From top: The flag of Palestine outside Eyre Square, Galway last Friday; Keith Finnegan, of Galway Bay Fm and Israeli Ambassador to Ireland, Ophir Kariv,

Not even Galway City Councillors were informed that the new Israeli Ambassador to Ireland was coming to visit the city.

It culminated in the most fawning interview with a foreign dignitary on local radio the author has ever heard

Ciaran Tierney writes:

In the West of Ireland, we don’t like to ask too many hard, tough questions or cause too much of a fuss.

We treat our visitors with respect, but a bizarre visit by a prominent diplomat last Friday has raised serious questions about who makes key decisions at a local level and why our elected representatives can be kept completely and utterly in the dark.

Who decides to invite an Ambassador to our city?

And who decides that elected city councillors – the people who actually represent us – have no right to know when a diginitary is coming to our beautiful city?

On Wednesday, I was told by someone who works for Galway City Council that the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland, Ophir Kariv, was set to pay an official visit to the city on Friday.

The person who called me had no idea of the schedule involved, but he had heard that there would be engagements at NUI Galway, the Galway Chamber of Commerce, and City Hall.

I’m guessing he contacted me because he was aware of my keen interest in human rights and the fact that I have written extensively about the gross injustice inflicted on the people of Palestine. I sometimes freelance for Electronic Intifada, who are based in the US and work hard to give an English language voice to the oppressed.

So I made a few calls.

I informed members of the Galway Palestine Solidarity Campaign who, in turn, contacted members of the Labour Party and Sinn Fein who have done so much to raise awareness of the Palestinian issue at City Hall over the past few years.

They raised the flag in solidarity, they called on the Irish Government to recognise the state of Palestine, and no city official had seen fit to tell them about the proposed visit by the Israeli Ambassador on Friday.

Even the Mayor, apparently, wasn’t aware of the plans.

A few pro-Palestine activists considered a peaceful and dignified flag protest at City Hall, but it was difficult to get people mobilised at such short notice, especially when nobody knew the exact time of the visit.

I heard nothing more about it, but I’m aware that elected members of the City Council could not find out anything about the ambassador’s schedule. So much for local democracy!

On Saturday, a number of people sent me a podcast of a recording on local radio station Galway Bay FM, from the previous day.

As it turned out, Mr Kariv had visited the station’s headquarters on Sandy Road for a pre-arranged interview with current affairs presenter Keith Finnegan.

The people who sent me the podcast were shocked by the nature and tone of the interview (starts here at 52 mins).

It is normal practice for a new diplomat to visit provincial cities around the country, but activists in Galway were shocked that they managed to get through an entire interview without once uttering the words ‘Palestine’, ‘West Bank’, ‘Gaza’, ‘occupation’, ‘child prisoners’, or ‘house demolitions’….(more at link below)

A secret little mission to Galway (Ciaran Tierney)

34 thoughts on “A Visit Under Wraps

  1. Gummy Rummy

    Here’s a hard tough question for Ciaran Tiernay: are you an activist OR a journalist?

    I ask because here you are admitting to organising a protest so you can then “report” on it.

    This is the epitome of Fake News.

    Second question: do you know – as an activist and/or journalist – that you have a history of carrying water for the Iranians who disingenuously and dangerously meddle in Palestine’s affairs as a proxy battle with Israel and the West?

    Third Question: Would you rather report the truth or continue to push your Israeli-hate agenda?

    Reply
      1. Rob_G

        Whatever about the ins and outs of this particular middle east quagmire, organising a protest and then reporting on it as a supposed impartial observer does seem not seem very ethical.

        Reply
        1. Ciuncainteach

          “Organising a protest and then reporting on it as a supposed impartial observer” seems to be a little bit of an oversimplification on your part Rob. From what was written, it’s apparent that they were made aware of the visit by Mr Tierney and that he is aware of the efforts they went through to organise a demonstration. We don’t have any indication that he organised the protest himself. The organised protest was not the main basis of his article either.

          The notion of whether a journalist can be truly objective is one worth debating, but I think we should give some credence to those ‘activist’ journalists that honestly and transparently disclose their biases like Mr Tierney has done here.

          Reply
  2. Mel

    Ciaran, do you speak for everyone in the West of Ireland? Do you know what ‘journalism’ is Ciaran? I don’t think you do.

    Reply
  3. darren

    None of that changes the reason to pay respect to those difficult issues of localised bullying when provided the chance to do so. The Israeli rep is obv looking for something, like he’s not on holidays.. and being asked to actually represent the side which pays his wage is only reasonable. Identifying Iranian interests is silly and or distracting. It seems that a better informed public would be the ideal of any diplomatic endeavour where the intention is to communicate a particular perspective. Because from most sides it looks like the bullying of a truth too difficult to handle fairly. Obvioulsy the man is just trying to bring to our attention something in his town that was intended to go unnoticed by any but those invited. Is that the worst thing a journalist or activist can do?

    Reply
    1. Clampers Outside!

      “Intended to go unnoticed” …ah stop…. the guy did an interview (poorly handled one or not) on the most listened to radio station in Galway.

      Reply
      1. darren

        obv i meant unchallenged.. but again there is the reality that if publicity was sought for the events and trip overall then this journalist and or activist is only helping… if on the other hand the idea was to communicate his state’s interests then being questioned regarding those interests which extend beyond their own territory is really just fair and reasonable. At the very least to allow challenge to the means by which these interests are pursued.

        Reply
    2. rotide

      ” It seems that a better informed public would be the ideal of any diplomatic endeavour”

      Well both sides could do with a bit of informing. People calling Israel genocidal warmongers don’t seem to have the slightest idea how and why Isreal has become what it is.

      Reply
  4. eoin

    Why wasn’t the Israeli ambassador quizzed on Galway radio about racist rants in Israel about Ireland’s first-in-class legislation to ban trade with *illegally* occupied territories. Galwegians probably thought he was such a nice misunderstood man. Reminds me how Karadzic was regarded as an academic politician and poet on Irish TV until someone pointed out he was accused of genocide.

    Well done Ciaran for not letting this pass.

    Reply
    1. Rob_G

      “Reminds me how Karadzic was regarded as an academic politician and poet on Irish TV until someone pointed out he was accused of genocide.”

      – by whom? I wouldn’t like to be in the circles that you move among, Eoin

      Reply
    2. rotide

      “Reminds me how Karadzic was regarded as an academic politician and poet on Irish TV until someone pointed out he was accused of genocide.”

      Wtf?

      Reply
  5. darren

    None of that changes the reason to pay respect to those difficult issues of localised bullying when provided the chance to do so. The Israeli rep is obv looking for something, like he’s not on holidays.. and being asked to actually represent the side which pays his wage is only reasonable. Identifying Iranian interests is silly and or distracting. It seems that a better informed public would be the ideal of any diplomatic endeavour where the intention is to communicate a particular perspective. Because from most sides it looks like the bullying of a truth too difficult to handle fairly.

    Reply
    1. Andrew

      Not to worry darren the post that offended you has been censored so ou can carry on patting yourself on the back and think that everyone agrees with you

      Reply
  6. phil

    Seems strange , from what Ive seen , Israeli diplomats never seem to pass up an opportunity to defend the indefensible … He is no Mark Regev….

    Reply
  7. MaryLou's ArmaLite

    did the interview mention Mortar attacks?

    Maybe the ambassador is a smart guy and didn’t want his trip out west ruined by these wingnuts

    Reply
    1. Mel

      What’s the Irish Times though? It’s hardly some kind of high standard to be compared with. Activism posing as journalism these days.

      Reply
  8. rotide

    Just to use the same standards Ciaran is demanding, Why is there no mention in this article of the Arab Israeli War? Or the Six day war? Or Suicide bombings? Or Mortar attacks?

    Reply
    1. darren

      Maybe because these incidents or periods are not nearly as relevant in terms of present day news and debate as the issues currently dominating public awareness about Israeli activities and more importantly because the only thing you could genuinely ask is perhaps did you do anything to warrant aggression or how do you intend to respond to that aggression. When the action to fire the mortars which you refer to is not taken by Israeli forces then what else could you ask an Israeli representative?

      Reply
      1. rotide

        I think you have missed the point.

        These incidents were perpetrated on the Israelis and resulted in the situation we see today. They are entirely relevant as they are the literal cause of Israeli policy.

        Reply
        1. Starina

          I mean, you want to go chicken-or-egg on it, we could go back to the 1922 British Mandate.

          In the words of Eddie Izzard, “There’s nobody here! Excuse me… There’s nobody here! Yes, a land empty of human existence… Who the tweetle-poot are these guys?”

          Reply
  9. Aoife D

    He speaks for a lot of people as can clearly be seen by the reactions to the ‘interview’.

    Just because you’re an apologist for Apartheid, Occupation, Settler Colonialism, murder, land theft, imprisonment of children, discriminatory laws just to begin doesnt make us all so thankfully.

    Any comment on the ongoing terrorisation of Hebron by hilltop cretins or the exiction of the family from their home so that hilltop cretin squatters could move in?
    Any commemt on the 89 women and 9 children detained in January?
    Or maybe a comment about the 18 journalists imprisoned. Two serving life sentences and three under Administrative Detention?
    Any comment about Hafrada? Gader Hafrada. Koroch ha-Hafada?

    And youre in here trying to convince Irish people to support ‘israel’ …..
    Update that manual quick boy.

    Reply
  10. Aoife Odinga

    He speaks for a lot of people as can clearly be seen by the reactions to the ‘interview’.

    Just because you’re an apologist for Apartheid, Occupation, Settler Colonialism, murder, land theft, imprisonment of children, discriminatory laws just to begin doesnt make us all so thankfully.

    Any comment on the ongoing terrorisation of Hebron by hilltop cretins or the exiction of the family from their home so that hilltop cretin squatters could move in?
    Any commemt on the 89 women and 9 children detained in January?
    Or maybe a comment about the 18 journalists imprisoned. Two serving life sentences and three under Administrative Detention?
    Any comment about Hafrada? Gader Hafrada. Koroch ha-Hafada?

    And youre in here trying to convince Irish people to support ‘israel’ …..
    Update that manual quick boy.

    Reply
    1. darren

      Aoife seems to know a lot more about this than anyone else on here so thank fupp for that. Honesty cannot see why the majority of people commenting seem hostile to an activist / journalist bringing to light this simple case of political power and expressing his will to represent a symbolic challenge to it if that opportunity was made aware to him. Is that not basically the real value of something like broadsheet?

      Reply
  11. Suheil J

    Well done Ciaran!
    Ignore the trolls trying to justify israel’s criminality. That’s all pointless and useless noise.

    Reply
  12. Suheil J

    Well done Ciaran!
    Ignore the trolls trying to justify israel’s criminality. That’s all pointless and useless noise

    Reply
  13. Suheil J

    Well done Ciaran!
    Ignore the trolls trying to justify israel’s criminality,. That’s all nothing but pointless and useless noise from those who don’t know of right from wrong

    Reply

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