Wednesday 25 September 2013

Sadaka and the sowing of prejudice in the Irish education system

Roger Waters (former member of Pink Floyd) with Sadaka Board Members
 launching the Sadaka Education Resource on Palestine-Israel. (Source: Sadaka)

Former Pink-Floyd member, Roger Waters, endorsed and promoted an “education resource” for Irish second-level transition students on the 17th of September, before presenting a much-discussed Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience award to Malala Yousafzai, later that same day.

Some objected to Waters presenting the honour due to the use of anti-Semitic motifs at his concerts in recent years. However, Amnesty has long been a politically partisan organisation. Amnesty’s bias was aptly illustrated on the night in question: Malala Yousafzai’s much-deserved award was shared with Harry Belafonte! While Belafonte contributed to the 1960’s Civil Rights movement, in more recent years he stirred controversy with demented and very often hateful commentaries.

Surprise may be tempered by foreknowledge of the characters involved, and if Waters’ forceful record on politics is an indicator, his endorsement was likely to be sought by a prejudicial party. Indeed, the modular course deals with the Israel-Palestine conflict, one of Mr. Waters’ pet subjects. Another piece of the jigsaw fell into place when it was revealed that the programme was developed by a group called Sadaka — The Ireland Palestine Alliance.

It is reputedly the first curriculum approved teaching module on the topic, and will be used in both the Republic and North of Ireland. The chairwoman of Sadaka pointed out that Waters’ endorsement of the pack would be “immeasurable in its importance and will be hugely influential with young people around the country”. Its launch was held at the Royal Irish Academy, a rather prestigious venue for furthering academic endeavour.

The educational programme bears all the hallmarks of propaganda, featuring an extremely slanted account of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Base propaganda

Sadaka is an organisation that closely monitors the activities of the Irish Parliamentary houses, to influence outlooks and policy decisions, for example, with the hosting of anti-Israel delegations that at times indicate the organisation works quite closely with the parliamentary members comprising Oireachtas Friends of Palestine.

Sadaka supports the boycott of all Israel, an absolute ban on all Jewish produce originating in Judea and Samaria (West Bank), Israel’s cessation as a Jewish majority state by advocating for a right of return for the descendents of all Arab refugees, and the immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from all contested areas. Some of those hostile to the Jewish State erroneously claim that Israel discriminates at an institutional level against Arab non-citizens in the contested territory of Judea and Samaria (or West Bank), when in fact alternative legislature for the Arab-Palestinian populace was enshrined in the Oslo Accords, where the Palestinian Authority obtained jurisdiction over almost all Arab-Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Yet Sadaka goes even further by claiming that Israel is an apartheid state in its entirety, discriminating against its Palestinian citizens at an institutional level.

Sadaka is an Islamic term for a type of religiously motivated voluntary charity, albeit one with a layered and sometimes less benign meaning. Sadaka comes across as a well-moneyed group, although their patronage webpage has remained empty for a number of years.

Despite the fact that the Irish media is comprehensively pro-Palestinian, it remains a key aim of Sadaka to shout down what it calls ‘Israeli propaganda’:
To challenge and defeat Israeli propaganda through the development of a high profile media presence.

Extract of “How to argue the case”, by Danny Morrison

To illustrate Sadaka’s approach to the Israel-Palestine conflict, it should be noted that the group coaches anti-Israel neophytes with extremely inaccurate information. It unashamedly coaches the naive in sophistic techniques to defeat the arguments of those possessing other political views. For example, a lengthy article by founding Sadaka member David Morrison, entitled “How to argue the case”, states:
All that is necessary is to state basic facts, calmly and precisely, over and over and over again… tirades against Israel and/or its supporters are counterproductive for changing doubters into supporters. Tirades will be dismissed as coming from partisan opponents of Israel. There is a much better chance of convincing sceptics if you state basic facts about Israel’s behaviour, calmly and precisely.
Israeli sources are especially good, because it is difficult to challenge their validity. Failing that, quote highly regarded public figures (eg Jimmy Carter or Mary Robinson or Richard Goldstone) or institutions…
When responding to a protagonist, select the point or points that can be easily refuted and ignore the rest… Stick to making the case against Israel and for Palestinians: don’t be distracted on to any other issue.
Morrison’s “Israeli sources” that are “difficult to challenge” is obviously a reference to Haaretz, a mainstream news outlet that has built up a considerable notoriety in Israel for defaming the Jewish nation. Haaretz has generated a remarkable number of falsehoods over the last decade.

Morrison cites a 2009 interview with Khaled Mashaal, claiming that Hamas would accept Israel’s right to exist. Such fanciful claims have been peddled about for years.

Sadaka does not content itself with bashing Israel. They also advance pro-Iranian stances, claiming Iran acts transparently vis-à-vis its attempt to obtain nuclear weapons, whilst ignoring its genocidal threats:
Unlike Iran’s nuclear facilities, which are open to international inspection, Israel’s are cloaked in secrecy…
Hardly a day passes by without Israel threatening to use force against some state or group in the Middle East. These days, Iran is the main target for its threats but Lebanon and Syria are also mentioned from time to time.
David Morrison has defended Iran in other venues. He admires its record on the treatment of its Jewish citizens, claiming they freely choose to remain in Iran, despite the overt reality that Iranian Jews have little freedom.

Sadaka is associated with many anti-Israel groups, including the EAPPI and indeed Sadaka seems to focus on bolstering Christian support for Arab-Palestinian perspectives.

If Sadaka supports one side, then it spits on the other. For example, two years ago, the group lobbied politicians in Britain and Ireland, with the presentation of a film depicting Christian Zionism as a fanatical and dangerous ideology, with the intent of defaming Christian supporters of Israel as well as reducing the natural solidarity many feel toward the Jewish State. Anti-Semitic replacement theologian Stephen Sizer was involved with the project.

Sadaka has voiced support for Israel Apartheid week, which contributes a divisive message to students the world over. Such a damaging group should not be involved with the education of the young.

Also published at Crethi Plethi.