In the wake of the UK and Ireland tour by Israeli peace activist Miko Peled, I want to write about an email exchange I had with him and reflect on left wing Israelis profiting from Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
Though troubling, the dialogue was straightforward enough. Miko posted his plans for his UK and Ireland lecture tour on his Facebook page. After I heard he was charging for his Irish leg of the tour, I asked him on Facebook how much he was charging. He asked me to email him – he clearly did not want his fees disclosed in the public Facebook space. This was the email exchange, on March 31.
Miko: “I usually ask for $1500-$2500. During my UK tour coming up I asked 500-1000 pounds. Why do you ask?”
Me: “I am asking because it rankles with me that you are making a living from the oppression of Palestinians, I suppose”.
Miko: “This is a cynical thing to say, and quite foolish, and considering my work it is totally uncalled for. Still, you can be rankled all you like, I am not the one oppressing the Palestinians, nor am I the one making a living off of their oppression.
I have a message that people want to hear, many people and I think it is an important one. I had to decide whether to sell my business and spread the message or stay home. I opted for the former I cannot afford to do it for free. Unlike others, I am independent, self employed and there is no institution or government that will pay to spread the message that I convey. It is excruciatingly hard work, to constantly travel and speak, there is plenty of money out there and I don’t see why it has to be done for free”.
On April 6, Miko published his UK and Ireland itinerary, enabling me to do a quick calculation, giving him the benefit of the doubt and allowing £500 (rather than £1,000) for each UK lecture and €500 for the Irish leg of the tour: Read more
Of course I am happy about the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. After eight days of pounding Gaza’s population, and the barrage of rockets on Israeli civilians, any cessation in hostilities is welcome. While I am fully aware of the horrors faced by friends in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, this attack has been so much worse for the people of Gaza just four years after operation ‘Cast Lead’, and of course also for people in the south of Israel. During the eight days173 Palestinians were killed (113 of thom civilians, 38 children and 13 women)
and 6 Israelis (no children) were killed. In the year preceding the onslaught, 64 Palestinians were killed in Gaza, 5 in the West Bank, and no Israelis. Since the first rocket fell on Israeli soil in April 2001, 59 Israelis were killed and 4,717 Palestinian.
Meanwhile, the US gave Israel 8.2m dollars per day. The reality of the death of children and the devastation in Gaza has been whitewashed in the western media as all social networks report.
The conflagration could never achieve its aims – the Israeli military did not stop the rockers and the rockets did not stop the Israeli military attack. But I cannot help thinking about the inevitability and imbalance of it all. There are many often forgotten but worth retelling facts about Gaza, as the Israeli (Jewish) blogger Eyal Clyne documents. The Gaza ‘Strip’ is an artificial space created by Israel after its establishment in 1948, when Israel chose not to incorporate it. Most Gazans are 1948 refugees, not allowed to return to their homes. Gaza was forcibly governed by Egypt until it was occupied by Israel in 1967, when a third of it was confiscated to build military camps and Jewish settlements. Read more
The death a couple of weeks ago of Immanuel Marcel Landa, an elderly Congolese man, in Mosney, the 49th person to die in the direct provision system since 2000, focused my mind, yet again, on the invisible plight of Ireland’s asylum seekers. Ireland’s impetus to control asylum seekers rarely links the conflict zones which produce asylum seekers with their human consequences. Instead, the racial state demonises asylum seekers, stems their flow, often preventing them from landing to present their applications, all in order to regain control.
Asylum applications in Ireland have been going down ever since their peak in 2002 at 11,634; the number of applications received in 2011, 1,250, represented a 28% decrease on the corresponding figure of 1,939 in 2010. In 2012 (by June) only 458 asylum applications were made. The government seems delighted with the decrease in asylum applications. In 2010 Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern commended ‘the ongoing work within INIS, including the asylum agencies, to combat abuse while at the same time ensuring fairness and improving the effectiveness and efficiency of procedures in this area’. At 1.5% at first instance and 6% on appeal, Ireland is distinguished by the lowest acceptance rate in the EU, where the average is 27%. Read more