An unremarkable event in the Dail (Irish parliament) two days ago reminded me of a distinctive trait commonly found amongst advocates of Palestinianism. Socialist members Richard Boyd-Barrett and Joe Higgins both tried to suggest Irish PM Enda Kenny was trying to stop the so-called "activists" on the Irish Flotilla ship from going to Gaza when all Kenny had said was that the government was advising against Irish citizens undertaking the action because it was potentially dangerous.
This is clearly a reasonable point to make after the trouble on last year’s Mavi Mariner. So what was the problem? Did Boyd-Barrett and Higgins want Irish citizens to make an informed choice or not? Should the Foreign Office not advise that Irish citizens could face a potentially hazardous situation if they chose to break a military blockage? I imagine it would have been remiss not to issue such advice.
Therefore what prevented Boyd-Barrett and Higgins from understanding such a simple argument? Could the phenomenon witnessed in the Dail be indicative of a common feature found in pro-Palestinianism, a hysterical black and white "you’re either with us or against us" stance?
Nowhere more so than with this contentious issue does a stark belligerence manifest itself whenever there is a divergence of opinion from the predominantly pro-Palestinian narrative. Other than on a number of pro-Israel websites, it seems that whenever someone endorses an opinion that’s mildly critical of the Palestinians or mildly supportive of Israel, they are subjected to extreme criticism almost without exception. An example is the vitriolic scorn heaped upon authors of articles that don’t roundly condemn Israel, or posters that defend the State in the Comment is Free (CIF) section of the Guardian.
We see this in the melodramatic language of Joe Higgins, TD, who must have knowingly misrepresented the truth about Gaza when he that stated the supplies being brought in were "critical"
I ask the Taoiseach again to stand and call for the Israeli Government not to hinder in any way this flotilla, which is bringing critical supplies, as it travels to Gaza. I also ask him to demand of his EU counterparts to get some spine in their bodies, in contrast to the lily-livered statement they issued at the end of the summit in which the Taoiseach participated, merely calling for restraint. Why does the Taoiseach not say, in the interests of suffering human beings, that they have an absolute right to the supplies that every other country will get unhindered?Of course it’s common knowledge that massive amounts of aid are being transported into Gaza by Israel on a daily basis. For example between the 19th and 25th of June 2011 Israel brought in almost 30,000 tons of aid which included construction materials. Mathilde Redmatn [or more correctly "de Riedmatten"], deputy director of the Red Cross in Gaza has acknowledged there is not a humanitarian crisis at all. Indeed supplying the populace is a legal requirement of the blockade. Furthermore the Israeli government has repeatedly appealed for the aid to be brought to designated docks and transferred to Gaza after inspection but the organisers of the flotilla have refused as they continually did in the past.
Enda Kenny gave an interesting response, the tone of which couldn't contrast more:
As Taoiseach, I call upon the Israeli Government not to take any action that would cause injury or harm to people who have particular motives. The boat involved last year contained no aid. The European Union, for its part, will continue to use its diplomatic and political connections and initiatives to see that the political discussions on the future of the Palestinian people recommence, together with the discussions that must take place about the Israeli-Palestinian problem, which has gone on for many years.He spoke firstly about the safety of Irish citizens. He then referred to the fact that the Mavi Mariner carried no aid, just as the Irish ship, Challenger II, did not. It sounds as if Enda Kenny like many others is beginning to question the intent of these supposed activists. Interestingly he referred to the need to find peace. In light of his scepticism regarding the aid, it can perhaps be inferred from that point that he feels the present efforts to break the blockade are a provocative stunt rather than an effort to find peace.