By Conor Payne
Nearly 10,000 are estimated to have been killed in the Israeli state’s ongoing massacre against the people of Gaza, including 4,000 children. This number is rising all the time. The Israeli state bombs hospitals, refugee camps and ambulances; it cuts off water, electricity and food supplies. The people of Gaza are prisoners with no means of escape. Senior figures in the Israeli government have made clear the racist and genocidal logic of their actions – they talk about ‘human animals’, a second Nakba and plans to ethnically cleanse the Palestinian people from Gaza.
In the face of all this, we need action, not words. Varadkar, Martin, Coveney – all their statements calling for restraint or respect for international law mean nothing so long as they continue with business as usual in their dealings with the Israeli state. Disgustingly, this weekend, the Israeli Ambassador attended the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis as an invited guest. That this could happen shows the hollowness of the rhetoric from the government.
How many more atrocities?
Far from being invited to party conferences, the Israeli Ambassador should be expelled from Ireland and the Israeli embassy shut down, as has already occurred in Colombia and Bolivia.
If not now, when? How many children have to die, how bad do the atrocities have to get? We sometimes hear it argued that despite everything it’s important to keep the lines of dialogue open with this regime, to have a chance of influencing things, but this state has implemented a policy of occupation and apartheid for decades – why would ‘diplomacy’ change things now?
It can be protested that simply expelling the ambassador would not in itself stop the slaughter of Gaza – and this is true. But across the world, millions of ordinary people have protested in solidarity with the people of Gaza in the last weeks, including tens of thousands in Ireland. Pressuring the government to shut down the Israeli embassy would be one concrete step among many that can be fought for to really hit the Israeli state. Crucially, workers and trade unions can take action during this genocidal campaign by refusing to do any work associated with the Israeli occupation or to handle any Israeli goods.
The role of the embassy
What does the Israeli embassy in Ireland do? It would be naive to think it occupies itself only with reissuing lost passports. Like all embassies, it seeks to advance the policy of its state abroad. In 2017, Aljazeera’s documentary ‘The Lobby’ exposed the political activities of the Israeli embassy in Britain, including attempting to ‘take down’ politicians who were critical of Israel. What are the activities of the Israeli embassy in Ireland? Clearly, as shown by the Ambassador’s presence at the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis, they are trying to influence politics. Are they also involved in monitoring Palestinians or pro-Palestinian activists in Ireland? The embassy is a base of operation for a brutal, racist regime and should be closed.
The pressure from the protests and the mood of working-class people has already had an impact. Sinn Fein has changed its policy, having previously not supported the expulsion of the Ambassador. All political forces should be put under pressure on this issue. But the government and the capitalist establishment here are not real allies of the Palestinian people – they don’t want to take any action which cuts against the interests of US imperialism, the EU or the multinational corporations, all of which are backing the massacre in Gaza to the hilt. To close the embassy or take any real action against the Israeli state requires building a movement of solidarity with Palestine from the bottom up, with the mass involvement of working class, young and oppressed people.