Alan Shatter, Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence (or Injustice, Inequality, and the Defence of Israel) in the current pro-Zionist Irish government, has outdone himself with his latest whizz: IRIS, the Joint Ireland Israel Programme on Road Safety. The acronym is a little puzzling: surely it should be JIIPORS, which, evoking "jeepers", might sum up the only possible reaction to such a piece of idiocy? I'm so flummoxed by this, that I'm not even going to write about it. Instead, let me quote a 2010 Guardian article by the excellent Rachel Shabi about just one of Israel's apartheid roads:
If you didn't glance to the sides of Israel's highway 443 between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, then it wouldn't smack you in the face that the road is – how shall we put it? – segregated. As it is, you can't help but notice that when the 443 passes by the Israeli town of Modi'in and heads east into the occupied West Bank, some of its side-routes are blocked. Concrete boulders, metal barriers, rubble and heaps of rubbish halt roads from Palestinian villages such as Beit Sira and Beit Ur al-Fuka.
And if you stop at one of those barricades, a complicated coping apparatus comes to light: cars deposit weary Palestinians who work inside Israel at these blocked routes; on the other side, lines of parked Palestinian cabs await to resume the interrupted journey home.
And here's what Hasan Afif El-Hasan had to say in the Palestine Chronicle just last month:
All Jewish-only settlements have been connected by access Jewish-only roads to adjacent Jewish-only high-ways even if the number of settlers that may use the roads was very low. Examples: Seven miles road was constructed to connect Kaddim settlements, home for 160 settlers, to the main highway. Six miles road in a rocky terrain was built for 170 settlers of Eshkolot Settlement to connect them to Lahav settlement in the Hebron Mountains. The Jews-only highway arteries that ensure free traffic among the settlement blocks can be characterized as octopus arms surrounding Palestinian population centers.
The Israeli planners diverted the Palestinians’ transportation from the existing roads to less efficient secondary roads with limited capacity. Many by-passes and bridges were added to the West Bank apartheid roads in strategic locations for supporting roadblocks where the Israeli military can close major Palestinian traffic at any given moment. The Israeli army has been using more than 500 checkpoints, roadblocks and earth mounds to restrict Palestinians’ travel and the transit of goods or shut off entire Palestinian areas from each other at very short notice. Roads have been closed quite often as collective punishment, interrupting trade, education, health services, access to religious sites and all facets of normal daily life.
But none of this is of any importance to über-Zionist Shatter, for whose office "both countries [Ireland and Israel] have successfully reduced the level of road fatalities very significantly and the purpose of the meeting today was to exchange experiences and information on the road safety programmes operating in both countries and to learn from each other on successful initiatives undertaken by the relevant authorities." Did they discuss such "successful initiatives" as those described by Shabi and El-Hasan?
Irony is like a vampire: its death is repeatedly announced, but it invariably rises again. However, with this obscene initiative Minister Shatter may have definitively thrust a stake into its heart.