Tag Archives: Israel

Mayo-born, British Army deserter and tank thief Mike Flanagan

On This Day In Irish History writes:

On this day 72 years ago – 29 June 1948 – Mike Flanagan of Foxford, County Mayo – a Sergeant in the British Army – stole two British tanks and delivered them to the Haganah.

Flanagan [who had participated in the liberation of the Nazi-operated Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945] is said to have seen parallels between Jews fighting for a nation-state and the Irish 25 years earlier.

Via Wikipedia:

The tanks were hidden in Givatayim and later formed the basis of the Israeli Armored Corps.

Flanagan subsequently converted to Judaism, adopted the Hebrew name Michael Peleg, and married Ruth Levy, fellow soldier whom he had met on active service. They lived in Israel on Kibbutz Sha’ar HaAmakim.

He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Valor from The Wiesenthal Center in the United States.The Israeli Defense Forces honored Flanagan for his immense and critical contributions to the formulation of the IDF….

Mike Flanagan

From top: Billboards showing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left), who has pledged to annex Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank if re-elected tomorrow; Conor O’Neill, a researcher with the Civil Engagement Group in the Seanad, addressing the UN last week on the ‘Question of Palestine’

As Israel goes to the polls…

Conor O’Neill writes:

[Benjamin] Netanyahu’s saying openly that he plans to formally annex the Palestine West Bank if re-elected. I was lucky enough to get a chance to speak last week (alongside Senator Frances Black) at the UN about practical steps we can take to stop that from happening….

As Netanyahu Seeks Re-election, the Future of the West Bank Is Now on the Ballot (New York Times)

Last week: ‘We Call On The International Community To Come With Us’

Conor O’Neill

Pic: Reuters

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)

This afternoon.

Tel Aviv, Israel.

Ted writes:

We’re 106 days away from Eurovision in Tel Aviv and the Semi-Final Allocation Draw just took place…

Ireland will be performing in the Second Semi Final. Very few songs selected but we’re mixed in with traditional heavyweights Russia, Sweden, and Norway.

I didn’t know this but there’s a Eurovision Host City Keychain that gets passed from city to city. Weighs over 15kg apparently…

Israeli singer Netta Barzilai (second right) after winning the 2018 Eurovision song contest in Lisbon

A pro-Palestinian activist group, Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Australia, has joined protesters and artists worldwide in calling for a boycott of the event.

It used a red leaflet featuring the SBS [national public television network in Australia] name and logo to promote its cause. It said: “Boycott Eurovision 2019; Don’t Celebrate Israel’s Apartheid Crimes”.

SBS sent a legal letter saying they must “immediately remove SBS’s trademark from any of your websites, social media pages and any other marketing and promotional material”.

SBS threatens to sue protestors calling for boycott of Eurovision in Israel (The Guardian

Mark Geary writes:

Non-European country in a tizzy over Eurovision being in another non-European country.

Pic: AP


Áras an Uachtaráin and government buildings.

Scenes from the visit to Ireland by Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestine National Authority, which included talks with President Higgins, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and  Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveeney.

At a press conference, where an additional €1m to the UN Relief Agency for Palestine Refugees was announced, Mr Coveney said:

“We discussed the idea of Ireland hosting a small informal meeting of a few Arab and European foreign ministers with Palestinian representatives in the coming months…”


Plans to host informal Palestinian peace talks in Ireland (RTÉ)


Oy vey.

Ted writes:

Just announced: the host city for Eurovision 2019 will be… Tel Aviv!  But will Ireland be represented?


Tel Aviv to host Eurovision 2019! (Eurovision)


From top: Israeli  Prime Minister President Benjamin Netanyahu and other Likud lawmakers in the Knesset after the passage of the nation-state law last week; Bryan Wall

In 1896 Theodor Herzl published his pamphlet The Jewish State. In its pages was contained his vision of how to acquire the land of Israel and what would be the content of the state.

His writing covered details such as the kind of government the state would be based on, as well as the more mundane such as how many hours a person would work per day.

He also made references to the area in which his future state would be founded. Being located in the Middle East, he wrote that the state could play an important role for the Great Powers of the time (Austro-Hungary, Britain, France). Once founded, Israel would “there form a portion of a rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilization as opposed to barbarism.”

As for what was to be done with the native population, he was also quite clear in this regard.
Herzl was a man of his time. He was a liberal and a social democrat but the particular milieu lived in ensured that he held non-European states and their peoples in low esteem.

Thus, his proposition for dealing with the population of Palestine was influenced by the era of colonialism in which he lived:

“Supposing, for example, we were obliged to clear a country of wild beasts, we should not set about the task in the fashion of Europeans of the fifth century. We should not take spear and lance and go out singly in pursuit of bears; we would organize a large and active hunting party, drive the animals together, and throw a melinite bomb into their midst.”

Jump ahead two decades and we come to Ze’ev Jabotinsky. Jabotinsky was an advocate of what was to become known as Revisionist Zionism.

His arguments for the creation of Israel were a logical extension of Herzl’s Political Zionism. Jabotinsky called for an “iron wall” beyond which the local population would not be able to pass.

Being a metaphor for military and demographic superiority, Jabotinsky was clear when it came to how the state would be created and how it would ensure its fortunes.

A future Israel would be safe and secure when

“the Jews become the majority” as once the natives accepted this, and realised they would not be able to rid themselves of the Zionist colonisers, they would strive for peace with their new Zionist overlords. He was realistic in the sense that he knew that “we are seeking to colonise a country against the wishes of its population, in other words, by force.”

With this in mind it should come as no surprise that Israel has now passed the Jewish nation-state law. If anything it should come as a surprise that it has not happened sooner.

Perhaps facts on the ground have dictated this, such as the increasing amount of illegal Israeli colonisers in the West Bank and Golan Heights over the last three decades.

The Bill, which was passed by 62 members of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament), declares that:

“The State of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people, in which it fulfills its natural, cultural, religious and historical right to self-determination.”

Furthermore, it states that:

“The right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.”

The reporting of the law in the mainstream media has, as usual, been less than stellar.

Commentary has ranged from tepid narration to an occasionally decent article that does more than call the law “controversial”, with the The Irish Times, the BBC, and CNN being guilty of this journalistic languidness.

They were joined by the New York Times, the “paper of record”, whose anaemic reporting referred to the law as “divisive”.

Others such as The Atlantic, Democracy Now, and the Irish Examiner did more than simple transcribing. In these cases the law was reported as “formally sanction[ing] discrimination against minorities”, “a hate crime”, and as making “Israel officially a sectarian state”.

Although many of us find this kind of honest reporting laudable it is still short-sighted. This is because it ignores the larger history of Zionism, the history of Israel, and its treatment of the Palestinians.

Having lived under an occupation and Zionist-framed law since 1948, the passing of the law makes very little difference to the lived experience of the Palestinians.

It is just more of the same; albeit under the veneer of legality. Ownership of land has always been restricted to Jewish citizens, with military laws being used to repress Palestinians and confiscate their land decades before the introduction of this law.

Citizenship being limited to Jewish people only is nothing remotely new, with the state having been defined as the state of the Jewish people since its founding, something the mainstream media seems to have either missed or ignored. Such a definition has even caused problems for Jewish citizens in the past.

For example, in 1962 Shmuel Oswald Rufeisen (Brother Daniel) sued the state in order to have it recognise him on his identity card by his nationality and not his religion, the latter of which was, and continues to be, standard practice.

He was a Polish Jew who had converted to Catholicism during the Second World War. Now a monk and no longer identifying as Jewish, yet still wanting to be part of the “Jewish destiny” in Israel, he moved there. Having given up his Polish citizenship he wanted to acquire Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return.

His argument was that even though he was no longer of the Jewish religion, he was Jewish by nationality and therefore entitled to citizenship of the state. His application denied, he then petitioned the High Court of Justice, who also denied his application.

In spite of this, he was eventually granted an Israeli identity card which recorded his nationality as “Not Clear”.

As the Israeli historian Shlomo Sand has rightly pointed out, “It was categorically denied that there was no Jewish nationality without its religious shell.”

It was no longer the individual’s decision as to whether or not they were Jewish. The state would decide who could be a citizen and that, like everything in the state, had to be refracted through the prism of Zionism.

In the context of the new law then, we are simply seeing some legal formalisation of what has been standard practice for decades. That the media does not understand this historical context, and has ignored it, either intentionally or unknowingly, is unsurprising.

The reasons for this are many and have been covered by others such as Howard Friel and Richard Falk. What is more important is the fact that the law is being reported on outside of the historical context in which it has been written and passed.

Outside of this context the media can portray the law as merely a recent deviation in the history of an otherwise “liberal and democratic state”; the only one of its kind in the region, as the well-worn talking point goes.

The media can also portray it as a protective measure in light of the recent events, both in Israel, Gaza, the West Bank, and elsewhere in the region.

But by understanding the history of Zionism we can also understand two things in particular. Firstly, the history of Zionism, going back to Herzl, makes it clear that a demographic and military superiority was needed in order to found the state.

An “outpost of civilization” was to be created using “melinite bombs”, despite Herzl’s apparent liberalism. Legalities aside, the needs justified the ends. Secondly, Jabotinsky’s writings also make it clear what actions were going to needed in order to secure the future state.

An Iron Wall of Zionist supremacy was what would ensure the creation and security of the state. Anything less would condemn the project to the dustbin of history.

With this in mind, we can see how the nation-state bill is nothing new or unique. It is merely a continuation of the colonialist strategy that was theorised by Herzl and his acolytes, and put into action by Jaobotinsky and his adherents; and ironically by his ideological enemies such as Ben-Gurion.

The Palestinians have suffered regardless of this new law and will continue to do so no matter what legal formulas are created. That the wider media does not report or understand this demonstrates their blind spots, ignorance, and obsequiousness to state power.

While they transcribe, the history of Zionism continues to discriminate, segregate, and deny basic rights to those it deems unworthy.

Bryan Wall is a PhD candidate in the departments of sociology and philosophy in University College Cork. His interests are in citizenship, human rights, democratic and political theory, and the history of Zionism. Read his work here

Pic: Getty

This afternoon.

The Liffey Boardwalk, Dublin 1

The launch of an ‘Irish Call to Boycott Eurovision 2019 in Israel’ Initiated by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), PalFest Ireland and Trade Union Friends of Palestine (TUFP), with human rights activists, including artist Robert Ballagh and Senator David Norris.

The group believes Israel’s hosting of the Eurovision will be used to “culturally whitewash and ‘pinkwash’ Israel’s record of war crimes and human rights abuses against the Palestinian people”.


Petition here

Leah Farrell/RollingNews

Ciaran Tierney tweetz:

A rally will take place outside City Hall in today (1pm) to express support for a motion to boycott illegal ‘settlement’ (colony) goods. 800,000 ‘settlers’ live beyond the agreed 1967 borders, in contravention of international law.