts come out of the woodwork to counter the facts.

    The zionist project being pushed by war mongering lunatics like “Benji Not Got A Clue Cause I’m A Yahoo” and supported by a majority of deluded jews in Israel and many around the world along with near 100% US State support and from these comments some seriously ignorant Irish people too.

    The palestinians at war with Israel is hypothetically comparable to Ireland going to war with britain.
    We, like the palestians against Israel would be completely annihialated in a matter of hours if it was real.

    The only reason the palestinians still exist there at all is because of on-going international pressure and that is still ignored and the zionist agenda persists getting worse every year.

    Why not hear it from the hosres mouth… watch the documentary “The Gatekeepers” about every living ex-head of the Shin Bet(Israeli CIA) for the past half century claiming that Israels policies in Palestine can only
    ultimately lead to the destruction of Israel.

    Read Norman Finkelstein’s and Noam Chomsky’s books on Israel and look up their videos online for the most accurate understanding of the conflict. Both of these men are Jewish btw.

    Look up the Israeli Jews and the many Jews worldwide who protest against zionism but never get reported properly in mainstream media.

    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Rabbi+protest+in+israel
    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Rabbi+protest+in+New+york

    People like the jewish orthodox Rabbi Weiss in New York :
    https://duckduckgo.com/?q=Rabbi+Yisroel+Dovid+Weiss+of+Neturei+Karta+International&t=ffab&atb=v68-2&ia=web

    Educate yourself please before having your brainwashed fart reaching the public mindset and so others don’t have to keep posting very old, well known common sense facts over and over again to prevent your pervasive ignorance from deluding even more people that have an interest in the world and how it works.

    If you don’t get this reality and you still spout nonsense blaming the palestinians as 50% of the problem, you’re deluded, ignorant and you’re holding back the solution to the problem….

    and possibly human evolution in general.

    :-J

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