The Filmbase arts centre in Dublin is set today to be the scene of the latest in the latest of the irrational and phobic demonstrations against Israel, led by Raymond Deane, who rejoices in the most Orwellian of titles, "Cultural Boycott Officer" for the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Whatever you call this, it is freedom of neither speech nor of movement if anti-Israeli opinions are backed with coercion and pickets.
But it is all like some grotesque screenplay that Monty Python rejected as being too absurd. In Egypt, scores of Coptic Christians have been murdered by Islamic fundamentalists and by the security forces. In Syria, hundreds, and probably thousands, have been killed by government forces. In Libya, a tyrant has been overthrown, and chaos reigns. In Lebanon, a government can only govern with the kind permission of a terrorist army. And most dangerous all, there is Iran, which the International Atomic Energy Agency has accused of not merely seeking to create a nuclear bomb, but of also trying to develop a long-range missile to use it.
Amid all this chaos, peril and bloodshed, who is the Irish left conducting its major campaign against? Israel. Not merely was there this absurd boat, the MV Saoirse, bound for Gaza, but there recently was a quite shocking, daylong carnival on Grafton Street in Dublin, where pretend-Israeli soldiers shot and brutalised pretend-Palestinians. Sea-theatre and street-theatre, echoing one another nicely in a common, lie-filled denunciation of the only democracy in the entire Middle East, one that is surrounded by anarchy, despotism and revolt.
And naturally, this tiny fringe of absurd Irish zealots have succeeded in creating such an atmosphere of intolerance. In other words, diplomatic relations between the two countries are to be decided according to the diary-listings of the pathological anti-Israelis. Are they free for another Mediterranean media-grabbing jaunt, to be followed by predictable accusations of Israeli brutality? They are? Good -- and then it's home again, intact, unbruised, unbrutalised, and in comfort. And then it's time to start another one.
Gaza is at unilateral war with Israel. Its territory is used to fire rockets into Israeli territory. The Hamas government has also prohibited women from riding bikes as part of the imposition of Sharia Law. A male society whose common manhood feels threatened by the stimulatory skills of the common bicycle-seat, which lobs missiles indiscriminately into civilian targets into a neighbouring state, and whose government has been categorised by the EU as a terrorist-entity, should be a universal object of a terrified ridicule, like a sexually-deranged Lichtenstein with a chainsaw. Instead, Gaza is the object of undiscriminating Irish sympathy.
The psychedelic bizarreness of this entire circus moves into quite another plane when one considers that several members of the MV Saoirse's crew were provided by Sinn Fein. And that's a party which knows all about the Mediterranean and boats: its military wing was supplied for decades by arms-smuggling vessels from Libya, even as Gaddafi was murdering his opponents. And how many anti-Libyan demonstrations were organised by the self-styled human-rights activists of Ireland? Or were they all too busy attending human-rights conferences in Tripoli to enact a Boeing 747 crashing onto Grafton Street?
So how long would "liberal" Ireland tolerate street theatre which portrayed Palestinians as suicide bombers? Yet such simplifications would not be 100pc wrong, after nearly 170 suicide attacks on Israel, almost all against civilian targets. Naturally, these appalling, demented deeds, and the hundreds of Jews slaughtered in them, didn't get one iota of the compassion that Gaza gets, via a self-induced siege that has resulted from the unilateral declaration of war by Hamas on Israel.
Dead Jews Are Not News: but then neither, apparently, are dead Copts. Egyptian embassies across Europe have had to endure no angry demonstrations over the Christians slaughtered by Islamic fundamentalists. And when Copts protested in Cairo, they were crushed -- quite literally in some cases -- by the army. This European Christian tolerance of the oppression of their Arab co-religionists, accompanied by a general approval for the oppressors, is rather unusual, but is unlikely to make much historical sense. Helping one's cultural enemies twice over does not seem to obey the usual mathematical injunctions about the inverse consequences of the double negative.
Oh I agree, Israel sometimes does some really stupid, terrible things. The murder of the Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai was barbaric and insane. The only context I can place it in -- and this is thin enough -- is that after 63 years of war with its neighbours, sometimes Israelis behave with deep irrationality. But contrary to the lies of those protesting against its existence, calling Israel an apartheid state is like accusing Gaza of being Denmark. Israel is not remotely like old South Africa, with the latter's pass-laws, Bantustans, torture-chambers and routine murders in custody. Israeli Arabs have full citizenship before a law that is enforced by a judiciary that includes Arab judges. Will any of the pickets outside Filmbase ever admit these simple truths? Probably not. When it comes to Israel, mobs and lies win every time.