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Why Ireland stands out in EU as fierce defender of Palestinian rights

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While a deafening chorus of unconditional support for Israel may seem to be echoing throughout the Western world, one country stands out as a bastion of Palestinian rights. It’s Ireland.

The country’s unwavering support for the Palestinian cause from the grassroots to the highest echelons of power embodies deep empathy and a shared history.

Ireland has chosen to show its solidarity with the Palestinians, while many European countries have offered “unwavering” support to Israel.

Irish President Michael Higgins criticized European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s comments since the conflict broke out on October 7, saying she was “speaking on behalf of Ireland”. “And it does not represent the views of Ireland.”

Ireland’s perception of Israel has changed significantly as it grapples with its own anti-British rebellion and the painful civil war that brought Northern Ireland under British control.

For many in Ireland, Israel is more like a colonial entity forced into existence by British influence and determined to assert itself against indigenous peoples.

This view was further reinforced by Israel’s actions after 1967, particularly its occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. The seizure of Palestinian land and the imposition of a military regime reminded Ireland of its own history of oppression at the hands of Britain.

This created strong ties between the two countries, geographically separated but united by a yearning for justice and freedom, and continues to shape international debate and advocacy for Palestinian rights.

In 1980, Ireland made history by becoming the first EU member state to officially call for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

This was a pivotal moment in the country’s efforts to advance Palestinian rights.

Meanwhile, Ireland refused to open an Israeli embassy in Dublin until 1993, becoming the last EU member state to do so, unequivocally opposing Tel Aviv’s treatment of Palestinians, and Ireland’s commitment to solidarity with Palestine. strengthened his attitude.

Today, in the midst of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Ireland is once again at the forefront of opposition to Israel within the EU.

The Irish perspective on the Palestinian struggle is rooted in their own historical struggle and has developed a deep sympathy for the Palestinian cause.

This ranges from ordinary Irish citizens to government officials and members of the Irish Parliament.

“The Palestinian struggle that defines the problems of our time”

James Quigley, director of the Belfast Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), drew parallels between Ireland’s own history of colonial struggle and the plight of the Palestinians.

“The Irish people have a proud history of colonial struggle… so we know what it’s like to struggle against occupation, to struggle against its oppression.”

“But at the same time, what we have suffered is nothing compared to what the Palestinian people have suffered over the past 75 years due to apartheid occupation, ethnic cleansing and murder.”

“Irish people love the Palestinian people. For us, and for myself, we see their struggle as a struggle for humanity. It’s like the defining issue of our time. is.”

“In South Africa there was apartheid, but we defeated it. In Israel there is apartheid, but with the strength of the Palestinian people and our unity, we will defeat it too,” he explained. did.

‘Ireland’s goal is to build a larger solidarity movement’

Gerry Carroll, a People Before Profit politician from Belfast in Northern Ireland, echoed this sentiment, highlighting widespread pro-Palestinian sentiment in Ireland.

He stressed the need to speak out against violence in Palestine, especially as other European countries seek to criminalize pro-Palestinian protests.

“In Ireland, we have not seen any attempt to criminalize Palestinian protests, as we have seen in some other European countries in France and Germany, so we are opposed to this violence in Ireland. We have an important opportunity to make our voices heard.”

“Our people are generally pro-Palestinian,” he added, stressing that Irish people “claim that what is happening in Palestine is state terrorism, genocide.”

“So I think our job as Ireland is to build as big a solidarity movement as possible, hopefully drawing connections with people from other European and other countries around the world.”

Sue Pentel, representative of Palestinian Jews in Ireland, highlighted the important role Ireland can play in defending Palestine on the international stage.

“The EU is complicit. Last week, the EU questioned its aid to Palestinians whose rights have been trampled upon by this racist government and who have no right to move from Gaza to the West Bank to Jerusalem. And they question the aid ‘because Israel portrays itself as a victim,’ she explained.

“Violence against Palestinians has continued since the founding of Israel, and let me be clear: As a Jew with family in the region, I cannot accept the comfort and security that the Israeli government says we deserve. “I don’t believe it should exist at the expense of the Palestinian people,” Pentel added.

“The siege of Gaza, the occupation and the violence in the West Bank make me angry. I am ashamed. How can I be proud of a government that says it is doing this in my name?”

Bobby, a Belfast pub worker, also showed his support for Palestine by selling T-shirts to raise money.

He stressed that their efforts are part of a national Irish movement, with the entire country rallying behind the Palestinian cause.

“We are not the only ones supporting them. The whole country is supporting the Palestinian cause. We are doing everything we can for them.”

Ireland’s support for Palestine is not only a show of national solidarity, but also a broader United Nations call to action against the injustices faced by the Palestinian people.

Voices from Ireland emphasize that this is not just a political issue, but a human issue, and reflect the sentiment that this is truly the defining issue of our time.

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