In January 2013, members of Gaza Action Ireland, including Hugh Lewis, Councillor for Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, visited Gaza. After the visit we had articles and blogs published describing the trip and the terrible situation that prevails in Gaza due to the illegal Israeli siege. Mine is here – Visiting Gaza , Trevor Hogan’s piece in the Irish Examiner is here – Sport breaking down barriers . Hugh Lewis also had a piece in the Southside People entitled It’s Time to Listen partly a response to fellow councillor Richard Humphreys criticism of Irish NGO Trócaire’s campaign on behalf of justice for the Palestinian people, as well as an overview of what’s going on in Gaza.
He ended the piece with this:
“I invite anyone who questions the veracity of gross breaches of human rights in Gaza or in the Occupied Territories to visit and see the reality of the situation there for themselves.
We can no longer simply sympathise with those who are being oppressed; we must also answer their call for solidarity and action. We hope to invite some of those we met in Gaza to Ireland soon to share their stories.
It is time we listened.”
The Israeli Embassy had a response the following week, full of the usual hasbara tropes and lies about truckloads of supplies going into Gaza, about the shops overflowing with low cost goods, and of course rockets from Gaza. The piece as usual ignores facts, human rights reports, the 171 people murdered by Israel in Gaza in November and the near constant attacks on the civilian population there by the world’s fourth largest military.
So far, so Israel – nothing new here, no surprises – you know the script, you’ve seen it a million times. In fairness to headwrecking repetition, the same article appears in the Sunday Independent almost every week and in everything the Embassy churns out. It did end on an unusual note though, in fact with an invitation for Hugh to visit Israel.
“Free Gaza – yes! Free it from its radical Islamist terrorist leadership. In the meantime, Cllr Lewis is welcome to visit Israel and should write the other side of the story for Southside People.”
Wow! Not only is any hospitality most unexpected from this apartheid Embassy, it is also utterly disingenuous given that all the crew from the MV Saoirse, of whom Hugh is one, as am I, were kidnapped in international waters, robbed, illegally brought to Israel, imprisoned for a week, deported and then handed a ten year ban in 2011. Our ‘crime’ – entering Israel illegally. The irony could kill you.
So, when the Embassy issued it’s optically ‘friendly’ invitation to Hugh Lewis in the Southside People, in an attempt to whitewash its image, they knew they were lying, they knowingly wrote a falsehood. He is not welcome in Israel, he is barred from entering that state. To follow this up, Hugh wrote to the Embassy to inquire as to whether his ban was lifted and whether he could take up this most public of invitations. They wrote back to tell him that the ban is still in place but that he is welcome to visit a piece of Israel here in Dublin (The Israeli Embassy).
So, yet again the Israeli Embassy in Ireland willfully lies in public, on top of its racist outbursts on social media, its treatment of Irish citizens and of course the barbarism it subjects the Palestinian people to, it is high time these liars were tossed out on their ear.