Shane MacGowan (centre) with children and officials from the Al-Helal soccer academy in Gaza currently on tour in ireland.
The footballers, aged from 10 to 14 years old, are staying and playing in Nenagh and will visit Dubliin, Limerick, Kinvara and Wexford over the coming days as guests [see link below] of Gaza Action Ireland.
Shane, whose parents came from Nenagh, is recovering from a recent illness.
Captured by children living in Gaza whose photographs form part of ‘Sumud // Steadfastness’, a three-part exhibition at Filmbase, Cruved Street, Temple Bar, Dublin starting tomorrow until July 9 as part of PalFest Ireland.
William Hederman writes:
The children, aged six to 11, were given cameras and tutored by Belgian photographer Asmaa Seba in 2012/13. “Photography has always been a tool to express feelings whether anger, happiness or hopes and dreams,” says Seba. “Most of the children I worked with have lost their parents or a family member and have witnessed it, so they have trouble speaking and expressing themselves.”
1. Rami Abu Jalila: “I try to learn French, it’s a beautiful language, I love to watch the Eiffel Tower, I know about its story, I dream to visit it some day when I will grow up.”
2. Wallah Abu Musa: “I miss my parents, I go every Friday to visit their grave with my brother Mahmoud and I tell them how my week was, I even told mum about you and how you make us laugh when you try to speak Arabic, I wish they were alive so that they will meet you.”
3. Wallah Abu Musa: “I used to sleep with my mum, after she was killed, I started to sleep with Sumsum, my crazy cat.”
4. Nada Awad: “My father must travel with my uncle to Egypt because he is sick and he needs a treatment there but they always have to wait at the Rafah border because it’s often closed.”
5. Wallah Abu Musa: “I like to go to the beach with my family and play, I want to learn how to swim like a fish.”
Outside a Palestinian refugee settlement in Jersualum
That‘s a wall.
But the rest is chain-link.
Simon Plosker from pro-Israeli media watchdog HonestReporting writes::
[author and former diplomat] Eamon Delaney‘s book review for the Irish Independent of one author’s experiences in the Middle East does not appear at first sight to be contentious.
However, it includes the following statements:
‘Her first [Dervla Murphy’s book], entitled A Month by the Sea – Encounters in Gaza, described conditions in the crowded Mediterranean strip of Gaza, which is surrounded by Israel, run by Hamas and sustained by smuggling.’
Gaza is not “surrounded by Israel.” It also has a border with Egypt, which is also blockading the Hamas-controlled Strip.
Referring to the West Bank/Judea & Samaria, Delaney states that the territory is:
‘Surrounded by a huge wall and chopped into zones by the Israeli military.’
Except the area is not “surrounded by a huge wall.” Firstly, considering the territory borders Jordan, it cannot considered to be “surrounded.” Secondly, Israel’s security barrier is not a “huge wall” but is over 95 percent chain link fence.
As for the statement that the territory is “chopped into zones by the Israeli military,” this is also inaccurate.
The territory is divided into Areas A (under full Palestinian Authority civil and security control), B (Palestinian civil control and joint Israeli-Palestinian security control), and C (full Israeli civil and security control). These areas were created not by the IDF but as a result of the Oslo Accords as negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians.
Later, in what we hope is simply a careless typo, Yad Vashem is referred to as “the holocaust museum.” The Holocaust is commonly and correctly spelled with a capital “H” to affirm that it refers to a specific and unique historical event. To spell it with a lower case “h” is simply incorrect and in doing so makes the Holocaust of the Jewish people indistinguishable from other historical genocides.
Ultimately, Eamon Delaney’s book review is an example of how careless and inaccurate language can subtly alter even a relatively neutral piece of writing concerning Israel.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, travelled to Ramallah to meet with Rami Hamdallah, Palestinian Prime Minister (ytop) and to Tel Aviv to see Israel’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Avigdor Lieberman to discuss the stalled Middle East Peace Process and Ireland’s relations with the region.
Mr Flanagan announced funding of €4.7 million to UN agencies as part of Ireland’s programme of assistance to the Palestinian people.
From top: Wael Najjar holding his brother Fares; their home in Gaza; Shahd Al Najja, one of ten people living in the tent (centre).
The ‘Irish In Gaza’ write:
How far is it to Bethlehem – not very far. 61 miles to be exact.
The light from inside gives the makeshift tent a beautiful orange glow against the darkening cobalt of the Palestine night. Winter-clear stars spangle in the frosty Gaza sky and the fronds of palm trees, visible in silhouette, give a ubiquity to the scene – one familiar to Christians the world over. All is calm, all is bright – but this belies the reality of the situation.
Inside the flimsy shelter – ineffectual against the Middle Eastern winter winds and rain, a baby, just a few weeks old is asleep in the arms of his mother. Her face is careworn, she has been crying.
The Al Najjar family of two adults and eight children were driven from their home that now lies in ruins beside where they have taken refuge in the mish mash structure of corrugated metal, UN food sacks, sheets of plastic and wooden pallets.
During the summer’s onslaught, they fled with the clothes on their back and all they could carry – not much – to the refuge of a UN school. Now these possessions, and little more, are all that they have.
With over 110,000 similar cases, the UN are finding it hard to provide adequate aid to all those who need it. Less than 2% of the donor aid donated by the international community has made it into Gaza, sitting instead on the border; caught up in political wrangles including demands for pathological monitoring of every item that enters Gaza.
This is despite the fact that Israel’s siege of Gaza, now in its 7th year, is illegal under international law. Besides the lack of food, clothes, bedding, electricity and water – the much trumpeted reconstruction of Gaza is an illusion – the UN’s Shelter Cluster have said it will take more than 20 years to rebuild Gaza at the current rate.
Meanwhile, in the deep mid-winter, while frosty wind makes moan, baby Fares Al Najjar has no crib for a bed – he sleeps on a mattress on the cold ground, huddled with the rest of his family.
And across 60 miles and 2000 years, we are certain that Jesus wept.
The ‘Irish In Gaza’ is a number of Irish volunteers on the ground supporting people (including the Najjar family) displaced by fighting in Gaza. They wish to remain anonymous.
A team of Palestinian children will play football in Ireland next summer, thanks to an initiative to be launched today by former Irish manager Brian Kerr.
Under-14 members of the Al-Helal club, based in northern Gaza, will play against teams from Dublin, Tipperary, Limerick and Belfast during their visit next August.
Al-Helal’s clubhouse was damaged in the Israeli assaults of 2012 and 2014. With the nearby sea polluted by sewage, football is often the only exercise and entertainment available to Gaza’s children, who have just lived through the third major attack in less than six years on the territory where they live. It is being organised by Gaza Action Ireland (GAI) and Antrim to Gaza, who need to raise thousands of euro to support the initiative. ..Contributions can be made here. Thank you.
The Israeli Embassy, Dublin last month (top) and Ambassador Boaz Modai
“In one of the rallies, which took place near the Israeli embassy a few weeks ago, some foolish people raised a sign saying “Free Gaza”. The last thing Hamas is interested in is freedom as Hamas like ISIS, oppresses Christians, persecutes homosexuals and violates women’s rights. Indeed, it is about time for Gaza to be free – free of Hamas.
….I must say that some of their slogans are familiar to Jews from this very continent only 70 or 80 years ago, while other placards demonstrate only ignorance, an unbalanced approach and a hatred for the only state for the Jews in the world. Others who so proudly call for my expulsion from this country show no respect for democracy, for dialogue and for the hospitality for which this country is so famous.
To those people, who represent a minority – a vocal and hostile group who nevertheless do not represent the people of Ireland – I have nothing to say. They are a shame and a disgrace to this country. These words of mine come from a person who is ready for dialogue at any time and with anyone, since that is what democracy is all about.
Unlike this minority, the majority of the people of Ireland support Israel and the thousands of e-mails, letters and telephone calls of support the embassy received are true evidence of the deep understanding and empathy, which many people in Ireland have towards Israel.”
Boaz Modai, Israeli Ambassador to Ireland to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade yesterday.