25 July 2006 — The Israeli Embassy in Dublin was confronted on Tuesday with the death and destruction that it has wrought in Gaza and Lebanon in recent weeks. During its all-day vigil at the Israeli embassy, the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) held a symbolic “die-in”, in which Irish, Lebanese and Palestinian volunteers donned “blood”-stained clothes and lay down on the street in front of the embassy. All Irish local and national media were present and gave the protest prominent coverage across the day and in Wednesday’s newspapers. The demonstration was a prelude to a major march taking place in Dublin this coming Saturday 29th.
The IPSC “die-in” was co-ordinated with another demonstration organised by the Lebanese and Palestinian communities in Ireland, who marched from Dublin city centre out to the embassy, twenty minutes away in Ballsbridge, and were supported by recent Irish evacuees from Lebanon, and by former Irish Defence Forces personnel who had served with the U.N. there.
(Irish Defence Forces best not to be confused with those other, less convincingly named I.D.F…)
Over two hundred protestors began the march on Dublin’s Dame Street, and received a superb reception all along the route. This heartening response from the Irish public was echoed in loud beeps throughout the day at the Israeli embassy, as IPSC volunteers, waving Lebanese and Palestinian flags, held up placards asking motorists to “beep for Lebanon and Palestine”. A constant barrage of car-horns hopefully prevented embassy staff from working the hasbara machine, for one day at least.
In any case, Tuesday suggested a very solid support for Lebanon and Palestine among the Irish public. A number of Lebanese and Palestinian protestors were taken aback at the level of solidarity shown them by Irish citizens at this time. Even some long-term activists were surprised at the overwhelmingly supportive response from the public. While the majority of Irish people tend to be sympathetic towards Palestinians, like much of “the West”, many suffer from having been nurtured into confusion by Israeli myth and mendacity.
Israel’s latest devastation of Lebanon, however, seems to have made it all quite clear and understandable again. The barbarity unleashed on the entire Lebanese society has truly unmasked Israel to those who had failed to grasp that this is exactly what they’ve been doing in Palestine for decades. As a result, public opinion is palpably turning against Israel. It is not only more people beeping their horns, but there are also more seeking to get involved and contribute. And huge numbers are signing up to the boycott without us even having to make an argument for it.
This shift is borne out by the mainstream media being out in huge numbers on Tuesday, given that they are not always so eager to cover IPSC events. And again it was evident in Tuesday’s Irish Times, the Irish “newspaper of record”, where of the nine letters carried on the “Middle East crisis”, a full eight opposed Israel’s ongoing belligerence.
So, with eight pro-Palestinian activists in Ireland for every Israeli apologist, it should be no time at all til the Irish government is forced to act. The IPSC hopes that they’ll relieve us of a protest site by cutting diplomatic ties and giving the Israeli ambassador his marching orders until Israel deigns to comply with international law. To help us make this happen, we hope to see you out on the streets on Saturday 29th.
Hugh Harkin is a member of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign.