The TV comedy Derry Girls has delivered one of the year’s most caustic – and pertinent – observations.
“I’m so fucking sick of peace,” says Michelle, a prominent character. “It’s all anybody ever bangs on about.”
Although the series was set in the 1990s, a farce inflicted on Derry’s schools in recent weeks illustrates how “peace” can be abused.
Principals working in Jerusalem were brought to the northern Irish city, ostensibly so that they could learn about its experiences with conflict resolution.
At first glance, the initiative may seem laudable. Yet a closer look at the leading player in the initiative raises disturbing questions.
The coordinator of the trip was Tony Gallagher from Queen’s University Belfast.For many years, Gallagher has been arguing that Israel can learn from “shared education” programs in the North of Ireland. Under those programs, children attending separate Catholic and Protestant schools move between schools for lessons.
The first Israeli organization to take a serious interest in these activities, Gallagher has indicated, was the Tel Aviv-based Center for Educational Technology (CET).
If Gallagher is genuinely striving for peace, equality and justice – as he has claimed – then the CET looks like a bizarre partner.
Yossi Baidatz, the CET’s current chief, has been involved with Israeli “intelligence” since the 1980s.
After rising through the ranks, he led the analysis section in the Israeli military’s intelligence directorate, known by the acronym AMAN, between 2006 and 2011.
In other words, Baidatz is a career spy.
Baidatz has also advised the Israeli military on modernizing its strategic thinking.
In a 2014 paper he co-wrote, Baidatz recommended that “threats need to be understood by the enemy and also perceived by the enemy as real, rather than empty.”
Earlier in 2014, more than 530 children were directly killed by Israel during a major offensive against Gaza.
Israel has long designated Gaza as a “hostile entity.” All of its 2 million inhabitants, including new-born babies, are effectively treated as the enemy.
If Baidatz is advocating that Israel must be willing to use violence in the knowledge that children will be killed and maimed, then he may not be the most credible advocate of “shared education.” And that is putting it very mildly.
Aeronautics is a manufacturer of drones.
Controversially, its products have been coveted by such clients as Azerbaijan – which has reportedly asked Aeronautics’ representatives to demonstrate the effectiveness of their drones by using them in a military strike against Armenia.
With his connections to the arms industry, it is, to once again put it mildly, intriguing that Shaul Gilad is part of the Center for Educational Technology – an organization supposedly impressed by Ireland’s peace process.
In certain contexts, shared education is a good idea. Bringing children from different backgrounds together can be vital in overcoming prejudice, provided that the scheme does not normalize an inherently unjust situation such as how Israel forces Palestinians to live under an apartheid system.
If shared education is really about justice and equality, then the whole concept is sullied by Tony Gallagher’s hypocrisy. He bangs on about peace, while teaming up with Israel’s warmongers.