Charlie Flanagan Shills for Israel
Today Gaza saw one of those incidents of such barbarity and horror that they come to overshadow all others in Israel’s periodic massacres in the Strip. Four children from the Bakr family – Ahed (10), Zakaria (10), Mohd (11) and Ismail (9) – were killed by an Israeli mortar round while playing football on a beach. Images of their disfigured bodies quickly spread on social media. Guardian journalist Peter Beaumount recorded the entire episode in this moving article. He also detailed how Israeli gunmen fired at fleeing civilian survivors, prompting journalists to shout at them “they are only children.”
That act brought the total number of casualties in Gaza to 212 – in just eight days. A few days ago the UN estimated that 77% of those killed had been civilians, with the latest deaths that figure will rise above 80%. When the death toll was 138 we knew that 36 of those killed were children. That figure is at least 40 now – and probably much higher. In addition, 1,370 homes have been destroyed and aid agencies say hundreds of thousands are without water, with a crisis imminent.
Against this backdrop, and questioning by TDs Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, Mick Wallace and Clare Daly, Ireland’s newly-appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan gave the government’s response to the situation.
Flanagan is on the record as being pro-Israel. He believes, “Israel has been demonised by an Irish media slavishly dancing to the Palestinian drumbeat for decades.” He described their record on human rights “progressive”. He condemned Trócaire’s call for goods produced in illegal settlements in the West Bank to be banned by the Irish government. He called it “bias and partisan”. He spoke out to reject the TUI’s motion in support of boycott, divestment and sanctions.
Yet little (if any) of this was mentioned by the Irish media when he was appointed as Minister for Foreign Affairs. Nor was his record of opposition to minority ethnic, specifically Traveller, rights – something for which Ireland has been condemned by the UN’s racism committee. Nor even was his father – Oliver J. Flanagan – brought up, or his legacy of support for the persecution of Jews in Germany during the Second World War. The inclusion of that could be seen as blaming a son for the sins of his father but for Charlie’s staunch defence of the man’s political record as “someone who refused to be silenced”. He was portrayed “unfairly” by the “Dublin liberal media” apparently. Of course, those tropes have histories as defences for racists.
Today it is Israel that has neo-Nazi mobs beating up peaceful protestors and parliamentarians calling for genocide against Palestinians. And Charlie Flanagan has been given the reins of the Irish government to support them.
And so he did in the Dáil, producing an even worse performance than his predecessor Eamon Gilmore who had blamed both sides “equally”. Flanagan, in fact, blamed Palestinians for initiating the conflict, saying Israel’s onslaught was “in response” to rocket attacks. He said Israel’s missiles were aimed at Hamas military targets, implying that any civilian deaths were unintentional. He repeated Israeli propaganda that their aim is simply “quiet for quiet”, or peace in other words, rather than the collective punishment and mass murder of the people of Gaza. He blamed the continuation of the Israeli bombardment on Hamas – saying they were uninterested in a truce or ceasefire, without ever mentioning that their demand is an end to a seven-year illegal blockade which has turned Gaza into an open-air prison. Then he had the gall to say the government was on the side of international humanitarian law.
If we had a government which stood on the side of justice its response to Israel’s latest massacre, its continuing occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land and its utter contempt for international law would be clear and simple. First it would expel the Israeli ambassador and sever all diplomatic ties, as Venezuela did after the 2009 massacre. Then it would pass a law mandating full divestment from Israel and a ban on any form of trade, in line with the anti-apartheid acts passed against South Africa across the world in the 1980s.
Both of those things the government could do tomorrow. But it chooses not to.
Charlie Flanagan once said of the situation in Israel and Palestine that “the truth must be told.” Well, the truth is that in failing to act, maintaining normal relations with Israel and repeating its propaganda on the floor of our parliament Charlie Flanagan and the Irish government side with those who kill children on the beach in Gaza. And worse, they make all of us they claim to represent complicit in these crimes.