“Shame on you, Israel!”

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That was the outcry, not of Palestinians in the Gaza strip, but of millions of Jews who for the first time took to the streets in a great act of human empathy to denounce the atrocities being perpetrated against the Palestinian people by a state that has been getting away with murder – literally. Famous squares in many big cities, from New York to Tel Aviv, turned black with kippahs standing together to say ‘enough is enough’. Some of the protesters are members of the Knesset. Some are Jewish elementary school children in New York, who could no longer sit and watch other children being shot, killed and maimed in their name. Some Jews were literally crying and calling Benjamin Netanyahu a “criminal murderer talking on our behalf” and qualifying him as “an embarrassment to the Jewish people”. And Palestinians sent thousands of messages of love and gratitude to the Jews who were supporting them.

For this to happen, the level of atrocity in the Gaza strip must have reached an unbearable level.

We have seen the worst and most unimaginable horrors on our screens for the last two weeks. Some we could not bear watching: a baby whose skull had been bombed by Israeli soldiers was being brandished by an agonisingly helpless doctor while the parents were going through the worst possible human tragedy one can think of. An eight-year-old child was dragged away by several Israeli soldiers and shoved into an army truck to be taken to some place of torture. Unarmed protesters, civilians, women, children were being indiscriminately bombarded and subjected to the worst acts of humiliation and torture.

In the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, we really have to stop the hypocrisy, the double-speak and the Zionist propaganda. This is not a war that two countries have declared on one another. This is a shameful siege that has lasted for more than 10 years. This is apartheid. This is land grab legalised by Israel while millions of Palestinians have been parked in an open-air prison and are subjected to the most atrocious war crimes. This is oppression and denial of the most basic human rights perpetrated openly and publicly by a rogue state that has no respect for international law. A lawless state that – thanks to Trump’s America – has reduced the UN Security Council to a little puppy whose bark is worse than its bite.

While there can never be any silver lining to innocent, unarmed people being slaughtered, this last episode of shameful, gratuitous acts of terrorism against Gaza has resulted in a stronger wave of indignation than we had ever seen. Irish people waved the Palestinian flag high in the sky and called for the boycott of Israel. Irish shoppers took to the supermarkets with their children and, in mass civil disobedience, removed Israeli products from store shelves. Turkey protested and, along with South Africa, cut all diplomatic relations with Israel. Many countries have joined the movement and are trying to put more and more pressure on their governments to sever all relations with Israel.

While this was going on, other countries sat on the fence and stuck to the usual politically correct language and hollow rhetoric. Unfortunately, we are one of them. Our country expressed “deep concern” and called “on all (our emphasis) parties to exercise restraint”! Beautiful! So, instead of the unarmed civilian Palestinians allowing themselves to be killed by heavily armed Israeli snipers, they should perhaps exercise restraint by killing themselves first! 

And, while countries interested in human rights have called for a total boycott of Israel, we continue to buy Israeli products and our Central Electricity Board has just given contracts to the Israeli firms ECT Telecom Ltd and ECI. Shame on them. Shame on us! Shame on any government that does not have the guts to stand for what is right when it is right!

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