Friday, November 16, 2012

Eamon Gilmore blames the victims - once again.

At midday on 15th November, as Israel’s latest offensive against the imprisoned people of Gaza got into full swing, I telephoned the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and asked if the Minister – Mr Eamon Gilmore of the Labour Party, who is also the Tánaiste (vice prime minister) – had issued or was about to issue a statement on the matter. When I eventually got through to the Middle East Desk, I spoke to a secretary who informed me that no such statement had been made as yet, but that she would let me know if one was eventually issued. Subsequently, a number of people who made similar inquiries were informed that “a statement was being drafted and would be placed on the Minister’s desk”, to be issued or not as he, in his infinite wisdom, saw fit. Clearly, there was no perception that the matter entailed any urgency.

The Department’s website drew my attention to a euphoric statement made by the Tánaiste on 12th November concerning Ireland’s election to the UN Human Rights Council. Apparently this vote “testifies to the strong reputation we have built up in the area of international human rights advocacy.  More widely, it reflects the esteem in which Ireland is held as a UN member and as a fearless champion of the values which underpin the UN.” I had, therefore, high hopes that if and when Mr Gilmore issued a statement, ghost-written or otherwise, it would be trenchant and fully expressive of the Irish people’s abhorrence of the use of force against a protected people.

When a statement eventually emerged (naturally, no secretary rang me to inform me), it punctured these hopes. Here it is:

‘The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore T.D., has condemned the escalation of violence in southern Israel and Gaza that is putting the lives of innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians at risk.  The Tánaiste said:
“This latest round of violence, which was triggered by sustained rocket attacks on towns in Israel and has escalated with the targeted killing of a senior Hamas leader, could lead to the further death and suffering of innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians.  The risks from an escalation of violence on either side are all too apparent.    I urge both sides to immediately cease these attacks and remove the threat they pose to the lives and safety of innocent people”.

Rather less than inspired by this piece of pedestrian prose, I fired off the following message:

Dear Minister Gilmore -

Your long-awaited statement on Israel's latest assault on the besieged Gaza Strip is an outrage, and will only serve to deepen the disappointment in the Irish government felt by so many in the Middle East, who mistakenly believed that Ireland was some kind of ally.

At all times your statement puts Israel first: "the escalation of violence in southern Israel..."; "innocent Israeli...civilians..."; "triggered by sustained rocket attacks on towns in Israel..."; "innocent Israeli... civilians..."(again!). It should be remembered that the fundamental circumstance behind the current outbreak of violence is the inherent violence of the ongoing Israeli occupation and colonisation of Palestinian Territory, and Israel's illegal siege of the Gaza Strip and the embargo that constitutes the use of starvation as a weapon of war, in violation of international humanitarian law. This alongside the fact that the current round of violence was in fact initiated by Israel, contrary to the implications of your words.

The delay in issuance of this pathetic statement suggests that the DFA first of all consulted with its "EU partners", and perhaps with Washington and indeed with the Israeli Embassy in order to ascertain what would be "acceptable" to them. The result caricatures Israel's interminable belligerent occupation of the Palestinian Territory as a war between equals, in which "both sides" must be admonished to avoid escalation while simultaneously the aggressor - Israel - is rewarded and treated as a "strategic ally". This is constitutes a shameful degradation of Irish foreign policy, and turns this country into a mere mouthpiece for Western supremacism.

Yours sincerely -
Raymond Deane

I believe that Mr. Gilmore’s mealy-mouthed statement is incompatible with his proud claim that, on the UN Human Rights Council, Ireland will be a “fearless champion of the values which underpin the UN”. Instead, it testifies to the sorry likelihood that Ireland’s role on the UNHRC will be that of a mere mouthpiece for empire, i.e. for the pro-Israeli policies of the USA and EU. 


  1. Good letter that you sent. It's just plain sorrow I feel the more hypocrisy that emerges from our government. You feel a sense of pride for the country getting onto the UNHRC & then our govt released that 'statement'. Shameful

  2. Your words provided him a bed of needles and pins. Good job! Amazing what one warrior can do.