UPDATE: Thanks to the many who signed Book of Solidarity for Gaza on a very rainy Saturday in Wexford Bull Ring; this will tour county, be presented to Palestinian Ambassador. Watch my twitter feed @OisinSF for updates.
I recently received the following query:
The people of Gaza are now into their third full week of bombardment from the Israeli state. Over one thousand Palestinian people have so far been killed, the vast majority of them civilians. I’m sure you have seen the images of many of the dead, including children. Attacks have been indiscriminate, as the Israel Defense Force (IDF) shell schools, hospitals, and the homes of ordinary people.
I would like to know what your position is in regard to the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people? Furthermore, I would like to know, as an elected member of Wexford County Council, what you intend to do to about it?
I’m happy to share my response.
Some Political Background:
First, in terms of direct action, you’ll no doubt be aware that several Sinn Féin members and representatives have participated with honour and remarkable courage in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla; both at a national, and particularly at the local, New Ross, level. Sinn Féin members such as Ger Barron have long been to the forefront on this issue, and we have collectively taken the initiative on all levels for quite some time.
New Ross man on Freedom Flotilla to Gaza
Wexford Sinn Féin protest against the sabotage of the MV Saoirse
Sinn Féin prides itself on being a team politically, and such humanitarian and civil resistance action is something that I supported Ger doing then, as one of his proud team members.
Second, in terms of political action at a local, Dáil, Assembly, and International level, Sinn Féin as a team has again, long been to the forefront on this issue –
Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams: Gaza is an open-air prison (Haaretz, 2009)
– and Palestinians, as the ANC, have long been supporters of Republicans.
Palestinian ambassador at Sinn Fein Ard Fheis 2012
As a team we commit to this continuing. This Sunday, for example, will see the Palestinian Ambassador to Ireland address the 33rd National Hungerstrike Commemoration in Derrylin, Fermanagh, at 2:30, Sunday 3rd August.
This follows for example, the Sinn Féin led stand for solidarity in the Dáil:
Dáil stands in solidarity with Gaza
… Which was completely, deliberately censored by RTE that day on both the 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock news (despite robust, rigorous complaints by us);
At an EU level, our 4 MEPs have equally been front and centre on this issue:
No to Israeli military aggression – End Gaza Blockade
On a local level, doubtless you are aware Sinn Féin has continued its acrivist tradition and kept focus on Palestine and Gaza:
Some personal background:
I recently participated in a public demonstration of solidarity with Gaza by
– most of the 60 Sinn Féin councillors (including those from Wexford),
– a similar number of activists,
– two TDs, and
– MEP Liadh Ní Riada;
all from the Ireland South constituency of the European Parliament, in Cahir, Co. Tipperary.
I am a member of the US-based Network of Spiritual Progressives, an Interfaith and humanist-inclusive group associated with the Tikkun Community founded by Rabbi Michael Lerner. I first encountered his, and their, ideas in college in the US through Tikkun Magazine. Rabbi Lerner is author of (among other books) “Healing Israel/Palestine” which I consider to be very influential on my own evolution of ideas regarding the Israel/Palestine conflict, and I highly recommend it and its latest iteration (“Embracing Israel/Palestine”) to all.
Tikkun Magazine – to heal, repair and transform the world
Just last Friday, I phoned in to a live conference call between Rabbi Lerner and Uri Avnery from Gush Shalom/Peace Now in Israel, updating and engaging with members on the terrible situation in Gaza in particular, and its relationship to Israeli-American politics in general. They gave particular encouragement to all, to engage politically, publically and progressively on this issue; and Mr. Avnery – a former Israeli soldier himself – was unsparing in his intelligent and bracing criticism of his own, and US governments.
Live Interview with Uri Avnery and More
My position parallels that of Sinn Féin as briefly outlined above and below:
Expel Israeli Ambassador over Gaza slaughter – Gerry Adams TD
Immediate humanitarian ceasefire needed for Gaza- Seán Crowe TD
Sinn Féin wants Dáil recall to discuss Gaza
‘Shameful political cowardice’ as Irish Govt abstains from UN war crimes vote
Irish Peace Process template applies to Gaza/Israel
(This latest issue of an Phoblacht should be in shops soon – and if you don’t see it, do ask for it)
And in addition, I consider it highly important ethically and practically, to create and nurture positive and productive relationships with Jews, Americans, and Israelis also, who are on the frontline of struggle for a just and lasting peace with a viable Palestine.
I have been in communication with my fellow Sinn Féin Councillors throughout this, and you may rest assured we will continue to develop and field progressive ideas and actions at a local level.