Readers might be familiar with the story of opera singer, Celine Byrne who was targeted by anti-Israel activists on Twitter following her announcement that she was going to be taking part in 10 performances with the Israeli Opera in February. There was an almost botlike consistency to the tweets with the constant repetition of the three words “racist, apartheid Israel” as if iteration made it somehow truer. It doesn’t, and anyone who thinks that Israel is a racist or apartheid state knows little about racism, apartheid or Israel – probably all three.
Hot on the heels of that story comes the news that the IPSC (Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign) is among a list of organizations banned from visiting Israel. The IPSC folks have distinguished themselves over the years with activities targeting ordinary Israelis, including protests against Israel football teams and fans or targeting shoppers in supermarkets where Israeli goods are on sale. Such is the level of intimidation in some anti-Israeli protests that Gardai have had to be called to protect staff and shoppers. That the Israelis would take such action is hardly surprising. Would the Irish government allow free and unfettered entry to a group that protests against Irish football teams and fans?
There is an apparent irony here. While the IPSCers strongly object to anyone else visiting Israel, they howl with rage when told to follow their own advice and to errr…..not visit Israel. It’s only an apparent irony, though because from the IPSC point of view, it all makes perfect sense. If they pressure others to stop them from visiting the only democracy in the Middle East whilst they themselves go, then they get to control the narrative. They’ll be free to feed us all the propaganda they can on the claim that they’ve been there while no-one else has. BDS (Boycott, Disinvestment, Sanctions) founder, Omar Barghouti would be quite comfortable with this given that he studied at Tel Aviv University even though he calls for an academic boycott of Israel. So the BDS artfulness has deep foundations and the fear that people might actually discover the truth runs deep.
Another example of this artfulness is the platitude that the person being targeted should “respect” the anti-Israel BDS boycott. It’s a clever one since the implication is that anyone who doesn’t agree is showing disrespect. Not so. One can respectfully disagree with others – even when they’re being disrespectful and abusive and, at this point in time, Celine Byrne is admirably refusing to give in. However, it’s notable that the tone of the tweets turned deeply nasty (“f–king disgrace“, “Zionist terrorist supporting fascist“, “disgusting“) once this became clear.
As we’ve said before, for so long, anti-Israel groups in Irish society have dominated and controlled the narrative with regard to the Israel-Palestine issue; for so long that they believe it’s their God-driven right to have their view, and only their view heard and accepted. Hence the nasty responses to anyone who doesn’t give in to them, never mind challenging them. The more people visit Israel, the more people will see their propaganda for what it is and for BDSers, that’s a scary prospect.