Saturday 24 September 2016

Boycott of Israel is a legitimate response to regime's apartheid

Published 14/06/2016 | 02:30

Charlie Flanagan: BDS ‘legitimate’. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Charlie Flanagan: BDS ‘legitimate’. Picture: Gerry Mooney

We, the undersigned, welcome the recent statement in the Dáil by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charles Flanagan, that the strategy of boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) aimed at pressurising Israel into ending the occupation is a legitimate political viewpoint.

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It is also heartening that Minister Flanagan outlines the Government's support for Israeli and Palestinian NGOs which are active on justice and human rights issues.

However, given this expression of support, it is both disappointing and confusing that when those same civil society organisations call on the international community to campaign for BDS as a means of showing solidarity with Palestinians living under occupation, the Irish Government refuses to support them or the campaign.

The BDS movement is a Palestinian civil-society-led global movement of citizens that carries out and advocates for non-violent campaigns of BDS as a means to overcome the Israeli regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid and achieve freedom, justice and equality for the Palestinian people.

The reasons to support BDS are systematically documented by organisations like Amnesty International, Defense for Children International, the United Nations and others, which describe extrajudicial killings, imprisonment of children, destruction of people's homes and livelihoods, theft of Palestinian lands and daily intimidation with tear gas and bullets.

It is for these and many other reasons that we call for: a boycott of Israeli products and services, business divestments from the occupation economy and governmental sanctions on the Israeli state.

Robert Ballagh, Frances Black, Mary Coughlan, Margaretta D'Arcy, Séamus Deane, Felim Egan, Jim Fitzpatrick, Honor Heffernan, Trevor Hogan, Gavin Kostick, Donal Lunny, Christy Moore and Dervla Murphy


Mass murder is not in our name

Words are inadequate to express our sadness, horror and revulsion at this senseless tragedy in Florida. Our sincerest sympathies go out to the families who lost their loved ones. This tragedy demonstrates the depths of human evil but at the same time evokes the depths of human solidarity.

Nevertheless, we are sick and tired of defending Islam every time a deranged guy commits such barbarity. Mass murder runs against the core principles of any divine religion.

However, we must acknowledge that there is a problem in the Arab and Muslim world, whether corruption, favouritism, nepotism or colonial meddling in the internal affairs of sovereign states. But above all, Muslims have a duty to defend their religion against Khawarij, 'the outlaws of Islam'.

We need voices of reconciliation, wisdom and peace.

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob



Attack targeted LGBT community

The attack in Orlando must me seen for what it is - an act of terrorism against LGBT people. This wasn't a random attack with the intention of killing anything that breathes, it was targetted specifically against LGBT people by a homophobic bigot.

It is not that I as a gay man am trying to take ownership of the grief, but I do not appreciate newscasters, such as those on Sky News who refused to acknowledge this as an LGBT hate crime. They even tried to shout down journalist Owen Jones for saying that, had this been against the Jewish community, it would most certainly be labelled as an anti-semitic hate crime. Yet when it is against LGBT people, it is just an attack against people in a bar... who, coincidently, were gay.

Equally it is not fair to bring up his religion as a causation. Not all religious people are bigots, nor do they have homicidal or fundamentalist beliefs. We should not accept that this is an act of religious terrorism.

The killer was mentally disturbed, regularly beat his ex-wife, and made homophobic comments to co-workers.

Let us not give him the right to die as some kind of religious martyr, that is what he wanted.

Let us instead call him what he is - a bigoted, homophobic murderer.

Philip Jones

Artane, Dublin


Soccer is wedded to violence

International soccer has become a contest between fans, not teams, as recent violence has shown at the Euros. There is great danger of innocent fans being caught up in the rioting.

Hate and violence have become part and parcel of international soccer, where the match is fought out in the terraces and stands, rather than the pitch. The time may be fast approaching to end soccer as a sport, given its persistent reputation for fan/thug violence.

Maurice Fitzgerald

Shanbally, Co Cork


Freedom of educational choice

I wish to respond to Revd Patrick G Burke (Letters, June 9). While the Constitution provides for a (negative) right not to send a child to a State-controlled school, it does not guarantee that a parent has a (positive) right to send their child to a publicly funded school that is controlled by a church and which can exclude children on religious grounds.

The very important constitutional right to freedom of religion should not be confused with a non-existent right to be educated at such a school.

There may be a preference among some, but there is no constitutional right to be educated at such a school.

Even then, the extent of this preference is questionable.

Recent polls have shown that the majority of people surveyed said that children should have equal access to school places and baptised children should not receive priority for spaces in their local school.

So much for his "handful of people" argument.

The Oxford Dictionary defines secularism as "the principle of separation of the state from religious institutions".

If Rev Burke is uncomfortable with this, I can only assume he is equally uncomfortable with cries for increased secularism in countries where minority Christians suffer State-sponsored discrimination.

After all, they're only a "minority", right?

Rob Sadlier

Rathfarnham, D16


Enlightenment required

I listened to a special report on lunchtime Radio 1 News (Mon 13th) as the whole town of Athlone geared up to watch the Ireland /Sweden game.

The local soccer team, Athlone Town, these days is apparently playing to crowds of one hundred-plus people.

Priorities, by definition, are of course a matter for the individual. But in Athlone Town's case, the question for the local soccer enthusiasts may yet be: "Where were ye when the lights went out?"

Tom Gilsenan

Beaumont, D9

Irish Independent

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