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dublin | eu | feature Saturday July 25, 2009 12:11 by Raymond Deane - Irish Friends of Palestine Against Lisbon
Intimidated by economic scaremongering ...
For the last three days, several activists from the recently formed campaigning group IFPAL (Irish Friends of Palestine Against Lisbon) manned a stall at the top of Dublin's Grafton St, conspicuously decorated with Palestinian flags billowing freely in the breezy, showery weather.
IFPAL seeks to highlight the negative effects of the European Common Foreign and Security Policy, particularly as displayed by Ireland's renunciation of its independent policy on the issue of Israel/Palestine in favour of conformity with that of the more powerful and pro-Israeli EU members. Some 1,300 leaflets were distributed, stating that:
• EU foreign policy has damaged the human and political rights of the Palestinian people by giving Israel financial and political support regardless of its gross human rights violations in breach of numerous statutes of international humanitarian law and the EU-Israel Trade Agreement.The EU claims to be guided by values of human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, the rule of law, and respect for human rights. This claim is exposed as a lie when we examine the EU’s relationship with the rogue Israeli state.
The EU aids and supports Israel
When Israel launched a 22 day assault against defenceless, impoverished and imprisoned civilians in Gaza, already severely weakened by a devastating two year siege - a war crime - the EU took no action to protect these people or to rein in or to sanction Israel. As the people of Gaza were attacked day and night from land, sea, and air with weapons of mass destruction, including white phosphorous bombs and flechette nail bombs, the EU continued to promote economic and diplomatic relations with Israel. No Israeli ambassadors were expelled from any EU member state and none of the EU states withdrew their ambassadors from Israel – the very minimum that should have been done. The EU gave Israel the Green light to continue its assault which killed 1417 people including 315 children and left hundreds of others burned, blinded, crippled, and maimed for life in an impoverished and ruined ghetto that has neither the facilities or the means to care for these people. Six months later and the EU has not sent a single ship with aid to the port in Gaza.
Irish Foreign Policy now decided by the EU.
The common EU foreign and security policy has already had a serious negative impact on Irish foreign policy. This is evident from the decisions agreed by Irish foreign minister Michael Martin which are counter to Ireland’s proud record of supporting human rights and the rule of law. In June 2008 Minister Martin agreed to upgrade relations with Israel even though in the previous five months Israel killed over 300 Palestinians, including 60 children. He failed to use the Irish veto to block the EU upgrade despite Israel’s actions which also breached the “essential” human right Article of the EU-Israel Trade Agreement. In doing do he also ignored a direct plea from the Palestinian Prime Minister to our Taoiseach not to agree the EU upgrade. When Israel killed over 300 children in January, Minister Martin took no action to punish Israel for its gross human rights violations. He refused to withdraw the Irish Ambassador or to expel the Israeli ambassador or to even call for a suspension of the EU-Israel trade agreement which affords Israel lucrative concessions on its exports to the EU, its largest trading partner; Minister Martin failed to act because he could not do so without breaching the Common EU Foreign and Security Policy which shelters Israel from sanctions and which all EU states have agreed to uphold. This situation will be set in stone if the Lisbon Treaty is ratified. Israel will continue to be sheltered and aided by the EU and Ireland will have to comply.
The response to the stall was generally favourable, but many people expressed their surprise that this perspective had never been drawn to their attention before. Many, as expected, agreed with IFPAL's point of view but felt intimidated by economic scaremongering. Others said they would vote no anyway, and were delighted to be given a further reason. A remarkable number of Israeli tourists stopped by, most of them disapproving and one or two almost violently hostile. This would seem to confirm that the vast majority of Israelis (100% as far as tourists in Ireland are concerned) are fully content with the criminal policies of their government. IFPAL believes that the Irish government and the Irish people shouldn't share their contentment!
Caption: Irish Friends of Palestine Against Lisbon, Information Stall, Grafton St, Dublin