Ireland, Expelling the Israel Ambassador (not) and abstaining on UN War Crime investigation

 People in Ireland have been protesting the Israeli assault on Gaza in every city and many towns across the country. Online polls show a majority want the government to take action through expelling the Israeli ambassador. Yet the southern government abstained on a crucial UN vote to set up an investigation into Israeli war crimes. We’d suggest when you include a look at the map above it becomes very clear that this is yet another example of the Irish state putting its alliance with the imperialist countries that have imprisoned the majority of the worlds population in misery ahead of the wishes of the population.

This isn’t new. During the American invasion of Iraq over 100,000 marched through the streets of Dublin demanding an end to our participation yet the government continued to allow US warplanes to refuel at Shannon. When hundreds of people threatened to physically enter Shannon to stop the refuelling ‘our’ same government deployed riot police and even the army against ‘their’ people’. Last month they sent 80 year old Margaretta D’Arcy to jail for a second time for refusing to stop protesting against that same refuelling, a decade on. And a few days ago they even arrested two TD's for daring to try and inspect a clearly visible US military plane that was on the runway for weapons or prisoners.

 

Ireland’s vote at the UN last night was part of a consistent pattern of contempt that Irish politicians have for the views of Irish people. In the last decade Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, the Labour Party and the Green Party have all shown this contempt in power even if whilst in opposition they have pretended to either support Palestinian rights and/or oppose refuelling of war planes. This is the reality of our democracy, every five years we get to vote another bunch of liars into power, to do what they will.

At a time like now when the death toll in Gaza has climbed over 700 their lies literally become a question of life and death. The poll the Journal ran showed almost 3 people wanted the ambassador expelled for every 1 person who opposed that move, yet we can be sure that the government will pay no heed. It is something that is happening elsewhere, both Ecuador and Brazil have withdrawn their Ambassadors from Israel. But look at that recognition map again and the very clear dividing line it illustrates, we will probably see more Ambassadors removed but from the countries of ‘global south’ rather than the imperialist north.

Where does that leave the majority of people in Ireland who are outraged by the assault on Gaza and outraged by government inaction? It suggests a couple of things. Firstly that the ambassador will not be expelled as a result of polite, well-argued calls that explains the case for doing so. Our government knows the case but it has picked a side in this conflict and that is the side of the US and the EU who back Israel. Expulsion will only come about as the result of massive protest that spills over into mass action. Secondly it underlines why we need to build effective direct solidarity with people in Palestine through grassroots organisations rather than official channels . There is already a strong pre-existing tradition of doing just this including many people from Ireland who have travelled to Palestine to observe, participate and help try and break the blockade.

But thirdly that map also shows just how rotten our world is and exposes the networks of power that keep it that way. We live on a planet on which a few are super wealthy while billions do not have enough to eat. This is not the result of some freak of nature or accident but because power has made things that way. Centuries of racist capitalist colonialism have created the systems of power that keep so many down. Those systems are very much still with us, they still constantly reproduce themselves and all too often we are caught up in that reproduction. At this point in history that system is in the process of unleashing environmental catastrophe on most of the people of the planet, ourselves included. The question is can we together act to stop and end it? That’s not a question we will resolve before the end of this Israeli assault on Gaza which is why it is essential to keep protesting. But unless and until we do, such assaults will continue to happen as part of the cost of maintaining this system which places great importance on privilege and profit, above the ideas of justice and people's actual needs.

WORDS Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )

  


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