“The horrific ordeal of the Palestinian people needs to be highlighted,” Mícheál Mac Donncha stated. “There needs to be solidarity just as there was with the people of South Africa with the apartheid regime.”
Israel won the right to host the high-profile annual competition after Netta Barzilai won this year’s event on Saturday.
The Palestinian ordeal was on shocking display Monday as Israeli snipers once again opened fire on civilians massed along the boundaries of the besieged Gaza Strip for what has been billed as the climax of the Great March of Return.
By afternoon in Gaza, the health ministry reported that the rapidly rising death toll had exceeded 40 Palestinians. Hundreds had been injured with live ammunition and tear gas.
This makes Monday the bloodiest single day since the rallies began on 30 March calling for an end to Israel’s lethal siege of Gaza and the right of refugees – two-thirds of Gaza’s two million residents – to return to homes from which they were expelled and barred from returning by Israel because they are not Jewish.
In previous weeks, Israel had killed a total of more than 50 Palestinians and injured thousands more as part of a deliberate shoot-to-kill-and-maim policy that the International Criminal Court prosecutor has warned could lead to war crimes trials for Israeli leaders.
Monday’s rallies were timed to mark the annual commemoration of the Nakba, the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.
“The ongoing Nakba is why I participate in the Great Return March and support the BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] movement,” Abdulrahman Abunahel, an organizer with the Palestinian BDS National Committee in Gaza explained. “I simply want the right to live in the land where I am from, in freedom, in peace and with dignity. I was born a refugee, I do not want to die as one.”
The massacre in Gaza also coincided with the planned ceremony to open the US embassy in Jerusalem.
Dublin mayor Mac Donncha’s calls on Ireland to boycott Eurovision came a day after he opened the Palestinian Freedom Conference, organized by Palestine solidarity groups in Ireland.
At the conference, attended by hundreds, Mac Donncha reiterated his and Dublin City Council’s full support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement for Palestinian rights.
Last month Israel announced that it had banned Mac Donncha from entering any territory it controls, but the mayor got into the occupied West Bank anyway as Israeli authorities had misspelled his name on the banning order.
Mac Donncha criticized the Irish government for failing to take any action to hold Israel accountable, contrasting this with the alacrity with which it expelled a Russian diplomat over British claims Russia had been involved in the poisoning of a former double agent.
Mac Donncha told the conference that he soon looked forward to visiting a free and liberated Palestine.
At least two other elected officials have also called for a boycott of Eurovision.
“Israel wins Eurovision so let’s make BDS more successful than ever in 2019,” Lynn Boylan, a member of the European Parliament and a colleague of Mac Donnacha in the Sinn Féin party tweeted.
Nessa Childers, an independent MEP, retweeted and agreed with that call.
The European Union was also quick to celebrate the propaganda win for Israel.
Meanwhile, in Jerusalem the Israeli government has been preparing for another PR extravaganza, with the official opening of the US embassy – overwhelmingly opposed by world opinion.
But Donald Trump has insisted on making the move, apparently to satisfy the demands of Sheldon Adelson, the casino billionaire and financier of anti-Palestinian causes who was the US president’s biggest campaign donor.
Adelson recently announced another $30 million to help Trump’s Republican Party hold onto the US House in November’s legislative elections.
But the embassy move is also a cause close to the hearts of Christian Zionist fundamentalists who are hostile to Jews, but see support for Israel as a way to hasten what they hope will be the second coming of Jesus and the end of the world.
This uncomfortable reality was highlighted by the Trump administration’s choice of Christian extremist pastor Robert Jeffress to lead a prayer at the embassy ceremony.
The anti-Semitic Jeffress has previously preached that Jews and Mormons will be eternally damned and that Islam is “a heresy from the pit of hell.”
This prompted condemnation from even such right-wing figures as former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
In another measure of the extremism surrounding the event, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and son-in-law, received a blessing on their arrival in Jerusalem from Israeli chief rabbi Yitzhak Yosef.
Earlier this year Yosef, whose salary is paid by the government, called Black people “monkeys.”
Resisting ethnic cleansing
Palestinians, meanwhile, are urging that the US embassy move be seen as an opportunity to increase international solidarity with their struggle.
“The Trump administration’s decision to open the US embassy in Jerusalem as Palestinians commemorate 70 painful years of displacement signals that it’s giving Israel freer reign than ever to try to push us out of our homeland,” Omar Barghouti, a founder of the BDS movement, said. “The Trump-Netanyahu far-right alliance is wreaking havoc in Palestine and, by extension, the world.”
Noting Israel’s decades long practice of demolishing Palestinian homes in Jerusalem and forcing Palestinians out of the city, Barghouti added that “the Trump administration is now not just an enabler, but also a full partner in Israel’s accelerating ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Jerusalem and beyond.”
“This growing international alliance of progressive communities working to defeat the hateful agenda of the far-right is what gives me hope that we can, and shall, eventually end the ongoing Nakba, end the ongoing destruction of Palestinian life and create a better world for all.”