Gaza Action Ireland stands with the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign as Bank of Ireland closes its accounts

Gaza Action Ireland (GAI) stands with our colleagues in the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC)  and strongly condemns Bank of Ireland’s inexplicable and outrageous closure of their accounts.

The Bank’s action, which has caused financial difficulty and much administrative reorganisation to the IPSC is simply unacceptable and totally wrong. For a long established, well respected human rights organisation, itself a long standing client of said bank, to be treated in such a manner, with no explanation forthcoming and very little time to act on the directive, is absolutely shocking and seriously calls into question the Bank’s operations.

The IPSC is one of Ireland’s leading solidarity organisations, acting as it does for justice for the Palestinian people, and has the support of many members and organisations, including GAI. The Palestinian people have called for a campaign of BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) while they are subjected to apartheid, ethnic cleansing and war crimes by the Israeli state. The IPSC advocates for BDS, as does GAI and thousands of people all over the world, from the very famous to the average person. The BDS campaign is legitimate and justified and, whether one agrees with it or not, is  everyone’s right to engage in.
The Bank of Ireland’s actions are in direct contradiction with the right to advocate for justice for Palestine, and we condemn them.

This is part of a broader attack on solidarity organisations. As apartheid Israel is losing the battle for public opinion as the world sees its crimes against the Palestinian people, the BDS campaign is becoming more of a target – because of its success.

We reiterate our support for our friends at the IPSC and call on the Bank of Ireland to reinstate their accounts.

Lim Boats

Gaza Kids to Ireland – It Happened!

A wrap-up statement on the kids’ visit for all of you who have done so much over the last two weeks, and before that!
This stage of the Gaza Kids to Ireland project has drawn to a close with the group’s safe arrival home – to a rapturous reception in Gaza that underlines the importance of their journey.
The initiative, long in the making and supported financially and logistically by many groups and individuals, has been a real success, full of fun and football. The warmth and solidarity shown to our visitors by thousands of people all over Ireland has been overwhelming: they met a huge welcome wherever they went. Indeed, we could have brought them to every county in Ireland, such was the interest in and enthusiasm for their visit.
Bringing the group from Al Helal football academy was always going to be complicated, but it became really onerous due to obstacles Israel put in our path.
Initially a group of 22 travellers was due to arrive in Ireland for a 12-day visit on July 13th, flying from Amman, Jordan, via Istanbul; but their permits to leave the besieged Gaza strip weren’t granted by Israel, necessitating the postponement of the programme. When the permits were finally granted in late July, we had to try to reschedule everything very late, for a shorter visit – July 29th to August 8th.
Worse than the delay was the cruel refusal to issue permits to the entire group. One child from the group of 15 players, 13-year-old Karam Zidan, was prevented from travelling to Ireland, as were five of the seven adults due to travel: two coaches, a journalist, an administrator and the only woman, a specialist in children’s mental health.
Apart from the sad blow this represented for us and them, having just two adults with 14 children who had never before left Gaza, and who spoke very little English, made things very tough. If Israeli authorities intended to cause maximum disruption to the project by this decision, they very nearly succeeded. However, the travellers and those left behind decided the trip should go ahead; and due to the brilliance, kindness and boundless energy of Al Helal chairman Ayed Abu Ramadan and coach Moammed Alrawagh, alongside the voluntary efforts of many people in Ireland, the kids had constant support. We were also very lucky that Azeez Yusuff from Sport Against Racism Ireland (SARI) joined us for the duration of the trip, as a coach, mentor and friend.
Those prevented from travelling were never far from our thoughts, especially Karam. He was wounded in the 2009 attack on Gaza, so it seems likely the apartheid state didn’t want people in Ireland to hear about his injuries. Left behind, however, he was an even more vivid reminder of what was done to him, and what is done to thousands of other Palestinian children, by Israel. “We are all Karam” was a constant refrain.
The kids from Al Helal football academy played games against Ballybrack FC, Kinvara United, Nenagh AFC, Nenagh Celtic and Pike Rovers (and beat them all!). They were also guests of Galway United for their league win over Dundalk – that night, the boys were the guard of honour, played on the pitch at half-time and met the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins!
The Palestinian Community in Ireland and the Palestinian diplomatic mission here, including Ambassador Ahmad Abdelrazek, were enthusiastic supporters throughout the visit. SARI and Shamrock Rovers helped create a great evening of beach football on Dublin’s Sandymount Strand. Existing organisations such as Nenagh Friends of Palestine, who hosted the children for half their visit, and the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, in Limerick and elsewhere, were vital to the project; more ad-hoc groups in Ballybrack, Kinvara, Wexford and Sandymount worked quickly and tirelessly to organise events. There weren’t enough mealtimes to visit all the restaurants that offered to feed the children!
Gaza Action Ireland hopes to continue working with Al-Helal and with football in Gaza, including supporting the development of the game for girls in the territory. We hope more visits, in both directions, will become possible.
This grassroots project couldn’t have happened without widespread support for fundraising, organising and hosting. It’s been absolutely brilliant. We couldn’t possibly name them all, but we thank everyone who played, donated, fundraised, fed, and lavished the children with gifts, hospitality and love.

Photos Felim Egan

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Tricky: Cancel your apartheid Israel Gig, recognize BDS!

Dear Tricky (Adrian Thaws),

We recently heard you and your band plan to play in Israel on 26 February this year.  Your planned gig comes a few months after Israel embarked on a murderous 50 day attack on the Palestinian people living in Gaza.  Israel’s misleadingly termed ‘Operation Protective Edge’ killed over 2,200 people (including over 510 children) and maimed 10,000 more, left thousands homeless and caused the obliteration of 89 entire families.   The devastation in Gaza is catastrophic and, as this is the third major assault on the Strip in just six years, has left the people there deeply traumatised. Israel also regularly kills Palestinians in the West Bank, imprisons thousands, including children, and carries out illegal home demolition as well as settlement building. There are more than 50 laws which discriminate against the Palestinian citizens of Israel, while those in the West Bank live under occupation, those in Gaza live under siege and constant attack, and the huge refugee population, spread all over the world, lives with the pain of exile and dispossession.

Would you perform for the oppressors in any state? Would you have performed in Sun City during the era of South African apartheid?  From EBONY magazine regarding Dream Defenders, formed in the aftermath of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin’s killing last year:
“Dream Defenders unanimously passed a resolution to support the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in this interval [1].”
On 15 January, Dream Defenders visited Occupied Palestine and did a solidarity demonstration in support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign called for by Palestinian civil society in 2005 [2].
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While you may be told that music is a way to build bridges, in fact your very presence will be used as an endorsement, whether given or not, of Israel’s policies. Indeed its official state social media sites regularly post about artists who breach the boycott, linking them to state policy – do you really want this?

 

Award winning author and BDS supporter David Sheen writes about Israel:
“Another type of racist assault that has become increasingly common in Israel is attacks on Africans. Incitement against the 50,000 non-Jewish Africans who have sought asylum in Israel in recent years, including top government officials comparing them to cancer and Ebola, has made them a popular target for racist ruffians in Tel Aviv. Locals report it is not uncommon for Israeli youths to throw dog feces at African mothers nursing their babies. In January, an Israeli man stabbed a one-year-old African baby in the head and later explained to police that he did it because “they said that a black baby, blacks in general, are terrorists [3].”

 

Tricky, we appeal to you to join many other artists of conscience, and respect the Palestinian-led call for a cultural boycott of Israel, to stand with the principle that justice -contingent on freedom and equality- must be present before peace is possible.

Please know that you will not be playing to a free audience in Israel, you will be playing to a segregated audience, one which Palestinians cannot be part of. Your audience enjoys its privilege at the expense of millions of incarcerated, occupied Indigenous Palestinian people, and also African refugees who are imprisoned in camps in Israel.

Israel is an apartheid state engaged in extreme discrimination against the Palestinian people. With so many years occupying and dehumanising the Palestinian people, Israel is an extremely racist society in which marches are common against the indigenous people and also immigrants seeking asylum.

Inspired by this Palestinian led struggle which has huge international support, many artists have refused to play in Israel, including over 500 Irish artists who have all signed a pledge to respect the boycott. [4] The choice to join them is yours, please do the right thing.

DPAI (Don’t Play Apartheid Israel)

We are a group, of over 1700, representing many countries around the globe, who believe that it is essential for musicians & other artists to heed the call of the PACBI, and join in the boycott of Israel. This is essential in order to work towards justice for the Palestinian people under occupation, and also in refugee camps and in the diaspora throughout the world.

DPAI Facebook page:

Tricky, Apartheid Israel is a Murder Weapon – Don’t Play

Tricky’s twitter is: @KnowleWestboy

NOTES

[1]http://www.ebony.com/news-views/dream-defenders-black-lives-matter-ferguson-reps-take-historic-trip-to-palestine#axzz3P0RYklDX]

[2] https://www.facebook.com/DreamDefenders/posts/664571190318530

[3] http://www.alternet.org/world/how-israel-covers-its-ugly-racial-holy-war

[4] http://www.ipsc.ie/press-releases/irish-artists-pledge-to-boycott-israel-reaches-500-signatures

Original source:

 

Irish group’s cautious welcome for Gaza ceasefire – Gaza Action Ireland

Irish group’s cautious welcome for Gaza ceasefire

A CESSATION of the assault on Gaza is to be welcomed, but we must ensure it brings a just and lasting peace and an end to the siege of the Palestinian territory, Gaza Action Ireland (GAI) said today.

“The people of Gaza have been traumatised by seven weeks of constant bombardment, death and injury, displacement and wanton destruction of their homes and most of their infrastructure and on that basis we welcome any respite from Israel’s violence,” GAI coordinator Zoe Lawlor said.

“However, this is the third occasion in six years that Gaza has been subjected to sustained attack by Israel, with devastating results,” Lawlor added. “The damage to Gaza’s infrastructure is worse than that in 1967. According to military analysts, the explosive power of the bombs was equal to the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima.”

Lawlor continued: “We in Gaza Action Ireland mourn the barbaric loss of life, with over 2,100 Palestinians dead, around 500 of whom were children. The psychological trauma caused by the attack cannot be underestimated and the scars will stay with the living forever.”

Mags O’Brien, another GAI coordinator, said: “The full terms of the ceasefire are as yet unclear but seem to be little more than previous ceasefire agreements, which failed to address the root causes of the ongoing conflict, that of Israel’s stranglehold control over every aspect of life in the Gaza Strip and, more fundamentally, the future and the autonomy of an independent state of Palestine.

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“History is doomed to repeat itself unless these issues are finally addressed,” O’Brien said. “The world cannot close its eyes to the problem. Moreover, unless the blockade is finally and completely dismantled, the danger remains that there will be yet another murderous onslaught by Israel on this tiny stretch of overpopulated land and on a people that have suffered devastating trauma.”

O’Brien said she hoped the widespread Irish support for Gaza during this conflict would continue past the ceasefire: “The thousands upon thousands in Ireland who marched, protested and publicly called for an end to the devastation in Gaza, and for the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador, must continue to support the call for a just solution to the conflict in Israel/Palestine.”

GAI strongly supports the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.  “Isolation is a powerful weapon, as was evidenced in South Africa,” Lawlor said. “We call on the Irish Government to ban all Israeli imports and to call within the EU for suspension of Israel’s privileged trading status on human-rights grounds. Israel must not be granted impunity for its war crimes against the Palestinian people and must be held accountable.

“We wish to send all our solidarity and respect to the people of Gaza whose resilience and resistance is incredible. The illegal Israeli siege of Gaza must be ended immediately and permanently,” Lawlor concluded.

 

 

Gaza Action Ireland, which grew out of the Irish Ship to Gaza initiative, is a solidarity group that organises civil-society contacts between Ireland and Palestinians in the Gaza strip. It is responsible for the Windows Into Gaza art exhibition that is currently touring Ireland, and it is planning to bring a team of young footballers from Gaza to play here. In addition to artists and sports clubs, it has also forged links with fishermen, journalists, human-rights activists and providers of emergency services.

Minister Flanagan criticised as protesters ‘besiege’ Israeli embassy in Dublin – Gaza Action Ireland

Thursday, August 21, from Gaza Action Ireland

Minister Flanagan criticised as protesters ‘besiege’ Israeli embassy in Dublin

More than 150 protesters gathered outside the Israeli embassy in Dublin between 1pm and 2pm today to demand that the Irish government take action against the Israeli state. The colourful vigil, organised by Gaza Action Ireland, took the form of a peaceful symbolic ‘siege’ of the embassy with protesters ringing the perimeter and calling for the immediate expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Ireland.

Speaking to the crowd, ex-rugby international and Gaza Action Ireland (GAI) member Trevor Hogan forcefully criticised the inaction of Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan.

“In July 2011 Charlie Flanagan publicly demanded the expulsion of the Papal Nuncio following the horrific revelations in the Cloyne Report, but he seems unwilling to take action now against the Israeli ambassador despite the appalling atrocities carried out in Gaza. We have to ask why? UN schools and refugee centres have been attacked and hundreds of children killed. The blockade of Gaza is itself illegal under international law. If it was right to expel the Papal Nuncio in 2011, it is surely right to expel the Israeli ambassador now. Enough is enough. Ambassador Modai is an apologist and propagandist for war criminals”, he said.

For Minister Flanagan’s call to expel the Papal Nuncio, click here:

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Mr Hogan continued: “Minister Flanagan needs to be more robust in his interaction with the Israeli government because so far he has failed utterly to reflect the sentiment of most Irish people which is sheer horror at what is happening to Gaza. The Israeli government wants to enforce a slow death on the people of Gaza with its illegal siege, suffocating every aspect of life. The right to a seaport, to an airport, to an economy, to a livelihood, these are not negotiating issues – they are obligations that must be met. Israeli governments have grown used to committing crimes – they can no longer be allowed to act with such impunity. The Irish government must argue within the EU for strong sanctions against Israel.”

Mags O’Brien, national coordinator of GAI, speaking outside the embassy said: “The people of Gaza deserve our continued support and that’s why we are here today. Too many people have died and it has to stop now. If we don’t continue to highlight the fact that all Palestinians live under an apartheid system in the West Bank and under siege in Gaza, then Israel will continue to expand its illegal settlements and the collective punishment of the entire population of Gaza. The international community has to stand up to Israel and cry ‘halt’ to this madness.”

Others who spoke included Derek Graham, a long-time Irish resident of Gaza, and Chris Andrews, a Sinn Fein Dublin city councillor who has worked in Gaza.

 


Gaza Action Ireland, which grew out of the Irish Ship to Gaza initiative, is a solidarity group that organises civil-society contacts between Ireland and Palestinians in the Gaza strip. It is responsible for the Windows Into Gaza art exhibition that is currently touring Ireland, and it is planning to bring a team of young footballers from Gaza to play here. In addition to artists and sports clubs, it has also forged links with fishermen, journalists, human-rights activists and providers of emergency services.

Symbolic ‘Siege’ of Israeli Embassy, Vigil for Gaza

Notice from Gaza Action Ireland, for immediate release

Event: Symbolic ‘siege’ of Israeli embassy, vigil for Gaza

Time: Thursday, August 21, 2014, 1pm to 2pm

Location: Israeli embassy, 122 Pembroke Road, Dublin

A vigil, organised by Gaza Action Ireland (GAI), to call for the immediate expulsion of the Israeli ambassador and to remember those murdered in Gaza in recent weeks will be held at the Israeli embassy in Dublin this Thursday at lunchtime.

The most recent figures issued by the Health Ministry in Gaza indicate that the death toll from Israel’s assault over the past few weeks has risen to 2,016, including 541 children. Gaza Action Ireland believes that the EU and the Irish government must take action to isolate Israel in the wake of this massacre to ensure that it is never repeated. We are also calling for an immediate end to all aspects of the Israeli blockade.

The gathering on Thursday, called by Gaza Action Ireland (GAI), comes after ex-rugby international and GAI member Trevor Hogan passionately called on protesters at a recent national demonstration to symbolically besiege the embassy.

“Hundreds of children have been murdered in Gaza in the past few weeks and it cannot be business as usual with a government that behaves in this way. The Irish government would be sending a strong message to Israel that the blockade of Gaza is unacceptable if it took decisive action and expelled its ambassador to Dublin – the minister must act,” Hogan, who will attend the vigil, said today. He added: “Minister Flanagan has stated that he will only expel an ambassador in exceptional circumstances but the crippling blockade of Gaza and the massacre of thousands of civilians are surely exceptional circumstances. If they are not, what are?”

This hour-long symbolic siege will call for an end to the Israeli war on the civilians of Gaza and for a permanent lifting of the siege on that territory.

“Ambassador Modai and his team are spokespersons for war criminals,” GAI national coordinator Mags O’Brien said. “He should be told to pack his bags and leave Ireland. The blockade of Gaza is immoral and an illegal collective punishment that cannot be justified. We currently have a ceasefire and that is to be welcomed, but we cannot allow a stalemate to develop where the siege of Gaza continues as it was before. The blockade must be fully lifted and Palestinians in Gaza must be allowed access to the outside world – it must end now.”

The colourful vigil, which will be attended by members of the Palestinian community in Ireland, will assemble at 1pm outside the Israeli embassy at 122 Pembroke Road, Dublin.

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Gaza Action Ireland, which grew out of the Irish Ship to Gaza initiative, is a solidarity group that organises civil-society contacts between Ireland and Palestinians in the Gaza strip. It is responsible for the Windows Into Gaza art exhibition that is currently touring Ireland, and it is planning to bring a team of young footballers from Gaza to play here. In addition to artists and sports clubs, it has also forged links with fishermen, journalists, human-rights activists and providers of emergency services.

Symbolic ‘siege’ of Israeli embassy, vigil for Gaza

Notice from Gaza Action Ireland – Event: Symbolic ‘siege’ of Israeli embassy, vigil for Gaza

Time: Wednesday, August 13, 2014, 1pm to 2pm

Location: Israeli embassy, 122 Pembroke Road, Dublin

A vigil to call for the immediate expulsion of the Israeli ambassador and to remember those murdered in Gaza in recent weeks will be held at the Israeli embassy in Dublin on Wednesday at lunchtime.

The gathering, called by Gaza Action Ireland (GAI), comes after ex-rugby international and GAI member Trevor Hogan passionately called on protesters at a national demonstration last Saturday to symbolically besiege the embassy.

“We should not allow diplomatic status to be accorded to the representatives of a terror state,” Hogan, who will attend the vigil, said today.

This hour-long symbolic siege will call for an end to the Israeli war on the civilians of Gaza and for a lifting of the siege on that territory.

“Ambassador Modai and his team are apologists and spokespersons for war criminals, for a regime that in the past month has murdered nearly 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza including hundreds of children,” GAI coordinator Mags O’Brien said.

“They have Gaza under siege – let us put them under siege until the Israeli ambassador is told to pack his bags and leave Ireland,” Hogan added.

The colourful vigil, which will include readings of poetry from Gaza and silent remembering of the dead, will assemble at 1pm outside the Israeli embassy at 122 Pembroke Road, Dublin.

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Gaza Action Ireland, which grew out of the Irish Ship to Gaza initiative, is a solidarity group that organises civil-society contacts between Ireland and Palestinians in the Gaza strip. It is responsible for the Windows Into Gaza art exhibition that is currently touring Ireland, and it is planning to bring a team of young footballers from Gaza to play here. In addition to artists and sports clubs, it has also forged links with fishermen, journalists, human-rights activists and providers of emergency services.

Medics lament Irish abstention on Gaza

Medics lament Irish abstention on Gaza

DOCTORS, paramedics, nurses and other medical personnel have called for the Irish Government to take a firm stand against Israeli attacks on medical workers, hospitals and ambulances in Gaza.

The protesters, many dressed in scrubs and other clothes of their professions, gathered outside Dáil Eireann with a large crowd of other supporters today [[THURS]] at lunchtime. Some speakers expressed disappointment at Ireland’s abstention in the UN Human Rights Council vote on investigating Israeli war crimes.

During the latest onslaught, thus far one doctor and two paramedics have been killed, more than 30 first-responders wounded and two hospitals bombed. A Red Crescent emergency-services unit and numerous clinics and ambulances have been shelled or damaged.

“In my professional opinion, the ongoing attacks on medics in Gaza clearly constitute a war crime that cannot be justified and warrant immediate referral to the ICC,” Prof Damian McCormack, a surgeon at the Mater hospital, said. “I call on our government to demand an apology from the Israeli ambassador or to expel him.

“Further I call on all medical bodies and colleagues in Ireland to publicly condemn these attacks and not to repeat their shameful silence over attacks on medical personnel in Bahrain in 2011,” McCormack said.

The protest was called by Gaza Action Ireland (GAI) and supported by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Sadaka.

“It’s an absolute shame and disgrace that Ireland abstained yesterday on a mere call for an investigation into possible war crimes,” GAI coordinator Mags O’Brien said.

“We know that attacks on medical staff and infrastructure are established Israeli practice,” O’Brien continued. “During ‘Operation Cast Lead in 2008/2009, 16 paramedics were killed and numerous other emergency responders seriously wounded. Targeted and random shelling and aerial bombardments also saw the partial or total destruction of many healthcare facilities and ambulances.”

The event also included a speech by Dr Bassam Naser, a Palestinian doctor who works in Ireland, and a phone call from paramedics in Gaza.

Last night [[WED]], dozens of Palestinians based in Ireland were joined by hundreds of other people for a poignant ‘die-in’, first outside the Department of Foreign Affairs, then in Grafton Street, where they lay on the ground while the names of the Gaza dead were read aloud. That event was also called by Gaza Action Ireland.

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Gaza Action Ireland, which grew out of the Irish Ship to Gaza initiative, is a solidarity group that organises civil-society contacts between Ireland and Palestinians in the Gaza strip. It is responsible for the Windows Into Gaza art exhibition that is currently touring Ireland, and it is planning to bring a team of young footballers from Gaza to play here. In addition to artists and sports clubs, it has also forged links with fishermen, journalists, human-rights activists and providers of emergency services.

Open Letter to Chris de Burgh, Don’t Play Apartheid Israel – IPSC

Dear Chris de Burgh,

In your song Lebanese Nights you wrote:

                                All over the world, the gift from before,

                                Nothing is left for the children of war…

Since the year 2000 more than 1400 Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli soldiers and illegal colonial settlers. Defence for Children International estimates that “since the year 2000, around 8,000 Palestinian children have been detained and prosecuted in the system…. The majority of these children are charged with throwing stones.”

In a report last month (February 2014), Amnesty International declared that Israeli forces have displayed a callous disregard for human life by killing dozens of Palestinian civilians, including children, in the occupied West Bank over the past three years with near total impunity…”

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These children are indeed “children of war”, but is there really nothing left for them except “the gift from before”? Do we not owe them our solidarity, particularly in view of the failure of the international community to end Israel’s “near total impunity”?

Almost a decade ago, in July 2004, dozens of Palestinian federations, associations, and civil society organizations “call[ed] upon our colleagues in the international community to comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli academic and cultural institutions as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel’s occupation, colonization and system of apartheid…”, and in particular to “refrain from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions” (note that this call is not directed against individuals).

One year later a more comprehensive call came from some 170 Palestinian civil society organisations for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the Israeli state “until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law.” A year later again, over 100 Palestinian Filmmakers, Artists and Cultural Workers called for a cultural boycott in similar terms. These calls from the oppressed constitute a strong mandate.

Recently such famous musicians as Roger Waters (who declared his “solidarity, not only with the people of Palestine, but also with the many thousands of Israelis who disagree with their government’s racist and colonial policies, by joining a campaign of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel…”) and Elvis Costello (“there are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than anything that might be sung and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent… “) have refused to perform in Israel.

Not least, at time of writing some 260 Irish creative and performing artists have signed a pledge undertaking not to accept invitations to Israel. Musicians constitute the largest single group of signatories, including Andy Irvine, Dónal Lunny, Peadar Ó Riada, Liam Ó Maonlaí, Damien Dempsey, Sharon Shannon, and many others from the fields of popular, traditional, jazz and classical music.

In view of these manifestations of solidarity and concern, your decision to perform in Tel Aviv on 29th March has been noted with deep disappointment.

It is because our governments refuse to take action to curb Israel’s crimes, even when enjoined to do so by the International Criminal Court or indeed by their own statutes (e.g. article 2 of the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement), that civil society is obliged to call for such harsh tactics as cultural, sporting and academic boycotts. Such tactics are aimed at bringing to an end the circumstances that called them into being – in this case, Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands, its siege of Gaza (declared illegal by an independent UN panel), and its policies of apartheid and colonisation.

You may argue that music is “above politics”, but this hardly stands up in view of a statement by Nissim Ben-Sheetrit, now Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, that Israel “see[s] culture as a propaganda tool of the first rank, and… do[es] not differentiate between propaganda and culture.” (Ha’aretz, 21/09/05). This means that any artist(e) visiting Israel will be exploited by that state’s very active propagandists to normalise it and to whitewash its crimes. By cancelling your projected concert in Tel Aviv you will be joining the likes of Stevie Wonder, Annie Lennox, Roger Waters, Elvis Costello and other conscientious musicians in refusing to be “propaganda tools” for the Israeli state.

But most importantly, by not crossing the picket line you will be showing the persecuted Palestinians that something is indeed left for the children of war – hope.

Yours sincerely –

Raymond Deane

Cultural Liaison

Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign

To Neil Young from a South African Anti-Apartheid Activist, Don’t Play Apartheid Israel

A powerful message to Neil Young from Salim Vally. Neil Young is scheduled to play apartheid Israel on July 17th, 2014.

Facebook page asking him not to play is here:  Neil Young, Tell Me Why You Would Play for Apartheid Israel

Dr. Salim Vally is director of the Centre for Education Rights and Transformation at the University of Johannesburg. He is renowned in South Africa as an academic, educator and human rights activist, and member of the Palestine Solidarity Committee.

Dear Neil Young,

Your music and songs provided much needed succour during our struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

I distinctly remember how we, school children in the notorious John Vorster Square prison in Johannesburg, after the Soweto uprising in 1976, changed the lyrics of your song ‘four dead in Ohio’-recalling the anti-Vietnam war demonstrations-to ‘hundreds dead in Soweto’.

We called on the world to isolate the apartheid regime and most of humanity, including musicians, eventually heeded our call. Some though played at ‘Sin City’.

Palestinians are confronted with, in the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a system of discrimination “worse than apartheid in South Africa.”

Palestinians inspired by our global campaign against apartheid South Africa call for similar action against apartheid in Israel. They ask for nothing more than the basic democratic and human rights that we in South Africa largely enjoy today. Rights that exist in no small measure because of global solidarity. The words of Mandela, “‘We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians” resonate with millions of South Africans and are deeply understood by those around the world who have faced adversity and oppression and who know the value of solidarity and our common humanity.

Please don’t disappoint Neil. Please don’t play at apartheid Israel’s version of ‘Sin City’.

Salim Vally

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